5 Scares of the Water Feature World Debunked

By: Demi Fortuna & Caitlyn Winkle

Have you been wavering on whether or not to have a water feature installed? We know it’s a big decision and many factors go into making this decision. As Halloween rolls in this week, we wanted to take the fright out of water feature installation and debunk 5 scares of the water feature world!

Leaks

Leaks are an enormous concern for people who are building their first water feature, but they can rest easy. EPDM rubber and PVC liners are super strong, and very easy to work with. A couple of quick guidelines will allay any fears about liner punctures. Always use a protective layer of underlayment to keep the liner from getting punctured. It will guard against tree roots, sharp stuff underneath the liner, and even critters.

The other common way that water features leak are at the edges of waterfalls. These are very easy to detect and correct. First, to be sure water loss is coming from the stream or waterfall area, turn off the pump and see if the water still leaks down in the reservoir. if the water is stable when the pump is off, the leak’s in the waterfall. Looking for a wet spot along the edge after a couple of dry days will usually reveal the problem, which is almost always at the edge of a waterfall. In the vast majority of cases, it’s just the liner has slipped down from the force of the water and can easily be fixed.

Algae

Many people are concerned about the appearance of algae in their water features. Algae is actually a sign that the water feature is healthy. A little green fur on the sides helps keep the water clean. An excess of algae is not healthy but it is easily dealt with. Because algae growth is a sign of high nutrient levels, the easiest way to control algae in a fish pond is to cut back on the amount of food that you’re feeding your fish. In other water features, the installation of an ionizer that puts a tiny amount of ionized copper into the water will completely control algae in your water feature.

Critters

Many folks are concerned about the animals that come to a pond or water feature. Most of the time, this is a great Boon to the natural community in the area. Especially in the wintertime, sources of open water are scarce and animals have a hard time finding enough to drink. A pond or water feature that’s running in the winter is a welcome resource. Some folks worry about mosquitoes in ponds, but in a typical fish pond, mosquitoes can’t survive the hungry fish. Mosquito larvae are much more likely to come from the stagnant rainwater in an old tire than any fish pond.

Accidents

The idea that ponds and water features can be dangerous stems from an older method of constructing ponds in the shape of bowls. Slippery, sloped sides made getting in and out of this style of ponds difficult. It was easy to slip and injure oneself. Modern construction techniques advise building ponds with steps and flat platforms better making them easy to enter and exit safely. For the ultimate and safest option, Pond-free waterfalls and streams have no open water to fall into. All the water is recirculated out of a closed underground basin, limiting maintenance and chance of injury.

Maintenance

Some potential pond owners are deterred by the thought of the maintenance of a water feature. They may have heard about a poorly designed feature that was difficult to keep clean or looking good. A properly designed water feature requires very little maintenance. Fish ponds that have a balance of plants bacteria and animals require minimal maintenance. Hardscape water features with filtered or screened reservoirs require even less. When the feature is properly designed with the right equipment, maintenance takes no more than a few minutes a week, with a clean up no more than once a year.

How A Fountain Can Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Guest Author: Samantha Leon from housetipster.com

After a lengthy commercial break, Alex Trebek slowly strides over to the podium to reveal the Final Jeopardy answer. With a little pomp, he reveals the Final Jeopardy answer to be “The most important thing homeowners have to do.” You immediately scribble down your question and confidently set the marker down.

The question is “What is increasing the value of their homes.”

You did not wager it all, but you got it right. No other obligation a homeowner has to fulfill is more important than increasing the value of his or her home. Now that we know what should matter most for homeowners, how do we go about increasing the value of our homes?

It starts with enhancing the curb appeal of your home.

What is Curb Appeal?

You probably understand the importance of curb appeal as it refers to increasing the value of your home. However, what exactly is curb appeal? It certainly is not a tangible asset that you add or install, such as a pergola or a swimming pool. Yes, you can add or install a tangible asset to improve the curb appeal of your home, but that does not answer the question “What is curb appeal.” Curb appeal represents the first impression someone has as he or she passes by your home. It boils down to how your home appears to someone else who is standing by the curb. Enhancing the curb appeal of your home ensures your home stands out from the rest of the homes in the neighborhood.

