Whether your pond is small or large, your pond will reap big benefits from having water plants! Aquatic plants clean your water and beautify your pond. Every pond owner dreams of less algae and aquatic plants can help! How do they do this?
Water garden plants need nutrients just like plants growing in soil so the nutrients floating around in the water are drawn in through their roots. Nutrients can come from fish waste, old leaves and debris rotting in the water, or minerals present in the water. Algae, also in the plant Kingdom, need nutrients too. If your aquatic plants are using the nutrients, less are available to algae. Fewer nutrients for alae equal less algae growth and cleaner water!
How many plants does my pond need?
To determine how many plants you need, ask yourself the following questions.
Click here for a handy planting guide with several pond sizes shown: Don’t be afraid to experiment!
What kind of plants should I use?
The answer to what kind of plant should I use depends primarily on how much sun exposure your pond gets. The water garden plants you choose should need about the same amount of sun. You don’t want a shade plant mixed with a sun lover! One plant will suffer, one plant will take over.
You will also want a mix of floating plants, marginal plants, and submerged plants to oxygenate the water.
Floating plants float on the water. Common ones are water lettuce, duckweed, bladderwort, water clover, and water hyacinth.
Submerged plants have their roots completely under the water. They are planted right in the pond gravel or in a pot sitting on the pond bottom. Water lilies, smartweed, and lotus roots come to mind.
Marginal plants are planted so their roots are wet but the stem may or may not be completely in the water. They are planted in rock ledges or crevasses around the pond edge and are highly effective at framing waterfalls, softening edges, and filtering unwanted runoff from nearby lawns. Mini cattails, arrow root, marsh marigolds, forget-me-nots, cardinal flower (lobelia), and creeping jenny are examples of marginal plants.
One special note: Some plants are very aggressive in growth and will take over. These plants can be used but may need to stay in a pot to contain them. Some plants may be illegal and invasive to native water ways. Here is a list of 10 such plants. The MN DNR has a list with photos of invasive aquatic plants.
What happens if I have too many plants?
Too many plants in your pond cause problems just like having too few pond plants! An overgrown pond looks messy and is hard to care for. Excessive foliage chokes the water preventing correct filtering. If you have too many plants, so many that you can’t see the water, then it’s time to rip a few out and dispose. (Remember to dispose non-natives according to the MN DNR rules so you don’t accidentally introduce something into the wild which will become invasive.)
For large plant clumps, remove the clump, cut off unwanted dead or damaged spots and rotten stems. If you like the plant, save a small but healthy piece and replant it. If the plant is very aggressive, planting it in a pot which is then submerged will help control future growth.
How do I care for my pond plants?
All plants need food, water, sun, and regular trimming to look amazing. If you are not getting many flowers, the plant probably needs a little fertilizer or more sun. Some plants like water lilies and lotus benefit from a slow release fertilizer pellet put in their root zone.
Regular plant trimming removes rotten or damaged leaves. Check your aquatic plants for damage after a heavy rainstorm or windy day, too. Sometimes the pots get tipped over and just need to be reset.
If a plant looks yellowish, it may be in the wrong sun exposure. Shade loving plants bleach out in the sun and will get a “burnt” look on the margin. Sun loving plants that are in shade will be thin and weak. Move the plant to a different spot in the pond or try something new!
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Gardening, especially water gardening, is fun! For expert help with your water garden please contact us. If you just don't have the time or desire to get dirty this spring, sign up for a Pond Spring Clean-out! (learn more here...)
If you have an old, leaky, or crumbling backyard pond causing you headaches, worry no more! That old leaky pond can be transformed into a Pondless® water feature in a few steps and some sweat equity. Benefits of Pondless® water features include running water without the maintenance, turning it off while on vacation, no wintertime de-icing, and no fish to overwinter! This article shows the seven steps to transform your old pond into a low maintenance water feature.
