Shows, Fountains and Displays …Oh My!

By Dustin Strobel

Published on August 1, 2015

Fountain at the Living Artscapes shop.
Fountain at the Living Artscapes shop. (Click Image to Expand)

Going into 2015, one of our main goals at Living Artscapes was to completely change our show booth construction process. In the past we had created show booths featuring some pretty amazing ponds and waterfalls. However, a few years ago we began to see a trend in the way customers related to our booth. We have now learned that when some people see a pond or large water feature at a show, they think it just won’t work for them and they walk away. Some people might pick up a free pen or brochure, but many just say that it’s beautiful but probably expensive and a lot of work.

We knew that we needed to find a way to engage our audience, so we began building a variety of fountainscapes for our booths instead of ponds or waterfalls. We added a few five-disc foggers to our displays, and soon people who were not initially interested started to initiate conversations. At first many were just curious about the foggers and wanted to know how they worked. The conversations would soon shift, though, and people would begin telling us about the water features they’d built themselves. At that point, most people would say how they would love to have us come out and see how we could improve their spaces. Many of our leads that are initially for fountainscapes often end up as full-blown 11-by-16-foot ponds or large, pondless waterfalls.

Signature Style

This is the display at the HCC Flower and Garden Show 2015, a Spill Way Bowls.
This is the display at the HCC Flower and Garden Show 2015, a Spill Way Bowls. (Click Image to Expand)

Regardless of whether we’re creating a fountain, a pond or a pondless waterfall, we have a signature style of building that combines large boulders, intricate rock work and our passion for what we do. For instance, some of our fountainscapes include a combination of Aquascape fountains and natural cored stones. In some cases we are even seeing a trend of using fountainscapes as a part of ponds and pondless systems. We love incorporating large stumps, moss and LED lighting to enhance a project while still having it appear natural. We also try a variety of new techniques, such as wetland filters and intake bays.

After our spring shows we tend to set up and use our show displays at our shop. While having them set up provides us with a lot of enjoyment, it also gives us an opportunity to try different configurations and ideas. We also photograph the displays and post them on our website or on social media sites so that we have a larger gallery of possible fountain options for people to view. Our goal for 2016 is to create a utopia of water features we can invite our customers to visit. This will allow them to see some of the possibilities for their properties, as well as creating opportunities for great conversations.

Most of the leads we’ve gotten from the shows we have done in the last two years have produced great results. At the least, they’ve yielded maintenance on existing water features, pond cleanouts, repair of lights or pumps, or even an overhaul of existing filters or systems. However, since we began using fountainscapes as our show displays, 70 percent of our leads have been for pond installations.

Case In Point

One of the leads we received this year was from a customer who had no idea what she wanted. We met with her for a consultation at her home and found that she already had a water feature. She had bought a property that already had a pond—one that was currently nonfunctional and beyond repair. After seeing our booth she told us she knew that whatever we built for her would be fantastic. After the initial consultation she decided she was ready to have a bigger pond with big boulders. So we designed a true 11-by-16-foot, large boulder pond with an intake bay and waterfall.

New Pond

The old pond we removed at the customer’s house, left, and the new pond.

To start the project we had to remove the existing pond. The existing pond had a ring of concrete and flagstone coping around it and the pond itself contained 8 inches of rotting debris. This water feature had not been running for years. Once all of the area had been graded from the back, we were ready to get started shaping and sculpting our shelves and depth. During the construction process we also had to keep in mind that five children would be all over the water feature, so we made use of large perimeter rocks.

The new pond is 11 by 16 feet, and a key feature is the intake bay. Constructed like a skimmer, it uses an Aquascape Pondless Vault and a few Aquablox with a natural gravel beach so that debris can be easily picked up. This technique virtually eliminates most regular maintenance. There are no filter pads to deal with and water levels can change without having to worry about running pumps dry. It also allows the intake bay to provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Intake bays usually only need to be serviced once a year, during the spring cleanout. We’ve only installed a few so far, but our clients are thrilled about not having to worry about periodic filter maintenance.

Working With the Best

Frank Fink, owner of Living Artscapes, is a true artist when it comes to large-scale building and design. He can create almost anything out of a blank canvas and his attention to detail is amazing. Being his project manager has been incredibly rewarding. Every build is unique and each job has its own level of difficulty that he easily masters. Frank is a Master Certified Aquascape Contractor, and when he asked me to come on full-time with his one-man operation I was honored.

Come and see us at our next show September 12-13 at the Suburban Maryland Fall Home Show in Germantown, Maryland. For more info, visit

Visit or find Living Artscapes on Facebook!

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Designer: Frank Fink, Dustin Strobel

Installation: Frank Fink, Dustin Strobel

Location: Takoma Park, Md. 

Contact Info:

Size: 11-by-16-foot pond


  • All components were from Aquascape
  • 2500 Bio Falls
  • Pondless Vault
  • Aquasurge 4-8000 GPH
  • 45-mil liner
  • Aquablox
  • LED Lighting

Completion time:  Five days

Crew size:  Two

Project cost:  $18,500



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