Water features can be rewarding enhancements to a landscape.  Before breaking ground, consider these 5 common mistakes people make when installing a water feature.   Here is what we found after many years:

Lack of Proper Filtration:  Inadequate filtration can lead to disappointment in water quality.  Sometimes this shows up in the form of “pea-soup” water.  Many times this causes pond owners to overcompensate with chemicals; this can be costly and will ultimately throw the ecosystem “out of whack”.  Do-it-yourselfers and “part time professionals” sometimes purchase inadequate filters or will purchase components “a la carte.” It may be cheaper to purchase the items piecemeal, but it’s challenging because different manufacturers use different fittings and they need to be modified to work together versus having everything matched and designed to work as a unit. Efficiency and simplicity will create a better system for your pond.

Wrong feature type:  Nowadays there are many different water features to choose from.  It is not one size fits all.  Different water features have different levels of maintenance.  Sometimes people choose to install a pond without understanding that it will require ongoing maintenance.  If you have a busy lifestyle, either you can choose to have a professional maintain your water feature, or you can consider a lower maintenance option.  For example, a pondless waterfall looks like a natural waterfall but it does not have the pond or fish that require a higher level of ongoing maintenance.  Always think through your maintenance plan when designing your water feature.  Eichenlaub can help you with this.

Poor location: Start with a well thought out design. Ponds are too often placed in an unused area of the property or in a low spot that collects water. Both of these locations cause problems. Unused areas of the landscape are unused for a reason and it is a waste to put a key feature in an area that will not be seen regularly. Out of sight, out of mind … meaning nobody will care for it or enjoy it. Low spots that collect water are challenging to build in (high water table) and water quality can suffer from too much runoff and pollutants entering the pond system.

Too Small:  A small pond is easier to construct (less digging and rock placement) but it is actually harder to maintain. A small feature is less stable than a larger volume of water and most people end up reconstructing the water feature to make it larger because they not only love it, but their plants and fish outgrow a small feature.  A well-designed water feature really needs to fit the space!  Eichenlaub can help you design a water feature that will be right the first time.

Improper Use of Rock and Stone: A typical feature will use several tons of stone to give it the desired naturalistic appearance. That can be a lot of wear and tear on the family minivan! Many do-it-yourselfers will decide this to be too much effort and they will choose small, manageable stones that are easy to move and place. This is also where many landscaping companies will cut corners and miss the mark.  While the work might be easier, this results in the pond falling short on aesthetics. In addition, the pond loses the structural importance provided by the larger, more difficult-to-move boulders. In some cases, the novice pond installer will just eliminate the stonework altogether. This can look artificial. Without rock and gravel, the system fails to function properly because stone not only lends to the aesthetics of the feature, but it also functions as a habitat for colonization by a variety of organisms from bacteria to crustaceans -all critical to the success of the feature.

Many people underestimate the amount of thought and labor that it takes to build a water feature.  I cannot count how many times we have been asked to finish a pond where the homeowner has dug an unfinished hole in the ground or to re-work a water feature when a novice landscaper has come up short.  Eichenlaub has the experienced professionals who will help you design install and maintain a water feature that will look great and function long term.

Contact us with questions!

Scott Rudolph: srudolph@eichenlaub.com

(412) 767-4769

Scott Rudolph is the water feature specialist at Eichenlaub.