Pond Pump Essentials

Published on December 28, 2016

Built in 2002, my pond in Lake Oswego, Oregon is the centerpiece of my backyard. I’ve been told that the original pump from 14 years ago is still the driving force behind these cascading waterfalls and clear water.

I was walking through my neighborhood, longing for the future days of warm weather and considering my plans for the coming season when I came upon a sight that I’ve enjoyed almost every day since I moved to town. It was an especially impressive water feature, beautifully landscaped, on a busy corner in our neighborhood — a centerpiece designed to attract passers-by.

People see what is, but I see what was. Before this water feature, there was dirt and grass, maybe a handful of weeds. Somebody had a vision, and then a plan. Several columns of stone make up the feature, angled for attention and looking perfectly imperfect. Cleanly etched on the face of the center column is a simple message to all those who glance its way during the hustle of the day. “VICTORY,” it reads. I’m not quite sure if it’s a simple note or there’s another story there, too. Either way, it’s hard not to embrace. But I’m far more curious about the messenger — the architect of this paradise with these details that live in perfect symbiosis. Besides the joggers and sightseers it attracts, birds come and go from its narrow banks and carefully placed rocks.

Elegant Simplicity

I’m fortunate to have experienced working with these artistic creations in the past. It is my chosen profession. I see how it all begins and how these water features are carefully curated and come to life. Their design — appearing challenging and complex — is simply a well-crafted illusion.

Ultra Balance
What makes these water features so absolutely brilliant can be found in their elegant simplicity. From basic measurements, a few purchases and a handful of questions is born a thing of beauty — a place created to bring us new perspective, a change of pace and a shift in our day. Big or small, a cascading waterfall or a linear fountain — take your pick and make your mark. Start with an idea or a goal or an inspiration and figure out what you’ll need to realize it all. It’s really that simple.

A Pump Start

But I’ll save you a wrinkled brow or two by letting you in on a little secret — it’s all about the pump. This is important for all to know — from those who work hand-in-hand with homeowners to those responsible for big, breathtaking water features in high-end hotels and neighborhood communities.

pond debris pumps
A trusty, solids-handling pump is the trick to handling debris.

Knowledge is power, so here goes. The pump is the heart of any pond or water feature. Don’t forget that. It moves the water. Sure, it has important partners — the filter and the nozzle, among others — but the pump is the ultimate workhorse. There are all kinds and different sizes for diverse jobs with varied purposes.

The pump is largely designed to remain unseen, working without fanfare and with few demands. Yet, it dictates everything, including the water quality of your pond. And, water quality affects the fish life, the water clarity and the plant health. In other words, it’s everything.

The Must-Haves

There are a few points to consider when it comes to pumps. We’re living in a world with a growing awareness of energy and climate and how each affects the other, so an energy-efficient pump should make the list of must-haves. It translates to your monthly electric bill. But it’s also about energy reduction and environmental responsibility — a win for everyone, including Mother Nature.

Durability may be the truest test of a pump. Many work around the clock and are meant to move a lot of water with little power. Solids-handling pumps, which are a common type of filter pump, handle debris without clogging. They’re what is known as high-flow, low-head pumps, and many are designed to be long-lasting and efficient. So, there’s no need to reach to the bottom of the pond for maintenance — that’s nasty business. Instead, a homeowner just cleans the filter, and it’s off to golf.

When might a solids-handling pump come in handy, you ask? Take a koi pond. Koi are beautiful fish. But koi eat — a lot. So of course, they produce a lot of waste. A solids-handling pump is a perfect taskmaster and will keep the water healthy and clear, all for your viewing pleasure.

The pond is the centerpiece of my backyard.

Another fan favorite is the waterfall or fountain pump, which in most cases is a high-head pump. Fountain pumps earn their marks from sheer efficiency. And they’re showoffs, too. They can serve both subtle indoor fountains and fountains in outdoor gardens that refuse to be ignored. There is an entirely separate auditory experience from a backyard waterfall— traffic, no loud neighbors, no barking dogs. Pure pleasure, homeowner style.

First Thing’s First

So, don’t forget: it starts with the pump, the foundation to the health and beauty of your pond or water feature. Ask questions and figure out what you want and what you’ll need to get it done. Match the right pump to the right project, and you can’t go wrong.
Then it’s all about style, impact and effect. Get creative. Get daring. How your water circulates — over what or through where — allows a customized, personal approach for whatever effect you seek. Have fun with it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Japanese Koi Kodama

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