Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Is There Hands Free Maintenance For My Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond?

The maintenance of a backyard pond is always a major factor the client is looking at when considering to buy or not.  The conversation typically leads to whether or not there is a hands-free maintenance program offered to eliminate extra work for the homeowner after the construction is complete.  Almost all clients are capable of performing the basic maintenance required if not all of it.  The purchase of a pond can be a large investment and most clients just want to make sure there is someone or something to be there if help is needed.  Imagine purchasing a furnace for your home and the installation company not offering repair services, or buying a brand new car from a dealership that doesn't have a service center.  Clients want to feel comfortable and having a contractor that can maintain and repair their Koi pond does just that.

What is a Hands-Free Maintenance Program for a Backyard Pond?

Hands-free is a term that is typically used for electronic devices where you do not need to use your hands, so what does it mean for a backyard pond?  For a backyard pond, hands-free maintenance program would basically mean that the homeowner does not need to touch any maintenance related parts.  While many contractors offer programs that are completely hands-free, they will often have lesser programs where the client is partially involved or mostly involved.  All of the maintenance programs offered should address all aspects of ecosystem pond maintenance, from annual tasks to weekly tasks.  Let's take a look at what some of the programs might cover.

What Does a Maintenance Program Cover?

Backyard ponds have many different maintenance requirements.  The can vary on the frequency, anywhere from years to weeks.  Just like other house-related equipment, backyard ponds will last longer and work better with routine maintenance.  Having a contractor install your Koi pond that not only offers a full maintenance program but that also discusses what to expect up front makes the process much easier.  Depending on the contractor the items included in an offered program will vary based on your specific needs, but also from company to company. Here are some items that you should see offered in maintenance programs.
  • Spring cleaning & opening services
  • Fall closing & shutdown services
  • Seasonal Visits (Weekly, Bi-Weekly or Monthly)
  • Winter check-ups for ponds with fish or water features left running
  • Leaf net installation and take down
  • Equipment check-ups, repair or servicing
  • Water treatment application or education, including water quality assessment
  • Algae and invasive plant control
  • Aquatic plant installation, thinning, fertilizing or removal
  • Fish & wildlife- care of and tips for healthy critters (may also supply or add wildlife)
  • Leak check and repair
  • Fill valve or irrigation servicing, installation or repair
  • Underwater lighting installation, repair, and adjustment
  • Liner covering, including the addition of rock
  • Waterfall adjustment and foaming
  • Care of the pond's surrounding landscape

How Often Are The Pond Maintenance Visits?  

Each and every client's pond is unique and the expectations of the client go hand and hand with that.  Typically a pond contractor will offer many different options for their clients when it comes to the frequency of visits. The most common maintenance items listed above will be on a monthly, weekly or bi-weekly visit schedule.  Some of the items above are annual or even bi-annual visits or check-ups.  It is fairly common for a contractor offering maintenance programs to maintain pricing levels on a bi-annual basis but after a two year period increase their prices, sometimes even double the original cost.  For most clients, the price increase can be hard to stomach, but after a two year period, the work that it takes to return the backyard pond to its former glory can require double the work.  A koi pond that is on a consistent maintenance program will stay ahead of the issues and requires less work to maintain.     

What About Service Calls?

During the conversation about maintenance programs, clients will often ask about what happens when help or service is needed between visits.  Again, programs and what is offered will vary between contractors but here is some explanation.  Many pond contractors value the consistent business that comes with pond maintenance programs and because of that, they will generally reciprocate that gratitude back to their clients by covering at least a couple service calls per month.  While the pond contractor will not charge for the labor, a client can expect to have to pay for the broken equipment if not covered under a warranty.  Pond maintenance clients are highly valued by pond contractors so they will often go above and beyond to make sure the client is happy.  In any case, it is important for clients to keep in mind that your contractor is often called out to fix or repair some equipment or part that they did not manufacture themselves.  While they will stand behind the products they install, they, unfortunately, can not control how, where and who made the equipment or part involved in the service call.  

Are There Other Benefits To Having A Hands-Free Maintenance Program?

Having a professional maintain and keep an eye on anything that you own will always have other benefits.  For a backyard pond other benefits may include:

  • Prevention of issues that could lead to a much bigger problem- An example of this could be the aquatic plants.  A consistent maintenance program will keep the aquatic plants in check and not let them take over the pond, if left unchecked the aquatic plants could completely fill in the pond and require a rebuild. 
  • Data collection- Many contractors will design a pond maintenance program that tracks and collects important information about your pond to reduce maintenance and prevent issues.  Knowing when algal blooms occur during the season will allow the maintenance team to increase treatments and prevent the bloom from happening.
  • Stay up to date on the latest products and services-  Since the client is in constant contact with the contractor, a maintenance client will know about more efficient equipment that may lead to fewer expenses in the long run. 
  • Peace of mind- This is certainly top of the list for most clients and the main purpose a client uses a maintenance program, but knowing your Koi pond is in good hands is a stress reducer for sure.

