Trends in Water Features

Over the years the trend of building ponds and waterfalls have been the industry mainstay, however recently the outdoor living trend has expanded the market. Block and paver manufacturers have been making it easier to grow the outdoor living market with enhanced products, from landscaping to patios, fire pits to outdoor kitchens, the options are virtually limitless!

Water feature manufacturers have seen these changes and are now creating more unique options that are easy to add to any outdoor space. Formal spillways can be added to retaining walls, pools, or even spas.

You can now buy wall spouts, stainless and copper scupper spillways and  very cool acrylic spillways that change in a variety of colors. With multiple spillway options it has added a whole new dimension to what you can do as a contractor and what you can dream about as a homeowner.

It doesn’t just stop with Formal Spillways either. The addition of lighting to your outdoor space drastically changes it’s appearance at night. Just by adding a few lights to the landscape,  steps, pillars and walls, you can beautifully accent any area to create a dramatic effect!

Although spillways are grouped into a more formal category, and mostly used in block walls do not limit your creative thoughts. Experiment with stone, wood, tile, even wine bottles! Let your imagination run free and create new and outstanding works of art.

Check out all the Formal Spillway options that Atlantic has to offer.

 

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.

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!

 


 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.

What Happens to My Fish in the Winter?

Probably the number one question a prospective pond owner will ask is “what happens to to my fish in the winter? The quick answer is “not much”, but there is a little more to it than that. Truth is they really just slow down, some will say they hibernate, others will say that they go dormant, but it is more of a torpid state. Their body temperature is regulated by their surroundings, so as temperatures drop, so does their activity. On the coldest of days you will see them sitting on the bottom of the pond with their fins tucked in. If they could talk they would simply say they are waiting on spring.

“Should I do anything for my fish?”,absolutely, but it’s probably not what you are thinking. Your fish are tough and can handle the elements on their own very well. But they do need you to help out in a minimal way.

Feeding FishFirst thing is to feed them a good quality high fiber fall/spring fish food. Your fish do not handle food the way we do. They continually graze and eat to fill the pipeline. When temperatures drop, that food is stuck there to decay and cause issues in your fish. They can not empty their digestive tract after temperatures have dropped. Feeding should be stopped when water temperatures reach 55 degrees. Keep an eye on the weather, quit feeding at the 60 degree mark to be safe. If you live areas of the country that get big swings in temperature as fall approches, use your best judgement erroring on the side of caution.

Next thing to consider is your fish really need is consistency. They can handle the lower temps but they really need it to be consistent. Make sure your pond is at the very least 2 feet deep. This will give them a safe zone to be in for the winter. The warmest water is the deepest and should not be disturbed. If you have a waterfall make sure that where it enters the pond is somewhat shallow. If the waterfall drops into the deepest section of the pond it will “mix” cooler water into the “safe” zone your fish are living in. Leaving your waterfall running in winter is fine to do as long as that cooler water is being pulled from the surface zone (using a pond skimmer) and being returned to the surface zone. Big temperature swings in your pond will stress your fish and lead to health issues.

Hole In IceLastly, is to make sure there is an open hole in the surface of the pond. If you live in the colder climates, your ponds surface may freeze over completely. Even though our finned friends are not breathing as much as they normally do, they are still breathing. If the surface is completely covered in ice, harmful gasses can not escape and the pond can not re oxygenate as it normally does. Use a small pump or and air system to keep a hole open in the ice. Place the small pump on the upper shelf of the pond pointed to the surface. It should “bubble” above the surface. If you elect to use an air system (preferred), Place the air stones on the upper shelf of the pond. Both ways will help in keeping a hole in the ice. But do not put either the airstone or pump down in the safe zone. That would mix the warm water your fish are enjoying with the rest of the pond, thus leading to health issues.

If you follow these simple ideas this winter your fish will do great and be ready for spring. As mentioned before, no feeding at 55 degrees and below. As spring starts to show, be sure temperatures are consistent before you start feeding again.

Enjoy your pond this winter!


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!

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.

 


 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.

Tips & Tricks for Photographing Water Features

As summer is about to wrap up for us here shortly in Northeastern Ohio, I thought this would be a perfect time to get some great photos of our water features before there is two feet of snow on the ground. Taking photos of water features can sometimes be frustrating, it may look amazing in person but on the screen of your camera it may not look as appealing. Whether you are taking pictures of water features on your phone or have a digital SLR camera, I’ve put together my best tips on photographing water features to help you.

Tip #1: Change your view
Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground or up high in the air. A unique view, usually makes for a more interesting photo. Don’t forget to rotate the camera, too. When shooting, turn the camera to take both landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) photos.

Tip #2: Getting blurry photos on your phone?
Are you getting blurry or out of focus images on your phone? Try tapping the screen where you want to focus and that area will stay in focus when snapping the photo. Try to stay as still as possible and the phone will do the rest of the work!

