As a pond building contractor, I receive questions like, “How do I care for my pond?” “What do I have to do to my pond?” “How do I get clean water?” quite often. Below are some tips to help you do just that.
Taking care of your koi pond is completely dependent on how it’s built. When it’s built with a properly sized filtration system, you can keep your pond running well with very low maintenance!
More Spring Pond Care Tips:
Add beneficial bacteria. We recommend adding beneficial bacteria every day for the first week after your pond is started. After that first week, adding bacteria once every week is usually plenty.
We suggest getting an Automatic Dosing System if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to add bacteria treatments to your pond.
We also suggest checking the skimmer basket about once a week. During the first few spring weeks in Minnesota, tree seeds can fall in your pond and plug the basket An easy 10 minutes spent every week in spring goes a long way towards clean and clear pond water for season later.
Summer Pond Care Tips:
During the summer months, your pond will start losing water to evaporation. The beautiful water plants will also start to give off moisture to the air through the leaves. You should be adding between 1-3 inches of water per week to maintain the correct water level in your pond.
Keep adding beneficial bacteria weekly, also.
Fall Pond Care Tips:
Cover your pond with a leaf net. This will help keep your pond clean. Make sure you keep the net off the surface of the water so the leaves don’t release tannins in the water. Tannin makes the pond water look like dark tea.
Fall is when the lights in the pond really come into play. Watching the fish swimming around, showing their beautiful colors as they play around the rocks, is so fun! Make sure as fall approaches you quit feeding your fish around 50 degrees. The fish can’t digest heavy foods at low temperatures but may eat algae and other things if they’re hungry. Don’t tempt them to over-eat!
Switch to Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria. Continue adding cold water bacteria every week until the ice comes, then add one dose every month to help keep the fish happy and healthy.
As fall comes to close it’s also time to close down your pond, typically around the last week of October. In Minnesota you can keep fish through the winter but it is hard on them. Make sure to accomodate for your fish health! Take the fish in and place in a tank with aeration or keep them in the pond if the pond will have some form of aeration and a hole in the ice (for air exchange).
Overall, a 10x15 pond should take about 25 hours a year to keep it going, and once you get started, you’ll find that it’s a great time to slow down, relax outside, enjoy nature, and even make some new friends as people hear your waterfall and want to see it!
How our virtual consultation works.
Jeff Chudek- CEO/President of Minnesota Waterscapes
Obviously, coronavirus is not a good thing. It’s not something any of us want to see, and yet it is the opportunity we get to learn from. How can we use this to reflect on our living? Will the challenge cause us to sink into apathy or choose to do things that matter?
Probably fewer people will be travelling this year. Vacation time is being used for the Stay AT Home Order. Even when the virus is gone, people will probably be less likely to travel, until the virus is more understood and also contained.
Progressive Minneapolis homeowners will start looking for ways to improve their property. The economy will certainly be a deciding factor for what is done, and how much is done. There’s no doubt about it. When you’re driven to stay home more, you look for ways to enjoy your home more. Some people call it a “Staycation”.
Below are some photos of ponds built by Minnesota Waterscapes. Be inspired! Be forward thinking. Do something that matters like go outside, spend time with those you love, and see the beauty in nature. We will find a new pattern, and we will survive!
By Becky Chudek- lead horticulturist for Minnesota Waterscapes
If you are interested in purchasing any kind of pond, koi (coi) fish pond, or decorative pond for your yard, you need to know the cost! Unfortunately, ponds don’t come with price tags hanging off them at the store like bird seed or shoes. If you are hiring a contractor, you might ask, “What does it cost?” and the contractor will shrug and say “It depends.”
Ponds are not standardized so the price “does depend” on the various factors. Below are some base costs for the Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN area along with some items that make the cost of a pond rise or fall. **
To clarify, we are talking about a pond; not streams, fountains, or waterfalls. The typical landscaped fish pond found in a backyard will be made using:
-a rubber liner placed in a custom dug hole and then covered in rocks
-have some sort of filtration system
-use an electric pump to move water through the system
These basic parts should be included in the price along with labor, delivery, and disposal of the old soil, otherwise the pond will not work!
Here are some basic pond costs in Minneapolis, MN for 2020:
Reasons your pond may cost more or less (the additions or modifications):
Additional pond costs- non-essential items
Upgrades are items that are not necessary to have as part of the building process. These items can be purchased at a different time.
By Becky Chudek- lead horticulturist for Minnesota Waterscapes
We recently found out that the 2020 Friends School Plant Sale held at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds has been cancelled due to Covid-19 prevention. This plant sale is the biggest plant fundraiser in the state and has been called the “great get-together for gardeners”! Typically held on or around Mother’s day weekend, the sale offered gardeners over 2,500 plant varieties including pond plants, native wildflowers, fruit trees, neonic-free plants, and specialty flowers. Being in the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand made it even more exciting! The sale was a treasure trove waiting to be explored by gardeners of any caliper.
