Nov 15, 2017

Should I Rock My Pond?

If you've been paying attention to our writings in the past, then this is a quick answer. Everyone, say it with me: YES, you SHOULD rock your pond! For the newbies, keep reading.

Having the right type and right amount of rock in your pond creates a lot of surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Too often has this happened: a customer with no rock in their pond does everything we suggest to keep their water clear. But to no avail! Finally we beg and beg and beg the customer to please just add a little river rock in the bottom. And lo and behold-- clear water! Yes, it really can be the difference your pond needs in order to have clear water.

Here's what you should do:

  • Use a mix of granite boulders and river rock. It holds up well and looks great.
  • Use river rock, which is the diameter of a quarter.
  • Only add 2" of river rock to the bottom of your pond. No more and no less.

And here's what you definitely should NOT do:

  • Don't ever expect to see the color of your rocks. Your rocks should be covered in a beautiful layer of carpet algae.
  • Never use limestone. Algae looooves limestone.
  • Don't use pea gravel. It will keep oxygen from going underneath the rock, which is very important to bacteria growth.

I can hear your questions: but won't this accumulate muck under the rock? Not enough to matter! There is enough oxygen flow underneath the rocks for beneficial bacteria to consume the muck.

And: how am I supposed to clean my pond now with all this rock? We never take rocks out of the pond, including the river rock. All of it stays in. When you do a pond cleaning, you're just going to flush any junk out from under the rocks-- that's it!

Nov 9, 2017

8 Steps to Prep Your Pond for Winter

Hopefully you've had a great season with your pond! It's now time to start prepping it for the colder months. This doesn't have to be a daunting task! Read our easy 8 steps below to get your pond ready before cold weather arrives!

Step 1.  Keep it clean -- Keep leaves out and remove decaying plant foliage.
Not only will decaying organic matter feed algae next spring, but it will also rob pond water of oxygen which your fish need to thrive. Keep a leaf net on you pond until the leaves are down and cleaned up. Cut back aquatic plant foliage. Watch our video about pond netting here.

Step 2. Catch up if you didn't maintain your pond this summer.
If your pond water isn't clear or if you have a heavy layer of debris on the bottom, it might be a good idea to clean your pond this fall. Fall is an excellent time for a pond cleaning! See our FAQ's about Cool Ponds cleanings here. Read our article When Should I Clean My Pond here.

Step 3.  Continue to add Spring and Fall Prep beneficial bacteria.
When the water temperature falls below 50 degrees, switch from BioClear and Clean to Spring and Fall Prep Bacteria. This will keep any debris that remains in your pond from becoming muck at the bottom or algae food. Keep using the Spring and Fall Prep until the water temperature falls below 35 degrees. If you don't have a pond thermometer, get one. Consider this Step 3b!

Step 4. Stop feeding your fish.
Okay, okay... this one is tough. But your fish do not need to be fed during the late fall, winter, and early spring. They won't even want to eat! Once the water temperature drops below 55 degrees you should not feed them. Even if we have a warm spell over the winter and your fish begin to move around -- don't do it! You could be risking their health! Read more about fish and winter health here.

Step 5.  Move your air stones.
We recommend every pond have an aerator for the overall health of the ecosystem! During the warm months the aerator stones are at the bottom of the pond to get the most oxygen throughout the water column. In the cold months, we don't want to disturb the water at the bottom of the pond -- that's where the fish go to sleep winter away. So moving your air stones gives you two benefits...First, you aren't disturbing your fish and secondly, moving the air stones to the surface of the water causes agitation on the water surface and a hole in the ice! Read more about aerators in winter here.

Step 6.  Have an deicer for backup.
A deicer is a small electric warmer that will float on the water surface and keep a hole in the ice. Why a hole in the ice? You never want your pond to freeze over completely! Fish need oxygen and they are expelling carbon dioxide which needs to get out. But we just said the aerator will leave a hole in the ice? Yes, an aerator should be used all year, but sometimes when it gets really cold, it just can't keep up. That's when a deicer for backup is a good idea! Read more about deicers here.

Step 7. Have a plan for topping off your pond during winter.
It's not as easy to add a couple inches of water to your pond in winter! You'll need a thawed hose and a frost-free spigot or a long hose and a kitchen sink if need be! Don't be surprised at the amount of water you may need to add in the winter. As ice begins to form, that water is no longer in the pond but on top of the pond! When a cold spell is coming, get your pond topped off before it arrives.

