Tools That Don’t Suck – Cordless (Liner) Trimmer

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.

Cordless (Liner) Trimmer

TrimmerThis first tool makes the nasty job of trimming liner and underlayment easier and much safer. Most of us have had to trim wet, bunched up, sand- and mud-laden underlayment and liners. It’s a dangerous chore. Razor knives that so easily cut clean fabric in the shop dull in minutes in the field, requiring new blades constantly (until you run out). There’s always the risk of cutting too close or through a hidden fold (or yourself) while hacking away. (And let’s not even mention where the dull-but-dangerous-used-blades-that-should-always-be-safely-disposed-of turn up.)

My wife Susan, who is always looking out for me and her boys, saw this little trimmer advertised for scrapbookers. She actually thought it might work for us! I laughed at the “toy” when it arrived. I don’t laugh at this tool anymore. I have since apologized to Susan. Many times. (She likes that.)

Skil TrimmerThe original trimmer shown is 4 years old and has gone through hell. It ain’t fast, but it still chews through muddy, sandy liner and underlayment for hours on a charge, though I’m not sure exactly how many. In the field, trimming in 10 minute bursts every hour or two, it doesn’t run out for a couple of days, very forgiving for when we forget to charge it overnight. The octagonal blade with its 8 corners almost self-feeds through a single layer of liner up to 60 mil or 8oz fabric with minimal effort, and it continually sharpens as it spins. One last thing, for anyone with employees (or sons, or an aversion to seeing their own blood) – it’s almost impossible to cut
yourself.

Skil discontinued the model shown, but there are a number of similar trimmers out there, many around $45. At that price, we can afford to test them for the day that Old Red finally dies. Give these cordless trimmers a try; I think you’ll find this is one Tool That Don’t Suck. Thanks, Sue!

**UPDATE

QUICK CORRECTION AND THANK YOU – out to the The Pond Gnome Paul Holdeman for being the REAL source for the nifty little Liner Cutter featured in the last blog. Although Susan had purchased them for me and the boys on a scrapbooking site, Paul showed it to her at a charity build he graciously donated his and his crew’s time and tools for at the Virginia C. Piper Cancer Center of Phoenix in 2014. Thanks Paul!!! It was a pleasure working with you!

 


 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.

The CICY Project – From Orchids to Cenotes

It all started at the IWGS Symposium, in an orchidarium in a salt mine one hundred feet below 20150813_110344-1Kansas City. I was chatting with a lovely couple, Porfi and Beatriz, long time members of the International Waterlily and Water Garden Society, IWGS or I-Dub for short. We chatted as we ogled the 10,000 or so magnificent orchids at Bird’s Botanicals that flourished in the controlled temperature and humidity of the vast underground caverns. (If orchids in salt mines sound pretty cool to you, consider joining – the IWGS and its members are very interesting indeed.)

The subject was the artificial ponds and lakes of the Yucatán Peninsula. I’ve been traveling to Mexico for number of years, trying to help our distributors in Yucatán maintain the many large water features that are built using swimming pool technology. Unfortunately, lakes are not large swimming pools, as my friends Lydia and Nacho Barroso can attest.

As the owners of a very successful pool and spa distributorship that has expanded into every facet of water technology, the Barrosos have found through years of experience that chlorine and sand filters cannot adequately deal with the sun and heat of southeastern Mexico. The large shallow artificial lakes at every golf course, country club, condo complex and resort on the Peninsula require a different strategy. Years of trial and error have proven phytofiltration, cleaning and clearing water with plants, the best course of action. While we strolled through the cavern, I asked Porfi, who lives near the Barrosos, if he could help, and he knew just where to find aquatic plants.

Then he asked if we knew about a pond project coming up at a local botanical garden. That’s CICYhow we found out about the Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán, or CICY (pronounced SEE-see). I Googled it as soon as we got back from the tour. According to the webpage, CICY is “a public research institution (whose) mission is to generate scientific and technological knowledge in the areas of plant biochemistry and molecular biology, agricultural biotechnology, natural resources, materials science, water sciences, and renewable energy in order to contribute to sustainable development.” What could we do for el CICY, I wondered?