Here Are Some Links For The Maintenance Programs That I Offer At My Pond Contracting Business.

Pond Preservation Program

Pond Maintenance Services

Pond Openings & Closings  

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann

"Poseidon Pond Mann"       


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How Much Maintenance Does A Water Feature Require?

A very important question that many potential water feature owners have prior to making their final decision ways heavy on how much maintenance is involved.  Today the majority of contractors clients have very busy lives between work and family and are not looking to add to that with their new purchase.  As a landscape contractor, I can say with certainty that I hear the phrase "low-maintenance" almost daily in my client interactions.  So let's explore what can be expected when it comes to the maintenance of a water feature.

Water Feature- In landscape architecture and garden design, a water feature is one or more items from a range of fountains, pools, ponds, cascades, waterfalls, and streams...

Low Maintenance

When "low maintenance" is discussed it is first important to get a clear idea of what it actually means to the person asking.  The definition to an avid water gardener is going to be much different than a water garden beginner.Whatever the case water features can be less maintenance than the lawn or garden space that they replace.  With a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly)  approach the owner will spend much more time enjoying their water feature then maintaining it.  Just like many of the components of a home (i.e. furnace, a/c unit, etc.) water features can be low maintenance as long as you know their annual and seasonal requirements and when they should be done.

Annual Water Feature Maintenance 

With water features, there are some things that you will want to do on an annual basis that pertain to maintenance.  Checking the items listed below will increase the longevity of the water feature while helping keep the maintenance low. Here are some things that water feature owners will want to check annually: 
  • Equipment Check- Testing the equipment for proper function is key in increasing the longevity of each piece and preventing replacement costs. When each piece is functioning properly the K.I.S.S. approach to maintenance stays on track.
  • Edge Check- Most common among lined water features like ponds or streams, the edge check is important in a couple ways.  Edge checks will often prevent leaks before they happen by raising low edges.  With edge checks, you may also be reducing organic material like mulch or soil from getting in the water feature and causing water quality issues.  
  • Plant Thinning/Removal-  Aquatic plants in more natural water features like Koi  or ecosystem ponds can take over if not kept in check. An annual reduction in size a great idea to keep the water feature looking good and balanced.
  • Fish Health-  If the water feature has fish like Koi it is a good annual practice to add pond salt to provide the ideal environment and support good health.

There are many more things that could easily be viewed as annual maintenance, but since they fall into a particular season I have separated them.  Coincidentally some of the above items fit into those seasonal visits.  Let's take a look at what I mean.


Seasonal Water Feature Maintenance

In the Midwest where I am located there is four water feature seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter).  Each season has a slightly different maintenance approach to water features.  For each season I will examine what should be done once a season, daily and weekly.
  • Spring Water Feature Season-  In much of the Midwest, this is what pond contractors refer to as water feature cleaning season.  Once the freeze is gone pond contractors will be out cleaning and opening water features.  Cleanings and openings are done once in the Spring season.  During the Spring season once the water feature is up and running the daily maintenance will be to check that the water feature is still running and has water.  Weekly maintenance during the Spring season may be to add water treatments and remove any debris that may have fallen into the feature.    
  • Summer Water Feature Season-  For the Summer season in the Midwest maintenance tends to be a bit more laid back than the Spring and Fall.  During this season a good once a season maintenance task would be to do a full system check just make sure everything is working correctly.  If you have water lilies or lotus you may fertilize them monthly in the Summer.  Daily and weekly maintenance tasks will be similar to the Spring season but may increase slightly with the warmer weather.
  • Fall Water Feature Season- As the Summer fades and the leaves begin to change colors in the Midwest the daily and weekly maintenance tasks will be similar to the Spring and Summer, but once the leaves drop the amount of time required will increase slightly.  Depending on the type of water feature and the way it was constructed you will need to keep leaves from causing equipment failure and leaks.  Later in the fall most pond contractors will be very actively closing and shutting down water features for the winter.  This will happen once in the fall season.
  • Winter Water Feature Season-  A great deal of water features are completely winterized in the Midwest and require no maintenance during the Winter season.  Backyard ponds and pondless waterfalls are sometimes left running and require some daily and weekly attention.  Both will require you to check that things are running and have enough water daily.  Backyard ponds need to have a hole in the ice for gas exchange and fish health.  It is a good practice to check the hole daily for bubbler or aerator function.  During really cold periods a weekly expansion of the hole may be required.
The amount of time spent on the above seasonal maintenance tasks will vary from water feature to water feature.  This is typically because of varying sizes, the location of the water feature, the number of inhabitants, how much equipment there is and even what type of equipment is used.  

