By Amber Swain
We are the third owners of Pond Elegance, Mobile, AL, and the company has been in business since 1986, with now more than 20 years of experience designing and building ponds, waterfalls, and aquascapes.
We build both residential and commercial projects, as well as operate a large showroom and retail location. Pond Elegance covers the Gulf Coast of Northern Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, and were known by our customers for our creativity and over-the-top designs that blend existing architecture and nature into one.
Our goal is to make our customers happy with the waterscape of their dreams.
Recently, the company created and built a 100-ft. creek that streams into a bottom pond. The customer asked for a meditation space that included a stream and waterfall. The design was born from their requirements and the available space on their property. We were allowed to engineer a creek and waterfall design from scratch. The land for the project was completely flat lawn, so that required a lot of imagination.
To begin, we rough sketched the concept of the meditation space as we wanted the creek and
pond to feel like it was a naturally occurring waterscape. The new features had to transition into the existing landscape seamlessly, and we wanted the space to be as visually stunning as the modern architecture of the home.
We found a lot of inspiration in the Floridian flora and the surrounding natural water sources.
The customer loved the sketch and immediately approved the project.
Over two months of 40-hour work weeks and with three team members, the meditation space came to life. The meditation space was such a special project because the focus of our work has always been ponds, not creeks. The creek was a first for us and a bit unusual considering our previous and typical designs. It was incredibly challenging, but the unbelievable look of this project made it well worth the challenge.
To start on the creek and pond, Pond Elegance worked with a landscaping company to remove several trees that topped 50-ft. tall. Next, we had about 60 cubic yards of dirt delivered onto the site to a lawn that’s very flat. We had to ensure that the stream would have an easy flow and for that to happen we dumped dirt into place for grading purposes.
Contractor Spotlight | Mark Giordano
Mark Giordano was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee in 2005. He evacuated to Mobile, AL from New Orleans and would ultimately stay in Mobile after learning his apartment building had been completely destroyed in the storm. He found work with the second owner of Pond Elegance. After a year, he felt compelled to start Sunshine Pond, LLC in Florida for the freedom to exercise his creativity within the industry. Years later, he would return to Mobile to buy Pond Elegance with his partner, Tammie Townsend, continuing his work as a creative and efficient waterscape builder.
We painstakingly hand-graded our dirt mound to get the look and feel that we needed. This included a tiering effect of plant shelves and landings.
Next, we created a foundation for the two waterfalls within the design, and had to retain the grade and shape of the creek and waterfall. Over 300, 8-in. x 16-in. cinder blocks were moved into place by the team and these served as the frame to retain the stream’s shape. The others were stacked to create the waterfalls. Our design began with a 3-ft.-high waterfall at the top of the stream with an 8-foot-high waterfall behind the top of the stream that empties into the small pond.
Then, we added the steel decking around and over the dirt mound and cinder blocks. About 35 cubic yards of concrete were poured using a concrete pump that created the foundation for the creek and waterfalls.
Coral rock was added to give this project its picturesque tropical feel. Coral Rock is a Florida-specific material that we were grateful to have access to for this project. We used about 20 pallets of Coral Rock. Each piece was laid by hand with the overall concept and design in mind.
Once the Coral Rock was laid and the cement was dry, it was time for plants. There were over 60 different plants used in the design and were layered to give a natural dimension as well as a variety of colors and textures.
We placed Fish Tail Palm, Eureka Palm, and Alexander Palms for the variation of heights and the widths of their canopies. Palms are an absolute must for a Florida waterscape.
Using layers and multiple breeds of palm lends to their natural occurrence in that area. This influenced the project’s look, as though it were there before anything had been built. Applying the same concept of variation within ground cover as we did with the palms, the crew planted Bolivian Jew and False Mint generously. Both would eventually engulf the exposed coral rock and connect the project into the existing landscape. They would also fill in the empty spaces where cement had been left exposed without Coral Rock. It was important to balance the greenery with pops of color and differentiation. Using multiple ground covers is also reminiscent of naturally occurring water sources.
A variety of ferns were used as a foundation for ornamental plant additions. Water lilies and lotus filled the pond at the bottom of the stream. Taro was used to frame and surround the waterfalls while Arrowhead plants provided pops of color and softness to the edges of the stream and ponds.
Finally, Thalia notably added to the dimension of the waterscape while tying into the natural occurrence look and feel we planned to create.
In our 20 years of building waterscapes, we’re feeling immense pride with the execution. We truly made something special out of nothing. Designing to our customer’s satisfaction is normal for us at Pond Elegance, but what is out of the norm was the shallowness and expanse of the creek, falls, and pond.
Making the project a seamless addition to the existing surroundings was important to us. We designed with that being a priority and it shows. Plus, the use of local and naturally occurring plants add to the waterscape’s beauty. Tucking a hammock near the pond’s end completed the feel. The owner was over the moon that we created the ultimate Florida meditation space.