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Considerations for Pond Planning

Maintenance How much work are you willing to put into your water feature? Do you want a beautiful backyard decoration or a beautiful backyard hobby? Many factors impact required maintenance including location, size, depth, fish, plants, and the quality of the pumping and filtration equipment you choose.

Pond, Waterfall or Both Do you want a living, breathing ecosystem complete with fish and plants? Or would you rather have a pondless waterfall that simply cycles water from one place to another without supporting wildlife?

Pondless systems require less maintenance but for some homeowners, a water feature without fish or plants seems empty. Let's face it, fish are fun. They add motion, color and entertainment and kids love to feed them. Some fish, like Koi can even be trained to eat from your hand (see sidebar). A fish pond does require more monitoring as you learn how to keep water clear and healthy. But with the right balance of fish and plants and a quality biological filtration system, a fish pond can maintain itself without constant attention.

Aesthetics What look are you going for? Do you want a naturalistic brook babbling over cobblestones, a tropical garden lagoon or a more clean-lined, modern interpretation of nature? With the right choice of materials and plants, you can create a water feature that looks at home in the backyard no matter what the architectural style.

Location Where will you get the most enjoyment from your water feature. A spot close to a patio or deck will let people take in the sights and sounds as they relax. Don't forget the view from indoors, though. Placing the pond where it can be enjoyed both indoors and out is ideal.

A streambed can also serve as a natural room divider. Consider placing a stream between two outdoor rooms and connecting the spaces with a decorative bridge.

Tip: Remember, you'll need electricity to run your pump. Evaluate your electrical access when choosing your pond location.

Size Attractive ponds come in all sizes, but the regret I hear most often is: "I wish I'd made the pond a little bigger." Ironically, larger ponds are actually easier to maintain than smaller ones. Put too many fish in a small pond and waste will rapidly accumulate.

Not every backyard is big enough for a viable pond. If adding a pond means you'll have to rob valuable patio seating space, you may want to consider a smaller pondless waterfall or fountain instead.

Flow Take a long look at your yard and ask how a pond, stream or waterfall would look if it occurred here naturally. Water should look like it flows naturally within the landscape. If you're creating a stream that travels to a pond, allow enough distance for some realism. Avoid streams that seem to flow uphill or waterfalls that emerge awkwardly out of nowhere and then disappear.

Find your Balance Creating a balanced, worry-free backyard pond does take time but it's a hobby that pays off as you enjoy your peaceful retreat on the water. From a Feng Shui perspective, water is seen as an effective way to block negative chi. For example, a streambed might protect the home from the bad chi of noisy traffic nearby. Fountains or waterfalls near the front door are even thought to bring success to the home. Whatever your chi, you can find your backyard bliss with the purifying element of water.

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