While there is undoubtedly a small level of maintenance involved in owning a water feature it is still less than mowing, feeding, aerating, thatching, topdressing, over-seeding and water the lawn that was replaced.  The other great thing about water feature maintenance is that many water feature contractors also have a maintenance program that can reduce the require maintenance work by the homeowner even more.  

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"

Thursday, April 26, 2018

When Can You Start Constructing My Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond?

So you know what the process for constructing a backyard pond is. You know how long the construction of a backyard pond is and you also know what kind of mess there is when constructing a backyard pond.  So what is left?  Well, once a client has reached this point the next question they will often ask is, "when can you start?"

The answer to this question will obviously vary from location to location, but for the purpose of this blog let's focus on the Midwest in particular.

The Construction Season

Once winter has passed and the spring season has begun the weather can be very touch an go when it comes to available construction days.  In the Midwest, Michigan in particular, has an average frost depth of 42 inches.  As the frost is thawing it will typically render most yards unworkable. It will vary from year to year, but the generally a construction project that is started to early generates much more of a mess and will often carry a higher clean up charge than a project started after the frost has left the ground.
During the thaw the Midwest will also see quite a bit of rain to add to the saturated soils.  For this reason you will see many Koi pond construction companies focus on pond maintenance and cleaning from mid-March to mid-May.  As they complete the pond cleanings and openings the pond construction season will begin in early to mid-May in the Midwest.

First Come First Serve

There are many different ways that contractors will get clients that are ready to enter a contract scheduled.  A very common way that pond contractors will schedule clients is, first come first serve like many businesses in the service industry.  Typically pond contractors are scheduling backyard pond projects as they are coming in.  Spring and Fall will often be the busiest flow of new business for Midwest pond contractors.  The Summer months will be ups and down as many Midwestern families are on vacation and not thinking about their yards as much.  The Winter is by far the slowest time of the year for a Midwest pond contractor, but a great time for the potential client to have their full attention.  While it is common for pond contractors to have an open calendar come Spring, many of the highly desired pond contractors will not.  If you are close to living the pond lifestyle and know that a company has lots of high ratings and great reviews reach out to them in the Fall or Winter to get on their Spring calendar. 

Down Payment

A first come first serve contractor will often require some sort of monetary commitment from a client that would like to reserve a spot on their calendar.  While the down payment will vary from company to company it would be good to expect a range of 10 to 50 percent of the total project to be the requested down payment.  A 10 to 30 percent down payment is fairly common with pond projects $10,000 or more, while a 30 to 50% down payment is more common with a pond project below $10,000.  A good pond contractor will have a detailed description of their payment options available upon request, have a tentative date for the pond project and give frequent updates on the calendar changes from weather or other contractor related issues.

Business image created by Pressfoto - Freepik.com

With the construction season typically ranging from May thru October in the Midwest it is important to discuss how the contractor handles the scheduling calendar.  It is not uncommon to find landscape an even some pond contractors that are determined to fit in as much work as possible while the weather is good.  A contractor like this will generally work long days and long weeks to make their calendar work.  Contractors based on total volume of projects completed can be very effective and efficient, but are also one lost worker or one lost piece of equipment away from a catastrophe. Before you finalize your agreement to have a Koi pond constructed at your home talk with the contractor and see how they schedule work.  A great contractor will tell you they have so many man hours available per week and that they schedule their projects based on those numbers.  This same contractor will often spread projects out and not overlap them in case there is an unforeseen issue or addition to the ecosystem pond construction.  Instead of the call about pushing the pond project back a client will often get a request to move the backyard pond project up on the calendar.

It can certainly be challenging for a client to get their backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond construction started depending on the contractor that they choose.  That great contractor will put the clients mind at ease with great consistent communication even if the construction is months or weeks away.

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"

Monday, April 16, 2018

What Kind Of Mess Is Made During A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond Construction?

When any potential client begins the process of seeking out a contractor to hire for their project they will always be thinking about the mess that will be created during the construction, whether they say it or not. Builders and roofers will have lots of waste material, plumbers will likely have a watery mess, painters will have spills and landscapers will cause lawn damage of some sort. All contractors will generate some sort of a mess, so why is it such a big deal?

