An Innovative Wetland for Innovation Day

Did you know February 16th is Innovation Day? Perfect timing again! I mentioned an “innovative” use of Eco-Blox in a blog celebrating World Wetland Day February 2nd. I think it only appropriate that I expand on that innovative use this week.

To start with, let’s look at the word. According to Oxford Languages, the group that publishes the Oxford English Dictionary (my mom’s favorite), “innovation” means ‘featuring new methods; advanced and original’. Water matrix blocks were themselves the very definition of innovative when they were invented by Humberto Urriola, who came up with the idea of a modular drainage cell back in 1984. His Flo-Cell® was a flat three-dimensional mat that, in various configurations, captured, transported and held stormwater long enough for it to percolate back into the ground, recharging fragile aquifers, critical given the climate and erosion issues Down Under.

Almost four decades later, water matrix blocks are still used for stormwater mitigation and rain harvesting, but the latest innovation involves using their storage capacity to capture and remove even the finest sediments suspended in pond water. They’ve been used to trap sediments in dual chamber rain harvesting systems before, but this is a different application, one that combines the physics of sedimentation with the advantages of upflow bogs.

The idea is simple. First, the physics in a nutshell, because the math is beyond me. When velocity drops, solids drop out. Pump solids-laden water into an Eco-Blox chamber that’s only open at the top, with lots of partitions, and cover the top with a thin layer of gravel. The water slows to nothing if the chamber’s big enough, and forcing the water to exit upwards, through the gravel, ensures that virtually all sediments will drop out of suspension and stay in the chamber.

And sediment is only half the issue. Dissolved organics and minerals in the water, which would have fueled algae blooms, pass through that same gravel bed. Billions of bacteria thriving in the well-oxygenated nutrient-rich water strip out ammonia and nitrites, excreting nitrates right where the roots of plants spreading through the gravel can absorb them. The plants will also thrive, the water will be stripped of all organics and algae will never get a foothold.

Standard stuff, but the innovation is in the details. The appropriate number of Eco-Blox for the volume to be cleaned, the correct flow into the chamber, the right thickness to the gravel bed, the optimal plants for the artificial wetlands –that’s all pretty straightforward. The innovation is in the delivery of the sediment laden water, and the flushing of the accumulated solids in the chamber.

The delivery is a matter of shaping the bottom to accumulate solids near bottom drains, and plumbing the skimmers to pull water off top and bottom to deliver wastes to the chambers. But, you may say, there are lots of ways to gather sediments, and any gravel bed will trap them, both valid points. The trick is keeping the gravel from clogging, channeling and going septic when oxygen can’t penetrate the accumulating goop. That’s the huge advantage to creating these Eco-Blox bogs, and upflow is the key. 

Traditional downflow bogs pull water through a large volume of gravel, often feet thick, to trap organics for years, but over time channeling renders them less effective. Anaerobic zones build up with no easy way to clean them out. Downflow grids of perforated pipe, covered with a thinner layer of gravel at the bottom of ponds, address these issues, but the grids tend to clog over time and are relatively inaccessible.

Eco-Blox sediment traps are designed to efficiently collect both top and bottom water via skimmers and bottom drains, separate out solids as water passes up and out, then clean easily, flushing sediments out onto grade by turning a valve. The continuous automatic capture and easy removal of solids is the innovation. Monthly maintenance consists of turning a valve or opening a threaded cap for a couple of minutes, to flush the accumulated wastes out where they can be dried and collected – that’s some black gold there.

It’s no wonder that Botanical Gardens appreciate the idea. A filtration system based on plants that cleans and clears vast volumes of water, with no moving parts except multiple magnetic induction pumps, powerful and efficient, inexpensive to buy and run, housed in easily accessed skimmers that require only to be emptied of leaves on a weekly basis? And the system can collect the fertile organic sediments and dry them in a free-draining gravel bed at grade, whenever compost is needed?

Eureka!

Case in point: the Botanical Garden in Culiacan Sinaloa Mexico used riverwater to feed their Victoria Pool, where they showcased the leaves and blooms of the world’s largest waterlily and other aquatics. The 225’ x 30’ pool, about 3’ deep, had a number of serious leaks, so it was constantly being refilled with muddy water that never cleared. The water was so turbid from both mud and algae that you couldn’t see your hand with your arm in up to your elbow. Two 8” weirs that spanned the width of the pool upstream and downstream of the angular bridge provided the only circulation. They had installed a 10hp irrigation pump drawing about 8000 watts an hour, but had to valve it back because the high-head pump cavitated otherwise, so they couldn’t keep the whole weir covered with water. (If that sounds like a foreign language, check out this article I wrote in POND Trade Magazine, Flow, Friction and Total Dynamic Head: A Pump and Plumbing Primer for Ponds)

I’ll tell you what we did – next time.