Step 8.  Decide if you want to run your pond during the winter or shut it down.
Ponds and waterfalls are beautiful in the winter! If you can view yours from inside and have an easy way to fill it over the winter, then leave it running. But there are certain times you should definitely shut it down for winter:

  • If you will be away from your home for a few days or more.
  • If it will be difficult to add water.
  • If your pump sits at the bottom of your pond. (If you don't have a skimmer, you don't want to disturb the warm water at the bottom of the pond.)

Hope this post was helpful!
Cool Ponds is open all year 
 for all you pond supplies needs.

Shop fall supplies in our online store here!

Sep 15, 2017

How To Install Pond Lighting

how to install pond lighting

There is nothing like watching your fish cruise around your pond at night. It takes your pond to a whole different level. And don't even get me started about entertaining friends campfire-side around your lit pondfree waterfall!

So you're hooked. You need this underwater light stuff in a bad way. Where do you start?

Here's our step by step guide on how to light your water feature.

Step 1 -- Find your water feature viewpoint.

aerial view of pond for underwater lighting tutorial
Thanks to Shawn and Kathy for the awesome aerial view of their backyard!
We're going to be using one of our pond installations (pictured above) for the duration of this tutorial. Shawn and Kathy enjoy their pond from several points -- the deck, the firepit, and from inside the house. We want to make sure that the lights point away from their viewpoint so they're not blinded by the lights!

underwater lighting diagram
Notice the direction of the lights are pointing away from the viewing areas.

Step 2 -- Find your power outlet and take some measurements.

pond dimensions for underwater lighting tutorial

We need to know how wide your pond is, how long, and how long your stream / waterfall length is. Proximity to the nearest outdoor outlet is also important! Notice that the outlet in this backyard is hidden by rose bushes. 

Step 3 -- Pick your lighting style.

Lighting can be soft and subtle or bold and statement-making! Do you have existing landscape lighting? You'll want to blend that style with your water feature.

At the Wickers' house, Steve uses a kind of "outside in" approach. He uses bright spotlights outside of the pond to highlight all of his creeks and waterfalls. The pond is the highlight of his yard! If you'd rather take a little more subtle approach, you can submerge all your lighting units and use uplights in the waterfalls instead of spotlights.

Think about if you want some areas of darkness in the pond to create mystique or if you'd rather illuminate all the water. See the photo below for our 2016 Flower and Patio Show Garden. We had over a dozen lights in that pond. It was BRIGHT.

cool ponds flower and patio show indiana garden
Our garden at the 2016 Flower and Patio Show.

We're going to assume you're going with the Steve "all or nothing" approach for the rest of this tutorial, but if you want help designing your own style, we'll be glad to be of assistance!

Step 4 -- Lay out your lighting units.

lighting diagram underwater lighting how to

It's important to know how far your lighting units' beams will go. Luckily for you, we know our lights very well and can size an underwater light for your specific feature to get the most bang for your buck. Our 3 watt spotlight can illuminate about 12' in front of it. The 1 watt spotlight is better for small fountains, as it only illuminates about 3-5' in front of it.

Consider where your boulders are in the bottom of your pond. You don't want your light being blocked.

We recommend submerging pond lights and tucking them into your rock walls so that you see the light but don't notice the units themselves. We put ours about a foot underneath the water surface -- which is deep enough to illuminate the bottom of the pond but shallow enough to access the lights without draining the entire pond or going for a swim.

Once you plan what you need, physically install the lighting in the pond and leave the connected 14' power cord outside of the pond for our next step!

Step 5 -- Connect your lights.

underwater lighting plug
All lights and connectors have easy to use plugs.

All our lights are easy to plug in to extensions and connectors -- no need to trim wires.

There are many ways to connect your lights, either with splitters, or extension cables. In this example, we're using a 25' extension with connections at every 5'. This is a favorite of our installation crew, as it makes it so much easier and quicker to install lights. 

underwater lighting diagram

All your lights will be connected to a transformer, which then is plugged into your outlet. Transformers come in different sizes, like Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime -- oh, no wait. Different transformers. Our transformers do come in different wattages, depending on how many lights you have.