Any homeowner would be able to tell you that their home is their sanctuary, the place they feel the most comfortable and safe. The act of inviting a contractor into their home is stressful and the fear of a big mess makes matters worse. All too many times I have heard stories from clients that talked about other contractors and how great their work was, but they would never work with them again because they trashed their home and didn't clean up after themselves. If you are looking for a contractor to do work in or on your property, don't be shy, ask them what they plan to do with the mess generated. There are many messes in the contractor world, but since I am in the landscaping industry I will focus on the mess generated by a landscape project, specifically the pond construction mess.

You are currently reading the third part of my series on backyard pond construction, click the links below to catch up on the first two blogs:

-What is the construction process for a backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond?

-How long does it take to construct a backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond?

What causes a mess during backyard pond construction?

This topic seems self explanatory I am sure, but to have a deeper look at what causes the mess can help reduce the anxiety a client may have about the project. A contractor's goal should focus on the needs of the client and painting a clear picture of what to expect can do just that, so let's look at what might cause a mess during an ecosystem pond build.
Site Prepartation

Site Preparation- Before the actual pond construction can begin the site needs to be cleared/prepped. This process can be the removal of sod, the removal of landscape plants, the removal of mulch, the removal of a deck or patio, etc. Whatever the case the area designated for the new koi pond needs to be prepped and that generates a mess. The removed debris will then need to be either staged on site for removal or removed right away. To remove the debris wheelbarrows or machines are often used. The machines are typically the main contributor to generating a mess by creating ruts in the lawn or dropping small amount of debris from the site to to staging area.

Pond Construction- The site is prepped and now the backyard pond construction begins. The excavation of soil can produce soil clumps, tree roots, rock and other buried materials. The soil is often used within the site for waterfalls or streams, but excess soil will be transported and staged with 
Pond Construction
the prep waste. All other debris is also added to the site prep waste, typically with a machine. During the Koi pond construction other debris will e generated from installing the liner, underlayment, plumbing and equipment. While some of the debris can be recycled, some is destined for the landfill and adds to the staged waste. 

Material Delivery

Material Delivery- With most ecosystem pond builds rocks of varying sizes, soils and even mulch are used for the finished product. The materials needed are often delivered by supporting vendors and are typically not the same location as the pond. The material delivery will either be on the driveway or next to the driveway. This process will either make the driveway dirty or create another area that will need to be repaired. 

Material Transport

Material Transport- This is really part of the site preparation and construction, but it is important to separate it for educational purposes. The transport of materials from the construction site to the the staging area typically generates the biggest mess. Machines moving the materials will create ruts, compress soils and even drop material from time to time. The mess generated is connected directly to the size of the project/amount of materials and the distance from the staging area to the backyard pond construction site.
For all of the above processes there is one major catalyst on the size and scope of the mess generated, and that is simply the WEATHER. Good weather will allow the contractor to finish the construction with minimal damage while bad weather can greatly expand a mess if not reviewed. Pushing through to complete a project after lots of rain can create a significant amount of material transport damage. I have reviewed what causes a mess, so what are some things that can prevent the mess.

What can be done during pond construction to reduce or prevent a mess?

It is simply insane to think that there will not be any mess generated by any contractor let alone a landscaper. If a contractor truly has the clients best interest in mind they will clearly know this and have some sort of plan to reduce or prevent a mess. For a good contractor this process begins early on at the site consultation with the client. A clear plan is developed for where the material is to be delivered and where any debris will be staged for removal. The contractor will need to have a clear picture of the size and scope of the project to determine if the staging area is big enough or if continually debris removal will be required. The contractor then need to determine the best path for the materials to be transported from the staging area to the project location. Witth the path in mind, the contractor will also need to figure out what needs to be moved or protected along the path. The final planning for the path is whether or not a protective barrier (wood sheets or rubber matting) needs to be put down to protect the lawn or garden beds. A good plan is then delivered to the construction team prior to the start of the construction.

For multi-day projects it is very important for the contractor to set aside time to clean up debris and stage it accordingly. Typically a contractor like this will have some select team members break off from the rest of the team at the end of the day to do this. While some materials will be staged till the end of the construction, trash will often be removed from the site daily.

The last preventative measure that a good landscape contractor will have deals with weather. Since the construction occurs outside and the fact that weather can be a catalyst to the mess created it will be a focus to monitor the weather and adjust the plan accordingly. After a big event the contractor will evaluate the site and determine if it is workable and why or why not. They will then keep the client up to date on the restart date. While monitoring the weather the contractor may also switch gears on the project and remove materials to get ahead of a weather event and prevent a slow down in the construction.

What is done about the mess made from the backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond construction?

