By Dan & Melissa Johanson, Focal Point Features LLC
We got a call from Michael, who found us online and liked our reviews, photos and style. Not long after, we went onsite to discuss ideas, budget and timeline. When we first saw the site, it was a bit of a mess — just a small hole in the ground with dirt everywhere. But we had a perfect hillside to work with — a pond builder’s dream! The consultation went very smoothly, and we were excited with his ideas.
Like many pond builders, our client got into ponds through his passion for aquariums and fish. Originally, this project was intended to be a small koi pond, but as it grew, so did his vision. His wife Kristin mentioned it was big enough to swim in, and so the swim pond idea was born. With the growing trend of natural-style swim ponds, we were excited to have an opportunity to be a part of one.
Usually we provide the vision, but Michael knew what he wanted, and we couldn’t have agreed more. He had an overall feel of what he wanted to see, and Focal Point Features was the perfect choice to deliver. His vision gave us great ideas, and his budget gave us the ability to execute.
He had a pool company come in for the excavation of the main pond while the stonemasons did the hardscaping. We were in charge of the streams, waterfalls and filtration. At first, we were hesitant to be a part of a collaboration. We took it one step at a time and worked together for a couple of months, going over details while the pool and stonemasons did their part.
We both agreed on a natural and mechanically filtered swim pond with no chemicals. The pool company had their doubts, so they continued their process to be able to add chemicals later, just in case. We had lots of back-and-forth correspondence to choose filtration and pumps. They were able to recommend a variable-speed pump to help dial in flow, which worked out really well. It was complete with a chiller for our Texas summers and a heater for a dip in December.
Originally we had planned to use sandstone moss boulder, a local favorite. We had a great selection of big rocks picked out, but nothing too big to maneuver downhill by hand, since there was no room for machinery. A day later, Michael sent pictures of some rock they had found and had fallen in love with. It was Oklahoma River Boulder, a very dense stone. You don’t just grab and move this rock; a basketball-sized stone approaches 75 pounds. So the 8 tons of stone we needed for just the stream and waterfalls was going to be our gym for the next two weeks!
Michael showed us the accent boulder, a complete beast of a rock right at 2 tons. I shared my concerns about moving a rock that heavy downhill by hand. Over the weekend, he sent me a couple of pictures showing the boulder set in place. He and a couple of friends moved it downhill using a series of winches and broke two of them in the process. Needless to say, we were all impressed! It was perfectly placed, and I asked him if he wanted a job.
Once the concrete was poured for the pond, we came in to start rockin’ and rollin’. With a beautiful slope and sweeping curves, we couldn’t do just one stream. So we planned on creating a faux split stream that appeared to go around a small island. The first step was to start on the bottom two waterfalls that flowed into the pond. The masons then built the retaining wall above the pond to create a small patio. Next, we started the small stream and placed the rest of the large accent boulders so the masons could come back to form the patio around the boulders and stream’s edge. They completed the rockwork under the waterfalls and added benches in the pond. We continued up the main stream and intertwined the two streams seamlessly in the hillside. Once we finished, the masons were able to tie in the patio along the bog area.
After a few months, everything was complete. Working alongside other companies was a little new for us, but in the end, it was it fun. We made great connections for many more projects in the future and got to create a tropical oasis in someone’s backyard. And not to mention the satisfaction of the pool company, realizing that we can naturally filter the swim pond!
Michael, Kristin and their dogs are thrilled with how this entire project came out. We couldn’t be happier and are so proud to be a part of this transformation. Ponds are our passion, and making dreams come true — well, that’s the cherry on top!