Renaissance Pond Man

Join the genuine masters by broadening your knowledge

“We work hard, play hard and challenge our skill set at every opportunity,” Triplett said. Here, Eric and his team show a bond beam installation for a dedicated koi pond on the “set” for YouTube.
“We work hard, play hard and challenge our skill set at every opportunity,” Triplett said. Here, Eric and his team show a bond beam installation for a dedicated koi pond on the “set” for YouTube.

What if Michelangelo only ever sculpted?
Would the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
be white?

Luckily for us, Michelangelo was a “Renaissance
man,” always seeking to broaden his knowledge and
creative skills. Not only was he a master of sculpting,
but he was also an artist world-renowned for his painting,
architecture, engineering and poetry.

Leonardo da Vinci was a like-minded Renaissance
man who was a master in painting, sculpture, music,
botany, invention, mathematics, geology and more,
with a never-ending desire to learn and expand his
expertise.

Today, Michelangelo and Leonardo are known as
“Renaissance men” for their mastery and expertise in a
variety of fields, having created masterpieces in all areas
of art that continue to astonish us centuries later.
This bountiful production of mastery in multiple
fields by one individual is nearly unheard-of in today’s
society. Today, we see ambitious people specialize in
one focused field, eliminating opportunity for knowledge
to spill over for innovative ideas. From construction
to medicine and from architecture to art, there
seem to be fewer crossovers in applications, resulting in
less learning and personal development.

Renaissance Man of Ponds

To paint a picture that ties into pond construction,
let’s compare homes that are built today to homes that
were built a hundred years ago. Today, the framework
of the home is done specifically by framers, the window installers install the windows, the door hangers install
the doors and the finish carpenters give the home its
final polish. In a home built a hundred years ago, the
carpenter would have done the framing — as well as
hanging doors, installing windows and performing
finish work. His skills in all areas allowed him to apply knowledge and techniques that the specialists
today are lacking.

The installation of floating stepping stones with concrete pillars is an epic piece in a pond builder's portfolio. The extra steps to complete this type of installation are worth their weight in gold. The average, everyday pond builder cannot compete with this level of craftsmanship.
The installation of floating stepping stones with concrete pillars is an epic piece in a pond builder’s portfolio. The extra steps to complete this type of installation are worth their weight in gold. The average, everyday pond builder cannot compete with this level of craftsmanship.

My personal career goal is to emulate
Michelangelo and Leonardo to become a
Renaissance Man of Ponds, with mastery of
many (if not all) techniques in pond building and
knowledge of the aquatic life that thrives best in
each environment.

Whether it is a koi pond or goldfish pond, a game fish pond or simply a water garden with lilies
and lotus, I am committed to a never-ending quest
of growth and learning to understand all possible
aspects of pond construction.

Styles of Ponds

Given the wide variety of ponds that exist
today, acquiring this vast and diverse knowledge
is no small task. There are dedicated koi ponds,
formal ponds, ecosystem ponds, earthen ponds,
frog ponds, water gardens, natural swim ponds,
commercial ponds, residential ponds, game fish
ponds, lily ponds, lotus ponds, butterfly ponds,
reflection ponds and so many more!

With so many pond possibilities, it is safe to
say that there is not a sole construction philosophy
that can encompass all of these wonderful
scopes of work. To be a true pond specialist — a
Renaissance Pond Man, if you will — I believe
you should have a vast understanding of our trade
… that is, the trade of pond construction, design
and maintenance. 3

A Breadth of Knowledge

Do you expect a koi could live to be 100
years old in a two-foot-deep rock and gravel
pond? How would you build a pond for a herd
of $60,000 koi? Would you install a bottom
drain on a pond with a sand floor?

Did you know that when the sunfish spawns,
the male goes to great lengths to build a nest in a
bed of sand to establish his territory and attract a
female? Knowing this, would you build a sunfish pond with anything other than a sand
floor?

A decade ago, I estimated a large game
fish pond project for $450,000. The pond
was 120 by 80 feet and 15 feet deep. My
estimate was way over budget! At this time
in my career I was only versed in one pond
construction philosophy.

