How Often Should You Clean Your FilterFalls?

Atlantic FilterFalls are  one of the best designed upflow biological filtration units on the market. The low maintenance FilterFalls works in two ways to remove wastes. It removes visible suspended solids mechanically by trapping them in the filter pads, clearing the water. One type of bacteria that grows right on the filter pads consumes that trapped organic ooze.
Why use FilterFalls
The primary function of the filter is to remove the toxic ammonia and nitrites excreted by fish, converting them to harmless nitrates. This function is performed by a nitrifying bacteria which  lives in the filter pads. Without them the fish and animals in the pond would actually poison themselves very quickly in their own wastes. These bateria require a constant flow of oxygenated water and cannot survive drying or washing in chlorinated water. They take a long time to grow and a longer time to grow back. They are essential to the health of the pond. The longer the filter is left undisturbed, the better it will do its job. The filter should not be cleaned more than a few times a year; once or twice a year is typical. Look for greatly reduced flow as an indicator of when to clean it, or wait till the end of the season before closing it up for the winter.
Cleaning your FilterFalls
To keep the bacteria alive, take the top pad out and keep it in a bucket of pond water so the bacteria doesn’t die. It doesn’t need to be perfectly clean. Only wash the bottom filter pad in chlorinated water. Put the top pad down on the bottom and the cleaned pad on top and fill the filter with pond water. The check valve at the pump will keep the water from draining out of the filter. Reassemble the filter and start the pump. The water from below will help the undisturbed pad reseed the cleaned pad above it, ready for next year.
So relax, enjoy your pond and rest assured that your filter is doing its job without much intervention needed.

Steps for Spring Cleaning your Pond

Well, it’s finally here, a month late in my neck of the woods, but worth waiting for. Time to get your pond up and running after a long, cold winter!

Step 1

The first step is to remove any pond netting installed in the fall. It may be heavy with leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter. This is good news, because anything trapped in the net would have settled to the bottom of the pond. Clean and dry the net. Use zip ties to repair small tears before storing, you’ll need it next fall.

Step 2

The next step is to clean the filter media without killing all the beneficial bacteria living there. Those are the bacteria that convert toxic ammonia that your fish excrete continuously to harmless nitrates. They cannot survive drying, and your fish can’t live without them. Get a couple of suitably sized buckets and fill them with pond water. Rinse any bagged media in the pondwater and leave the media in the bucket, to prevent the biofilm from drying out. Then take the top filter pad out, rinse it in the other bucket of pond water, and leave it there. Don’t worry about getting it really clean; the bacteria is what counts and you’ve saved enough to reseed the filter.

Step 3

Now you can pull out the remaining filter mat(s) and clean out the FilterFalls with a hose or wet/dry vac. The closer to the bottom the mat is, the more gunky it will be, and will probably need more aggressive cleaning. Use the hose and rinse the other mat or mats really well. The chlorinated water will kill whatever bacteria remain but that’s ok. When you’re ready to reassemble the filter, the clean mats will go back on top of the mat you kept in pond water. When the pump turns on, the flow of water up through the biologically active mat will help recolonize the top pads.

Step 4

Now for the skimmer. Begin by removing the debris net, mat or brushes and clean them well. In the skimmer the bacteria don’t matter as much as ensuring that water reaches the pump. If your pump and check valve overwintered in the skimmer, remove and clean them now. If removed in the fall, clean and inspect your pump and check valve. Lock the weir door into the closed position and remove any debris in the bottom of the skimmer with a wet/dry vac. Reinstall the pump, check valve, net, mat and/or brushes. If you have an auto-fill installed inside the skimmer, test to make sure it is working properly and adjust the level if necessary.

Unlock the weir door and replace the skimmer lid.

Step 5

Remove as much debris as possible from the stream and pond before starting your pump. Remove algae and leaves from the streambed by hand. Use a net to fish out any algae growth and debris from the bottom of the pond.