Here are a few examples of how to increase your home’s curb appeal:

  • Create a garden
  • Finely manicure the hedges
  • Paint the shutters
  • Add stained glass windows
  • Install a fountain

Why a Fountain Can Enhance the Curb Appeal of Your Home

Whether you add a fountain as a single accessory or place an outdoor water fountain next to a small pond, you can expect to enjoy several benefits that lead to an enhanced curb appeal for your home.

Subtle Elegance

Curb appeal is mostly associated with aesthetic appeal. After all, first impressions make a huge difference for establishing curb appeal. With an outdoor fountain, you create a subtle type of elegance that lets everyone passing by your home that you have refined taste and a sense of how a little bit of elegance can go a long way.

It’s More than a Structure

Why do Buddhist monks mediate around water fountains located next to lush gardens? The answer is the sight and sound of flowing water soothes the soul. When someone passes by your home, the sight and sound of flowing water will produce a meditative like state that alleviates stress. In fact, the sight and sound of water will be a good reason for people to stop in front of your home. This will help you get people to notice other aesthetically appealing features of your house.

Bird Magnet

Another soothing feature of an outdoor water fountain is how the home accessory attracts birds. When someone passes by your home and notices a horde of birds flapping their wings during a bath, you have made your home stand out from the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. Although a bird feeder can have the same effect at a fraction of the cost of installing a water fountain, some species of birds like robins, thrushes, and orioles do not like to congregate around a bird feeder.

Is a Bubbling Rock Fountain Right for Your Home?

With adding a fountain, a slam dunk for increasing your home’s curb appeal, what type of water fountain is the right addition? If your front yard is smaller than the average size of the front yard in your neighborhood, you should consider installing a bubbling rock fountain. With customization of both size and shape an option, you can find the right bubbling rock fountain that gives the look of natural granite to increase your home’s curb appeal. You can add a bubbling rock fountain in a space as small as two feet by two feet.

Maintenance for a bubbling rock fountain involves keeping the water level topped off, a simple step to routinely check. Replenishing the water supply is important, as you can expect to lose a considerable amount of water to evaporation. If you live a region that experiences freezing temperatures at some point during the year, all you have to do is remove the basin pump and store it the garage until the thaw arrives. Bubbling rock fountains cost between $1,000 and $2,000, with size and the type of rock representing the two most influential cost factors.

Healthy Home Accessory

Water fountains increase the humidity level outside of your home to rid the air of dust and other types of allergens. Flowing water produces negative ions, which scientific studies have shown to have a positive effect on mood and overall health. The health benefits of installing an outdoor water fountain are an important part of why a fountain can enhance the curb appeal of your home.

2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference

The Third Annual Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference held last week in Cleveland Ohio was an event not to be missed.

Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water and Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic-OASE

New this year, early arrivers attended 3 hands-on business workshops focusing on Business Strategy, Social Media and Water Feature Maintenance, hosted by experts Yolanda Ortiz of Corazon Business Coaching, Melanie Downes of The Grapevine Pro and our own Sean Bell.

Hands-on business workshops hosted by Yolanda Ortiz, Melanie Downes and Sean Bell

Yolanda Ortiz returned for her second conference, presenting her new workshop Culture, Hiring and Your Bottom Line to an appreciative audience. Melanie brought her 25+ years of experience as an entrepreneur in the family landscape and water feature business to fire up attendees with exciting new takes on Marketing and Social Media. Sean Bell educated attendees on Adding Maintenance Plans to your Business, offering lucrative insights into that bread-and-butter aspect of water gardening.

Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club
Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club

Wednesday evening, after rallying at the Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg, our base of operations this year, we set off for the always beloved Pine Lake Trout Club. Jeff Weemhoff warmly welcomed attendees of the ever growing Conference, sharing his plans for the continued and accelerating expansion of Atlantic and OASE and insights into the coming year. Then we partied into the night at the beautiful timbered fishing lodge surrounded by the many streams and waterfalls, good food and drink enhancing the great networking and camaraderie.

Jeff Weemhoff and Thorsten Muck present the future of Atlantic-OASE

Thursday began early with a message from Jeff and Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water, on the bright future of Atlantic and OASE. Presentations on social media, advanced bog construction, product development, water feature estimating and distributor meeting preceded lunch, then we boarded buses and headed over to AWG headquarters.

