My team and I — Fitz’s Fish Pond — have been building beautiful water feature and waterscapes all over the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania for almost 10 years now. It has been amazing to introduce the aquaculture hobby to so many incredible people. Over the years, some projects have stood out a bit more than others for many different reasons, and this project in Bridgewater, New Jersey, is one of those projects.
When we were first contacted by this client back in 2018, they already had a pond in their backyard and wanted us to rebuild their main waterfall. This was the start of a wonderful relationship with this client. We are always honored to be able to build beautiful water features and landscapes for our clients, but it is especially rewarding when they are as kind, caring and compassionate as the family lucky enough to live in this beautiful home in Bridgewater.
After we finished the waterfall rebuild, they asked us to build a small water garden on the other side of their backyard. Once we were done, they were so thrilled with all the work we did that they wanted another pond!
This past spring, while our team was servicing the pond, the client approached us about connecting the two ponds and adding a custom bridge over the top to be able to have access to their shed. About a month later, we broke ground.
We drained both ponds, took out all the koi fish and put them in an oxygenated holding tank. We took out the old liner, replaced it with a new liner and added fresh moss rock for coping the edge of the pond.
This rebuild only took two days, and it came out incredible. As soon as we finished rebuilding the pond, we installed flowers and plants all around the perimeter to add color and vibrance to the area. The client loves sunflowers, so we planted a mixed variety of pink and yellow sunflowers around the pond.
One of the best things about this landscape is the deck we built on the edge of the pond. The client set up three wooden beach chairs, creating an amazing spot to relax, read a book, listen to music and watch the Japanese koi glide through the water, all with the peaceful sound of the waterfall in the background.
When we combined the two ponds, we needed to upgrade the original filtration system, since there would be double the amount of water flowing through the filters. The first thing we did was install an under-gravel grid filtration system. The purpose of this type of system is to pull debris down to the bottom of the pond and pump it into the mechanical filtration system, which in this case included an Evolution Aqua K1 Micro Bead Filter, an EVO 110W UV and an Artesian PerformancePro Pump. The filtered water is then returned via the waterfall and continuously cycles through to maintain water quality and clarity.
Having an advanced filtration system, whether it is natural or mechanical, is crucial for all pond owners, especially for those who have fish in their ponds. The quality of the water has a direct correlation with the health of the fish swimming in it. We typically recommend that our clients install a grid system, as they take the pressure off the filters. The filters tend to last longer, as they are not constantly being pushed to their limits.
A few months after completing this pond renovation, our client inquired about adding some hardscaping. Our landscape designer Judd Mandell worked with this client to rebuild the backyard patio, install a fireplace and add some custom wood posts for hanging lights.
With more than 30 years of experience, Mandell brings a vast knowledge of landscape design and building. His specialties range from rock walkways and patios with expert drainage to epic wood and concrete structures. He uses a variety of plants and rocks to add color and texture to projects, creating art using every resource possible. For larger-scale projects like this one, Mandell draws his concepts by hand to outline and show the vision for the project. Every aspect is taken care of with great detail, ensuring the final product is exactly what the client is looking for. He often brings his dog Lilly with him as he scopes out new projects and checks in on his teams in the construction phase. Lilly has become Fitz’s Fish Ponds’ unofficial mascot.
Rebuilding a patio is a labor-intensive process, and our team sticks to very strict guidelines. For every patio we build, we excavate a minimum of 8 inches into the ground. We install and compact a base using 2-inch clean gravel on the bottom. Then we install a woven geotextile fabric underlayment and staple it to the subbase.
A common practice in building patios is to use the quarry process and stone dust, but in our experience in fixing messed-up patios, we have learned that stone dust is not the best material to use for this purpose. Stone dust does not drain well, so water is able to build up under the patio, leading to potential shifting.
To stabilize the pavers once they are laid out, we use polymeric locking sand in the joints. We spray a little bit of water on top of the entire patio once the sand is in place. This acts as a glue to keep the pavers locked in where we want them. Another stabilization tool we use is Belgium Block. We pour in concrete on the edge to keep the patio as a whole in place. Oftentimes, contractors will use plastic edging to save time and money, but it does not keep the patio in place for the long term. We always try and follow best practices when installing pavers to ensure our customer is getting great craftsmanship that will last for years to come.
When our landscaping and pond construction teams collaborate on projects, it almost always ends up as a beautiful, natural work of art that our clients get to enjoy with their families for years to come! It was a pleasure working with this client, and they are so very happy with the end result.a