Converting Old Pond to Pondless –Step by Step Guide
5. After the liner is in place, set the vault box (this holds the pump) in its spot. Next to the vault box place Aquablocks. Both the vault box and aquablocks0 are in the basin and will be covered with gravel. They are the hidden “filter system” for a Pondless® water feature. Aquablocks keep the basin hole from collapsing and reduce the amount of gravel needed.
6. Now it is time to set rocks and gravel. This is when art meets science. The rocks must be placed skillfully so they divert the water correctly. You don’t want to lose the water unknowingly. It helps to set one or two larger rocks in first then add the smaller rocks and gravel.
7. Last, rinse all the rocks and gravel. Pump out the dirty water and fill the basin. It is time to turn your own Pondless® water feature on and enjoy!
I just love seeing before and after photos of other peoples' projects! It doesn't matter if they are home remodeling photos or gardens or backyard ponds or landscaping; I get ideas from all of them! I think many people get design ideas this way! (think: Pinterest!) So, here is a backyard waterfall project that Jeff built several years ago for some wonderful people!
The first shot shows a side view of their backyard. It was a nice, suburban back yard in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area with a very thick lawn! (Part of our work can disrupt the grass but Jeff can easily fix that.) The slope created the perfect canvas for a disappearing waterfall.
Jeff always begins his waterfall design with a hose and can of spray paint!
After the basic waterfall design was laid out, heavy machinery was brought in! Disappearing waterfalls have unique, underground parts that have to be dug in for the waterfall to work properly and remain clean.
You can see the small patio being constructed next to the stream in this photo. A solid base was placed first so the patio pavers will stay nice and level even with winter freeze/thaw patterns.
What looks like a hose is actually the black plastic edging installed around the future garden area near the stream.
Ahh! Some finished pictures showing the beautiful rock and stream bed! (This stone is called tiger stripe or blue weathered edge.)
Jeff put landscape lighting around the stream in the gardens. He also installed LED underwater lights in the waterfall itself!
And here is the waterfall running! You can see several different areas that it drops and the large stone used as a bridge connecting one garden side to the other near the patio. An assortment of perennials and shrubs were installed too and will eventually fill in nicely around all the rocks. (See the naughty dog enjoying the stream?!?)
Tough luck living in Minneapolis, MN this weekend! Since it seems like the spring pond season will never come, I found this video filled with blooming flowers quite cheerful!
If you like tattoos, particularly a flower tattoo, this plant highlighted in the video would be perfect sitting on your front steps or planted near your pond, or even placed in a pot sitting on top of your skimmer box. (I saw something like that last year.)
A little background for the video: Because I am part of the plant world, I subscribe to various plant magazines. (To be perfectly honest, this doesn’t have much to do with ponds or leaks in your pond or even fountains...)
The spring trials are basically a bunch of growers showing off their newest, coolest plants for growers and nursery people. So by watching this video, you are getting a sneak peak at what nurseries in Minnesota will have soon! (Please note: your local nursery may or may not have these plants this season.)
Anyway, enjoy the video! Keep in mind that it is made with a nursery grower in mind, not a backyard pond enthusiast but I hope it brings a bit of spring to brighten your day!
(Written By the Pond Momma)
He wanted a pond….
I must be honest with you; I didn’t want a pond. My husband did though and tried talking me into it for several years. I didn’t want to spend the money; I didn’t want to take up space in our (very) small back yard; I didn’t like the thought of standing water when we had small children around. But, we ended up with a pond anyway! And you know what? I am really glad that we have one now. Now I am the one asking for a bigger pond or a longer stream or a log bridge over part. My husband laughs.
The pond is our favorite place to hang in our backyard pretty much the entire year. As soon as the ice melts, the kids are playing on the edge which turns into wading and looking for the fish. A few weeks ago it rained one of those early spring rains. The pond didn’t have any ice but snow still covered all the dried plants. It was so pretty I tried to take a movie.
Jeff built our pond with steps going down. The each step is only one rock deep so (when) our small children step in, they just sit up and climb out. There are two more steps that are 9 inches. The fish cave is on the lowest level. The pond is only 2 feet deep, and the fish overwinter every year.