Demi Fortuna and Brandon Dwyer at the Fountain Nozzles 101 Station

There we split into rotating groups visiting seven Demonstration Stations, showcasing the power of PondoVacs; the new Atlantic InfiColor Lighting System; automatic ScreenMatic2 filtration; tips on multiple Fountain Nozzle installation; the ease of adding FiltoClear Pressure Filters to existing ponds; programming the Easy Garden Control Cloud-based control system and a workshop on Photographing Water Features by last year’s APC of the Year Shane Hemphill.

Frayne McAtee at the Connecting to Your Water Feature Station

With heads still buzzing with all they had seen and heard, attendees were treated to a surprise stop on the ride back to the hotel. The buses pulled up and then into the huge new 170,000 sq. ft. facility, where a champagne toast accompanied the reveal of the new building. What better place to announce the 2019 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year?

Jeff Weemhoff welcomes conference attendees to the NEW Atlantic-OASE headquarters

Congratulations to TRAVIS WHITAKER – APC OF THE YEAR! With strong business growth over the past 15 years combined with excellence and creativity in water feature construction and design, Travis and Shannon Whitaker and their team are at the top of their game. A key contractor in his market, Travis has landed multiple large, high profile projects, but has continued to be a team player, helping fellow contractors when called upon in the best spirit of caring and generosity.

Whitaker Waterscapes, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor of the Year recipients Travis & Shannon Whitaker

Atlantic created a whole new award for another standout member of the Community, Matt Boring! Matt earned the Presidential Award in recognition of his constructive and helpful attitude to all in the industry, as well as the excellence of his work. His positive outlook and advice on the APC Facebook page have greatly increased the value of the group for all, while his sharing of his body of work and innovative construction projects has inspired and promoted both the industry and Atlantic. Congratulations Matt!

Texas Ponds and Water Features, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Presidential Award recipients
Matt Boring and Carlos Ordaz

Finally, in recognition of his long-standing dedication to the Water Gardening Industry and his unique standing amongst (and usually a head above) his peers, Atlantic was proud to present the Monster Award to our beloved Lloyd Lightsey. Always there to lend a helping hand, always smiling, Lloyd has always loved to make all around him smile, but he and Karrie have also dedicated their time and energy (even his beard) to the very serious challenge of raising money for cancer research. Lloyd, our Pond Monster, we salute you and Karrie for your good works and your unique standing in the industry! The award, named The Monster Award, will be given out annually moving forward.     

The Pond Monster, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Monster Award recipients Lloyd & Karrie Lightsey

After the surprise visit to the new building concluded, we spent the final evening of our wonderful time together playing and partying at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland. We thank all our attendees for another rewarding and informative Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference, and look forward to seeing you next year!

Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland
Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland

Atlantic and OASE Expand Operations

Atlantic Water Gardens and OASE Living Water are pleased to announce an important milestone in the American water gardening market. Atlantic–OASE will be moving to a much larger location in Aurora, Ohio, seven miles from the current Atlantic headquarters in Mantua. The new 170,000 square foot warehouse provides the ample space needed for the production, storage, organization and shipping of all Atlantic and OASE products, from raw materials to finished goods, to the entire hemisphere.

Our new home!

State-of-the-art SAP integration and inventory tracking will help us improve efficiency and streamline operations, ensuring that goods, materials and products flow effortlessly to our customers. Atlantic and OASE expect to capitalize on the efficiency of having all brands in one warehouse, ready to produce, pack and ship worldwide. We’re also excited about the opportunity to implement up to date, cutting-edge infrastructure and technology right from the start, no retro fitting or compromising required. 

155,000 square foot warehouse.

Over 15,000 square feet of offices, conference rooms and storage spaces, along with showrooms for immediate hands-on access to all products, will optimize day-to-day business. Multiple media rooms and a lecture center will handle small and large group interactions, while a sound room and video studio will accommodate in-house advertising, marketing and video production.  

Aurora will also house the new Training Center, including a 3,750 square foot indoor area with 30-foot ceilings already affectionately nick-named the SandBox. Instructors and contractors will be able to build entire hardscapes, dig and install every type of water feature and demonstrate lighting techniques year-round, immediately adjacent to a fully equipped classroom. Outside, there are multiple berms and hollows perfect for outdoor features training, as well as a large patio for warm weather seating. 

Make sure you follow our social media for updates on our big move!