Tip #3: Shooting on your iPhone?Original Photo vs. HDR Photo
iPhones have a little hidden feature called HDR in their camera app. This feature will compile three images, one underexposed, one at the correct exposure and one overexposed. With all three of those exposures it will create one image that has the perfect combination of shadows and highlights. This is not a cure-all for most photos, but should give you a little boost when shooting landscapes. This side-by-side comparison, shows subtle but dramatic changes in the color and definition of the rock and purple flowers. Keep in mind not all photos are better as HDR so I would advise you to enable the phone to keep the original photo as well as the HDR version to compare and pick your favorite.

How to enable HDR:
-Open the Camera app > click HDR on top of the screen > Select On

How to Enable HDR on iPhones

How to keep your original photo:
Settings > Photos & Camera > under “High Dynamic Range” toggle “Keep Normal Photo”

How to keep your original photo

Tip #4: Try close ups75-feet of waterfall vs. 5-feet of waterfall
Whether you have a large or small water feature, get up closeand personal! You may think that photographing the whole water feature is best, but pick out your favorite parts and focus on them. We have a large 75-foot waterfall here at Atlantic HQ and taking photos of the entire thing is not only cumbersome, but everything in the photo is small and all looks the same. Sometimes its best to focus on just one thing at a time and get a more interesting result.

Tip #5: Nighttime photos
When it comes to daytime shots theres a golden hour in the morning and late afternoon, but for nighttime shots there’s a golden couple of minutes. Nighttime photos are best right before the sun sets. Those few minutes when the sky is just starting to darken, is the perfect time to get a nighttime photo. Along with the help of a tripod you are on your way to getting an amazing shot. To eliminate camera shake all together, you can use a remote shutter release for an ultimately crisp photo.

This was taken just as the sun was setting. .

I hope these few tips help you to get an amazing photo of your water feature. If you are Atlantic Professional Contractor, don’t forget to send in your best water feature photos to win a free trip to Las Vegas and the 2016 Irrigation Show! Maybe your new photography skills will pay off!

For more details on our photo contest click here!

 


About the Author:
Kendahl Kreps

After her Graphic Design internship in 2013, Kendahl joined the Atlantic team full-time in 2014. As part of her responsibilities, Kendahl manages all printing and packaging materials as well as helping run the Advertising Department. Photography is one of her many forte’s here at Atlantic.

The Importance of Biological Filtration

Over the years Pond manufactures have been working hard to give you the pond builders, a solution for the dreaded “Green Pond”. The answer? Biological Filtration! As I travel all over the US, I hear time and time again that pond builders do not use this filtration method because of the difficulties they have when it comes to camouflaging them. I am here to say, there is a way!

Before we get into the best way to disguise these black filtration boxes, let’s first talk about why they are important and why you should be using them.

beneficialbacteriaThese filtration boxes or FilterFalls, were designed to hold filter material to colonize beneficial bacteria and help filter your pond. Beneficial bacteria breaks down organic debris and fish waste, providing food for plants. Multiple pads or mats provide the oxygen rich environment for beneficial bacteria to flourish. The addition of biological media enhances beneficial bacteria growth by providing additional surface area for bacterial colonization. In turn making your pond clean, clear and a healthy eco-system.

The homeowner may still be weary about adding a filtration black box to their beautiful water feature, and educating your customer, is key. Having an up front conversation with the homeowner explaining why you are using the Filterfalls and why it is essential for the health and quality of the pond will help alleviate any concerns.

Another way to alleviate any concerns is to ensure the homeowner that they will not have to see any black box and their feature will look natural as long as it is camouflaged properly.

This will translate into a happy pond owner with fewer callback’s, saving you time and money.

Now that the customer is on board with using the FilterFalls, let’s talk about camouflage.

Line the inside of your Filter box with stone & plantings to help camouflage.

There are many ways to do this. First make sure that the area around the FilterFalls is or has been built up around the edge of the falls. Having higher ground is key to being able to easily camouflage the box. Trees, plants, rocks, logs, driftwood, floating plants are all great things to use for disguise.

Using plantings near and around your filter boxes will create more of a disguise.

Edge the inside of the FilterFalls with stones or rocks, you can also mix in some water plants for a more natural look. Logs or driftwood can be laid over top the FilterFalls for even more of a disguise.

By planting trees and bushes near your FilterFalls you can create even more of an illusion that the FilterFalls are not even there!

Another great trick is to angle the Filter box away from the viewing point so that the homeowner will not be staring directly into the filter box when they go to look at their feature. Remember, that like in nature, you never see where the water source is coming from. The same should go for the feature that you are building.

Hiding your FilterFalls

Angle the Filter box away from the viewing point so that the homeowner will not be staring directly into the filter box when they go to look at their feature.

 

If FilterFalls still aren’t your thing, Bog filtration can be used as an alternative. Check back for our next blog post on Bog Filtration by bog expert, Demi Fortuna.

 

 

 


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 Does My Pond Work Anyway?

