A Philadelphia water garden is a man-made water feature, typically a pool or pond, which is designed to complement the natural environment. Water gardens typically incorporate aquatic plants, ornamental fish, statuary, waterfalls, and other decorations. They can be found in residential backyards, courtyards, and parks, to compliment the landscaping, and as an enhancement in existing gardens.
There are several different types of Philadelphia water gardens, including container gardens, raised and sunken ponds, and bog gardens. A container water garden is typically small and easy to care for and can be placed on a patio or balcony with ease.
Raised and sunken ponds are built directly into the ground and require more maintenance than other types of water gardens. Bog gardens are the most natural of the three and are designed to attract wildlife. They are generally dug into the ground, lined with plastic, and filled with native plants and fish.
What are water gardens for?
Although a water garden’s primary focus is on plants, they can house fish as well.
How big is a water garden?
They can be almost any size or depth, they are typically small and relatively shallow, generally less than 24 inches deep. This is because most aquatic plants are depth sensitive and require a specific water depth in order to thrive.
Why a Philadelphia water garden?
A water garden is an aquaculture system – a diverse aquatic ecosystem, one of the most productive and efficient systems around. In an aquaculture system, aquatic plants have a constant supply of water that has nutrients dissolved in it, which they can easily take up. The waste from fish and other animals in the system provide additional nutrient to the plants, making for a very efficient and productive system.
What do I need in my water garden?
Plants are an important part of a Philadelphia water garden. They add life to the feature, and create a natural ecosystem, which promotes the health of the fish. A well-stocked water garden will include several different types of plants and fish. The plants may be submerged, marginal, or floating varieties. It is recommended that a combination of these plant types be used to keep the water garden in optimal health.
More questions? AquaReale is happy to help! Contact us at 215.880.6811 or email [email protected]
Do you have a Philadelphia Pond Problem? Leaks can be the most frustrating part of owning a pond. They are often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Understanding how leaks work and how to detect them will save you time, money, and headaches.
What is Evaporation?
First, let’s have a look at what evaporation is and what it isn’t. Evaporation is caused by water turning into a vapor and escaping from your pond. The amount of water loss will vary according to the region of the country and the time of year.
Ponds that are located in areas of the country like Philadelphia, with moderate temperatures and high humidity can expect to see 1 to 1 ½ inches of water loss per week during the spring and summer.
Evaporation is not filling your pond up all the way one evening and waking up the next morning to find the water six inches lower. That’s a leak! If your pond is experiencing a loss of water at a more rapid rate, you either have a leak, or your frogs are drinking the water. Seriously, let’s figure that it’s a leak. What do you do then?
Philadelphia Pond Problem: Low Edges
Look for any low edges. Settling at the pond’s edge is the most common cause of a leak, especially in a new pond. Typically, the low edges are found around the stream and waterfall where settling may have occurred after a few rainfalls. These areas are usually built up during the construction of the pond using the soil from the excavation and are prone to some settling.
Carefully inspect the edges of not only your stream and waterfall, but also the perimeter of the pond. As the dirt around the stream or waterfall settles, it can create low spots that may cause water to escape over the edge of the liner. Keep your eyes peeled for wet mulch or gravel, or muddy areas around the perimeter of your pond. If you find a spot that’s leaking, all you have to do is lift the liner up and push some soil under it in order to raise the edge. Bingo – leak fixed!
Low edges can be built back up by simply backfilling and compacting soil beneath the liner in order to raise the edge of the liner above the water level.
Obstructions in the Stream and Waterfalls
In addition to checking for low edges, you should also check your stream and waterfall. Rocks and excessive plant or algae growth in the stream or biofalls can restrict the flow of water and divert it over the edge of the liner.
Plants and algae should be maintained by trimming them back in order to let the water pass freely. All in all, these leaks are extremely easy to fix.
You’ve spent 15 minutes or so following the suggestions listed above and you still can’t find the leak. What do you do next? It’s time for a little more work, and some drastic measures. You’ll have to shut your pump off for a day. By doing this, you’ll be able to determine the approximate location of the leak.
Make sure the pond is filled to the appropriate level.