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Golden Treasure For The Pond Border

Lysimachia nummularia: The Creeping Jenny

I love to use plants along the edges of the water features I build to soften the hard edges of stone and add color and life to them. One of the plants I tend to use over and over is the Creeping Jenny or Moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia, an attractive and versatile perennial ground cover that neither rabbits nor deer will touch. 

Floating Bog, Nelson’s Water Gardens

Named for its round, coin shaped leaves, gold in color when grown in full sun, Creeping Jenny performs beautifully just about anywhere I put it. With a constant supply of moisture, along streams and pond edges, it can handle the hottest sun. Forget “creeping” – this plant positively runs in the sun, growing quickly from both its vine-like branches and long roots to cover edges both in and out of the water.

In deep shade its growth slows somewhat, leaves glowing a soft green as it carpets soil, stone and gravel alike. Easy to propagate, one plant will spread to cover many running feet of stream edge. It is vigorous almost to a fault. If it thins out in one spot simply grab a handful from somewhere else and tuck it into moist soil. It will usually root without any extra care.

As if that weren’t enough, for all you other closeted herbalists, Creeping Jenny is a mild astringent, a diuretic and an effective vulnerary – applied to open wounds its crushed leaves are antibacterial and promote healing. (I don’t know about you guys but ‘vulnerary’ is my new favorite obscure word of the day.)

Finally, those of us who appreciate a brew every now and then might be interested to know the ancient Anglo Saxons called it alehoof – ‘ale herb’ – and used it to flavor and clarify beer. What a plant!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

OASE Aquarius Fountain Sets

Meet one of the newest products here at Atlantic-OASE: The Aquarius Fountain Sets!

OASE Aquarius Fountain Sets are the perfect product for owners of small water gardens and ponds. Four sizes of units circulate up to 1100 gallons, returning the water in one of two different ways – via fountain head or through a side outlet, which can divert water to an optional decorative spitter or spout.

The fountain head comes with three inserts that create different patterns in water from 10” to 24” deep. The Bell insert throws out a clear dome of water, the Vulkan a double tiered fleur de lis display and the Magma, a directional arched spray of five individual streams. All can be adjusted via the ball joint on the telescoping tube that also varies the height of the fountain head. A valve shunts water between the upright tube and a separate side outlet, to accommodate a variety of water return options.

Bell Nozzle

Vulcan Nozzle

Magma Nozzle

Setup is simple. Select the water return option you prefer, attaching the fountain head insert or hose and drop the one-piece unit into the pond. The swiveling ball joint allows perfect vertical alignment even on sloped bottoms.

Maintenance is as easy as setup. A ribbed screen keeps leaves from clogging the pump intake. When the flow slows, just pull the unit from the water and rinse off. A grounding plate protects from stray current, and the pumps are thermally protected for long service life.

Learn more about the Aquarius Fountain Sets here.


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Wetlands for Water Features!

So last week we were talking about planning now for future projects (read last week’s blog here), and this week World Wetland Day is here – coincidence? I think not! Wetlands, natural or engineered, have a place at the edge of EVERY body of water, man-made or otherwise. Why? Because Mother Nature has put millions of years of trial and error into creating the most efficient and beneficial filters on the planet, and we ignore Her at our peril.

Wetlands make coastal life possible. They keep sediments from burying coastal seashores in mud, absorb wave and storm energy to eliminate erosion, absorb and sequester heavy metals and toxins, turn excess nutrients into food for millions of organisms – per square foot! (Yes, I’m counting bacteria, the most important organisms on the planet. Who? Us? We’re just bags hosting untold BILLIONS of microorganisms.)

Arguably, the most important function of wetlands is their ability to clean and clear water. This attribute is easily harnessed for our own devices in engineered wetlands, often affectionately referred to as ‘veggie filters’. Originally just shallow gravel beds with plants whose roots helped pull out nitrates, these have evolved into highly efficient bioconverters with sediment traps that are incredibly efficient with little maintenance.

Completely scalable, these mini wetlands punch far above their weight. This little planted bowl filter designed by the ever-innovating Nelson Water Gardens will keep a preformed or small liner pond clear and free of algae, and it’s beautiful to boot.

On the other end of the scale, this gravel bed in Culiacan has managed to remove literally all of the suspended solids from the 80,000 gallons of opaque river water that was pumped into the Victoria Pool a couple of weeks ago – and that’s before planting!

The way these both work is remarkably similar. Sediment laden water from the bottom is pumped into a grid or chamber at the bottom of the gravel bed. The water velocity slows on its way up and out through the gravel. As any moving liquid carrying dissolved solids slows, its sediment carrying capacity drops. In the bowl, the sediments drop out and are trapped in the gravel, where roots metabolize the organics along with any dissolved nitrates, starving out any algae that would green up the water if nitrates were present.