It is very, very advisable to make a light diagram at this point. Your lights should last you for many years, but occasionally you might need to clean them or swap them out, and once you've wedged them between rocks and slept a few hundred nights, you're bound to forget where you put your lights! A light diagram should show all your connections and give some landmarks to help you find your lights again.

underwater lighting diagram cool ponds
Here's an example of one of our light diagrams. 

A couple of extra points:

This article was written specifically about the underwater lights that we sell at Cool Ponds. We're very familiar with how they work and their capabilities. These lights work perfectly under water or above it -- make sure the lights you use have the same capacity!

Check our event listing to see if we're hosting an underwater lighting demonstration any time soon. You'll be amazed how our water features look at night!

Aug 25, 2017

When Should I Clean My Pond?

So hopefully by now you know that you should clean your pond once a year. If this is new info to you, check out our comprehensive FAQ to Cleaning. But maybe you've heard us talk about fall cleanings, and you're wondering -- when should I clean my pond? What time of year is best?

Fall is a great time to clean your pond! Here are 5 reasons to clean your pond in the fall.

Reason 1 -- Eliminate toxic build-up in the bottom of your pond.

pond cleaning algae

When a layer of leaves and other organic debris build up in the bottom of your pond, some bad stuff starts to brew down there. Anaerobic bacteria begins to grow, and woah is it smelly stuff! Not to mention that it can be harmful to fish. Plus, as that debris starts to decompose, it will pull oxygen from the water, essentially choking your fish.

Reason 2 -- Keep your fish safer this winter.

pond fish in winter

If you have a large build-up of debris (we're talking a few inches) on the bottom of your pond, then you could be taking up precious pond depth. Your fish need room on the bottom of the pond, which will be a little warmer than the surface, in the winter time. Fall is a great time to purge this debris layer and make sure your fish are warm and cozy this winter.

Reason 3 -- Give algae a little less to munch on this winter.

pond scum debris sludge

Every January, we get the string algae calls. People call in, panicked, "There's so much string algae in my pond, but it's too cold to use Remove Away!" First off, it's totally fine that string algae is growing. It's doing you no harm other than making your pond look a little messy.

If you clean your pond in the fall, however, you remove a lot of the organic waste that algae feeds on.

Reason 4 -- Clear up your pond to enjoy it this fall!

pond fall flowers mums water lilies

This is the MAIN reason, right? There's nothing quite like the cool, autumn breeze, a cup of warm cider in your hands, your feet propped up next to your campfire, while listening to your waterfall and watching your fish swim. It's hard to do that if you're looking at your pond saying, "Ugh what a mess!"

Summer time is rough on our ponds. String algae thrives in the heat and low rainfall. And even when we get that string algae under control, all the dead algae bits hang around in the form of suspended debris. Your water might be cloudy or just downright dirty!

Although we have some great filters to filter this debris out, the quickest and most efficient way to get rid of debris is to do a complete pond cleaning (NOTE: draining your water part-way doesn't cut it!).

Reason 5 -- Give yourself less work to do next spring.

pond relax water garden

When the snow begins to melt and the early spring flowers start to bloom in the spring, we're elated to finally have great weather again. And then our to-do lists for our yards begin to grow. Weekends off mean getting gardens ready, mulching, planting, planning. Wouldn't it be nice if cleaning up the pond was one of those things that was left OFF your to-do list?

Cleaning in the fall means that's just that less work you have to do in the spring! Just start dosing your water treatments when the water temp is 50 degrees, and you're set to start your season!

Join us the second Saturday in September for our fall cleaning demo at our Indianapolis store. Or call us today to schedule our professional maintenance technicians to clean your pond for you!

Jul 14, 2017

How exactly does rain water harvesting work?

So if you read Why Harvest Rain Water?, you're probably wondering, okay but HOW?

The diagram above is a cut out of a pond-free basin. The basin holds water under ground that powers the pond-free. A rain water harvesting system uses this same set up but has a much larger basin to hold more water.

Underneath the stone and the permeable pavers pictured above is our basin. Our gutter also empties into this basin. Any rain that falls on the patio or the roof gets collected in this basin.

This hose and gutter pictured above is attached to the same rain water harvesting system. The hose is attached to a pump in the basin, so we can use rain water to fill ponds and water our gardens whenever we need it!

This rain water harvesting system makes it extremely easy to use the collected rain water, and the system keeps the water oxygenated so you won't have any anaerobic, smelly bacteria collecting in your basin. If you're interested in learning more or want Cool Ponds to install a rain water harvesting system, contact us today!


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