Last summer the kids found out they could use their snorkel masks to watch the fish! Ha ha!
I think dipping my toes in during the summer is relaxing but my favorite time is in fall, when the plants are mature and turning copper colored and a few red maple leaves float across the water. I can see the pond at night from my bedroom window and can hear the waterfall echo bouncing off the neighbor’s house up into my upstairs bedroom. (The neighbors enjoy that too!)
If you’ve ever had a backyard pond with a flagstone waterfall, then you know what kind of magic it puts into your yard. The yard seems alive. More birds and butterflies visit. Nature seems closer because the water brings it to you. Even the landscaping seems more beautiful. If someone asked if I would recommend having a pond, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. So glad Jeff talked me into it! Try it. You will be glad to have a backyard pond too!
How do I find a pond leak in Minneapolis, Minnesota? How do I repair my leaking waterfall in Maple Grove, MN? Leak detection can be a very frustrating process. It’s not quite rocket science, but does require patience, dedication and accuracy. We have spent a lot of time looking for leaks, so we created a leak detection process to make it go easier.
First, how much water should my pond use? As a general rule, water features can use between 1 to 3 inches of water per week and be normal. Size, wind, heat, humidity, how you enjoy, waterfall pattern, plant load, and other things affect water consumption. Continue reading if you’re adding more than 1-3 inches of water per week.
If you plan to have us fix it, please don’t help “too much”. Only do step 2 below. Taking your water feature apart right away is often NOT the right thing to do. We frequently find leaks with very little disassembly.
If you decide to look for the leak yourself, remember to take it step by step. If you skip steps, you may miss the source of the leak and need to start over. Worse, if you skip a step, you’ll think you found the problem and spend resources “fixing” a leak, only to find it wasn’t the source of the leak.
Where is my waterfall leaking? Well, it depends. How big is your pond? How intricate is your waterfall? There is no easy answer to this. After years of practice, we have shown up at a water feature we’ve never seen before and found the leak in 5 minutes. Other times, it took hours and even days of testing to find the cause of the leak. At what point does the cost of finding the leak overcome the cost of rebuilding your backyard pond just the way you want it with a full warranty?
This maybe the most important part! Step back, take a deep breath, enjoy the sight and sound of your water feature. Think about how water is always seeking the lowest level. It will take any path allowed to get to the lowest level. Look over your entire pond system while it’s running. Visually inspect things around your pond. Plants, roots, edges, sharp rocks, etc. A low edge, a settled rock, a new plant installed close to the edge so the liner was pushed down are some examples of things we find. Often we make this look too easy when we show up and find the leak in 10 minutes! :) This skill has taken years to develop, so don’t feel bad if we do this to you. In fact, even our newer employees with a little experience under their belt can feel bad when a more experienced pond builder shows up and finds the leak in 5 minutes.
Once you start a testing period, don’t change anything about the pond. Moving anything in the pond when you’re doing your test changes your results. Moving rocks, plants, or gravel can alter flow rate and skew your test. If you move anything, you have to start over.
Start your leak detection here:
1: We need to know how much the pond is leaking, and if it is.
Put a tape measure, ruler or yardstick in the pond for the entire duration of testing. The measuring tool needs to stay put and not be moved. “The special rock spot you fill to” is great for general filling and knowing when to add water, but it won’t give you consistent exact readings when finding a waterfall leak. The measurement needs to be from a spot we can get very consistent readings from.
Write down the date, time, and measurement the water is at. Let the waterscape run until the water goes down an easily measurable amount. That could be one inch. If it goes down in 24 hours and that calculates out to more than 3 inches per week, continue the test.
2: Check the easiest part, the pond or basin.
Shut your pump off. Allow the water in the streams and waterfalls to drain down into the pond. After about an hour, record what the water level is. Leave the pond for 24 hours. If you have fish, be sure to care for them. This will tell us if you have a leak in the pond or basin.
3: 24 hours later, check the water level in the biofalls, which also tests the plumbing. The water should be almost to the top of the biofalls. If it’s full, skip to step 4.
