Ponds have certain life expectancies and as they age, problems can occur. The number one reason for algae in your backyard pond is too much fresh water entering the system. New (or fresh) water is added because the pond is actually leaking! You should only need to add 1-3 inches of water per week during the summer months for Minnesotan ponds.
There are three main parts of water features. The pond (or basin for waterfalls) at the bottom, plumbing going up, and a filtration system or waterfall coming down.
Leaks can be slow or fast but the end result is a pond that doesn't work! You will need to run a leak test. This is not hard but it IS a carefully set up and timed test so following directions is important.
Step one: Measure how much water is being lost and how fast. How long does it take to loose 1/4 inch of water? Record this number! (How to measure water loss directions.)
Step two: Shut your pond or waterfall pump off, disconnect it, add water to the pond so it is full, and let it sit. (If you have fish, move them to a holding tank with oxygen.) This measures the bottom of your pond system.
Step three: Plug the return pipe at bottom and fill the pipe from the top. This checks the plumbing for leaks. Think of it as filling a straw and checking for soda leaking out a crack along the side.
Step four: Good Luck!
Once the leak has been found, costs can be calculated for repairing it. Sometimes our experienced technician shows up, identifies the spot, and fixes the leak in 10 minutes! Other times, leak diagnosing runs into multiple days.
An average pond repair is around $1000 in 2021 dollars in Minnesota. Sometimes there are multiple leaks. One leak gets fixed only to discover another leak in the pond.
If the plumbing is leaking but is easy to find and fix, costs can be less than $300. If the entire pipe needs to be replaced, the cost usually begins around $1500+.
Leaks in the waterfall or top of the pond system will vary from a low edge by rock and landscaping, to incorrect liner-overlap during building, or liner cut too short.
Rubber liner that was pushed down below the water line is cheap to fix. Simply pull the rubber into place and pat soil behind it to hold it up until the ground firms up a bit. (The ground will be soggy so it helps to add some fresh soil to that spot.)
Fixing an incorrect liner-overlap problem or adding more liner to a piece that is too small will cost more depending on how much soil and rock will have to be removed. Often, chasing a leak in a waterfall is not cost effective and can gust into the thousands of dollars. It may be best in the long run to have it simply rebuilt with a new, perfect liner. Average waterfall rebuilding costs start around $3000+ and largely depend on the size of rocks, the access to the work site, and how long the waterfall is.
If you have a problem pond or a pond filled with algae, give the leak test a try! If you would rather have our experienced technicians do the test for you, please give us a call sooner rather than later. Everyone enjoys a beautiful, clear pond! Make yours that kind of pond!
Perfectly clear pond water in Minnesota? Yes, if you use beneficial bacteria! Be ready for that graduation party by starting now. Here are the details...
The longer story about pond water:
A pond is a living community of organisms and bacteria are a big part of a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Every living organism on the planet (or your backyard pond!) is competing against other things in the food web, or nutrient flow. Each piece needs food, light, air, and space to grow. A clean pond can and should be a healthy pond. It means we are carefully controlling desired species that will out-compete the undesirable ones.
The goal of having perfectly clean pond water may be a bit unrealistic because healthy does not mean sterilized. If you want a sterilized pond, it will look a lot more like a pool with nothing living in it. But if your goal is "healthy pond", then we can do something! A healthy pond will have clear water, living fish, living plants, and living bacteria. You may see a few dead leaves dropped into the water and rotting but, never fear! Your bacteria will take care of that in a few days!
Beneficial bacteria do your cleaning work for you. Aquascape's beneficial bacteria mixes contain a specific blend of bacteria that will colonize the pond ecosystem quickly. This is a key part to maintaining clean water! Once a healthy population is established, it is much, much easier to keep your pond looking great!
In spring, as soon as your pond is up and running, add cold water bacteria. Do this at least weekly, and if you really are on top if it, add the bacteria daily for the first few days after the pond is turned on. As the water warms up, add warm water bacteria. (Different species can handle different temperatures.)