The mess has been made, now what? With most contractors it is not the immediate area around the project where the mess is forgotten or left, it's along the path where materials were transported or the staging area. I always expressed to my co-workers that you could build the greatest masterpiece you have ever done, but if you leave the smallest of messes and the client finds it your masterpiece quickly becomes kindergarten art. With a daily clean up at the end of the day a contractor can decrease the odds of missing a mess at the end. A contractor who waits till the end of the project to clean up faces a mountain instead of a hill. They will often be in a rush to meet estimated hours or budget, resulting in far less quality and attention in the clean up. With lots of machine traffic a good contractor will aerate the soil, spread soil if needed and add grass seed. The best way to ensure a good through clean up for any contractor is to have a clean up checklist for their team and hold them accountable to their clean up by requiring the client to sign off on the work. The contractor that treats all of their clients property as if it was their own family members, like a grandmother, will certainly have a clear understanding why a client feels the way the do about their property.

For the final blog in the series focused on the construction of a backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond I will be exploring the question I often get asked at the site consultation, "When can you start the construction of my backyard (Koi/ecosystem) pond?"

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How Long Does It Take To Construct A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond?

Homeowners  research many things when deciding to have a contractor construct something for them.  The act of hiring a contractor and inviting them to your property creates lots of questions.  In the last blog I focused on, "What is the process for constructing a backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) pond?"  While that is one of the top questions potential clients have, they will often want to know how long the process will take at their home.  Many factors play into how long it will take for the construction of a Koi pond.  The process from the last blog can be replicated and providing average time-frames is possible, but it is also important to know what can effect those time-frames.

What takes time when constructing a backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) pond?

In order for me to provide some time-frames lets first look at what takes time when constructing an ecosystem pond. This would be from beginning to end.
  1. Initial call or e-mail- The client has decided to contact the contractor and see if they are a good fit for the project.  It will vary between companies, but the response to the initial contact from the contractor should be within 24 hours.  Really good contractors will be less than 2 hours.  Most responses to the initial contact will be a request for information about the project, possibly pictures and a request to set up a phone consultation with one of the sales team members.  The response call is about 15 minutes and it will usually be less than a week until the phone consultation.
  2. Phone Consultation-  A good contractor will want to have a conversation with a client prior to visiting their home.  The first face to face meeting can often be overwhelming to a client, so having a phone consultation prior to that can build a good rapport and save time.  In some cases the client and the contractor just aren't a good fit for what ever reason and realizing that on the phone is much less stressful than in the backyard. Depending on the project the phone consultation can be a 1/2 hour to 1 hour in length.
  3. Site Consultation-  This is often the first face to face interaction with the client and the contractor.  Unfortunately, the most common site consultation happens with no preliminary contact except for the initial call or e-mail requesting work.  Without the phone consultation the site consultation will often become the dreaded sales pitch almost all potential buyers loathe.  With the phone consultation, the contractor will show up prepared to discuss the issues and wants of the client.  Time will be saved by not having to start from scratch and the contractor and client can get right down to the project/budget that was already discussed on the phone.  A signed agreement with a handshake is much more common with both parties being on the same page from the phone consultation.  A much better consultation then not having a clear picture at the start and a surprising a client with a price they didn't expect.  Depending on the project, a site consultation can be 1 to 2 hours long and can be within 1 week from the phone consultation.  A passionate contractor often spends his or her time getting to know the client better at this consultation.      
  4. Site Preparation/Team Meeting-  Depending on the project, the site preparation and the team meeting may be separate.  A larger project will have a down payment at the site consultation, a second down payment a couple weeks prior to the project start date and the last payment at the final walk through.  Smaller pond projects will often have a down payment at the site consultation and last payment at the final walk through.  Site preparation is a meeting for the sales person, contractor's supervisor and client to review the project agreement, layout the  pond project, discuss delivery of materials/supplies (on-site location), access to the site, time frame and any other questions the client may have.  The site preparation meeting is typically completed in less than 1 hour.  The team meeting will either occur the day of or in some cases the day prior to the start date.  It is very similar to the site preparation, but this time it is with the client, supervisor and the contractor's team that will be constructing the backyard pond.  This meeting is typically about a 1/2 hour with the client and then may be followed with the supervisor and team going more in depth.  As I said before, inviting people on to your property can be overwhelming and if a contractor isn't going the extra mile to reduce that feeling, ask yourself why.       
  5. 20 Step Process-  The construction is the meat and potatoes of the backyard pond project.  No matter the size of the Koi pond, the process is duplicated by the contractor to complete the pond project efficiently and correctly.  Many contractors will have a different method that works best for them.  The process that works best for us can be viewed here.  This is the most important part of hiring a contractor and for more information on what the process for constructing a backyard pond, read the blog on it here.  Believe it or not some ecosystem ponds can be constructed in one day while others can take a month.  They really are dependent on the size and accessibility of the pond project.  A smaller 8' x 11' pond that is approximately 2' deep with a waterfall right on the edge will be 1 to 2 day.  A slightly larger 10' x 14' pond that is approximately 2' deep with the waterfall right on the edge will be 2-3 days.  A much larger pond that is 20' x 30' with multiple waterfalls and a custom intake filtration would be 15-16 days.  The length of the process can easily be established on the phone consultation or in some cases a contractor will have it laid out on their website.  (Click Here To See Our Triton Pond Packages)
  6. Final Walk-through- The construction of the backyard pond has been completed, the supervisor has gone over the system and the client has had some time to experience the pond lifestyle.  The final walk through is with the client, sales person and in the case of some contractors the maintenance supervisor.  In this meeting the client and contractor will discuss any new concerns/questions, maintenance options, and how the client feels the contractor did.  The final walk through will take about 1 hour depending on the client.  A tasty pond side beverage provided by the client can certainly extend this meetings length.  
  7. Other- The following are other things that may require some time for the Koi pond
    project. Larger projects may require more meetings to discuss the progress of the project and are usually less than a 1/2 hour.  Deeper backyard ponds within city limits may require permits. Depending on how quickly the local government processes the permits, the build time may be extended.  In this case the time frame can be a week for approval, to months if a special meeting is required for a very detailed project.  Future visits after the final walk through may also be scheduled to check up on the clients comfort level, but also for marketing.  Pictures of a recently completed pond are never as good as a few months to a year later.  These fun visits are usually less than a 1/2 hour, again tasty beverage are always a factor. 

