The Stream

The Stream

Winterize Your Pond!

With Hallowe’en in the rearview mirror and the clocks turned back this can only mean one thing: WINTER IS COMING. Luckily here on the west coast all that really means is that it will probably rain a little bit more but nevertheless you should prepare to winterize your pond in the coming weeks. You never know what Mother Nature may bring so here are a few suggestions:

Once the leaves and needles have finished falling from the trees you will want to get in and remove as much of that debris as possible. If you have used pond netting this will be as easy as rolling the net up and discarding the leaves. If you have not used netting then you can scoop them out manually with your hand or a long handled pond net. This is an important step as the less decaying plant material on the bottom of your pond, the easier your life will be next Spring.

For the same reason listed above you will also want to cut back any dead or dying foliage on your water plants. Hardy lilies can be cut back just above the base of the plant. Maginals can also be cut back at this time.

Next you will want to add some cold water bacteria. This will ensure that your water stays clean and clear over the winter months. Cold water bacteria is designed to work in water 10C or cooler and should be applied regularly throughout the winter (read the label for exact dosage and frequency). This bacteria will again reduce Spring maintenance by breaking down any organic debris left in the pond.

STOP FEEDING YOUR FISH. If the water is in the 10-20 degree Celsius range then you can still feed but only with a cold water fish food. Once it’s below 10C you must stop feeding. Your fish are essentially hibernating at that point and they cannot digest food – continuing to feed them at that point can be very detrimental to their health.

Last but not least…. Out west we always recommend that people leave their water feature running throughout the winter. There really isn’t a reason to shut it down and your fish and plants will be much happier with the ecosystem running year round. You will want to maintain a hole in any ice that may form on colder days to ensure that the debris breaking down on the bottom can gas out. You can achieve this with a pond heater or more commonly by moving your pump closer to the surface of the water and simply have it churn away with no hose attached. This also adds oxygen to the water and will keep your feature a bit warmer as you’re not recirculating the coldest layer at the bottom of the pond.

Make sure to keep an eye on your water level as evaporation is still occurring during the winter. Also watch for ice dams that may form in your stream and divert water out.

Enjoy the Season!

 

Contact Streamworks Designs for all of your water feature maintenance needs.

 

Fall Maintenance

As the days become shorter and the temps lower we’re reminded that Autumn is just around the corner. While you will notice that your water is usually quite clear at this time, this doesn’t mean that your water feature will necessarily be maintenance free. Here are a few things to think about for fall maintenance.

With regards to your water plants, you can prune off any dead or yellow leaves. Your lilies will go strong until the first heavy frost, as will your hyacinths. Remember that hyacinths are essentially an annual so they will need to be tossed into the compost when they start to die off. The same goes for other floaters and oxygenators. You can also stop fertilizing now as your plants transition into their winter cycle.

If you have fish you should stop feeding them once the water temperature is 10C or lower. If you don’t have a pond thermometer I highly recommend one, they’re cheap and invaluable for knowing not only when to feed certain foods but also when to effectively administer treatments. If you must feed your fish through the Fall/Winter then make sure to use a low temp fish food that they can easily digest. Failing to do so can result in health issues and even death once their digestive systems slow down.

Lastly try to remove any leaves and debris that may have fallen into the pond. If you have a skimmer, you’ll have to empty the basket more frequently. If you have a pondless waterfall or bubbling rock type feature then manually remove any leaves and debris that you can see. If you have too much organic matter decomposing in your pond, particularly leaves, it can cause your water to turn brown. If this happens you can add activated carbon to clear the water.

Bonus Tip: If you don’t have lighting in your water feature this is a great time to add it! The days are getting shorter and soon your feature will be dark when you leave for work and when you return home! There’s nothing more magical then a well-lit water feature at night!

Contact Streamworks Designs for all of your water feature maintenance needs.

The Heat is On! Take Care of Your Pond.

With the temperatures rising and a long, dry summer in front of us there are a few things to keep in mind when maintaining your ecosystem pond or pondless waterfall.