As the weather warms up, different species of algae start to grow. If you find yourself with a big colony of string algae, sprinkle Waterfall & Rock Cleaner directly on the algae. (This is the link to the professional grade stuff which works very well.) You will notice foaming and bubbling as the bacteria starts to work. Make sure the water keeps flowing. This provides additional oxygen to the fish and plants as the bacteria works.
As Greg Wittstock has always said, "Work with Mother Nature, not against her."
Clean ponds and clear water are attainable! If you have further questions or need some help cleaning your pond, please give us a call!
We've been around the block a time or two. Lots of people have an opinion. Not everyone has experience. Here is a list of the best pond contractors in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.
There are many ways to keep a pond clear. Some methods require weekly work, some daily work. some monthly work. (At Minnesota Waterscapes, we go with simple. This method is called "ecosystem ponds". Basically the idea is to work WITH mother nature, not against her.)
As a home owner, you want a contractor you can easily work with, who listens, and who is reliable and trustworthy. To be honest, sometimes personality is the only reason a contractor is easy to work with or not.
Sometimes being honest means taking ourselves out of the running if we’re not the right company for you. We want you to hire the next best pond maintenance company that also has a passion for great customer experience and high-quality end results.
Here is a list of a few pond contractors we personally know and have worked with. These companies attend some of the ongoing training that we do, and we’re confident that they will use a high-quality system to make your pond ownership experience great.
Premier Water Features
Mike Maki (owner) is a great guy with an awesome aquarium business. The indoor aquariums he builds are among the top in the state. Premier Aquarium has a great indoor showroom in the Bloomington, MN area.
Urban Landworks: The Pond Company
Matt Jensen and Mike Bollinger have built a lawn and landscape business based mainly in Bloomington, MN area. We think they’re among the best ‘non pond specific’ pond contractors out there. Their team will have a good idea what needs to be done to serve you best. They offer supplies for many different pond systems at their store as well.
Pond King Water Gardens
Nick Needham owns Pond King Water Gardens based in the south-metro of the Minneapolis area. Nick is a guy that will encourage you, even if you’re his competition. It’s been great getting to know him. He's also built some bigger projects and helped with the Aquascape project at Fox Run!
As people who live in Minneapolis, we get about 7 or 8 months to enjoy our Minnesota water gardens outside. We hope you’ll find the right fit when choosing the right pond installer for your yard! Feel free to use our website as a guide when making decisions, and we’ll keep improving it and our services to serve you better than ever.
What questions should you ask a pond contractor? Check out this short list of tips on choosing a Pond Builder near you!
Do you feel tired and pent up? Doctor yourself ... with a pond! ( #Nature #Water trickling #Birds signing #Love Minnesota!)
Backyards are not just lawn to mow if they have a pond or waterfall. They BECOME... a place to play, alive, full of nature, interesting, transforming, and best of all, refreshing. Do you feel tired and pent up from a year of pandemic, elections, and job or school hassles? Doctor your mental health with a pond!
Check out Aquascape's video below to see two different water features built recently. The first backyard pond is under $10,000 but fits the space perfectly and the second disappearing waterfall has some neat ideas and tricks to utilize the space and yet be able to see the water from the house.
Is this the year that you add on to your pond or redo the waterfall? Does your yard need a transformation? This is a great time to get on the schedule for making your pond look perfect!
Minnesota Waterscapes is currently scheduling pond work, pond installation, pond construction, waterfall construction, and bubbling rock fountains for the Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN metro area including surrounding cities of Stillwater, Lake Elmo, Roseville, Bloomington, Farmington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Medina, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, and others.
To schedule a FREE phone consultation, click here.
A quick list of questions to ask a pond builder/contractor in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or anywhere!
What should a home owner ask a pond contractor? After all, how many home owners interview pond builders every day? Here are six questions to ask a potential pond builder.
Question #1: Does the contractor listen more than they talk?
If someone is building a pond in your backyard, you want them to hear your ideas and listen to how you want to use it. A good contractor will ask questions and then shut up!
Question # 2: Does the company have insurance?
If a contractor, working on your property, does not carry insurance, you could be liable for costs associated with accidents or problems. Just ask!