What could effect the time it takes to construct a backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) pond?

If you hear any contractor say that nothing will effect the time frame it will take to construct your Koi pond, RUN for the hills.  Many things can cause the construction of a backyard pond to take longer than planned.  Let's take a look at some of the factors that may steal time away from the project.
  • Mother Nature- This factor is almost self explanatory.  Weather can stop construction for days and in some cases weeks if the site conditions are drastically effected.  A good contractor will understand this and make it a main focus of communication to the client.  
  • Unforeseen Issues-  This is something that could not be seen on the surface and once the digging has begun and typically increases the excavation and clean up of the site.  It can be a very common issue like irrigation lines or something totally shocking like a mastodon skeleton.  Seriously, a couple construction projects have been shut down for finding rare fossils.  Unforeseen issue factors should be discussed both at the initial site consultation and when they are found.  Quality contractors will provide a price for the necessary adjustments to the project and require a signature to move forward.
  • Project Additions/Changes-  Sometimes the client will want to make changes to the original design of a backyard pond or even make additions.  Be sure additions are discussed with the contractor early on if the contractor hasn't already said that they are comfortable with changes being made.  When additions are made, the contractor must provide a change order contract which requires a signature.  The last thing a client wants is a huge financial surprise at the final payment.
  • Supplies-  This can be a sneaky factor effecting time.  Many pond projects are estimated and accepted months in advance and occasionally there is a supply shortage.  For backyard ponds there may be a rock shortage or if foreign products are used the supply may be held up in customs.  Whatever the case is, a good contractor will be open with their communication about this potential issue.  
While these are unfortunate in many cases, as long as your contractor is open and honest, they can be easily managed and the pond project will eventually go on as planned and finished to the clients satisfaction.   

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What Is The Construction Process For A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond?

Having a backyard pond constructed at your home can be a simple or complicated process depending on the size and location.  For this reason, many of our potential clients want to know what our construction process looks like so that they are more comfortable with their decision.  A larger Koi pond will certainly come with more damage to the surrounding areas and take longer to construct.  If we have easy and open access things will be much less complicated than if the area is harder to get to or is tighter.  Regardless of the size and location, the actual construction of the backyard pond follows a step by step process that we follow for each pond installed.

Paint & Plan

The phone conversations, initial consultation and down payment for your new backyard pond have all happened, what's next? With most projects a meeting will be set up two weeks prior to the start date with the client, the salesperson and project supervisor.  At this meeting we will review the original project scope, discuss any possible changes and map out the project with paint in the location where the work is going to be done.  During the "paint and plan" we will also discuss where we will need to stage materials, how we will reach the location of the project (access), how long it will take us, what the process will look like, how we will clean the area up, determine if we need to contact MISS Dig (utility marking), discuss the final meeting, talk about the scheduled date of the project and set up the  next meeting.  Larger projects will have a three payment set up (30%, 30%, 40%) so, this will often be the meeting where the second payment is collected.