Once you have cleaned out both the pond and streambed, take the wet mat from the bucket of pondwater and place it on the grate at the bottom of the FilterFalls, then place the clean mat(s) on top of it. If there is bagged media, set that in the filter, then cover with rocks and stones to camouflage the filter. Before the mat/media can dry out, turn on the pump.

As the water clears over the next week, remaining debris will become more visible in the bottom of the pond. Remove the visible debris and rinse out the skimmer mat and net.

ANNOTATION:

When everything is up and running, inspect the pond for any visible leaks. Keep an eye on the water level over the next week, so any problems that may develop can be dealt with early in the season.

After the pond has been opened and water temperatures have reached 50 degrees on a consistent basis, you can begin to use treatments.

Beneficial bacteria will help kick-start your eco-system and get your water clearer, faster. More frequent usage of Biomax+ for a couple of weeks after opening your pond, will help seed bacteria into the biological filters.

  1. ReVive will dechlorinate the water if you have changed or added water in the spring.
  2. If the pond is really cloudy, you can use QuickClear to drop suspended solids to the bottom of the pond and clear the water.
  3. EcoKlean is a great oxidizing product to help remove debris from the stream bed and the bottom of the pond in the spring.

How To Properly Conceal a Biofilter

So, there’s been a lot of good, sensible talk out there about how hard it is to hide a giant plastic biofilter at the top of the stream you’re building. In all fairness, when it’s just sitting there, exposed, before rocking around it, hiding a sizeable biofilter can seem near impossible. But there are simple, solid techniques to hide those big black boxes, and some compelling arguments in favor of using biofilters to start streams.

 

Advantages

The advantages of having an upflow biofilter are well-known and pretty convincing. In general, they hold an impressive amount of filtration that not only removes suspended solids but provides surface area for beneficial bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites. Their position at the top of an elevated stream usually means they can be plumbed with a drain valve, so they can be rinsed or backwashed easily. More complete cleaning may need to be done only once or twice a year, because of the way upflow biofilters work. The pump forces water up through the filter media under pressure, so the media tends not to clog easily; although the water may channel around the media, it won’t stop flowing. Finally, the ability to securely attach both the plumbing and the liner to the filter to start the initial waterfall has eliminated the most common leakage point in stream construction.

ATLANTIC’S BF1600 COMPLETELY HIDDEN BY ROCKS

technique

SETTING THE FILTERFALLS INTO, RATHER THAN ON TOP OF THE ELEVATED AREA

Hiding a well-designed biofilter is primarily a matter of setting it into, rather than on top of, the elevated area. This is typically formed by mounding the excavated soil from the pond or reservoir. After the filter is properly set, then it’s a matter of simple rock placement. In nature, a stream cuts its way down in the surrounding land; waterfalls form as the flowing water scours out a pocket in softer soil or rock behind a hard surface. In theory, we want to bury the biofalls behind that ‘hard surface’, the rock or stone the water will flow over. What often happens instead? The biofalls is placed on the ground and soil is heaped around it up to the top of the box, then rocked, to form the utterly unnatural ‘water volcano’ we all love to hate.

BF2600 FILTERFALLS HIDDEN UNDER ROCKS

It’s a simple mistake, and just as simple to avoid. I prefer to mound and tamp the soil first, then carve out a space for the filter, then plumb to the front of the filter, but the box can be set and plumbed first – to each his own style. The point is, the soil has to end up higher than the top of the box, so the water flows out from about two-thirds up on the slope. If that requires digging the filter down, so be it. Then, I excavate the tamped soil away from the front of the filter, cutting a vertical wall the width of the filter to either side. I dig down until I reach the level of the bottom of the splash pool at the base of the falls. Then I attach the liner, leaving a couple of loose folds below the lip, to allow for settling and adjustment. Now I can start the stream by setting rock to create the first fall.

The idea is that building the waterfall is the objective, not hiding the filter. That will come by itself if I accomplish three tasks. First, I need two ‘shoulder’ rocks on either side that are taller than the filter, set to cover the ends of the spillway or opening of the filter. Next, I set a spill rock, or rocks, between the shoulder rocks up to the height of the spillway.