First the good news – your water plants will love it! Warm weather means warm water and most of your water plants; particularly the tropical ones like hyacinths will thrive. The optimum growth temperature for a water hyacinth is 25-30 Celsius and in some parts of Southeast Asia they’ve been known to grow in excess of 3 meters per day! This vigorous growth is of course what has landed it on the invasive species list in several countries around the world… but I digress.

The bad news is that these warmer water temps are also prime growing conditions for algae. Without treatment you can expect algae blooms, green water and higher than normal levels of string algae. Luckily there are solutions for both prevention and maintenance regardless of your budget. There are several powdered treatments on the market such as SAB and Ecoblast for string algae as well as many flocculants for green water.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution we can install a UV Light or a Pressure Filter to eliminate green water situations or an Ion Gen to combat the string algae. The Ion Gen works by slowly releasing a mixture of copper ions into the water which quickly break down the string algae. There are even “auto dosing” systems available now that will automatically apply the correct amount of a given treatment turning low maintenance into virtually no maintenance.

The other thing to watch during a hot summer is evaporation. While water is always evaporating at some rate throughout the year, the summer months can really expedite this process. The factors that contribute to evaporation are: water temperature, air temperature, humidity in the air, and the velocity of the air above the surface. So as you can imagine on a hot, dry, windy day your water feature can be losing quite a bit of water! For reference a typical swimming pool can lose ¼” of water per day under NORMAL conditions.

The solution here can be as simple as sticking a hose in your water feature for a few minutes while you’re watering the terrestrial plants or you can have an auto fill valve installed which will automatically add water to your feature once it drops below a certain level.

Stay cool and happy ponding!

Contact Streamworks Designs for all of your water feature maintenance needs.

Pond vs. Pondless

Which Water Feature is Right for Me?

Let’s first start this off with some definitions. For our purposes a POND is defined as a natural balance of fish, plants, aeration, filtration, and rocks/gravel. All components work naturally together to help create and maintain a sustainable low-maintenance ecosystem.

A PONDLESS waterfall on the other hand is defined as a recirculating waterfall or stream without the presence of a visible body of water.

There are pros and cons to each style of feature but it basically boils down to this: Do you want fish? Are water lilies and other aquatic plants the focal point for you? If the answer to either of these is YES then a pond is what you’re after. Even a modest sized pond, say 8’x11’ and approximately 2’ deep will allow you to include modest quantities of fish such as koi, sarassas, and shubunkins as well as water plants like lilies, marigolds, and rushes. A true water GARDEN you will have with all the elements of an ecosystem and this can of course also include a waterfall/stream if your space and budget allow.

A pondless waterfall is ideal for someone who is most interested in the sight and sound of a waterfall and stream but maybe doesn’t want to worry about feeding fish or pruning plants. An even lower maintenance option, the pondless is great for families with small children and safety concerns. The other advantage is that it can tuck neatly into smaller spaces and can add curb appeal to the front of a home. You can still utilize some water plants, particularly maginals that don’t need to be fully submersed and floaters like water hyacinth.

Both water features, pond and pondless, can be lit at night with LED lighting and will bring the added dynamics of movement and sound to your garden! No matter which feature you choose it’s sure to be the centerpiece of your yard and it is only a matter of time before fire pits, lounge chairs, patios, BBQ’s, terrestrial plantings and local wildlife all migrate over to surround your new water feature!

Got Lights?

Riddle me this. What one component of a successful water feature is completely unnecessary but absolutely essential all at the same time? The LIGHTS!

While it’s true that underwater lighting is not critical to the function of your pond IE the ecosystem and the way the fish, plants, rocks, pump and filtration all co-mingle. It IS however a key element in the aesthetics of your water feature and is guaranteed to increase your interaction and enjoyment exponentially! We know you lead a busy lifestyle and probably aren’t home to enjoy your feature during the day so why not enjoy it at night?

Do you know what an unlit water feature looks like? Me neither… because you can’t see it! If you have a pond with fish in it, then lights are a must. You’ll marvel at how active your fish are at night as the warm glow of the LED’s illuminate their every move. If your water feature is of the pondless variety and you have no fish a few well-placed lights will still create magic as your stream twists and turns causing the lights to dance across the rocks and onto the surrounding landscape. Maybe you have a bubbling rock or set of basalt columns that will be the focal point of any landscape when up lit. The possibilities are endless.