The friends school plant sale is a major fundraiser for the Friends School of Minnesota, a small Quaker K-8 school in the Hamline-Midway area in Saint Paul. Their mission is ‘to prepare children to embrace life, learning, and community with hope, skill, understanding and creativity.” They are committed to “the Quaker values of peace, justice, simplicity, and integrity."
Cancelling the plant sale will remove about one fifth of their income in one blow. We don’t like to see a good school hurt and are sure you don’t either. Would you like to partner with us to help? For orders marked “friends plant sale”, we will donate 15% to the Friends School. Tell your friends and neighbors. Together we can make a difference!"
Go here to order your pond plants including floaters, marginals, water lilies, and other aquatic plants.
By Becky Chudek, lead horticulturist at Minnesota Waterscapes
Small spaces like a small backyard can become a wonderful place with the addition of a water feature! There are three good options for small water features that you will love to have. They are easy to maintain, fun to enjoy, and not costly. These small backyard water features are fountains and spillway bowls, pondless water falls, and small koi ponds.
1. Fountains and spillway bowls
Fountains come in all shapes and sizes but for ease of maintenance, fountains with an underground water storage vault and recirculating pump are a good choice. The part you see can be made from a variety of products like rock basalt columns or native Minnesota boulders; stacked slate urns made of composit materials; or concrete pottery like the beautiful spillway bowls.
Because they are fairly simple to install, they cost less and are a good choice for someone wanting to DIY their own backyard water feature.
2. Pondless Waterfalls
Pondless waterfalls are the type of water feature that is hard not to fall in love with! They always have the sound of moving water and are easy maintenace, too. You might ask yourself if you like big, dramatic, loud water sounds or more subtle, quiet and deep water movement. Either style can be built using the pondless waterfall system.
3. Small backyard koi pond
I have a confession to make. My husband wanted a pond in our small backyard. I put it off for years thinking the backyard was just too small. But we finally did put a pond in and it made all the difference between a "nice Minnesota backyard with lawn and some shrubs" and a place I wanted to be. Of all the pond pictures we have taken, the pond picture below is the most loved. (That is a picture of our actual pond we had in our small backyard.) Everyone loved that koi pond! It was about 8' x 11' with one small waterfall made of a flat piece of stone. We kept fish in it all year long, too.
These three small backyard water feature styles are worth considering if you have a small space, budget, or time. Of course, they also work well in larger settings or as add-ons to larger ponds and waterfalls. For more information, check out 7 questions to ask when choosing a water feature. You may be pleasantly surprised to find you now love your backyard too!
You’re enjoying the sound of your babbling waterfall flowing with the last of your morning routine, and leave to work in Minneapolis, MN. Around 1:30 PM you start dreaming of relaxing by the garden pond. Finishing the stressful day at work, you get home and realize you don’t hear your water flowing. Who do you call? Here’s a few things you can do to check for your waterfall pump issues!
Remember, if your pond will not be flowing overnight, it's a good idea to get an aerator in the pond so the fish have oxygen.
Grab your cell phone and charger, and let’s head out by the pond and waterfall!
1. Pond And Waterfall Pump Cavitation
Do you hear a slurping sound? Many have heard the sound of the last drops of a kid’s smoothie or shake being sucked up with a straw. Annoying, right? If you hear that sound from the pump area, the technical term is cavitation and causes damage to pumps. Your water level is low at the pump for some reason. A common pond pump and waterfall pump issue is low water around the pump. You may need to clean your filters, or the pond may just need to be topped off because of evaporation, or you may have a waterfall leak. We have this article on leaks. Adding 1 to 3 inches of water in your pond per week is considered normal. Here’s a calculation from Aquascape on expected evaporation/splash loss .
2. Plugged Intake Of The Pump
Is the pump humming with no water flow? If you hear the pump buzzing and nothing is coming out, while the pump is submerged under more than 5 inches of water, the intake of the pump could be plugged. Depending on your ability, you can clean the pump intake or call us.
3. There's no sound at all
Do you hear nothing from the pump? Grab your cell phone charger, plug it into the outlet next to the pump. Is there power?
The pump should be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI (formerly abbreviated GFI). We’ve been on service calls where the problem was simply a tripped GFCI.
If there’s no power, try resetting the GFCI.
If the GFCI trips right away, unplug everything from the outlet. Try resetting it again. If it trips again and doesn’t work with your cell phone charger, call a licensed electrician.