Now I need to fill between the rock and the filter to stabilize the falls. I usually have the space behind the shoulder rocks to push soil in behind the liner. If not, I’ll just fill any void on top of the liner with rounded stone. Either way, I’ll foam between the liner and the rocks, sealing the space so all the water goes over rather than around the spill rocks. As a finishing touch, I set small, flat rock on the ledges and grate inside the filter to finish hiding it.

Sounds simple, and it is. Working ‘backwards’ on the falls instead of focusing on hiding the filter actually hides it better. Couple of quick recommendations:

  1. Get the largest filter you can fit. The larger the filter is, the easier to hide, because the stones set on the grate or ledge can be larger without compromising the flow or forcing water up over the sides. Of course, having more media and settling volume can only help as the pond matures and organic loads increase.
  2. Tilt the filter forwards a couple of degrees, on a well-tamped base. Nothing worse than having a filter settle and water leak out over one side or the back.
  3. I always plumb the filter with a cleaning drain, and use Matala semi-rigid mats, to allow for fast periodic backwashing. This reduces the frequency of tearing the filter apart for major cleanings to once every couple of years.

If you have any questions or tricks to concealing a biofilter please comment below.

 

 

Tools That Don’t Suck – The Ryobi ES1500

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Handy Phone Tool

So, as you might expect, I often get asked to recommend a particular pump for a contractor’s project. The steps are simple and easy (not the same thing.) There are four simple steps to finding the right pump:

  • determine the required flow
  • choose the right size pipe
  • add friction head to vertical head height
  • go to the charts to find a pump that delivers the right flow at the right head

The steps are easy. Multiply the flow per foot by the width of the waterfall, in feet. Pick the right size pipe by finding the flow on a chart. Add up plumbing length. Multiply the length by a decimal. Add that result to the actual vertical height of the waterfall to find the Total Dynamic Head (TDH) – and there’s the problem.

It turns out that most people overestimate the actual height of the water feature they’re planning on building. By a considerable amount. It’s particularly hard for anyone to estimate true vertical height on a slope, where many of our potential projects are situated.

Why does that matter? Well, you need to know the true vertical height of the water feature to find the actual load the pump will be under. Knowing the true workload not only lets you pick a pump that will thrive under those conditions, you can also cut costs by using very efficient low head pumps…IF you correctly estimate the vertical head height.

The Ryobi ES1500

Photo credit: www.ryobitools.com

I have come to appreciate the Ryobi ES1500, a little gadget that takes the guesswork out of measuring height. It fits on any phone with a headphone jack. (Sorry, you need to have the jack.) I found mine at a tool store under a banner advertising Ryobi Phoneworks. For $15, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I paid willingly, if a little dubiously, and downloaded the free app.

The “Laser Pointer/Transfer Level” plugs into the standard headphone jack on my Android phone and shoots a bright red laser beam on command. The app has a couple of level functions, including a bubble level. The easiest to use is a red dotted line with the numeric value of degrees the unit is tilted displayed right next to the line. Once the phone is level, at 0 degrees, the beam coming out is pretty level too. The accuracy of the unit isn’t stellar, but it’s close enough. It’s just bright enough to be seen in the shade during the day. I do most of my estimates after work, and it’s really visible as the light falls.

I’ve gotten pretty adept at holding the phone level, at head height, while standing where the pond will go. I note of where the roughly five-foot-high laser beam hits on a tree or a slope near the waterfall-to-be. For larger distances, I’ll repeat the process, moving to where the beam struck the ground, until I’ve worked my way upslope, five vertical feet at a time.

I will admit it’s a bit crude, but it works well enough to get a pretty accurate vertical height for the Total Dynamic Head calculations.

