One morning in June 2018, I was in my office making return phone calls. I had received a call from Cheri Griffiths, the owner of Playtime Pet Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Cheri excitedly announced that she wanted to put in a water feature at her newly purchased facility for training and boarding dogs. Unsure of whether to install a pond or a pool, we scheduled an appointment and met for a consultation to discuss the area in mind. After discussing many ideas, we came to an agreement, and I eagerly began to work on a design plan. Soon after, we met again to go over the plan and prices. The site size was 40 feet long by 32 feet wide, a perfect amount of space to fit two large water features. Excited about the project, Cheri and her investors were ready to move forward!
We soon began construction of two different water features. The first water feature would have one large, bubbling boulder that was 8 feet long by 4 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet high. This was determined to be the right size, because it would allow a number of dogs to jump on it at the same time. Surrounding the bubbling boulder, we created a collection basin bog to contain 6 inches of water with a 10-foot radius from the boulder. It was designed to provide shallow water for the smaller dogs to play in, but large enough to collect water that would splash out.
The second water feature would have a 10-foot stream flowing into a 20-by-20 pond-bog collection basin with an 8-to-18-in. depth. The deeper water provided the dogs with an area to swim. Under the stream we placed a 2-by-10-foot ADS pipe to provide a tunnel or cave that the dogs could play in and go from one side to the other.
The area for the water park had a portion of existing building removed, so the entire site had a 2-foot depth of modified stone base. This is not good for an EPDM liner. In order to protect the liner from sharp stone, we used a 2-inch layer of sand and two layers of underlayment fabric. Underlayment was also used on top of the liner for added protection from pet paws, as well as rock and gravel. After positioning six small AquaBloxes to complete the bog and snorkel vault, we added the 5,000-gph Aquasurge pump, a 2-inch flex pipe and a spillway box for the waterfalls. I repeated most of the same procedures on both water features, except with a 3,000-gph pump for the bubbling boulder. With all the equipment in place, we were ready to rock! Using our creativity with rocks and boulder placement, my team made sure that the rocks were locked and secured with foam to accommodate many large dogs running and jumping on them.
With the water features complete and water flowing, it was time for the final touches. We placed tree logs of various lengths and boulders of various sizes around the water features that the pets could jump and play on. We also landscaped some areas with durable ornamental grasses. Adding landscaping always beautifies, accents and softens the coarse stone. Knowing how destructive dogs can be to plants, we needed to select plants that could tolerate the abuse. We planted ornamental grasses, vinca around the boulders and along the side of the stream, and Hakonechloa grass along the fence perimeter.
We also lit up the water features with beautiful LED lighting attached to the surrounding 8-foot fence. This provided enough light for both water features and the entire ground area. We typically install underwater lights and wire, but in this case, the pets would eventually dislodge them while at play.
Finally, the entire ground area was spread with a mix of ¾-inch river rock and pea gravel, providing a soft cushion for the pets’ paws. Because the ground area was all modified stone, we used a plate tamper to compact and flatten the area. We applied a 1-to-1 ½-inch river rock layer on top and then tamped it. Next, we added a small pea gravel layer on top of the river rock. This was also tamped to interlock with the river rock.
By the end of the summer, the project was complete, and an announcement was made that the park was open! “This water park has made a major contribution toward the achievement of our goal — to make Playtime Pet Resort every dog’s second-favorite place on Earth!” Cheri exclaimed.