Question # 3: Does the contractor have experience building a koi pond or a disappearing waterfall?
Do they have any pictures? (hopefully!) Take this one with a grain of salt though. Pretty websites and pretty pictures don't mean they build well. Ask if they have had any special training related to the work to be done.
Question # 4: Do they tell the truth? Is this someone you can look in the eye? Do they put in writing what is to be done along with a price and a date? Have they done what they said they were going to do from the first interaction or clearly communicated if difficulties popped up (like missing an appointment because a rain day delayed a big shipment. #contractor woes!)
Question #5: Ask about change orders. Does the company have a simple method or form to use should you want to make changes? This is probably the biggest trigger for contractor-home owner disputes. A change was made during the build causing a price change which shows up on the final invoice. Even if the company does not have a form, simply emailing a change along with a price will help clear up the "mud" because it creates a record.
Question #6: Be honest- about budget, about time frames, about hidden surprises underground. You want a trustworthy contractor who will do what they say they will do. The contractor equally needs to trust that you are being honest about what is underground and that you will do what you say you will do, like pay them.
Working together requires mutual trust!
There are many good contractors who work very hard trying to provide their customers with a wonderful product. Many of them are true artists. Some will have smooth processes and some won't. Hopefully, by asking questions first, you will find a great pond builder to work with! If you have other questions that you think should be included in this short list, please email them to us! We would be happy to share your experience with others.
Becky here- random thoughts on this cold Minnesotan week.
We love you, our customers. We really do!
We love, love, love to see families come outside to enjoy their pond, the fish, and spend time playing together. This is why we do what we do! To help you have a less stressful life and to see you enjoy being together with loved ones.
Our goal is to help make owning a pond in Minnesota easy and fun!
How do we do this?
*Maintain your pond or waterfall giving you time.
*Repairing your pond so it is a beautiful thing instead of a scum pond.
*Bring you beautiful plants. You don't have to go search the best plants because we have locally grown aquatic plants.
It is our desire to do our very best, even when small. Our shop and greenhouses are not picture perfect. You may see a goat in my garage if you come for curbside plant pickup. One of our daughters may be the one putting plants in the trunk of your car and there are Barbie's under my desk. Because this IS a true mom & pop shop. We will strive to give you a wonderful experience and I think you will be pleased or at least, amused.
Water gardens need care, especially in spring. So, just what chemicals, also called water treatments, should you use in your fish pond?
All these items are helpful to the pond owner and are used at different times, depending on your location, sun exposure, fish load, plants used etc. Here is a quick review of the different types of water treatments available. (This list is NOT exhaustive!)
1. Cleaning products such as waterfall and rock cleaner. These help break down algae or muck, leaves, and debris.
2. Water chemistry products. These products help change the pH, detoxify chlorine, neutralize ammonia, and detoxify and chelate heavy metals that can harm pond fish or plants. Some, like Aquascape's Pond Detoxifier, even change those toxins into useful fertilizers for your water garden plants!
3. Beneficial Bacteria products. A big part of natural ponds is the invisible partner- beneficial bacteria. If your pond has a balanced ecosystem, your pond and fish and plants will grow and help each other in the process. Beneficial bacteria help break down debris, fish waste, and other junk. Some bacteria work in cold water and some work in warmer water. These helpful organisms help keep your pond water clean and clear!
SPRING WATER TREATMENTS:
In addition to water treatments, clean your pond! Doing some early spring work will save you time and energy later in the season. If you don't have time to clean your backyard pond, give us a call. One-time cleaning, monthly, or yearly maintenance packages are available for pond owners in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area.
Have a pond in your backyard? Here are 6 ways to get ready for a Minnesotan spring! Bonus! Tips and pricing for a new pond (in case you don't have one yet!)
Minnesotan Springtime is an exciting but challenging time for pond owners. Here are some steps we take when caring for backyard ponds in and around the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. (Spring thaw comes about two weeks later if you live north of the Twin cities or in Duluth.)