The Ryobi ES1600

So, as I’m finishing up writing this, I look up the Ryobi ES1500 to find there’s a new version, the ES1600, that sounds like it has my shaky eye level zapping method beat all hollow. The newer version clamps onto the phone and lets you snap a shot of the site with the camera and get a picture with the level marked directly on it. Sounds a whole lot easier to have the pic right there to refer to. I still see the ES1500 out there for $15-20 and I’d still call it a Tool That Doesn’t Suck.  The newer version is double that, but might be worth the $40 if if gives you a permanent record right on a photograph. I’m gonna pick one up and let you know next month. In the meantime, I’ll continue using my TTDS, the Ryobi Phoneworks ES1500. Might work for you too.

Tools That Don’t Suck – Tirolessa Sprayer

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Tirolessa Sprayer

Every now and then a tool comes along that does a job simply and inexpensively, that otherwise would have required a major investment in time, energy and equipment. Typically, these tools are born of necessity, because someone, somewhere doesn’t have access to the technology – or the money – to get the job done any other way. Today’s entry in the TTDS category is that kind of tool.

I ran across the Tirolessa sprayer online a dozen years ago when I was investigating building a dome home. I had this idea about an ecotourism bed-and-breakfast in the mountains of Michoacan, Mexico, where the Monarch butterflies go on their amazing winter migration. I figured I could create really cool, inexpensive and energy-efficient housing modules by covering an inflatable mold with multiple thin layers of fiber-reinforced concrete, building up the layers successively until the structure was strong enough to resist not only weather, but earthquakes too. The trick is to get a thin, strong first layer of concrete without deforming or collapsing the plastic balloon form. After the layers are self-supporting, the form is deflated and the rest of the concrete dome built up by troweling. The Tirolessa sprayer was recommended as the ideal tool to apply those first thin layers.

 

Well, just about the same time as I was pipe dreaming, I was asked to build caves and huge artificial boulders around a 200-foot-wide pond cover an interior wall with waterfalls. I had just finished plumbing and tweaking a Hawaiian-themed “black lava” waterfall in a restaurant. A Gunite crew had been called in to form the structure out of rebar covered with wire lathe and shot the whole wall with very wet black cement. I bought the Tirolessa thinking it might replace the Gunite crew – and it did. I wasn’t very good at texturing the final product, but there was no doubt about it. This little gadget could really blow some mud.

Yes, blow. The Tirolessa is basically a stainless steel bucket with air holes at the bottom. The handle is a hollow steel tube to which an airhose is attached, with a trigger. Pull the trigger and air blows inside the bucket across the bottom and out the front-facing air holes, carrying a spray of very loose concrete slurry with it. We make a mix of two parts fine sand to one part Portland cement, with enough water to give it a consistency between pea soup and oatmeal. Scoop a bucket of slurry from the wheelbarrow, hold the bucket two feet from the vertical surface to be covered, pull the trigger and spray the slurry. And repeat.

We’ve found the Tirolessa invaluable for getting that first critical layer on difficult vertical surfaces, and that has opened a whole new range of possibilities for us. Now we can easily protect the inside of any EPDM pond without building inner walls. The Tirolessa still can’t make concrete stick to rubber, but it CAN make cement stick to vertical geotextile, no problem at all. We cover our vertical liner walls with a layer of geotextile, well-anchored at the top so it will support the weight of the cement we spray on it until the first layer dries. If needed, we spray another layer on that until the curtain of concrete-covered fabric is stiff enough, then we switch to troweling on additional layers, this time with chopped polypropylene fibers mixed in.

By the time we have 4 to 5 thin layers, around an inch and a half thick, the skin will withstand a blow from a sledge hammer. We often add powdered black dye to the last coat so the finished pond appears bottomless; it also enhances the colors of koi. And it all starts with one of my favorite Tools That Don’t Suck, the Tirolessa sprayer.

Tools That Don’t Suck – The Perfect Hat

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

You Can Leave Your Hat On…

I certainly hope that phrase evokes a pleasant visual for all of you out there. It certainly does for me. The first time I saw it I thought, nice – wow that looks good…. The second time I thought it looked even better. The third time I really wanted to get up close and personal. I just had to.

