POND BUILDING IS NOT A FAD
by Jenny Cressman
The business of landscaping has grown to include much more than merely reshaping land. In fact, one of the hottest trends in the industry could e more aptly called waterscaping -- pond building has become a popular preoccupation for many, and an occupation for others.
Bruce Gallagher recently launched his new business, Aqua Scape of Muskoka, with a day-long "Build-aPond" event at his home on Partridge Lane, off Ziska Road, near Bracebridge, the location of the Beth Barry Pottery studio. He and make Beth Barry are not coy about their desire to swim with the fishes -- koi, that is -- right in their own front yard. Their pond had to be spacious, making it an ideal demonstration site for the hands-on business launch and lunch.
Gallagher and business partner Kelvin Dafoe invited professional landscapers and other interested parties to participate and learn first-hand from the Aquascape Ontario experts, who co-hosted the event. According to Aquascape Ontario head foreman Chuck Catton of Chatham, this pond construction system is the largest selling in North America. He says, most ponds are about 11 x 16 feet and can be built by hand in a single day, with three or four workers.
The Gallagher-Barry pond took a little longer than a day to build, involved a few more people and a machine or two, required some extra rocks, and ended up being close to 30 by 30 feet in size. Holding approximately 3,000 gallons in total, it also needed two waterfalls to keep the larger volume of water clean.
This size would cost, calculates Gallagher, "at least $22,000 -- but this is a mammoth pond!" The average 11 by 16-foot pond runs about $7-8,000, depending on the site, he says, adding that the standard do-it-yourself kit costs only $3,200 and comes with equipment for one waterfall.
The waterfalls, known as "bio-falls" in Aquascape lingo, act like a bubbler in a fish tank, increasing oxygen and keeping the water clean, in conjunction with the crucial filtering system, similar to a pool "skimmer" unit. The whole design process is a careful combination of aesthetic and functional requirements.
Building a pond requires a very basic recipe, explains Catton, who's been in the business for over a decade. His list of ingredients includes: rocks and gravel; plants and fish; liners and underlay; pumps and plumbing; biological and mechanical filtration -- but not necessarily in that order. The base begins with a "Geo-Textile" underlay and a fish-safe rubber "EPDM" liner. From there, it's up to individual tastes and personal creativity.
"There's no limit to the imagination with what you can do in water gardening," states Catton. "Pond building is not a fad and there's no part of landscaping that affects the senses more than water gardening."
Certainly, that's the premise behind this new business venture. A press release announcing the Build-a-Pond day, expresses the intent to introduce Muskokans to "the fastest growing segment of gardening" and demonstrates how to "create a low maintenance paradise" which are "realistic and natural looking."
When finished, these ponds look so natural, they immediately attract admirers, along with new inhabitants. "If you build it, they will come." says Catton, in reference to frogs.
Gallagher and Dafoe, no doubt, are similarly hoping their new Aqua Scape of Muskoka pond building business will attract admirers and inspire others to follow suit.
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Keeping your pond running during the frozen months will allow you to enjoy the beautiful ice sculptures that form in the stream and waterfall. Although beautiful, it's possible that the ice buildup can form dams that could divert your pond water OUT of the pond. Check on the waterfall and stream throughout the winter, and if it looks like this is happening, it might be time to turn off the pump.