This is the number one question I hear as I travel around the country helping people with their water features. Usually there is a problem that brought me to the pond in the first place, but after a few minutes of talking, that question comes up. It is also accompanied with, “I thought this thing was supposed to be low maintenance!” Very quickly I can see that expectations have not been met and a little education is in order.

To many times, during the sales process of a water feature, too much time is spent going over flashy marketing brochures instead of just having an honest conversation about what to expect over the first three years of owning a water feature. Many installers shy away from what the maintenance will be due to a fear of scaring off the potential owner. The truth is, there is maintenance to be done, but it’s not any more than anything else in your back yard.

balanced ecosystemSo how does your pond work? Your pond works the same way any body of water works whether it’s a 1 gallon goldfish bowl or a seven acre lake. All bodies of water work off of the same basic biology, waste products are created, and bacteria consumes these waste products and converts them into nutrients for plants to consume. With a little maintenance everything will stay in balance and look like a perfect slice of nature. If it is out of balance you will have issues that need addressing.

Pond with plants and fishFirst and foremost Plants are the answer. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you have things growing in your water feature that are green and you didn’t plant them and you don’t like them. It’s because you didn’t plant enough green things you do like. Your grass is the same way, if you don’t re seed the yard, “other” green species will start to grow year after year. So the first thing to remember is plants, plants, plants.

Secondly, how many fish do you have? What size are they now compared to when you bought them? Fish grow and as they do their new size creates issues in the water feature. If your fish load doubles in size after the first two years but your plant base stays the same, you are out of balance and will have more maintenance to correct the issue.

Last of all, water flow and filter size. When your feature was created what fish load was use to size the bio filter, do you have enough water flow to filter the feature at least every hour, preferably much more if you have a heavy fish load.

Any of the above can create an out of balance situation for your water feature. There are a multitude of manufactured solutions on the market to aid in this as well. Water clarifiers, automatic dispensers for bacteria, and copper dosing units. Each have their place, and all of them are band aids and not real solutions except for one. Clarifiers only mask the issue, they do clear water, but string algae uses the nutrients and clear water to run out of control. Automatic bacteria dispensers simply take away the need to add bacteria once a week. Truthfully, once the system is in balance this need is reduced as well (more on that in a future blog post).

Then there is the copper system (triton ionizer), it works very good, but is a solution for a specific problem and not for every water feature. Some systems have water issues coming out of the tap and are going to be prone to issues not matter how many plants we add. Others are in an area of the yard where sunlight is great for algae but not plants. So it is a great addition if you find yourself dealing with buckets of algae.

Atlantic Water Gardens University

This is just a quick overview of how your water feature works, for a more detailed look please visit Atlantic Water Gardens University.


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!

Spring is in the Air, Algae’s in your pond…

For most of the country, spring has sprung. People have started opening their water features and Mother Nature is now beginning to wreak havoc on your creations.

Cleaning out your water feature at the beginning of the season can be a daunting task, but with these helpful tips, your feature will be up and running in no time, and will be as beautiful as ever.

Pond in the SpringtimeBetween the months of March and May, ponds need tender loving care depending on which part of the country you are located in.

For pond owners, this time of the year can be a bit complicated, but with a little more attention, it can be easily managed. When opening your pond, be sure to remove all the left over fall debris to give your pond a fresh start to the season.

Although unlikely, some ponds may need to be completely drained and cleaned, this is costly and may be unnecessary. A good clean up with netting out leaves, debris, and string algae may do the job.

Once you’ve done some clean up and your skimmer, pump and biological filter are running, you will need to begin beneficial bacteria treatments which should continue until you close your pond in the Fall.

You may be wondering why you have string algae in your pond after the winter months, this is due to the amount of nutrients in the water being greater than the things that consume them, like plants, fish and beneficial bacteria.

Once it becomes balanced again, the string algae should clear itself up. Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce growth, but your main goal should be to have your filter system and plants with the aid of beneficial bacteria, remove algae, naturally.

Adding aeration to your pond is another way to enhance the water clarity and quality.

When it comes to Pond-free applications or Fountains, although they will be easier to maintain, will still need your attention from March through May. Like opening a pond, you will need to clean up any leftover fall debris, and re-connect your pump to get the stagnant water moving again.

You may have a slight rotten egg smell, but once you turn on the feature, this should pass after about 24 hours of water circulation.

Mother Nature takes its toll on these types of water features also! Algae will start to form in the streambed of a waterfall and on a decorative piece.

Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce the growth and keep the feature clear. Another great option for these features is a copper ionizer, which releases a small dose of copper ions into the water to ward off algae.

Remember, very small doses are all that would be needed (around .02ppm), so make sure you are testing your copper levels if you are using an ionizer.

Feel free to add your tips and suggestions about what you do to get your water features up and running for the Spring season!

 

How do you work with Mother Nature versus fighting Mother Nature?

 

 


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.