So I asked my buddies about the Hat. You’ve probably seen somebody wearing it. You may know the one – looks like a solid suede brim, with a vented crown, jaunty little leather braid and a chinstrap. Sharp looking hat. But the Kakdu Soaka hat isn’t suede at all, it’s made of an absorbent microfiber. Just dunk it, shake it off and wear it. Water trapped in the microfiber slowly evaporates as air circulates through the vented crown, lowering the temperature of both the hat and the head under it. Sort of a wearable swamp cooler.

Kakadu Soaka Breeze

Lloyd Lightsey of The Pond Monster

Down in sunny Lake Wales my buddy Lloyd swears by his fully vented Soaka Breeze. He says it keeps him going when the temps soar into the 90’s. Another buddy, Sean, up Boston way, thinks so highly of the hat he mail-ordered a bunch of them when they were hard to get a couple of years ago. Nobody had them in stock for quite a while, so he’d order them from another company just to find out they were backordered there too, and so on. Waited almost a year, then everybody shipped at once. Now he’s got’em in every color. Wears’em constantly.

The Kakadu Soaka Breeze is just one of twenty plus styles of Soaka hats, some with more venting, some with solid microfiber crowns, but all share the same cool feature. The one I got the best picture of was Sean’s, a relatively fresh one that hadn’t yet really broken in. (Lloyd’s, on the other hand, was a little too, ah, personalized by wear, shall we say? for close inspection.) I got mine direct from Kakadu’s Washington State distribution center by mail order, but you can find them in plenty of other places too. If you work outside where your brain boils in the sun (and who doesn’t?), these hats are really worth trying. And at around $40 most places, you can cool the burn without frying your wallet.

Are You Connected to Your Water Feature?

Are you connected to your water feature? Sounds like an odd question? You might think I’m heading in the direction of getting you re-connected to nature. You know what I mean, how in today’s world we have a shortage of nature in our daily lives and having a water feature is a great way to remedy that problem. If you have children, your water feature can be their connection to nature as an outdoor classroom to study the eco-system without them even knowing it. All of that would make a good article however that’s not the direction I was heading.

Instead, I was just curious if your current water feature has a Wi-Fi connection? Now I bet I have your attention, you didn’t think your water feature needed a Wi-Fi connection did you?  Well in today’s world who would expect anything else?

With the addition of two new Atlantic Water Garden products your water feature can join the high tech world. Atlantic’s Triton Ionizer and pump variable speed control both have their own Wi-Fi connection making your life that much easier and your water feature more interactive.

The Triton Ionizer ionizer is designed to mineralize the water helping keep water features clean and clear without the use of harsh chemicals and is safe for fish.  The unit can be controlled manually from the front panel or by the use of the ionizer mobile Application for iPhone or Android devices.

The TidalWave VSC allows you to vary the output of Tidal Wave TT & TW-Series Asynchronous pumps wirelessly by remote control or mobile app! The VSC allows you to set both on and off times as well as drop to 25% of the total flow in 10 levels of adjustment giving you the ultimate control over water flow.

Both of these products make life with a water feature more enjoyable. Previously the downfall has always been the effort to disguise them into the landscape during installation usually ending up in a location that is tough to access. With the new connect ability, you can hang out on the patio and play with your pond from your lounge chair. You see some debris in the waterfall, open the ionizer app and increase the level. Or the reverse can be true, you don’t see any debris in the water feature, open the app and lower the level of activity.

The variable speed control is even a little more interactive, as your mood changes so can the desired flow of your waterfall. If you are having a party and want the waterfall to really put on a show, open the VSC app and turn up the volume or it could be a quiet afternoon on the patio, open the app and lower the volume a little. The VSC can also be programmed to control your feature with its on/off programmable timer. This is a nice little feature that helps you to save electricity and water by having it turn off when you are not around to enjoy it.

So sit back in that lounge chair and visit www.atlanticwatergardens.com and learn how you can get better connected to your water feature!

 

About the Author:
Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company.SEAN BELL

Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company. When it comes to water features, Sean is your guy!