The larger application requires a little more infrastructure, but the results are impressive. In the Victoria Pool there are two settling chambers filled with Eco-Blox water matrix blocks, one at each end, each capped by a 12” layer of gravel. Skimmers fitted with twin TT9000 pumps push about 15000 gallons of sediment-laden river water into each of the Eco-Blox chambers. As the water spreads out and slows in the chambers it drops most of its sediments; whatever remains never makes it through the gravel that caps the blocks. A 4” bottom drain in each chamber will allow the accumulated solids to be flushed out to a shallow gravel pit whenever cleaning, or collection of organics for the garden, is required or desired.

The photos show the opacity of the river water on Day One and the clarity on Day Ten.

This video taken yesterday reveals the bottom a meter below water level perfectly clearly.

Bear in mind, this wetland isn’t even operating properly yet, because there are no plants or fish. It’s just working as a sediment trap until the crew at the Botanical Garden plant it up next month, when it will really come on line and shine, just in time for the balmy 120 degree days of summer in Sinaloa. I promise to keep you posted.


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Winter Pondering

It’s almost February, the ground’s frozen and my sons are too smart to work outside with me, so it’s the perfect time to plan next year’s project. The three most important attributes of the perfect garden pond often get overlooked in the rush to dig, so I thought it might make sense to talk about them now, when all we can do here is talk anyway.

So, the waterfall is usually the first thing folks think about, followed by the pond size and the fish they want to showcase, but what I try to plan for first are crystal clear water, minimal maintenance and low operating cost. These are the less glamorous, more practical attributes of the perfect pond. Without them the charm and beauty of the water garden soon fade.

Water clarity is the most important of the three, because poor water quality is the first thing anyone notices and a constant source of aggravation. The best way to guarantee perfect clarity is to install adequate filtration, but I’m a belt-and-suspenders man – I like to minimize maintenance and safeguard against eventual overcrowding as well. 

The two most common philosophies of pond filtration adopt different approaches. The skimmer+biofilter model removes floating debris before it sinks, but relies on cleanouts to remove heavier accumulated solids that don’t float, like fish wastes. The other school of thought targets fish wastes, with a pump on the bottom designed to capture those wastes and send them to more efficient mechanical filters, but leaves need to be netted out. Combining the two methods removes more wastes and gives better results than either alone can provide. The skimmer houses the waterfall pump and traps leaves, the biofilter removes large debris and starts the stream and falls, a smaller high efficiency pump designed to capture wastes sits in the bottom and pushes wastes to a partially buried pressure filter that’s easy to backwash.

Maintenance is actually lower with the combined systems, because each has half as much work to do, so the biofilter and pressure filter can be cleaned half as often, and major pump-down cleanouts are eliminated altogether.

Aha! I hear you say. But what about those two pumps! What happened to lowering operating costs? Well, pump operating costs actually drop if the waterfall pump only runs when you’re there to enjoy it. For example, let’s say we have a 4,000 gallon pond, 15’x20’, three feet deep at the low spot, but with 18” deep shelves all the way around, a 10 foot long stream and two falls about 4’ tall total. I’d spec a TT5000 pump in a PS4600 skimmer pushing 4000gph up to a BF2600 to start the stream, and an AquaMax Eco Classic feeding a FiltoClear 8000 to polish the water. I’d set up a timer for the waterfall to run 12 hours at 310 watts plus 150 for the other pump, which I’d run 24/7. That works out to less wattage than the one larger pump alone! (12×310 + 24×150<24×310) And, having two pumps means I never have to worry about one failing, there’s a built-in reserve.

Now that the tough stuff is designed, I can start to think about the waterfall…. 


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Never Too Late To Add Aeration

Seasonal Tip – How how to install an aerator AFTER the pond ices over.


Winter presents a number of challenges in the water garden. Ice dams may divert water out of the stream. Ice drops the water level in the pond. The cold itself puts major stress on fish and plants, not to mention people. But the single most damaging effect of the cold happens when ice seals the pond off from the atmosphere.

When oxygen cannot diffuse into pond water, fish and the other animals in the pond will suffocate. Possibly even worse, toxic gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, will build up and poison everything in the water. Luckily the solution is simple. Any hole in the ice will allow for gas exchange in both directions, keeping the pond and its inhabitants healthy over the winter.

It’s pretty well accepted these days by contractors and pond owners alike that aeration is the simplest, most effective and least costly way to keep a hole free of ice. Set at the edge of the pond in shallow water, the circulation caused by rising bubbles will maintain a small hole in the ice without cooling the water unnecessarily. But what happens if you forget to put a diffuser in before the pond ices over?