*First, a simple winter/spring maintenance step: Keep a hole in the ice for your fish! The snow is melting but the ice takes a bit longer and the fish still need oxygen.
*Pre-order local pond plants before they sell out! Want a new water lily or a few water hyacinth or water lettuce? Click here to order yours. They go fast.
*Plan on cleaning your pond as soon as the ice has completely melted. Pipes, filtration systems, and skimmer boxes all need to be ice free before cleaning occurs. Get on schedue for a spring pond clean or watch this video if you plan to do it yourself.
*Trim dead plants and bushes around pond edges. They are easy to trim when the ice is still firm but this can be done during a spring clean too.
*After the ice is gone and the pond has been cleaned or at the minimum, dead leaves and debris have been netted out, it may be a good idea to add some cold water bacteria. This helps break down any leftover sedinents and will help prevent a sudden algae bloom when the water temperature rises.
*Check your pond water level. Is the water near the top of your skimmer or filtration box? Do you see any low edges where water may be escaping? Take a few minutes to visually inspect your pond. If you find a low spot, try to gently tug the liner up.
A litte maintenance goes a long way! Cleaning out debris, adding cold water bacteria, and removing dead plants and twigs will help keep your pond clean and clear!
Too busy to do the maintenance? Get on the schedule today for a yearly pond spring clean or maintenance!
A quick chart to help Minnesota pond owner's figure out how many plants to use in their water ponds.
Mini Ponds (bath tub size)
1 small lily or lotus
3-5 shallow water plants
3-6 Floating plants
Small Ponds (~8ft x 12 ft)
1-2 lilies or lotus
5-8 shallow water plants
5-10 Floating plants
Medium/Large Ponds (~15ft x 20 ft)
3-5 large lilies or lotus
15+ shallow water plants and tropicals
12+ Floating plants
Bogs and natural, or retention ponds will benefit from large amounts of plants. They help filter unwanted nutrients and fertilizers giving you cleaner water.
Minnesota Waterscapes offers pre-selected plants perfect for your own personal pond. Simply submit a photo of your pond (measurements help too!) and a pond plant package will be designed for you!
Plant Tips from the Grower:
Lighting Does your fish pond get a full six hours of sunlight? Flowering pond plants like water lilies bloom more in full sunlight. If your pond is more on the shady side, try using plants with varigated foliage like sweet flag to brighten the area. Early blooming natives like Marsh marigold will flower before tree leaves shade the garden. If your backyard pond is very shady, drop in a floating island planter to give a burst of color all season long with shade loving annuals.
Plant in groups for a more natural, full look. Use fewer varieties but larger groups to get the lush flower power of pickerel rush, cardinal flower, or arrowhead.
Measure your pond This will help answer two questions: How many plants can you actually have in your pond and how many gallons of water does it hold. Water treatments, fish load, and filtration can be accuratly calculated using gallons while size will help you select the correct amount of plants. (Tip: If you want more plant varieties in your pond, try using dwarf varieties.)
Tall versus short Some water plants grow quite large and can be used as a screen to hide unsightly fencing or create mystery. Play with the placement of your pond plants to see what view you enjoy most. To do this, place the potted plants near the pond edge or on a shallow shelf in the pond. Move them around until you find the placement that best suits you, then plant your watery garden! Don't be afraid to try different plants. I enjoy using tall canna lilies near large rocks to accent them. I also enjoy using the mid-sized Cyperus palm to give an exotic look to my backyard pond.
For more tips on planting your pond, click on 7 Tips for Planting Your Pond by Aquascae Inc.
Provide your pond and koi fish a happy, beautiful ecosystem with these plants! Fish love to nibble the water lettuce and water hyacinth roots as well as the roots of the floating island planter. Help keep your water clean and clear by adding lush, blooming tropicals!
Jeff Chudek has been building ponds and waterfalls professionally since 2005. As a kid, his favorite time of year was spring, because the spring thaw created so much mud and puddles, and all the trees and plants were waking up. He loves figuring out the best way to use something, and fixing things that are broken. He's good at coming up with ideas, and helping choose the best idea for you.