November 1, 2014

Location, Location, Location

Considering where a pond or water garden is placed is extremely important. Excessive sunlight can cause unsightly algae blooms and lower oxygen content for fish. Shaded areas are great for koi ponds, but in water gardens too much shade means flowering plants and lilies will not thrive or bloom, so an area that receives a balance of sunlight—preferably in the morning—and shade is best. Avoid building a pond directly under large trees or shrubs that will drop leaves into the water.

Smaller ponds can be constructed to enhance existing landscaping, while larger water features make great focal points with surrounding plantings, walkways and borders used to direct attention to the feature itself. Encourage clients to build their water features near patios, decks or other areas where they tend to spend most of their time outside.

A pond or water feature should never be placed at the bottom of a hill or in a low spot, as runoff can wash soil, debris and lawn chemicals into the water. Where this is unavoidable, a slight rise or burm around the pond will direct runoff away from the pond, reducing maintenance and keeping fish and aquatic plants safe.


When choosing a landscape theme, hobbyists should consider whether they want it to be natural or formal. In natural designs, rock borders, terraces and plantings should be somewhat random, following existing contours and complementing surrounding features. Formal designs use straight lines, symmetrical plantings, geometric shapes and cut paving stones and borders. Both can be very appealing if done right.

Special attention should be paid to hiding pond liner material or the cut edges of preformed ponds, as well as filters, hoses, pipe and other equipment. Small pebbles or gravel can be used to fill in between boulders and edging where soft liner material is used, while garden soil, mulch or ground cover plants work well to conceal preformed pond edges. Rock-on-a-Roll is another alternative.

According to the company website, it is “a flexible material that has the look and texture of natural stone. It conforms to any shape, allowing you to hide pond liner, skimmers, filters and hoses without piling up lots and lots of boulders.”

Plants and Other Features

Avoid the use of too many flowering plants around a true koi pond, as they may draw attention away from the bright colors of the fish. Low growing evergreens, rushes, dwarf cattails and ground cover plants are a better choice here.

And don’t forget man-made objects like benches, statuary, small windmills and other fun garden accessories to bring your water feature to life. One owner of a large lily pond even used an old rowboat as a planter box. When it comes to accessories, think outside the box. Even smaller stores can devote a seasonal area for garden ornaments, wind chimes, fountains and other landscape accessories.

Lastly, put up a photo board in your pond product section. Encourage customers to bring in photographs of their creations to create enthusiasm and give others ideas. You can even hold a Best Pond contest and invite manufacturers to contribute prizes for the winners.

Pond owners take great pride in their work and are always looking for new ideas and additions. Offering advice and ideas will help you stand out in the marketplace keep them coming back for years.

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