In November 2014, I received an email from a gentleman who was interested in a backyard koi pond in metro Atlanta, Georgia. He had an idea of what he wanted, but he needed a professional to guide him in order to make his project a success. He cited the Pond Stars show on Nat Geo Wild as the inspiration for his new backyard paradise. While searching on the Internet for potential water feature installers, he selected Universal Aquatics as a possible company that could assist in creating his dream pond.
During the initial consultation, we discussed several different options regarding what would work best in his new space. Based on the natural grade of the property, the homeowner had plans of constructing the stream and waterfall flowing away from the house, with the pond itself being located in the middle of the yard. However, if we were to construct the new water feature in this manner, there wouldn’t be a comfortable viewing area to enjoy the new koi pond. Whenever we build any type of water feature, we like to place it where it can be enjoyed from the most places possible. This includes areas outside as well as inside the house.
Give Customers What They Need, Not What They Ask For
We decided to construct the pond in a completely opposite manner to what he initially had in mind. The pond was to be constructed closer to the house and deck, with the slope in the yard being built up with excavated soil, allowing for the waterfall and stream to flow toward the house. This would not only allow for maximum viewing from the deck, but would also increase visibility from the kitchen and den areas inside the house.
Plan for the Unexpected
Within the first 30 minutes of excavation, we ran into a bit of a surprise. We hit an irrigation solenoid valve, which triggered the system to erupt. The pond began to flood, and the entire job site and surrounding areas became a muddy mess. It took about 10 minutes to locate the main shut-off for the system. We ended up shutting off the main water line for the entire property until the damaged area was repaired. Even though the system only ran for a short period of time, the mishap slowed down the construction process for the following two days. We decided to dig out the entire waterfall area first to make sure that there weren’t any more irrigation surprises before continuing the project. If there were more irrigation lines beneath the waterfall itself, that could spell disaster for the project in the years ahead.
Constructing the Waterfall
While constructing the waterfall portion of the project, we entered uncharted waters. Due to the elevation changes on the property, the start of the waterfall had to be built up a total of 3 feet in order to have an 8-inch waterfall drop. All of the excavated soil from the pond itself was used to create the berm needed to support the new space.
There is only so much soil that can be removed while digging a pond, and there was an extremely large area that needed to be built up. Instead of having a large amount of soil delivered, we found ourselves shifting soil from one place to another in order to not only properly support our new waterfall and stream area, but also to ensure that the final space was well-balanced with the amount of boulders that were used on the project.
Constructing the waterfall was also a bit challenging with no solid soil to support the stones. Everything had to be built in reverse order because the area had to be leveled before the boulders could be set for the first drop into the pond. The earth that was to support these stones then had to be placed for the next set of boulders. Creating natural waterfalls and streams is much easier if they are able to be carved out of an existing hillside.
Spice It Up
In order to spice things up a bit, a large piece of wood found on-site was used as one of the side walls of the stream. It was a great change from the stone borders, and it also added an accent and secondary focal point. It felt great to be able to incorporate a part of nature into the project. Not only did it add to the overall natural appearance of the feature, but it helped add instant age, rustic charm and beauty to the new space.
A sitting boulder was added to allow an up-close and personal view of the water feature. It is also a great place for enjoying a nice cup of coffee to start the day. Due to the fact that there was an actual lake within throwing distance of the new koi pond, fish safety from herons was a great concern for the homeowner. Two fish caves were added to allow for the fish to have a safe hiding place from the birds of prey as well as to provide a retreat for the new inhabitants to escape from the summer heat.
Pond Lighting is a Must
Several LED pond lights were installed on the project in order for the homeowners to be able to enjoy their new backyard pond during the evening hours. Pond lighting adds to the enjoyment of the outdoor and indoor viewing areas at night as well as during overcast days. The lighting will most definitely allow the homeowners to be able to maximize their enjoyment of the new water feature.
We had a great time designing and constructing this project. Although there were a couple of surprises along the way, we were able to successfully complete the project without any major concerns. The best part about the entire project was that the homeowner loved it. As pond artists we not only get the personal satisfaction of being able to design and create beautiful, one-of-a-kind water features, but we are blessed with the ability to change people’s lives forever by adding a little piece of paradise that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Universal Aquatics specializes in backyard water feature installation, repair and maintenance. This includes installing or repairing koi ponds, waterfalls, water fountains, pondless waterfalls and more. We can design or install these water features to give you the backyard of your dreams. We serve the Metro Atlanta, Georgia area. www.universalaquatics.com