Unplug the pump.
Let the pond sit for 24 hours.
If the water level drops, then you know the leak is in the pond.
When the Water Drops
To find out where the Philadelphia Pond Problem is occurring, allow the water level to continue to drop. The level where the water stops dropping is the level where the leak is located.
Concentrate your search around the perimeter of the pond at the level that the water has stopped dropping.
Now the fun begins! At this point, you may want to consider calling in a pond professional, but in order to reveal the exact location of the leak, you’ll need to:
Remove any rocks around the entire perimeter at the level where the water stopped. You can then carefully check for some sort of puncture, or hole in the liner.
When you find the hole, you simply patch it with a liner patch kit available at pond supply retailers.
Now you can replace the rocks, fill the pond back to the top, and enjoy!
Steady and Level
If the water level remains the same, then it is safe to assume that that the leak is not in the pond. Now you’ll need to check the pipe, the plumbing fittings, and the pump connections for leaks.
Another possible culprit is the faceplate of your skimmer, if you have one. If the water level stopped dropping above the bottom of the faceplate you should investigate the skimmer. It may not have sealed correctly.
If the Leak Is in the Skimmer
Investigate the skimmer faceplate without disassembling it.
Simply move a few rocks around the front of the skimmer and slide your hand behind the liner, feeling for wet soil around the opening of the skimmer. If the soil is saturated, then the faceplate may have not been installed properly and might be the source of the leak.
Remove the faceplate, clean all of the old silicone off the liner, and refer back to the instruction manual on proper procedures for sealing the skimmer faceplate to the skimmer. Hopefully, you’ve solved the leak.
It’s not fun to have a Philadelphia Pond Problem. It can be a time-consuming and frustrating process to locate the leak. Hopefully with these steps and tips, you can quickly locate the source of the leak and get right back to enjoying your water garden.
Four things to consider for your Philadelphia Fish Pond
Before you dig your Philadelphia Fish Pond, you need to do a decent amount of planning. Logistics are just as important as dreams when it comes to your beautiful water feature.
We recommend considering these four things when planning your own Philadelphia Fish Pond:
Some water features just aren’t good matches for some land. Digging a pond out of bedrock probably isn’t your best option. And a steep incline might be better suited to a waterfall than a large pond.
Consider what would make the most of the area’s natural beauty by taking an honest look around your property . Many folks start out thinking they want one thing but discover the ideal water feature for their yard is something different. Don’t be afraid to adapt your plan.
When planning your Philadelphia Fish Pond, think about the views from inside the home. Watching cascading water through a large window can be amazing, even when weather conditions are less than terrible.
Also consider where you’ll be viewing your water feature from when you are outside. You may have a neat hill towards the back of your yard, but the further away from your home, the less likely you’ll use and enjoy your water feature. We suggest finding an area where you regularly spend time that’s close to your house. Areas near a patio, a deck, or even a hammock can be ideal spots.
A healthy pond ecosystem strikes a delicate balance, and filtration is an important part of the cycle. Mechanical and biological filtration components remove suspended debris and excess algae that cause toxic gases like ammonia.
Rocks and gravel in the pond provide places for beneficial bacteria to live. A skimmer will protect the pond pump, which helps keep the water circulating. Beneficial bacteria will cultivate in areas of your filtration like in the media mats. too.
In turn, these bacteria help keep the water clear of fish waste and organic debris. Finally, aquatic plants will absorb nutrients that algae feed on and will release oxygen into the water. This keeps fish happy.
Philadelphia Fish Pond: Sun vs. shade
This can be a tricky one, especially in winter when the trees are bare. But envision your space in summer. How does the sun move across the land? Is the area heavily shaded or in full sun?
A water feature amidst a shade garden can be beautiful, but consider the amount of leaf debris coming down in autumn. Excess leaf buildup in your water feature can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
A water feature in full sun may be less susceptible to leaf debris, but algae can thrive in these conditions even with adequate filtration. Remember, too, that your fish will want a break from the summer sun’s heat. Incorporate aquatic plants to cover some of the surface or install a fish cave to provide respite from the sun. A balance of sun and shade is a good thing, and you probably want to create your feature where it will get at least a little bit of both.