3B: If the biofalls is low or empty during the 24 hour test, we recommend sealing the pipe where it comes into the skimmer and refilling the biofalls to the top. Let it sit for 24 hours. You should not lose any water in the biofalls when this test is done.
3C: If the water drops again, you have a leak in your plumbing. With specialized tools, we typically can locate the leak, or you can replace the entire biofalls, pipe and fittings. After being repaired, start test 5 over to make sure you cover your bases.
4: Check the measurement on the pond level. If it’s a lower measurement from yesterday’s number, repeat this step until it stops losing water. We’re looking for a leak in the pond liner.
4B: When the pond level stops dropping, the leak is at the water level. You can look yourself, or start moving rocks to find the leak. Give us a call if you can’t find it or don’t want to deal with it.
5: So if the pond level doesn’t go down, and the plumbing tests ok, the leak has to be in the waterfall. Finding a leak in waterfalls can take more time and cost than it would just to replace the liner and rebuild the falls. Do you like the look of your waterfall? Is it how you would like to have it anyway? If not, consider installing a whole new liner and rebuilding the waterfalls. If you choose to look for the leak, test each level and make sure it doesn’t leak as you move up. Run the test for as long as the original test took that had a measurable result.
It is an awesome feeling to find a leak in my pond and fix it but it can be such a pain to find a waterfall leak! We have been known to recommend “full replacement” after seeing pictures of your pond and discussing it. Replacement may not be the right thing, but keep it in your mind as an option.
At Minnesota Waterscapes, we specialize in understanding, building, and maintaining ecosystem koi ponds and disappearing waterfalls in the greater Minneapolis, MN and St. Paul, MN area. We really enjoy building custom water gardens in Minnesota.
We continuously improve our knowledge through various training events so we can be the best pond installation contractors in Minneapolis.
We also realize that we may not be the perfect fit for every person out there. We always have the best for our customers at heart and when asked, and we’ll be 100% honest and let you know what we think is best.
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 as they 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.
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.
Visionary Landscape Design
Steve Volkenant is a salt of the earth guy that owns Visionary Landscape Design. It has been a pleasure working with him on some of the pond tours we’ve done. I've visited a couple of his sites and I liked how they turned out.
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
As people who live in Minneapolis, we get about 7 or 8 months to enjoy our Minnesota water gardens outside. We hope you’ll make a good choice 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.
Happy spring! We’re excited to have a fresh start to pond season here in Minneapolis, MN! I’m super excited to see the ice gone from our pond. Soon we’ll be doing a spring pond cleaning, starting the waterfall, enjoying the plants, feeding the fish, and the best part, enjoying the colors of our fish as they swim past the underwater lights in the evening.
As a company, we get a new, fresh start this year! Here's how it rolled down:
Inspired Design Landscapes Inc has loved water features since before our beginning in 2005. We started as a landscape contractor installing low voltage lighting, patios, and landscaping. Then we discovered Aquascape Inc and the Certified Aquascape Contractors program later the same year. Today we continue to bring years of experience , and are happy to review ideas and consult on how things can work best for your lifestyle.
In 2017 we wanted to focus on Water Gardening in Minnesota, so we started doing business as (DBA) Minnesota Water Gardens. Due to issues beyond our control, we chose not to continue with the name Minnesota Water Gardens past 2017.
In 2018, we are moving forward Doing Business As (DBA) Minnesota Waterscapes. We offer maintenance services like spring pond cleanouts, summer pond care and maintenance, fall pond netting, and winter shutdown of your pond. We also can install a pond, install a disappearing waterfall, and various pond repair services. Your water garden in Minnesota can be accented with plants including ones such as Society Garlic, Water Lilies, Marsh Marigold, and many others. Pretty much anything decorative fish pond or waterfall.
We look forward to serving you this year and beyond. Watch for more blogs in line with the spirit of water features, including “can I keep my fish in my pond for winter”, “How deep should I make my pond”, “how do I clean my pond in the spring”, and many others. Leave your questions below and we'll do our best to answer them in future blogs!
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.