Bog Filtration Questions Answered

Duck Pond Bog Blog

We recently received two questions on a previous blog: BOG FILTRATION, THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO BIOLOGICAL FILTERS. The questions had similar answers so we are sharing them in a new blog. First question:

Have you had (or heard of) much success with using bog filters in small duck ponds? I like the idea of using both bio and bog (would help with the extra muck) but not sure if ducks would tear the bog filter’s plants up. Ideally I would set one up with 4-5 ducks in mind.

Location

Your choices will be determined by what grows best in your area. You will want to get an aggressive grower(s) in there to convert all that stuff into easy-to-prune leaves. You may need to cut the plant matter back hard, maybe more than once a year depending on your location. Figure on a complete removal with new plant material after 5 years. That will reinvigorate and refresh the appearance of the bog.

Because the roots of aggressive growers can sometimes penetrate liner, I’d cover the excavation with underlayment, set the liner then cover that with another layer of underlayment.

Bog Size

You will want a bog that’s at least 30% of the square footage of the water’s surface. That may sound excessive, but 30% is what you need for koi, and ducks are messier. Don’t hesitate to go bigger if you can. For easy maintenance, I keep my bogs shallow, but you’ll need some depth to resist the ducks. I’d probably use 8” of ¾” round gravel, which is the least costly where I live. Make sure water passes through the bed, whatever choice you make.

One last design detail that might help if you can implement it. To start the bog, I’ll set (or bury, if the bog is cut into a natural slope) a line of Eco-blox water matrix blocks 6-12” higher than water level at the head of the bog. The Eco-blox act as a settling chamber. Water entering the blocks from one side dumps all its heavy solids before passing out the top of the blocks through a layer of gravel. The water then works its way through the 8” deep gravel bed where roots remove nutrients every inch of the way back to the pond. A drain on the opposite side of the Eco-blox chamber can be opened to flush out the debris every year or two. See above drawing

The Aviary

Finally, the perimeter bog is keeping the pond in the Butterfly House crystal clear, even after 1 year with no additional filtration. Bbutterflies are easy. The photos of the pond in the Aviary, with the same system, has had issues with the ducks, geese and swans, that trifecta of vicious veggievores, devouring 80% of the bog plants.

The good news is, they only obliterated 8 of the 10 species planted. The other two, a dwarf variegated Schefflera-looking shrub and the native Purple Wandering Jew, Tradescantia pallida, are doing a pretty good job. See the rock 3’ down in the pale green water? Not bad considering there are 200 birds in there.

Consult the “Black List” of banned plants in your state before you decide on the plantings. I entered “blacklisted aquatic plants official NY” and Google returned the list for my state. Then compare that to a search for ‘Plants That Ducks Don’t Eat’ for your state. Good Luck with your duck pond!

Second Question

Hello Demi, thank you for your suggestion and answering back so quickly. Yes, Im certainly going to use 45ml epdm rubber liner. ( That was a typo). I think I got the concept. All though my existing pond had a high 3′ waterfall w/no stream.. Reading your instructions I will incorporate a stream leading into the pond. Would I still install a deep and wide stream bed with 3-5 inches of gravel in the stream or on top of the Eco-blox? (A little confused) My pump is plumbed with a 2″ Sch40 flex pipe.

So would I install a “T” at the pump with the same 2″ flex pipe but one leading up to the bio-falls filter and the other leading (connecting) to the eco-box? Once the 2″ flex pipe is connected to the inlet of the eco-box does water fill the box and passes through the rock, gravel and aquatic plants and then down into the stream? Does the Waterfall filter come out somewhere else into the stream? I get the drawing and the concept but not sure about the waterfall filter? I would still have spring flo media and filter-mat in the waterfall filter but no filter-mat in the skimmer. Correct?

Thought if you can be so kind is to draw another picture with the waterfall and bio-bog. Thanks for giving me such great advise. Can’t wait to get the pond rebuilt. But this time with a better out come. You really made some good points.

Perimeter Bog with Eco-Blox Settling Chamber

Hi again! This response required a sketch, which I’m bad at, so it took longer to reply than just text would have. To answer your questions in order: If you have the biofilter at the edge of the pond with the water flowing down a 3’ waterfall directly in front of it, keep it that way. Put the bog somewhere else along the perimeter, anywhere lush plantings will be appreciated and you can easily get to for pruning. The reason I included a stream is because I thought you had one.