The attention to detail on the edge treatment of a pond can really make the difference in the overall appearance and lasting impression it leaves on a viewer. Don't let the waterfall steal all your focus and creativity.
The attention to detail on the edge treatment of a pond can really make the difference in the overall appearance and lasting impression it leaves on a viewer. Don’t let the waterfall steal all your focus and creativity.

Luckily, I had the amazing opportunity
to rebid the same project a couple years
later when I was more experienced in my
trade. My numbers came in at $150,000
for the same size pond, but with different
construction philosophies and techniques.
Why? In my quest for knowledge of my
trade, I learned new pond construction
techniques that enabled me to change my
scope of work for the project. Thus, I was
awarded the project and was extremely
profitable on the installation.

Smarter Consumers

The pond industry is growing rapidly,
and so is the information about ponds on
the Internet. Typical consumers, often
already bitten in a bad way by a home
improvement contractor, are shy about
jumping into a project without doing
some research to cover their assets. This
can lead to lots of confusing information
and misinformation.

By educating yourself in all the different
types of pond construction techniques
and philosophies, you can open
the door for you and your clients to have
a more successful long-term relationship.
When you meet clients for the first time,
frequently the information they are armed
with is just enough to make them dangerous,
but not really enough to ensure they
know what pond construction philosophy
will help them meet their goals and expectations
for the pond project. They look
to you, as an expert in your trade, to help
them sort through buckets of info on the
how, when and why of the project — as
well as where the pond should be!

Large pond installations can be both mentally and physically challenging. Understanding different construction philosophies can make the difference between landing a profitable project for a quarter million or losing money due to inexperience.
Large pond installations can be both mentally and physically challenging. Understanding different construction philosophies can make the difference between landing a profitable project for a quarter million or losing money due to inexperience.

If you can tell your clients succinctly
and correctly why they need (or don’t need)
certain types of construction philosophies,
they will be thrilled and you will have an
advantage over the typical competitor.
In order to properly serve your prospective
client (and protect yourself), I would
encourage you to become an expert in the
trade of building ponds.

It’s important to know what systems
your potential clients need for their
“dream” ponds. Perhaps they want to
travel to Japan for a $60,000 koi that will
be touring the country to compete in koi
shows. This koi cannot be housed in an 18-
to 24-inch-deep water garden or ecosystem
pond with little to no life support system.
By the same token, you certainly do not
need to build a six-foot-deep pond with
redundant life support systems, bottom drains, settlement tanks, a UV clarifier and
bead filters for a customer who wants water
lilies and goldfish.

Learn, Learn, Learn

Educate yourself and stay open-minded on
all the different pond construction techniques
and philosophies. There are many types, but
here are a few for you to start with.

Water garden ecosystems use a simple
pond skimmer and a waterfall filter with
filter pads and a little lava rock. There are
more advanced systems that use fish-friendly
pond skimmers combined with an air-assisted
cleaning cycle waterfall filter.

You can add under-gravel grids and/or
bog filters to help with water clarity and algae
control. These are all fairly low-maintenance
systems, requiring minimal service. These
systems use Mother Nature to help keep the
pond clean and clear, but there is a very technological
aspect for those customers who like
to “fiddle” with their ponds.

These very advanced systems use
technology to manage water quality, requiring
weekly back-flushes from settlement
tanks and bead filters as well as UV clarifiers
to keep free-floating algae levels under
control. Meanwhile, larger pond installations
— say, a quarter-acre and bigger — may not
require skimmers and solely rely on depth,
aeration, aquatic plants and water treatment
regimens.

It took me over 300 waterfalls before I really began to understand the art of composition,” Triplett said. “I am humbly open to expand my craftsmanship and strive to learn from every opportunity that crosses my path.
It took me over 300 waterfalls before I really began to understand the art of composition,” Triplett said. “I am humbly open to expand my craftsmanship and strive to learn from every opportunity that crosses my path.

The Journey to Renaissance Pond Status

If you aspire to be a Renaissance Pond Man,
you will need to have the expertise and knowledge
to help each and every customer build the
pond of his or her dreams. Complete and total
mastery of your trade will give you the confidence
to answer any question completely and
honestly to help your clients make the right
decisions for their dreams and lifestyles.

Join me in my journey of constant and
never-ending improvement in the trade of
building ponds, and may we be considered
Renaissance Pond Men when we are dead
and buried.

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