Contractor’s Corner | Pond of Dreams

By Chris Ostrander

Published on November 4, 2019

Nolan got to run the machine to dig the first soil and set the first boulder!

My favorite part of installing and servicing ponds and water features is the happy reactions and joy that pours out from the passionate pond people we work for.

We were working on a pond this summer, and it turned out that the person who was most passionate about it was a kid who lived across the street. Nolan, 13, and his mom Jamie walked over to see what we were doing to the pond.

Nolan visits the pond we were working on every day that he’s able to. It’s his spot to relax, forget about problems, feed the fish by hand, catch a frog, watch a dragonfly and all the other stuff that passionate pond people do. He soon came to know everything about the pond, including the fact that we were converting it into an Aquascape ecosystem. Before long, Nolan, had seen every single one of the Team Aquascape videos on YouTube with Greg Wittstock, Ed Beaulieu, Brian Helfrich and Chris Hanson.

It was after all this when Jamie shared her son’s story with me, explaining why this pond was such a big deal to Nolan. It turned out, he and his brother Ethan were very, very ill. Much of the time they spend awake is not very joyful. Jamie spends every waking moment not only taking care of her sons’ medical needs, but also somehow maintaining a positive attitude, finding every opportunity she can to bring them happiness.

excavation of pond
Allan Schule from Sound Shore Pond on Long Island NY came in early to help with excavation.

Meanwhile, it just so happened that Greg Wittstock was scheduled to visit our company for one of his vlogs about three weeks later. Weird coincidence, right? So, I asked Nolan if he would like to meet The Pond Guy.

Nolan got crazy excited. He came over several times during the project to monitor our progress. I even went over to their house to see his saltwater aquarium, and after learning more about his condition and everything he and Ethan go through, I decided that the whole family would benefit greatly from the healing and relaxation of their very own pond. I just didn’t know if I could make it happen.

My company, Living Water Landscape Service, is a small one in southwest Michigan. We have a limited number of days to work each year, and budgets are tight, so giving away ponds isn’t really possible for us. There certainly was no way this family could afford it with all the medical stuff going on, so I called on some friends.

As a Certified Aquascape Contractor, I shared the story with some of my fellow CACs. It wasn’t long before Michael Garcia (Soares Landscaping in Canada), Allan Schule (Sound Shore Pond and Landscape in Long Island, New York), Dan Put and his crew (Put’s Ponds and Gardens in Oakland County, Michigan), Cory Mann (Poseidon Ponds in Ann Arbor, Michigan), Mike Muyskens (AWM Water Features in Grand Rapids, Michigan), and Wayne Miller and his crew (Premiere Aquascapes in Middlebury, Indiana) had all agreed to come and help! Our distributor, Great Lakes Pondscapes in Paw Paw, Michigan, told us they would buy all the necessary stone and gravel for the project. All we needed was a few thousand dollars in pond components and permission from Mom to dig a big hole in her nice backyard.

When Greg showed up to shoot his YouTube video, I surprised him with the boys’ story. I also explained to him that I was determined to get this family their own pond. Almost instantly, he said he would not only donate the kit, but he would also send us some help.

It was an awesome day. Mom agreed to let us build the pond. Nolan was crazy-excited to meet Greg, and he was completely blown away when he found out he was getting his own pond! Greg, Nolan and I used a garden hose to design a 11-by-16 pond. When that didn’t seem big enough, we moved it to a different spot and made it 18 by 20 — with permission from Mom, of course.
The day before our “Dream Team” showed up, my crew and I completed the excavation, installed the liner and attached the skimmer and biofalls.

The amazing volunteers! And Ed Beaulieu the Pond Professer showed up too! Nolan had a whole list of questions written down for him!

The next day, I was amazed at how much pond-building talent had congregated in one place. Everyone knew what to do, and each person took such care looking after every detail. Complete with steppingstones; destination rocks; places to put your feet, hands, and rear end; fish caves and plant pockets, this pond will be a pleasure to watch as it matures.

The final pond is 18 by 20 feet and 30 inches deep. It’s powered by an AquaSurge 4000-8000 pump housed in an Aquascape 1000 skimmer. They run the pump on the lowest setting most of the time to conserve electricity. The biological filtration is handled with an Aquascape 6000 biofalls that dumps into about 15 feet of stream with two waterfalls that provide really nice vistas and sounds even from the house. It’s perfect, because they spend a lot of time looking out the window.

Ethan is not so much into ecosystems or the YouTube videos like his brother is, but he is into electronics. We set up the system so that Ethan can take care of the controls for the Iongen system, the automatic dosing system and the lights, including the color-changing features in the stream. The pond also has a new Aquascape Pond Powerhead for added circulation, so Ethan is in charge of keeping that clean and operating, too. As is often the case, the whole family is enjoying their new pond in many different ways, and we could not be happier to have been a part of this unforgettable project.

Kosmerick Family "healing" pond.
The Kosmerick Family Brian, Jamie Nolan, Ethan and their new “healing” pond.

Chris Ostrander, Living Water Landscape Service. Chris has been installing Aquascape water features since 2007. Chris and his crew at Living Water Landscape Service was awarded the 2015 Certified Aquascape Contractor of the Year! For more information, visit


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Designer: Chris Ostrander

Installers:  Living Water Landscape Service, Sound Shore Pond and Landscape, Put’s Ponds and Gardens, AWM Water Features, Poseidon Ponds, Pondering Waters, Soares Landscaping, Premiere Aquascapes, Great Lakes Pondscapes, Aquascape Inc.

Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Contact Info: Living Water Landscape Service

Size: 18 X 20 Feet


  • Aquascape 1000 skimmer
  • Aquascape 6000 biofalls
  • Aquascape automatic dosing system
  • Aquascape Iongen system
  • Aquascape color-changing LED lights
  • Aquascape 4000-8000 AquaSurge pump
  • Aquascape Pond Powerhead

Time to Complete: 200 man hours

Project Price:Donated (valued at $25,000)



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