Meet The Team 

The day of or the day prior to the start of the project we have another meeting for our clients where they can become acquainted with our team members. During this brief meeting we will walk through the items that were discussed at the "paint and plan" meeting so that all details are addressed and understood.  We understand the stress associated with a pond project and the team meet and greet is a good way to break the ice and build trust.

The Construction Process For A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond

As Certified Aquascape Contractors we follow a process for constructing ecosystem ponds that can be duplicated from the smaller style ponds to the much larger versions.  Each and every project can carry its own unique scenario, but solving them comes much easier when operating under a set process.  A kicker in American football has the same exact process when it comes to preparing for a kick. No matter what the conditions are, they never change how they prepare for a kick, just the delivery. Our process is much the same, we follow a step by step process and adapt to the conditions while delivering a unique finished product.  Here is what the 20 step process looks like:

  1. Outline the pond footprint with paint
  2. Place the skimmer and biological filter
  3. Lay out the plumbing
  4. Hook up the biological filter
  5. Excavate the pond
  6. Install the rubber liner and underlayment fabric
  7. Hook up the skimmer and components inside, including the pump
  8. Place rocks and stones in the pond
  9. Position underwater lighting
  10. Wash the rock and stones
  11. Begin filling the pond
  12. Construct the waterfall and stream 
  13. Bring in topsoil for back filling around the biological filter and skimmer if needed
  14. Build retaining wall if needed for the upper waterfall and stream
  15. Tweak waterfall when turned on
  16. Trim excess rubber liner or tuck along the pond edge
  17. Complete the finishing touches like landscaping and adding mulch
  18. Clean up around the pond and areas affected by the construction
  19. Go over the welcome kit, familiarize the client with the pond components and their function and have the client sign off on the completed project
  20. Add beneficial bacteria to ensure a good start up for the ecosystem     

Final Walk-Through

The project is complete, the team has left the property and the sound of construction has been replaced with splashing water.  After a few days of our clients getting acquainted with there new backyard pond we will set up the final walk-through meeting with the salesperson.  At this meeting we will answer any new questions or concerns that have risen since the team left, discuss maintenance programs and options offered. At the conclusion of the walk-through, when the client is completely satisfied, we will collect the final payment.  

What The Future Holds 

After the final walk-through, our team will continue to keep in touch to make sure the client is still enjoying their new Koi Pond.  Depending on the time of year, our clients may choose to have our maintenance team come every other week or monthly for our Pond Preservation Program.  The program is designed with our clients in mind and their busy lives.  Our team can help as little or as much as needed so that our clients preserve their free time.  Our office team will also actively be checking in with you after your purchase.  Here is what you can expect following the final walk-through to ensure a comfortable and educational transition into the lifestyle of owning a backyard pond:
  • Checking in after the final walk-through (3 days after, 3 weeks after & 3 months after)
  • Weekly pond tips (e-mail a request to sign up here)
  • Blogs answering client questions 
  • Monthly newsletters (e-mail a request to sign up here)
  • Pond Preservation Program mailings (Spring Openings, Seasonal Programs & Fall Closings)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram 
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube   
Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monthly Electrical Costs to Run a Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond: What Should You Expect?

Potential backyard pond owners often wonder how much they'll spend on a monthly basis for electrical/power consumption with their new pond.  A question such as this makes a lot of sense.  Long-term costs on a Koi pond should always be considered in the purchasing decision.

Unfortunately, the monthly cost to run an ecosystem pond can vary depending on what options or accessories are chosen.  With that said, please keep in mind that these are general guidelines.

What Uses Power in or Around a Backyard Pond?

To calculate and understand the monthly cost to run a Koi pond, we first need to look at what is using power.  Here are some things in or around the pond that use electricity:
  • Main Filtration/Circulating Pump
  • Decorative Element Pump
  • Aeration System
  • Automatic Dosing System
  • Electronic Water Clarifying System (Ion Gen™)
  • Pond and Garden Lights (Transformer Included)
  • UV Clarifying System
  • Well Pump (Filling the Pond)
  • Pond De-Icer (Seasonally)

What Should You Expect to be Billed Monthly to Run Your Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond?


