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Imagine coming home to your own backyard pond with thriving, colorful, lily pads, and cattails. Backyard waterscapes including waterfalls, water gardens and brooks are the hottest trend in landscaping today. Whether you own a multi-acre estate or a small lot beautiful yard can add year-round enjoyment and serenity to your daily life.
Transforming your yard into a calming, peaceful refuge is a affordable as an outdoor spa, deck, or patio and is easily installed in either your front or backyard. A water feature is less time consuming, easier to care for, and less expensive than maintaining a lawn.
One of the first decisions that need to be made is whether you want to build a Koi-only pond or water garden. Koi ponds are strictly designed. Bottom drains, grave-less bottoms, and deeper depths are the norm. Koi-only ponds are usually quite deep (36” or more) and plants are most likely separated from fish. Additional yard space is also required for placing the oversized filters needed to compensate for the lack of filtration inside the pond.
Water gardens on the other hand are designed to include both animal and plant life. In fact, Koi can be raised successfully in the water garden. Many design firms such as Aquascape Designs, in West Chicago, Illinois, primarily focus on constructing water gardens where both plants and fish are welcome and other wildlife such as frogs and dragonflies are frequent visitors. These ponds are easily integrated into the landscape and aquatic plants add considerable beauty, while pond plumbing and filters can be easily hidden.
The second thing to decide is if you would like to build a formal or an informal water feature. Formal ponds are usually geometrically shaped forms such as circles, rectangles, or ellipses, and tend to share design features with a swimming pool or spa.
Next you may want to consider the size of your pond. Residential ponds vary considerably. About 80% of the ponds used in residential settings are 1000 to 5000 gallons. These are usually sized about 6’x8’ to 20’x30’. The excavated dirt is ideally used to create a berm. Berms add to the beauty of a water garden and allow you to build a waterfall and stream. An undersized berm can seriously compromise the beauty of the waterfall and limit the plantings, which are valuable to overall landscaping plan. Aquascape Designs recommends a berm be at least 8 feet wide and 2 feet high to give adequate space and height to develop a significant water fall and stream. The waterfall and stream add immensely to the beauty and sounds of your water feature. It also adds oxygen to the water, which promotes a healthy ecosystem for stronger fish and plants.
The last, but possibly the most important decision you could make when planning your water feature, is location. Position your pond so you can easily see and hear it from within your home. Create your desired shape and size by laying out a garden hose and mark the waterfalls with buckets or sticks. Then, go back into the house to explore the views from the dining area, family room and bedrooms. If your yard is already landscaped, don’t repair. Moving a few bushes or even repositioning a walkway will usually pay off if the sights and sounds of your pond can be enjoyed longer or more often.
Located in West Chicago, Illinois, Aquascape Designs, Inc. is the country’s largest watergarden builder. Additionally, Aquascape is a wholesale manufacturer and supplier of its own patented pond-filtration system and related construction products. Aquascape conducts water-feature seminars and workshops, and produces training videos geared toward assisting the professional contractor and retailer comprehend water features.

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