Perimeter Bog

A perimeter bog like the one sketched can be placed anywhere, at any distance from the pond including right next to it, as pictured. It can also sit as high or low as you like, as long as water pumped into it will flow back into the pond. The sketch shows water flowing over the rock, but it could just as well flow around it. The bog works equally well whether you see the water coming back in as a little waterfall, or water seeps back in invisibly.

You won’t need the mat in the Skimmer because you will have effectively doubled your filtration and increased your ammonia and nitrate removal capacity. Don’t forget to add a valve to control the water going in to the bog. Don’t worry about a valve on the biofilter side. Because the bog is so much lower, the water will all go towards that lowest path of least resistance. Shutting the valve to the bog to about ¾ closed will direct a quarter of the volume into the bog, and shunt the rest of the water up to the filter.

AWG University

For more detailed information about bogs in general, check out Atlantic Water Gardens University, Natural Filtration 301: https://www.atlanticwatergardens.com/university/courses/natural-filtration-301

Tools That Don’t Suck – The Wobble Wedge

June 7, 2019

TOOLS THAT DON’T SUCK

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls. We also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

The Wobble Wedge

Sometimes the best stuff comes in the smallest packages. That’s the way I think of this next doohickey. This deceptively simple device that’s so well engineered that I now take them for granted. But that’s only because I keep a jar full of them in every truck. I’m talking about the modest, overachieving Wobble Wedge.

Photo from WobbleWedges.com

The manufacturer calls them “a modular system of securely-stackable interlocking plastic shims”. Like any good system, there are a number of models to choose from. There are flexible and rigid wedges, white, black or clear in color. Three different sizes, all interlocking and cross-nesting, accommodate all sorts of leveling, shimming, tightening and locking tasks in and out of doors. All feature tiny ribs that lock wedge-to-wedge, regardless of the size of the wedge.

Wobble Wedge, Basalt Column
Can be adjusted in tiny increments and lock where you leave them.

For our purposes, we like the rigid standard black wedges for shimming columns and overflowing vases that need small adjustments, while the Big Gap wedges handle really uneven situations. Regardless of the size, all Wobble Wedges can be adjusted in tiny increments and lock where you leave them, no slipping or shifting.

Are they worthy of the status “Tools That Don’t Suck?”

Heck yes! These guys thought of everything that I could want on the job, and they have a couple of patents to prove it. The standard black Wobble Wedges are small and easily concealed. The hard plastic is pretty much indestructible. I say that after shimming over a thousand pounds with them, driving them home with a mallet to get a granite sphere dead level. They’re even forgiving! If you push them too far under a really big fountain or stone column, they have an inset Grab Bar at the back of the wedge that lets you pull them back out with a needlenose plier.

Wobble Wedge, Basalt Column
Grab Bar at the back of the wedge that lets you pull them back out.

Did I mention that they are 100% Made in the USA? And they’re inexpensive to boot, around $20 for a bucket of 75! When I showed one to my friends at a distributorship I was visiting, they brought them in the next day, no further convincing necessary. Love at first sight. 

If you haven’t already, try Wobble Wedges. I think you’ll like them.

Also check out or blog on the Atlantic Eco-Rise System to create reservoirs of practically any size, shape and volume supporting any number of decorative items with complete adjustability.

Atlantic Professional Conference 2019

The season is upon us on Long Island. It’s getting warmer, the bulbs that we usually see in late March or April have actually bloomed – finally! Water temps are up and the koi are feeding again. Spring is springing all over, and that means…

Product Knowledge – Atlantic Professional Conference 2017

We’re starting to think about the next APC Day! Our Atlantic Professional Conference happens after Labor Day, but we start putting things together now. We have to. It takes a lot of planning to pull off. A hundred or so Contractors and Distributors from multiple countries are going to show up for a couple of days of camaraderie, networking and fun, and we don’t want to disappoint.

Pump Clean Out Station – Atlantic Professional Conference 2018

Two years ago, we hosted attendees to cocktails and dinner riverside, at the Music Box Supper Club, alongside the big ships slowly making their way to Cleveland’s deep water port. Last year we had the Cleveland Aquarium to ourselves, watching the sharks gliding overhead as we walked through the glass tunnel. (Was it just me, or did anyone else notice the fish glaring at us while we ate shrimp cocktails in front of them?) Regardless of the irony, what a great place to have a conference of water feature builders!