Tools That Don’t Suck – Tech Support

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

ON-THE-JOB TECH SUPPORT?

So, In the last two blogs I shared a couple of tools that I’ve found very useful, one that makes cutting non-woven fabric easier than using the typical razor knife (see TTDS #1) and one that fixes those really inconvenient plumbing breaks right alongside fittings (TTDS #2). Today I’d like to move towards the tech side, to show you a couple of tools for the smartphone that I can’t do without. (Who knew years ago we would even have PHONES on the job, much less SMART ones?) The first is an app I have found particularly useful for on-the-job estimating and record keeping called CamScanner.

CamScanner App for Smart PhonesWhen I go on an estimate I will typically sketch up what the customers and I talk about, both to clarify the bones of the design and to get down on paper everything we have spoken about. In about 10 seconds, CamScanner lets me take a picture of whatever I’ve written down, automatically crop it, enhance the picture with a variety of filters, compress the image and store as a .jpg or .pdf. I can then immediately send it to my customer via text message or email, so both of us have a record. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s free?

For about five bucks the full version offers other features that I don’t have much need for. Optical character recognition lets you scan printed material and turn it into into an editable .txt file. You can set it to upload automatically to cloud services like GoogleDrive and Dropbox. You can even fax documents, but there’s a third-party charge of $0.99 per page.

Love Handle

Love Handle cell phone grip

The second phone tool I now use all the time is a little gizmo my buddy Sean Bell turned me on to at a diner one day. I had my phone down on the table sitting in the crumbs, while he was one-handing his, using his thumb with the phone apparently stuck to his palm. When I asked how, he said “Let me show you my Love Handle“. Before I could jump back in horror, he flipped the phone over and revealed a little elastic strap stuck to the back of his phone case. “You just slip it over your finger and it makes one handed operation easy. I even use this to hang the phone on stuff for selfies and videos”, he explained. I was very impressed and vowed to order one immediately.

Love HandleHe got exasperated after asking me ten times if I liked it and bought me one a month later. Bless his soul. I absolutely love it. On my phone there’s a special finger swipe to miniaturize the keyboard, so I can make one-handed calls when necessary, but for me, the best thing about the Love Handle is I don’t drop the dang thing anymore. (I used to. Yes, all the time. Let’s just leave it at that.)

Now, especially when traveling, or late to get on a plane, or leaning over the pond to get a picture of a leak, I enjoy the security of having the phone firmly stuck to my hand, impossible to drop. I can even use CamScanner one handed now. Definitely Tools That Don’t suck. Enjoy.

 


 About the Author:
Demi is the Direct of Product Information for Atlantic Water GardensDEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Quick Tips – Waterfall Construction

In the world of water features, there are many different tactics that contractors and homeowners use to approach building a water feature. Over the years I have encountered a variety of construction methods water features are built and through my experience have put together a list of tips that I think will help you create a natural looking water feature.

Use different sized rocks to achieve a more natural looking waterfall. But let’s be honest, when building these features moving heavy rocks can be quite the challenge.

Tip #1.

Try cutting a piece of underlayment (commonly known as geotextile fabric) large enough to hold the rock you are trying place and use it as a sling. The corners will act as handles for you to hold on to. Because the fabric is very strong it can handle the weight of heavier rocks.

 Another option to move heavy rocks by hand is to use tow straps or tie down straps. This method can be used with heavier rocks and will require more than two people to move the size rock you are working with.

If you are using large boulder and neither of the two options prove useful, you may need the help of larger equipment.

**You do not want to hurt yourself trying to move these rocks, equipment can be rented on a day to day basis at your local rental yard.

While you are placing your rocks keep in mind that you are also creating a place for water to flow. When creating your waterfall or streambed you will notice gaps forming around and behind the rocks that you have placed. Once you turn on your pump water will flow into these gaps instead of flowing down your streambed causing you to lose some of the visual effects of your stream or waterfall.  In order to avoid this, these gaps should be filled.