4. Pump Failure
If there’s power, no slurping sound, and no humming from the pump, it’s probably time for some help. We have many options available to us for pumps. We need to properly size your pond pump for longevity, and will talk about that in a different blog. If your pump died in less than 3 years old, it’s probably the wrong pump for the application. We have worked with Aquasurge, Little Giant, Tsurumi, AqusacapePro, Pond Boss, Easy Pro, and Aquascape pumps. We can often have your pump rebuilt by one of our rebuild specialists. If your pump has lasted over 5 years and you want to keep a good thing going, get it repaired!
We have a repair team on during the entire week and respond within 24 hours on weekdays, and if you have a question or emergency repair on a weekend we respond when we can, and will by Monday at noon. Submit a request for assistance on our Repairs Page, or text/call 763-458-8104.
We look forward to helping you with your Aquascape pump issues wherever you are in the 7 county area around the Twin cities, focusing in cities like Maple Grove, Wayzata, Plymouth, Minnetonka, and others!
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I love seeing "before & after" pictures! This Minneapolis koi pond was built many years ago. The pond did not have any algae control. It was surrounded by dry, compacted soil and rocks and weeds making it very hard to plant a garden near it and was a complete eye sore to the home owner. So, they asked Jeff to rebuild it.
The existing concrete patio was left in place but the old, leaky pond was totally removed and disgarded. Soil was excavated and a new rubber liner was installed instead of a preformed plastic pond liner. This gave the owner a larger, custom shaped pond that fit the space.
The area for the pond was quite small. Actually, it was one of the first backyard ponds we built.
Ponds can be small and the filtration systems can be disguised to seemlessly blend in with the landscape. If, like in this pond, the filter sticks up a bit more than wanted, aquatic plants can help soften the look. Even in small ponds it is important to use a filtration system to keep the water clear and to control algae.
The water plants filled in as the summer went by and the end product was beautiful! The owner loved having a backyard pond that was easy to maintain. I don't think he grew any coi fish but he was able to grow some beautiful water lilies.
If you are interested in learning how to filter a small pond, check out 'How to Choose the right filter for your pond" from Aquascape Inc.
If you have a small pond that needs to be cleaned, repaired, or upgraded, please send us a note. Our friendly technicians will gladly walk you through the steps your backyard pond may need to operate clean and free of algae this summer. Or if you just don't have time, set up your pond spring cleaning today!
Pond Care 101!
Ponds may seem mysterious and hard to care for but once you know the basics, they really are pretty easy to maintain, providing you with something beautiful and enjoyable year round!
Spring Pond Care:
In northern climates where the pond freezes over completely, you have to wait until the water in the pond, skimmer (pump house), biofalls, AND the underground pipe thaw before turning the pump on. Sometimes thawing takes a while, especially if there are shady spots near your pond.
Once the ice melts, it is time for a little spring cleaning! Spring is a good time to deep clean your fish pond. This removes sunken debris and muck and algae still clinging to the rocks.
Before cleaning, remove any deicer gadgets or special aerators and store for next winter. Switch the return de-icer pipe to the regular piping set up. Watch a DIY video on deep cleaning your pond.
If you don’t have time, schedule a “clean my fish pond”. (You can order a pond clean out with or without fish!) Once the pond is clean, it’s time to turn it on.
Keep your pond looking great all summer by following the simple pond maintenance tips below:
*Add some beneficial bacteria to help keep algae in check.
*Check for low spots in the liner around the edges.
*Adjust lights or replace light bulbs if needed.
*Trim back plants or remove dead foliage leftover from last year.
*Give landscape plants and aquatic plants a dose of fertilizer.
*Add extra gravel on the pond bottom (this gives good bacteria a place to colonize).
*Plant a few annuals for color around the edges or add a new water lily or native plant
(here is a list of invasive plants to avoid!)
*Don’t feed the fish until the water warms up to roughly 55F. (The fish don’t digest the food at the cooler temps, it just rots in their stomach.)
Early Summer care:
This time of year seems to be when leaks show up and algae dances along. If you suspect there is a leak, follow Jeff’s step-by-step leak detection directions.
Algae are a type of plant which performs photosynthesis just like other plants. There are several types found it home ponds. String algae, microscopic algae, and sometimes brown algae are the most common.
All types need food, light, and oxygen. If you remove one or more of those needs, the algae can be controlled without harsh chemicals.
Fish- Over feeding fish is one of the chief causes of algae “blooms” that we see. Feed only what the fish eat in one period. The fish waste also provides nutrients to algae so play around with the balance of plants vs fish in your pond. You’re trying to mimic the balance of a natural ecosystem.
Algae control we recommend:
Automatic doser- automatically drips the correct amount of beneficial bacteria, and clarifiers into your pond. You can sit back and enjoy clean, clear water!