Motor Driven- Motor driven water pumps provide consumers with a high torque, high head height pump option.  Motor driven pumps are generally easier to maintain because of their solids-handling ability.  It is important to note that motor driven pumps have to be operated within a specific performance curve to optimize lifespan.  
Typical Monthly Costs on an Electric Bill: $34-$149 *one pump application

Asynchronous- Asynchronous water pumps are a hybrid between a motor driven and magnet driven pump.  They have only one moving part, making it less expensive and easy to maintain.  This type of pump is extremely energy efficient, and choosing this pump over a traditional motor driven pump often pays for itself quickly in power consumption savings.
Typical Monthly Costs on an Electric Bill: $19-$80 *one pump application

Magnetic Drive (Decorative)- Magnetic drive water pumps are simple and easy-to-use solution for small water features including small waterfalls.  These pumps are easier to retrofit into existing water features and simple to maintain.  Magnetic drive pumps have only one moving part, making them inexpensive and easy to repair. These pumps are also extremely quiet and energy efficient.
Typical Monthly Costs on an Electric Bill: $3-$30 *one pump application

Water Clarity and Quality:

Electric Water Clarifying System (Ion Gen™)- The IonGen™ effectively removes algae without the use of traditional liquid chemicals and is designed with a microprocessor that sends a signal to its ion producing probe, helping to control algae throughout the entire water feature.
Average Monthly Cost: Less than $1

Automatic Dosing System- The Aquascape Automatic Dosing System accurately and consistently applies your choice of specially-formulated water treatments, eliminating the guesswork and routine of adding water treatments to your water feature.
Average Monthly Cost: Less than $1

Aeration System- Every biological process that occurs in ponds is dependent on oxygen.  This is especially important in warmer temperatures or at night when plants are not converting sunlight into oxygen.  Pond aerators directly supply dissolved oxygen to ponds and other water features, helping all biological processes and resulting in healthier fish and plants.
Average Monthly Cost: $1-$6

Ultra Violet Clarifier- In a pond, green water can be treated safely and effectively.  UV clarifiers use a technologically-advanced high-output UVC bulb to eliminate 'green water'.
Average Monthly Cost: $2-$7

Other Potential Pond Cost:

Pond and Garden Lights- Adding a completely different dimension to any water feature, pond and garden lights use LED lights to light up the nighttime scene.  With the use of low-voltage transformers the LED light are extremely energy efficient and the LED's average a 40,000 hour lifespan.  
Typical Monthly Cost on an Electric Bill: $1-$18

Pond Heater- During the winter months, especially here in Michigan, some pond owners who have fish choose to install a pond heater to help keep a hole in the ice.  Keeping a hole in the ice allows potentially toxic gases to escape the pond environment.  Pond heaters are typically used from December to March in Michigan
Typical Monthly Cost on Electric Bill: $12-$300

Submersible Well Pump- Many water features have an automatic fill valve installed to make up any water loss from evaporation.  While the fill valve itself does not use electricity, if a home has a submersible well pump, it will need to refill the water storage tank with each use of the fill valve.  While we do not have a direct cost from the fill valve, we do have a nation wide average for the submersible well pump for a family of 4 each using 120 gallons a day.
Typical Monthly Cost on an Electric Bill: $3-$5

How Does The Monthly Cost of a Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond Compare to Other Water Features?

Generally, other water features like a waterfall or a decorative fountain have a lower monthly cost for electricity due to the simple fact that they are smaller and require smaller pumps. 
Aside from their smaller stature, pondless waterfalls and fountainscapes will have the same costs listed above, as they use the same pumps, water quality and clarification products, and other accessories.

Is There Other Alternative Power Sources For Ponds?

As the world continues to go green, many of our clients will ask us if there are alternative power sources to reduce the monthly electric cost associated with ponds.  While we have seen some options on the market like solar powered decorative pumps, wind driven aerators, and solar powered aerators, they really haven't been flying off the shelves.  The pumps do not have a strong output and have a very low water volume output and since they don't have a back up battery supply they can't keep a constant circulation of the water.  The wind and solar aeration systems have a much higher initial cost and with the already low energy efficient air pumps, many consumers don't see the benefit of that route.  In the last 10 years, the pond industry has made some major improvements and strides towards reducing the carbon footprint. With companies like Aquascape, Inc. leading the way, we look forward to seeing what comes next.

My three part series of cost associated with a backyard pond is now complete and I hope that you now have a good idea of what to expect.  I want to make sure your questions are answered so please feel free to send your questions to my e-mail: poseidonpondscory@gmail.com  If this is the first of the three blogs you have read, be sure to click the links below and catch up.  

How Much Does A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem) Pond Cost?

How Does The Cost Of A Backyard (Koi/Ecosystem Pond Compare To Other Water Feature Types?  

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn't need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease.  For more educational information be sure to visit www.poseidonponds.com or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

Appreciatively Yours,
Cory Mann
"Poseidon Pond Mann"