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Of course, we always include a night at an amazing local gem, hidden away in plain sight – the Pine Lake Trout Club. There’s something magical about the rustic Lodge and cabins, hidden away in the piney woods apparently miles from anywhere. For me, it’s all about strolling along the streams and waterfalls on a late summer evening, as the trout rise and dimple the glassy surface, enjoying the company and conversation of some of the world’s best pond and water feature builders. Dain’t much betta.

Pine Lake Trout Club – Bainbridge Township, Ohio 

This year we have a full lineup of seminars, presentations and live demonstrations planned while the sun is up – marketing, social media, coaching, water feature tech info, even a rodeo or two. Yes, rodeo. You know, when you put the beasties through their paces. ‘Nuff said on that topic, don’t wanna spoil the surprise.

Art of the Yard, Shane Hemphill and Heath Webb
2018 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year

And I’m not going to tell you where we’ll be going this year. I’m not letting that cat out of the bag – yet. You’ll have to keep checking back, or better yet – REGISTER NOW. Registration just opened, attendance is limited and we always fill up way before the cutoff in July. Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Visit: https://www.atlanticwatergardens.com/apc-day to register!

Tools That Don’t Suck – Hypath Bags

Tools That Don’t Suck

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Hypath Bags

I’m on the road a lot this time of year. It’s the only time we can get contractors and counterpeople together for training and demos. From January through March, I’m going somewhere almost every week. So far this year, I’ve been to Europe, back to Florida, up to South Carolina, over to Texas, out to Washington State, up to Vancouver BC, down to Oklahoma, with three trips to Ohio for a week each. As you would expect, that kind of schedule beats up luggage. After a great run of almost 8 years with my old TravelPro carryon, I decided this year to upgrade. I’m impressed enough with my new luggage system that I’m sharing it with you.

Versitility

The bags I found are about the most versatile I’ve seen, and I looked at a lot of bags. My requirements were pretty stringent. I needed a small carry-on, the size that meets both American and European standards. I was going to Germany on a deeply discounted fare with an airline that really restricted both size and weight, but I also like to travel as light as possible. I prefer a rollerbag, but there were going to be cobblestone streets to contend with, so I wanted a bag that could convert if needed into a backpack. I usually carry a second bag for the business docs, presentation hardware, chargers, travel sundries, etc. so when I saw the Hypath bags, I got excited.

Hypath Backpack

Easy Rolling

The Hypath bags I bought really fit the bill. The “big” bag fits into those tiny 21”x16”x9” boxes at the gates of the stingiest of air carriers. It’s made of a good grade of ripstop nylon, double stitched. compression straps inside to squeeze down enough clothing for a week to 10 days on the road.* Handles all the way around the outside make it easy to throw into the overhead storage on planes, or carry as a duffel. Wide set rollerblade wheels and a sturdy aluminum handle with positive locks allow for quiet, easy rolling. For those situations that require sprinting, there are wide padded straps hidden away under a padded backplate that convert the bag to a true backpack.

Hypath Backpack

The smaller bag is also really versatile. For the ultimate in sleek travel, it zips onto the larger bag for easy rolling as a single unit. This frees up the handle for strapping on duty-free goodies. For casual travel, two horizontal straps across the back of the bag allow it to ride the rollerbag handle in typical piggyback fashion. It also has comfortable straps for backpacking. The front compartment has partitions for cables and equipment. The roomy center has a slot that fits my laptop in its padded sleeve, with a second slot for my tablet. Plus enough additional room for the charger, a windbreaker, folders and the obligatory one-quart plastic bag for toiletries. Two outer pouches are great for bottles, a brush, phone or meds. They look pretty good too. The black bags have an attractive hexagonal pattern to the fabric, and there are reflective patches for safety.

So far just this year, I figure the bags have logged about 20,000 miles without a hitch. I’m really hoping to get the same kind of durability as the TravelPro. Even if it doesn’t hold up as well, the Hypath system has already endeared itself to me.