My next trip down to Merida my friends and I stopped by for a look around. They have some really cool stuff there, including a cloning lab and a huge collection of native plants, and they were about to put in a new Sensory Garden. Porfi knew the architect and the botanist in charge of the gardens, and had heard that the centerpiece of the new 20150713_092457Sensory Garden was to be a pond – would we be interested building it?

Would we ever! This was a golden opportunity to show off just what active bog filtration could do, in a public garden that would receive 150,000 visitors a year. Now to make it happen…To Be Continued.

Subscribe to receive updates on new blog posts, including Demi Fortuna’s next post on the construction of the bog pond.

Read “The CICY Project – Part 2”

 


 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.

 

Illuminating your Outdoors

Illuminating your outdoor space can be tricky. How many lights do you need? Where do you place them to get the best lighting during the evening? Where and what are the best aspects to highlight in a water feature?

In a pond or waterfall you need to be very careful with the placement of light. Even in the water, light can be blinding to someone who is looking into your pond. A good rule to follow is always place the light facing away from the viewing area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In this picture the lights highlight aspects of the pond but are facing away from the main viewing area. These lights are small enough to be placed in the water and to be hidden within the rocks around the edge of the pond.

The amount of lights you use is completely up to yosol_lights_beautyu depending on how bright you want your water feature to be at night. If you have a lot of focal points that you want to highlight, use as many lights as needed to illuminate the area. You should want to focus on the main aspects of the water feature that draw the most interest.

For example, you would not want to place a light into a stream that is flat with not a lot of water movement. By placing the light on the falls of stream beds and waterfalls, you create a more visually interesting feature at night.

The shadows cast on buildings from the movement of water and light will create a very dynamic effect that will make a lasting impression.

Another tip for light placement is to stagger the lights throughout the landscape or area to create balance. The goal is to move the viewers eye through the entire space, using too much light in the foreground will prevent viewers from experiencing the entire water feature.

Do you have  any other tips or questions on light placement? Post them below.


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

Jim is the National Sales Manager for Atlantic Water Gardens. With 26 years of sales experience and 16 years in the water garden industry, Jim is your go-to guy for selling water features.

How Many Eco-Blox do I need for my Pond-free Feature?

Pond-free System

Pond-free features, where a pond or waterfall recirculates from an underground reservoir, have become very popular because they are easier to build and maintain than fish ponds. The Pond-free basin is a hole lined with EPDM rubber to make it waterproof, filled with water matrix boxes called Eco-Blox that can support thousands of pounds.

This weight-bearing reservoir can be hidden under gravel, lawn, pavers – you can even build waterfalls right on top of it! The water in Eco-Blox basins stays clean and clear, so maintenance is much simpler. Pond-free water features are generally safer too, because there’s no way for anyone to fall in.

With the great popularity of these features,  we receive many questions. One of the main questions we get at Atlantic is “How many Eco-Blox do I need?”

Here’s how to figure that out.

First, find the volume of water needed to fill the stream and falls to overflowing.

Usually about 3” in the whole stream will do. Measuring everything in feet makes things easier, so convert 3” to a quarter of a foot. For a 6-foot by 2-foot stream:

Length x Width x 0.25 feet = 6’ x 2’ x 0.25’ = 3 cubic feet

We’ll want 3 times as much water in the reservoir as we need, so the level will only drop by a third when we turn the system on before it starts recirculating:

3 cubic feet x 3 = 9 cubic foot reservoir

Finally, we’ll divide by 4.3 cubic feet, the number of cubic feet in an Eco-Blox:

9 cubic feet ÷ 4.3 cubic feet/Eco-Blox = 2.1 Eco-Blox

With the addition of a Pump Vault to house and protect the pump, as well as providing a little extra water volume, 2 Eco-Blox will be perfect!

 

Now that you know how many Eco-Blox you’ll need for your next project, check out our video on how assemble one.


 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.