No matter what your Philadelphia Fish Pond plans call for, AquaReale can help. We can design, build, and maintain the water feature that’s right for you. Call us at 215.880.6811 for more information or contact us online.
During the colder winter months, you can either keep your Philadelphia pond running for the winter, or shut it down. To shut your pond down, first unplug the pump, pull it out of the pond, and store it in a frost-free location, submerged in a bucket of water to keep the seals from drying out.
Philadelphia Pond Shutdown for the Fish
If you have fish and live in a climate cold enough to cause your pond to freeze over, you need to be aware of two things. First, is oxygenating the water. To do this, place an aerator or small pump like the AquaForce® Pond Pump on the second shelf of your pond so it bubbles right at the surface of the water. This will replace the oxygenation that your waterfalls were taking care of during the pond season.
In all but extremely low temperatures, the bubbling of the pump will also keep a hole open in the ice to allow for gas exchange. This is the second thing that you need to do for your fish. A hole in the ice allows the escape of harmful gasses created by decay of organic matter that would otherwise build up under the ice.
If your geographic area experiences long periods of exceptionally cold weather, the pump won’t be enough to keep a hole open in the ice in your Philadelphia Pond, and you’ll want to consider adding a floating Aquascape 300-Watt Pond De-Icer. Controlled by a thermostat, the unit only runs when the water temperature is at or below freezing, heating only the surrounding water to just above freezing, and then shutting off again.
Be sure to position them so the two units are not near each other, otherwise the pond de-icer will run continuously in order to heat the that water that’s constantly being circulated by the pump.
Beautiful Ice Sculptures
Leaving your Philadelphia Pond up and running is an option many people prefer. Not only does the waterfall and/or stream provide the beautiful sound of running water, but also the freezing water creates outstanding ice sculptures along the stream and waterfall area. The water movement created by running the Philadelphia Pond during the winter also eliminates the need for additional oxygenation of the water.
There are many benefits to operating your Philadelphia Pond and waterfall year-round, but there are also a couple things you need to watch out for. As the water in the falls or stream freezes, the possibility of water loss due to ice damming is increased. When the ice freezes, a dam that pushes the flowing water over the edge of the liner can be created. This isn’t always a problem, but it is something that you need to be aware of and watch out for.
Whether you choose to shut down your pond or leave it running during the winter months, a bit of minor maintenance is all that’s needed to ensure that your pond will perform optimally when warmer breezes begin to blow.
For more information or for help with your Philadelphia Pond, contact us.
A nip in the air, shorter days, and the shedding of multi-colored leaves from the trees signifies a changing of the seasonal guard and mean its time for Fall Pond Care.
Fall Pond Care can vary depending on where you live, but there are some basic guidelines to help your aquatic plants and finned friends weather the chill of Mother Nature. Here is a handy check list to help ensure a healthy pond come spring time.
Our Top Fall Pond Care Tips
Decaying leaves and foliage produce toxic gases that can harm your fish so you want to remove this debris before winter rolls into town. You don’t need to remove every single last leaf but try to remove the majority.
If you put Protective Pond Netting over your pond before the leaves started to fall, your job is easy. Carefully roll up the net and discard the leaves that were caught.
Stop fertilizing your aquatic plants after the first frost.
Trim back hardy marginal aquatic plants to 2″ above the water to keep the dead foliage from drooping over into the pond.
Trim back waterlily leaves and stems to 2-3″ above the base of the plant. This keeps dead foliage from decomposing in the pond.
If you left hardy waterlilies in their pot, drop them into the deepest part of the pond to over-winter. Do not bring them indoors as they need a period of dormancy.
Bring tropical waterlilies indoors if you want to over-winter them. Keep the pot in 50-degree water or take them out of the pot and store in sand. Be advised, even trained horticulturists lose a lot of tropical waterlilies when storing them indoors, so you might simply want to treat them as annuals.
If you didn’t use a net over the surface of your pond, you’ll need to remove the build-up of leaves from the bottom of the pond. Use a long handled pond net to scoop them out. Check your skimmer basket and remove any leaves that are still caught inside.
