Mar 1, 2017

Can Cool Ponds redo my water feature?

Every year, we get more and more calls for water feature renovations. It's one thing to build a water feature from a bare yard-- it truly reinvents a yard! But when a water feature already exists, and we have the chance to rebuild it, the result is truly spectacular.

This was the Wickers' first pond with Taylor going to her first day of kindergarten.

Pond #3 with Taylor graduating high school!

The circumstances for remodels are always different. Sometimes the homeowner "inherited" the pond when they moved in to the home. Sometimes another company or contractor built the feature. Sometimes we even built the feature many years prior! Sometimes the features get bigger, sometimes smaller, and many, many times ponds become pondless waterfalls.

Whatever the circumstances, here's how our remodels go:

We will tear out everything in the existing feature. Your liner, filters, rocks, tubing, all of it goes! We will put our new product in, and we will leave your yard with a brand new feature in place of your old one.

So here's the biggest question we get with remodels, "Can you reuse my X?" Here's what we can reuse from your old feature:

-- Rock (so long as it is not limestone!)
-- Pump
-- Cool Ponds filters, if purchased through Cool Ponds within the past few years

And here's the next question we get, "Why can't you reuse my X?"

We want to be absolutely certain that the feature we put in for you is solid. We want you to get many years of enjoyment out of it with no headaches and definitely no leaks! Reusing tubing, liner, or even old filters can spell disaster later on.

We're going to be upfront here: a remodel generally costs more money than if we build a feature from scratch. The reason for this is the extra labor cost of removing the old water feature. But we've never finished a remodel with an unhappy customer! The cost of redoing the water feature is so worth the price, especially when you can enjoy your new feature and instead of worrying about it, maintaining it, or wishing it could look different.

We are genuinely excited to help people renovate their existing features. If you're interested in having our project manager come design your dream water feature with you, please give us a call.

Feb 23, 2017

How do I take care of my large pond?

Large ponds, lakes, retention ponds, and clay-bottom ponds are all classified by Cool Ponds as a "large pond" or "lake." In theory, their maintenance and care is very similar to our smaller backyard ponds!

As of 2017, we do not offer lake treatment services. We can install an aerator or fountain, but we do not have the licensing to apply treatments. If you need a reference for a company who does, we can certainly provide that. However, the treatment regimen we recommend is simple to apply, and we are confident that most home owners can do this themselves!

Here are the basics of caring for your large pond:

Check What's Going Into Your Water

If you're in farmland, it's possible that herbicides or pesticides are in the runoff going into your pond. Adding a vegetative strip around the edge of the pond (that you don't mow) of native grasses can help minimize toxins that go into your lake.

A vegetative strip is especially important if you have soil erosion, as clay is very difficult to clear from your pond water. Check out this article from Texas A&M for more info.

Properly Aerate

You will save so much effort and MONEY if you aerate your pond. Aeration helps boost beneficial bacteria growth, which helps clear your water, and it will help break down sludge and dead plant material faster. Plus aeration is great for the health of your fish! For specific case studies, check out the manufacturer's website.

Add A Beneficial Bacteria

There are two types of bacteria which will help clear your water and reduce muck along your shorelines. Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?

Get Ahead Of Your Weeds and Algae

The beginning of the growing season is the perfect time to get rid of weeds and algae, but you can still treat during the season as well. These are topical treatments mixed in a tank sprayer, so there is no harm to domestic animals, wildlife (including fish), or you! Yes, you can still swim in your pond even with these treatments. Bring in a sample of the weed or algae you're fighting and we can help pinpoint which treatment will be best for you. You can also see our full selection of lake treatments on our online store.

Still unsure where to start? Give us a call or stop in the store! We would love to help you enjoy your large pond even more!

Water Feature Repair

We know that when a water feature isn't right, it's a huge headache. Trust us- -we've been there! When you know you're losing water, but you have no idea where to look or how to fix it, it's very frustrating.

So hopefully if you have the misfortune of suffering a leak, this repair primer will help!

First of all, we need to get something off our chests. Cool Ponds does not repair leaks on features we do not install. 

This is a decision we made for 2017 and forward. We have tried to offer our leak detection services in years past, and it has cost the homeowners thousands of dollars and us days of our time. And sometimes when finally left the customers' house, it was only a slight patch-- never fully fixing the problem. Where we were running into trouble on those features was it wasn't just one leak in one spot. It was many, many spots. 

On features we have installed, we have not had this issue. When we put the feature in, we know what products went in the ground and how they were installed. There's no mystery. So we can pinpoint leaks fairly quickly and get them resolved. I won't say any more about the differences between our installations and other companies', but you can read more here.

Okay, okay-- this isn't the helpful bit, right? Let's get to it!

First thing you need to know: is your water feature even leaking at all?

Read on here to find out how to REALLY check the water level in your pond.

A leaking water feature consistently loses the same amount every day. If there's a large variation in water loss, then you're experiencing evaporation, plant expiration, etc. Read more about the causes of water loss here.

So you're leaking! Now what?

You need to pinpoint the source of the water loss. If you have pumps running water-- whether it's a small "spitter" or fountain, a waterfall, a filter-- something running, shut them off. Measure your water level when you turn it off and leave it off for 24 hours. Measure again.