Gone are the days of inefficient halogen lighting. LED’s (light emitting diodes) are the new standard in underwater pond lighting as not only do the bulbs last much much longer, but at 1watt per fixture the power consumption is negligible. One further advantage of LED’s over their prehistoric counterparts is that by shedding the extra watts they remain cool inside or outside of the water making them ideal for any/all of your outdoor lighting needs.

Lighting may be the fastest growing segment of the landscape industry and never before have efficiency, cost effectiveness, and impact come together in such a simple solution. So what are you waiting for?! If you want to get more enjoyment out of your water feature, add a new dimension by bringing it to life at night.

We promise you won’t regret it!

Choosing the Right Water Feature

Ok, you’ve decided you want the calming elements of water in your landscape, but you’re having trouble choosing the perfect water feature to suit your needs! Begin by asking yourself, “What made me think to add a water feature to my landscape in the first place?”

Maybe  you loved lounging by the lake on your last holiday.  Maybe flipping through the pages of a magazine where you saw children interacting with fish in a pond captured your attention and made you envision spending time in nature with your own family. Perhaps you were hiking besides a natural stream and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waterfalls it so beautifully displayed. Or a fountain in a shopping mall caught your attention!

Finding out your intent for adding water to your landscape is the first step in helping you determine what type of water feature is right for you.

If you love nature and spend a considerable amount of time in your garden, then an ecosystem pond complete with fish and aquatic plants is a great choice.

Perhaps you simply want to enjoy the sights and sounds of running water while sitting on your deck or patio, then a pondless waterfall or a meandering stream is your best bet.

Maybe you need some curb appeal near your front entrance, in which case an elegant fountain, bubbling basalt column, or a decorative Urn is ideal.

Reflect on your needs and desires, the reason you wanted a feature in the first place, to help you decide which solution is best for you.

What is an Ecosystem Pond?

An ecosystem includes all of the living things (plants, animals and microorganisms) in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments (air, sun, soil).

An Ecosystem Pond works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter, and safety to the wildlife around it. It also provides you with an all-natural, low-maintenance piece of paradise, but only if all the the elements needed are present. Eliminate one of these elements and you’ve got an unbalanced ecosystem that won’t be so low-maintenance anymore.

So, what are those elements?

Not all ponds are constructed equally, and that’s ok. However, what we have experienced over the years working with all kinds of ponds is that the most beautiful, healthy, low maintenance ones all share these same important components:

1.Mechanical and Biological Filtration

A Skimmer (mechanical filter) houses the pump. As the water is drawn into the skimmer, leaves and other debris is collected in a basket, therefore preventing the accumulation of organic materials on the pond floor. Smaller particles are trapped in a filter mat below the basket. The pre-filtered water then travels trough the pump to the biological filter.

The biological filter is buried and hidden away in the ground typically at the start of a waterfall or stream. It contains filter mats and biological filter media providing plenty of surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize. The main function of a biological filter is to break down pond waste products and remove excess nutrients from the pond water.

2. Rocks and Gravel

Rocks and gravel will not only protect the pond liner from UV light degradation and add aesthetic value, but they will also provide lots of surface area for beneficial bacteria to break down excess nutrients in the water and dissolved organic debris on the pond floor.

3. Pump & Plumbing

The proper size pump and pipe diameter are not only extremely important for the aesthetics of a water feature, an efficient circulation system will keep the water moving and provide the necessary oxygen levels for healthy fish and aquatic plants.

4. Fish

Fish are an integral part of any ecosystem. Unfortunately, fish are often seen as high maintenance. Contrary to popular belief, fish actually reduce pond maintenance as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. They also add colour and natural beauty providing hours of entertainment.

5. Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants are Mother Nature’s true filters. They are great for adding character to a pond by providing color and texture, but from a filtration perspective, they are superior. Thriving from the excess nutrients in a pond and depriving algae of its food source, aquatic plants in a water garden provide not only shade and protection for pond fish, they are critical for the overall health of the ecosystem.