Contractor's Corner

Contractor’s Corner | Facing off with an American Icon

Creating a Koi Pond to outperform…a Corvette?

pond waterfall backyard

The finished product after only a five day build!

Early last fall, I had a customer come to me with a somewhat unusual request. She stated that her husband had just bought a Corvette, and she didn’t want to let him top her, so she wanted a koi pond that would make his Corvette seem like child’s play. She didn’t have any specific ideas; she just knew that her children were leaving the nest, and they were coming to a point when they would spend a lot more time at home. She also said she wanted a good view from her sunroom!

I was ecstatic — not very often do I have complete freedom to create water features without major input from the customer. Not to mention the fact that I love Corvettes, so I knew I had to put it all on the line so that she and I could both finish this project with a huge sense of satisfaction.

working out the pond design

Pulling the design together and I decided to incorporate a 4-by-13-foot bog system, the most natural way to keep a pond healthy and the water clean.

The preplan was probably a little more thought-out, since I had to beat a Corvette and provide this mom with pure satisfaction whenever she looked out her window. I felt that they had not focused much on their homefront over the last 15 to 20 years since they were busy making memories with their children (which I think is what you are supposed to do). So, I wanted to allow her sunroom to flow into the feature and be a part of her environment, rather than just another area of her home. I also designed it to be as maintenance-free as possible; I wanted the pond to work for her, so I included the bog and other natural elements to allow that to happen.

adding design elements for the pond

Not much room in the yard and a lot of the build consisted of working in tight spaces. 

This water feature project took just five days to build. We were amid a dry spell in North Carolina, so we were able to work long days and get a lot accomplished. I decided to incorporate a 4-by-13-foot bog system, the most natural way to keep a pond healthy and the water clean. It also allows the plants to do a lot of the work. There was a 3-foot stream that led from the bog into the pond and a 9,000-gph pump that did the ground work for moving water. We used another 9,000-gph pump for the 8-foot stream, which led to the 18-by-26 pond. The pond was complete with shelves and hiding places for her fish. Since the pond was so large, we installed aerators for extra filtration, adding a swamp effect to the overall look of the project. This contributed nicely to the natural feel I wanted to create. We used approximately 18 tons of boulders and 5 tons of river rock — the sheer size alone really set the project off. We finished the project off by rocking a 20-foot retaining wall and a walkway from the side of her carport to her sunroom, which meandered through the feature, providing a full visual for her every day when she came home from work.

I was not able to be there when the customer saw it for the first time, but when I got the phone call, her squeals were all I needed to hear! That, and she told her husband her water feature was more fun to listen to and watch than his Corvette was to drive.

To be honest, that might be one of the best compliments my crew and I have ever received. After all, the Corvette is an American icon!

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