Did you lose water? >>

Then you know that your leak (or at least some of your leakage) is occurring somewhere in the pond itself. You have a couple options at this point. You can let the water drain until it stops-- where it stops is where the leak occurs. A common place is around the skimmer faceplate. If those are old screws, it's possible they have rusted out. We can show you how to replace the screws and re-seal the faceplate.

If the leak is not around your skimmer, then you can try to find the tear in the liner around the waterline. It is possible to patch the tear. Please note that this is a VERY rare occurrence with rubber liner! And it something we have never come across with our EPDM 45mil liner.

Your other option, which is much easier but also a lot more money: to replace the liner completely.

You didn't lose water? >>

Then you know your leak is somewhere between your pump and whatever running water source you have (waterfall /  spitter / filter / etc). Turn your pump back on and see if you can find any damp spots or obvious spouts of water.


Finding a leak is not easy, but it is not impossible. We will walk you through the process with as much detail as possible. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to come in, give us a call, or send us an email.

Feb 16, 2017

What do you do with your plants in the winter?

A Little Time With Your Aquatic Plants Now Means Less Time Spent on Them in the Spring

How you care for each of the plants in your water feature will depend on what type of plant it is. Regardless, remember to either dispose of tropical plants or bring them in before the first hard freeze.
Hardy vs. Tropical
Any plant that can go through a winter in your area and then re-emerge the next year is hardy to your area. When you purchase a plant for your landscape or water garden it should be marked as to it's "hardiness zone." In Indiana, we are either a 5a, 6a, or 6b zone. If those zones sound a little different from what you have heard in the past, the USDA recently updated the zone map. Marion County, Indiana was formally a zone 5 now a 6a. Many plant tags may not have the revised numbers yet. Check out the USDA map for the entire country here. Whether a plant is tropical or hardy will determine how you treat it for the winter.

This is water forget-me-not. It is one of our favorite hardy marginals!

Hardy Marginal Plants
Most hardy marginal plants (marginal plants have their roots planted under the water and the foliage above the water level) will over winter easily in your pond without much fuss. In the fall after they have died back, trim them back to about 1"-2" above the water level. A few finicky plants such as Cardinal Flower, Pickerel Rush, Parrots Feather, and Lizards Tail prefer to be in an ice-free area of the pond. So either submerged or close to a deicer.
Cigar plants are beautiful topical marginals that attract butterflies

Tropical Marginal Plants
Either bring these plants inside and treat them as house plants or discard them. If brought inside, there's no need to keep them completely submerged, just keep them very damp and near a sunny window. Read more about overwinter tropical plants here.
This Colorado water lily will come back year after year.

Hardy Water Lilies and Lotus

Trim back the foliage of water lilies and lotus about 2" above the crown of the plant if possible. Make sure they are in at least 12" of water.
Surfrider is a tropical water lily in purple-- a color unique to tropical lilies.

Tropical Water Lilies

It's best just to treat a tropical water lily as an annual and replace it each year. It is possible to keep them, the difficulty lies in getting them ready to go back out in the spring. It takes a sunny 70 degree (water temperature) location to get them going before placing them outside again. Most homes just don't have place like that. Compare your tropical water lily to a hanging basket that you purchase each year. It's a nice treat!
Hornwort is a great option for submerged plants.
Submerged Plants
Also referred to as oxygenators, some submerged plants will survive the winter others will not. It mostly depends on the severity of the winter. Trim them back to 2"-4" and keep them at an "ice-free" height. It seems the deeper in the pond the better their chances.

Water hyacinth have beautiful blooms.

Floating Plants

Water hyacinth and water lettuce are not hardy. They should be removed in the fall as they begin to brown and die.
Final Thoughts
Most aquatic plants are fairly forgiving. They'll come back no matter if they have been trimmed back or not. But taking care of them now means a cleaner water feature in the spring and less time maintaining and more time enjoying! 

You inherited a pond... now what?

More and more lately we've become experts with the "inherited pond." You moved into a new house, and lo and behold, the previous owners left a pond! But... now what do you do with it?

This is so exciting for me, as your pond guide. I get to teach how to be a water gardener! It's akin to getting someone hooked on your favorite show. You just love spreading your hobbies, right?

I've seen a range of types of inherited ponds. I've seen ponds that people have unearthed underneath a forest of weeds. I've seen beautiful, established ponds that enchanted people to buy the home in the first place. For every situation though, I get pretty much the same question. "What do I do now?"

First, I implore you to visit our shop. Bring photos of your water feature, take a tour of our gardens to see what our water features look like, and talk to us about what you'd like to do with your new water feature! Trust me, no question is too small or too silly.

Secondly, take a look around here at this blog! We've got tons of info we've compiled over the years. We've gathered a list to get you started:

Why you should aerate your pond. (And what the heck does that mean.)

Everything you need to know about algae.

All about keeping pond fish.

What is a pond filter?

How to enjoy your water garden.

So, congratulations on your new adventure! We're thrilled to be able to share the experience with you. We hope to speak with you soon.


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