IonGen probe- The copper ion probe inhibits algae growth automatically. It can be turned up or down depending on how bad the growth is.
Bogs/pond plants- use the nutrients in the water so fewer nutrients are available to algae.
Or use Ecoblast- a granular algaecide that can be spot applied.
For more information on recommended products, check out this link from Aquasacpe.
Summer Check list:
*Auto-fill valve- does it work? This is a great tool to use while on vacation so your pond doesn’t go dry due to evaporation.
A typical 8 x 10’ pond will lose 1-3” of water from evaporation in the heat of summer, especially if it is windy. An auto-fill will cover your loss and prevent the pump from running dry.
*Plants- give them a mid-summer fertilizer and a trim.
*Fish care- Feed, but don’t over feed! They can be trained to come to you.
* Check your skimmer basket regularly. Remove debris. Once a week is typical.
*Wash your filter mats about once a month (or more if the pond is quite dirty.)
Fall Pond care:
In northern climates, fall pond care is largley a battle to keep leaves out!
*Place a net over your pond before any trees nearby start dropping their leaves.
*Use a net to scoop floating leaves before they sink to the bottom. (Fall leaves will discolor your water turning it a tea color.)
*Check your skimmer basket OFTEN! Leaves can plug the basket causing the pump to suck air and burn out!!
*Switch to cool weather fish food when the water temp starts dropping below 60/55F.
*Trim back over grown plants before they freeze and fall into the water.
*Remove annuals and tropical plants. Cut back and store in cool location inside if you want them next year.
*Wash the filter mats.
Late fall pond care:
*Remove your pump and store in water in a place it won’t freeze.
*Place any aerators or heaters in the pond or switch the piping to a return de-icer. These will oxygenate the water for fish overwintering in the pond. Stop feeding the fish as the water temps drop below 45 F.
*Check the auto-fill valve on your pond to make sure it doesn’t have water standing in it.
There isn’t much to do in the winter unless you have fish outside. Simply enjoy your pond’s different moods throughout the winter season! Uplighting on nearby trees makes the pond look magical especially in winter.
If you keep fish in your pond year round, regularly check the pond, making sure there is an open place in the ice for air exchange. The fish don’t need food but they do need oxygen! A heater, return deicer, and/or aerators will provide this. Make sure they are running, especially when the temperature dips below zero F.
If you'd like to keep learning about backyard pond care or fish care, please check out other blog posts or Aquascape Inc. Keep your pond happy and enjoy life!
If you could wave a magic wand to create the perfect pond or waterfall, what would it look like? Whether you are a DIYer or hiring the work done, here are seven questions to help you figure out exactly what that looks like and if it will work for you!
1. How much space do you have?
If space is limited, consider installing a Pondless® waterfall or bubbling urn.
2. Do you have a budget?
Fountains cost the least and are quickest to install. Prices for waterfalls, streams, and ponds depend on size, type or rock used, and difficulty of installation. You can easily add a pond to your waterfall later on if you decide that you’d like to keep some fish and enjoy different types of aquatic plants (water lilies, for example).
A beautiful koi pond 8 x 10 feet and 24 inches deep professionally installed can gust upwards of $11500 depending on type of rock, lighting, or plants added. A basic backyard pond starts at $7200.
3. Do you want fish, plants, or lighting?
If you want fish choose a pond that is at least 24” deep. Lighting can also be added to a fountain or a waterfall. Plants can be customized by the owner, or installed by the contractor. Plants make a beautiful pond even better, and are vital to keeping the water clean in your backyard pond.
4. Do you want to hear the water moving?
A waterfall can be gentle and serene in the form a babbling brook or louder and more dramatic if built with longer drops. Perhaps a koi pond with no sound at all fits you better.
5. How much time do you want to spend time maintaining it?
Be honest about the time. But also note that maintaining a pond actually turns out to be playing in the water for many folks! Pond maintenance is relaxing work. You could hire the maintenance out to a pond professional if you don’t have time or interest.
6. Logistical questions include: Where do you want this? Can you see the water from the house? Be sure to locate it near a window so you can enjoy it from inside too! Does that spot have access to electricity or can it be installed? Do you have an irrigation system? (An automatic fill valve can be added for when you’re on vacation.)
7. Technical questions: Which system will you use? We recommend and only use the Aquascape system for its ease of use and environmentally-friendly approach to crafting and sustaining water features.
Hopefully these questions helped you create your ideal water feature! For more information and fun videos visit Aquascape’s youtube channel, MNponds pinterest page, Aquascapeinc.com for technical information, or contact us to set up a free, phone consultation today!
Enjoy life today!
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.