Splish Splash

Think you can't have a cool water feature in your backyard? Think again.
Plants Make it Pretty
The key to making your pond or pondless waterfall look great is selecting the most natural-looking plants.

 - Use low-growing plant material and lots of ground
cover (larger plants might block your water view).
 -  Choose creeping phlox and ajuga to grow over rocks and look natural. 
 - Find plants for the pond to mirror what’s happening elsewhere in the yard and to provide continuous color. Good choices include irises, water hyacinths, water cabbages and hearty varieties of water lilies.

Maintenance is Key

“Good maintenance is a matter of being
proactive rather than reactive,” Mazzurco says. He uses these strategies:

 - Use shale instead of sandstone. Sandstone is porous and will allow string algae to
attach; shale is harder and more dense, so algae can’t cling as much. Definitely don’t use limestone; it can change the acidity of the water, making it detrimental to fish.
 - Follow instructions closely about adding bacteria enzymes to the water to keep your pond crystal clear.

To Koi Or Not To Koi
Loi are essentially pets, so be prepared to care for them if you want them living in your pond. Here are some tips:

-  Buy adults that are at least four inches long — it’s easier for them to survive the winter. 
 -  Make areas in the pond for koi to hide from predators (mainly birds and raccoons). Little caves
or drainage pipes work well.
 - Choose the amount of koi based on the size of your pond. Typically, an 11-foot-by-16-foot pond can house four to six fish.
 - Expect to have them for a while — they can live upward of eight years.
Close your eyes and picture yourself in a soothing backyard oasis. Chances are it includes a bubbling waterfall, serene pond, some lush plants and maybe a couple of hungry little koi keeping you company.

That about describes Jeff Berry’s Gates Mills outdoor retreat. “It’s very peaceful. It has a waterfall and several koi fish.” Berry says the fish are like family pets. “They come over and open their mouths when they see me coming.” His waterfall pond even tucks nicely into the landscaping by the back patio.

This might sound ultra luxurious, but it’s becoming more common in backyards around Northeast Ohio. So don’t be afraid to think large — include waterfalls, streams and natural-looking stones and plants if you want.

“The key is to make it look like Mother Nature put it there,” says Mark Mazzurco, president of H & M Landscaping. He does that by using creative and strategic placement and by surrounding the pond and waterfall with outcropping stones and natural foliage.

Some clients even prefer to install just a waterfall with no adjacent pond.

“People with busy lifestyles want the sound and appearance of a dynamic water element without the maintenance,” Mazzurco says. “Pondless waterfalls are super low maintenance because there is no surface of water being exposed to sunlight, which is what makes algae build up. Plus, mounting the pump underground protects it from sunlight and algae buildup, too.”

But don’t expect this water wonderland to put a huge dent in your pocketbook. Plan to pay about as much as you would to add a hot tub to your backyard. A small, pondless waterfall might start at about $4,000. If you add a pond, tack on $2,000 to $6,000, depending on size. That price includes pumps, filters and all installation, but not the landscaping around it.
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