On the plane/train/boat
Wool sports jacket, dress shirt, black belt, jeans, Merrells
In the bag, starting from the bottom:
Compression socks – 5pr short, 1 long, underwear
1 pair jeans, 1 pair chinos
Black cotton tee, 5 work tees
Rollup windbreaker/rain coat

Building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox

We recently received a question on a previous blog: BOG FILTRATION, THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO BIOLOGICAL FILTERS. The question was:

Do you have any additional information about building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox, like shown in the graphic at the end of this blog post? You already talked a bit about the surface area of the bog compared to the pond but what about the depth and the number of blocks stacked on each other for example? 
I want to build a 15′ x 13′ pond with 3000 gallons and 9′ stream. Pond will be filled with stones and gravel, some plants and 20 goldfish (around 8″). How many blocks do I need and how do I arrange them for a fitting surface area of the filter? Do you have any recommended product to be used as tube under the blocks? Or do I have to build one myself? If so, do you have any instructions to do this?

Great question O Noble Ponderer!

Bogs are sized by surface area. 10% of the area of the pond in bog area is sufficient to consume all the nitrates a goldfish pond is likely to produce. At the other end of the scale are Koi, which need three times as much area, 30%, planted to bogs.

With 205 square feet of pond, 20 square feet of planted gravel will be sufficient. You have a 9’ stream, which simplifies matters greatly. What I would do is set one or two Eco-Blox at the top of the stream, on the existing grade on top of the stream liner. I would install two 2” or 3” flanges or bulkhead fittings on either side of the chamber thus created, down low so water enters and exits the Eco-Blox near the bottom of the block. On one side I’d attach the pipe from the pump, on the other a drain valve. Take a look at the sketch.

Water comes from the skimmer into the Eco-Blox on one side, flows up and out through a 4-6” layer of ¾-1” gravel on top planted to various low grasses or other aquatic plants, which are also planted in the gravel of the stream. The Eco-Blox under the gravel acts as a settling chamber. The outlet on the side opposite the inlet is valved. The valve is buried near the flange or bulkhead fitting, attached to a piece of pipe out to daylight somewhere.

I usually just set an 18” length of 4” pipe vertically over the valve so the handle can be accessed periodically to drain out the muck which will accumulate in the chamber. If I can’t reach the valve with my hand, I’ll slot the end of a pipe to create a wrench to turn the handle. This is necessary usually only once or twice a year.

You’ll have a great little active bog filter that uses the top of Eco-Blox chamber plus the stream to provide the necessary area for plantings. Plus a built-in settling chamber that will remove much of the suspended organic debris constantly and automatically. You may also consider adding a bottom drain to the skimmer, to pick up the rest of the debris. But that’s the subject of another post.

Where in the World was Demi Fortuna?

“Where in the world is Demi Fortuna???” With these oft-repeated words the Chief, Jeff Weemhoff, begins the challenging and never-ending search for Fortuna’s whereabouts.

Reports indicate that early on the morning of February 15th Fortuna furtively fled across the border at 2am, arriving at the base of operations that co-conspirator and partner in nefarious deeds Scooter Stevenson had prepared. The mission: they would demolish the top tiers of existing wall work, inserting Spouts and Spillways and then, in mere hours, rebuild the walls, newly retrofitted with water and light, at two iconic locations well-known to those familiar with such deeds. Day one saw the speedy and surreptitious insertion of Atlantic Wall Spouts fitted with Color Changing Spout Lights flanking a Spillway superior in Surrey.

At the same location, the fabled Jade Triplets of Barry now gurgled over a Fountain Basin, when previously they pined piteously in a pool of putrescence. Below on the slope, a Pond-free waterfall once again flowed to the amazement of contractors who had only recently been liberated from the plow. The snow plow, that is. After a few brief hours, their task was done. Water and Light had been added to the Hardscape, swiftly and silently. The contractors, impressed by profitable possibilities, applauded while Fortuna and Stevenson faded into the twilight.

The second day of demolition dawned dry, at a quiet nook once bereft of sound and movement. Soon sprung stately and sparkling a curved corner complete with three brass Spouts, to the Turkish Delight of two Ottoman Ambassadors Omar and Dogan and the lovely Lady of Landscape Dianne. In a mere 3 hours on the clock the curved corner had been crowned, complete, as the contractors contemplated the collection of copious coin. Then the deadly duo departed, depleted but delighted, Scooter scooting across the waves to his queenly island fortress, Fortuna to the fabled Rain City, carpeted with a copious cover of snow. With over a foot of frozen fallout, the greatest total since 1923, this normally wet wonderland was white and wintry, which only added charm to the frozen waterfalls and majestic redwoods of the VD Gardens. Where in the world was Demi Fortuna?