Add Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to the pond once the temperature drops below 50 degrees. Use twice weekly for two weeks, and then once per week until the water starts to freeze.
Once temperatures drop to 50 degrees, stop feeding your fish. They need to get ready to hibernate and you’ll want to avoid any metabolic complications. You can feed them Cold Water Fish Food until the temperature drops below 50 degrees.
The seasonal change from summer to fall is the most beautiful time of the year, but not for Aquatic plants in the fall. The leaves turn beautiful colors and create an array of amazing colors. However, with fall comes cooler temperatures. How will the cool air affect aquatic plants this fall?
Aquatic plants in the fall: Waterlilies
Waterlilies will begin to show their dislike for the cold with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers. When this happens, the leaf and flower stems of hardy water lilies should be cut back to about 2 to 3” above the base of the plant.
In warm climates, tropical waterlilies are happy in the pond year round, as long as the water temperature stays above 60°F. In areas where freezing is likely, plants should be overwintered indoors. This can be a difficult task; therefore many gardeners choose to simply buy a new plant each season.
Aquatic plants in the fall: Hardy Marginals
Dropping temperatures signal your hardy aquatic plants to prepare for their winter dormancy. At this time, you should stop fertilizing them as you see leaves begin to yellow and brown. It’s okay to leave these plants where they are in your pond to weather the cold of winter, just be sure to trim the dying foliage of your marginal plants down to 2” above the water level.
Aquatic plants in the fall: Lotus Aquatic Plants
As with the marginals in your pond, the foliage of your lotus plants will need to be trimmed back after they have died back and turned brown. It’s important not to cut the leaves while they are still green because the freshly cut, hollow stems are susceptible to disease which can spread to the plant’s tuber, possibly killing the plant.
Lotus tubers will not withstand freezing, so any plants that are growing in the shallow areas of your pond should be moved to the bottom, away from freezing water.
Aquatic plants in the fall:Tropical Marginals
In warm climates, tropical marginals will keep growing and will require fertilizer as usual. Water gardeners who live in Zones colder than 8 or 9 will need to treat these plants as they would any garden annual by replacing them each season.
A fun alternative to this is to treat them as tropical houseplants and bring them in for the winter. Most tropical marginals will do well potted in heavy garden soil in a sealed clay pot with no drainage holes. When kept wet, the plants do well in a sunny window or sunroom.
Caring for your aquatic plants in the fall will mean less work and healthier plants come spring. Contact AquaReale for help with your Aquatic plants in the fall.
Some people don’t see the charm or uniqueness of butterfly koi and think of them as the “black sheep” of koi. We have even heard people say butterfly koi are not real koi fish! Simply not true! As many other DO know, butterfly koi can be some of the best koi in any koi collection!
How did the butterfly koi originate?
Brown and grey carp with long fins were found in Indonesia in the early 1980s. A NY company heard about them and bought some but then they thought they were too ugly to sell. But, a group of curious breeders at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery heard about them and decided to order some too. They took their odd-looking long-finned fish and bred them with their finest traditional koi fish. They actually turned out great!
The long finned koi ended up being robust and disease free. They could also be bred in many beautiful colors. An original Blue Ridge breeder was named Wyatt LeFever. When his young son first went to see the fish, he said “Dad they look like butterflies.” The name is still used today for the fish.
Butterfly koi size
Butterfly koi become more and more impressive as they grow. Their fins keep growing until the blood vessels can’t sustain the fins to be any longer. The older the fish, the longer and more impressive the finnage. A full-grown koi can almost like a long, slinky dragon moving through the water..
The fish may not be as large as traditional koi, but they can run from 36-40 inches in the right pond with the right food. Butterfly koi are pleasant and graceful and a delight to watch swim.
Is a butterfly koi a “real” koi fish?
Yes, they are. In the past, Japanese koi enthusiasts did not appreciate the long-finned koi. Over time, Japanese breeders started seeing the beauty and value in the fish, partially from their immense popularity in the United States. Now the butterfly koi are a very popular koi fish pond choice. For more information on koi ponds in the Philadelphia area, contact us.