Tip #2.

When filling the gaps, a mortar or cement type mix can be used but this method is highly susceptible to cracking and movement. Another option is to use expandable foam, the foam will not crack or move and can fill large or small gaps in the rock placement. Typically foam is grey in color so that it will blend with most rock colors. Waterfall foam cans from Atlantic are available in two sizes – a 12 ounce can with a straw applicator or a 29 ounce can, which requires using a professional foam gun.

I highly recommend the professional foam gun if you build multiple water features during the season.

For the average one or two builds a year, the DIY 12 ounce can works great. To save on the use of foam you will only need to apply the foam in the locations that water is flowing over.

Please be sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling the foam as it is very difficult to remove.

Tip #3.

A great technique to disguise the foam that you used to fill in the gaps is by covering it with smaller stones and/or gravel. You can also add a small amount of sand over the foam before it is completely dry to disguise the foam to look more like a rock.

Make sure you give the foam time to cure before you turn your waterfall on. Once the waterfall has been turned on you can add more foam to push the water in the direction you prefer at any time.

Remember this is a foam product and is not glue or a patch product for leaks. It is only used to direct the flow of water.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help save you some time and frustration (as well as your back!) and keep your water flowing in the right direction! If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to comment below.

 

About the Author:
Jim is the National Sales Manager for Atlantic Water Gardens.
JIM CHUBB

Jim has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

 

How do I sell more water features?

The question of “how do I sell more water features” has to be on the top ten list of questions I get asked. It’s a great question, and the answer is simpler than most think.

First though let me ask you, how have you sold water features in the past? Did you actually “sell” them? Or did you just answer the phone and respond to a customer request? There is a big difference between fulfilling a request and actively selling a product/service. If you take the right approach to sales, you can not only have fun selling, but it will be beneficial for you and the customer. Instead of looking at growing the number of projects you sell each year as becoming a better “salesman”, try coming at it from the direction of doing a better job of sharing what you love. As soon as you make a personal connection with your client the sales guy leaves the situation and you become a consultant or facilitator for their dream.

So what’s the first step? Easy, install a water feature at your home. If you already have a water feature you know what I’m talking about. The best way to have confidence of maintaining your pond or water feature is to live with one daily. Very soon you will find yourself telling stories about your pond to everyone you meet. Nothing helps you sell like confidence and knowledge. My grandfather was a salesman for many years. As I was growing up he always told me “if you don’t know, you can’t tell, if you can’t tell, you can’t sell”. this is as true today as it was the first time I heard it. Make sure you are living with a water feature and you will be one step ahead.

Next thing is what product or service are you selling now. How did you sell it? What process did you use? Do you have a record of who you sold to in the past? This is a great place to kick start your new venture. Today it’s even easier than ever to market to this group. Create accounts on various social media sites. Connect with your former customers, and start showing them with photos and videos the new water feature you have created at your home. Let them learn through you. By interacting each day with your water feature and sharing that on social media you will grow your business.

Sound easy enough so far? Let’s take this one step further, now that you have built your first feature and gained some needed confidence, it’s time to move forward with the business side. Look for a local business that would benefit from having a water feature installed. Make them an offer to install it at a prorated price as long as you can put a small sign with your company information next to it. This is the fastest way to increase sales, we buy what we see. You can paint a great mental image, you can show it on social media, but if they can enjoy the water feature at their favorite restaurant or coffee house, it won’t be long before they want one at home.

Finally, here is the secret to the advice above. Use a complete kit for any display you install. Some of your new leads will want to try their hand at doing it themselves. Most will want you to do it for them. Either way, if it is a ready to go complete kit, it’s consistent and easy to replicate.

Good luck with increasing water feature sales going forward. Keep in mind these are just a few starter ideas to get you moving. For more ideas and information please visit Atlantic Water Gardens University. If you have any specific questions don’t hesitate to comment, we will get back to you and lend a hand.


About the Author:
Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company.SEAN BELL

Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company. When it comes to water features, Sean is your guy!