The last thing you want to do is smash a hole in the ice with a hammer! The shock waves in the closed system will transmit the shockwaves directly into the fish, stunning and perhaps even killing them. One less forceful and less damaging way of opening a hole in ice for gas exchange is to use hot water. You can pour hot tap water directly onto the ice.


For larger diffusers or thick ice use a pot or kettle with a diameter at least as large as the diffuser. Fill it with water and bring it to a boil, then set it on the ice near the edge of the pond. For very thick ice you may have to repeat the process. Once the hole is open and the diffuser set, you can relax for the rest of the winter, knowing your fish will be safe!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Winter & Your Water Features

Preparing for Winter

Bare branches cast silhouettes against gray skies and crisp air hastens strides, curtailing time outdoors. Backyard views are appreciated through glass panes beneath layers of blankets.

But before winter’s cold calls us inside, pond care and cold weather preparation must adorn the top of pond owner’s to-do lists. A bit of planning and elbow grease—along with the right tools and equipment—will ensure ponds and their inhabitants remain protected from harsh temperatures.   

For pond owners in colder climates, preparing for winter means planning to keep ponds de-iced and fish and plants protected until spring’s awaited return. An afternoon of winter prep goes a long way; you’ll be glad you invested the time once spring emerges.

If you choose to keep your pump running during colder months, ensure it is frost protected—such as OASE’s AquaMax Eco Premium—which withstands temperatures to -4°F. When the water temperature reaches 40°F (and before the first frost), move your frost-protected pump to mid-level depth. Circulating the deep water lowers temperatures and will cause stress on fish.

Take precautions against water freezing in plumbing during power outages. Remove filter lids and pads, allowing for pressure relief where possible. If your pump and filter can not withstand colder temperatures, turn it off, remove it, clean it and store it in a water-filled container in a climate controlled location.

If you applied pond netting to keep out autumn leaves, you’re ahead of the game. If you skipped fall prep, consider OASE’s PondNet for a quick daily skim of floating debris. Use EasyPick pond pliers to regularly remove leaves, sticks and other debris to keep your pond’s ecosystem balanced. Decaying organic matter deprives ponds of oxygen, impacting the health of plants and fish.

When the water temperature drops below 50°F, stop feeding fish. Consider a floating deicer if the pond is at risk of freezing solid—even a small hole in the ice will allow fish to breathe and allow pond gases to escape. In small ponds, ensure that warmer water zones where fish can survive are not recirculated. If ice forms in your pond, do not attempt to crack or break it; this will cause shock waves and will threaten the health of your fish.

Consider using OASE’s AquaOxy 450 with the OxyTex air diffuser to increase pond’s oxygen levels. OxyTex—a pond aerator and filter medium compatible with all OASE filters—works with AquaOxy 450 to inject air to ensure fish stock remains healthy.

OASE’s FlexiCut 2-in-1 pond scissors are ideal to trim overgrown vegetation around the pond’s perimeter—they stabilize while cutting to provide torque. Their long handle (5.2 ft.) enables easy maintenance in hard-to-reach areas.

Now, take time to sit back and relax. Pour some hot cocoa, add a log to the fire and enjoy the warmth!

Safety First

In the colder regions of the U.S. and Canada, when the temperature dips down into the freezing range, fish and plants can be left outdoors to hibernate naturally.

However, the freezing of the pond surface can create dangerous conditions for fish due to the accumulation of gas below the ice. Always ensure that there is a small hole in the ice cover, so that your fish, koi, or other inhabitants can breathe.

You should try to clean out as much organic debris as possible before the pond ices over and install an aerator, a deicer, or a heater to keep a hole in the ice. Even the smallest of holes will suffice. This allows oxygen in for the fish and plants and also allows any toxins to escape.  Whatever you do, do not crack the ice using a hammer or other device.  This will shock the fish and cause undue stress.

Water Temperature vs. Air Temperature

Water takes a long time to heat or cool compared to the air. This is why it is important for pond owners to go by the water temperature and not air temperature when it comes to caring for your pond. Water temperature is the determinant for seasonal preparation as well as feeding schedules for your fish or koi.

  • At a water temperature of 60°F:
    • Thoroughly remove organic debris from everything.
    • Check power lines for cracks to prevent electrical hazards.
    • Inspect the seal of the outer pump housing for leaks.
    • Check the UVC bulb, which should be replaced annually.
  • At a water temperature of 50°F:
    • Stop feeding your fish.
    • Trim and move hardy lilies to deeper water.
  • At a water temperature of 40°F (before the first frost):
    • Move your frost-protected pump to a plant shelf to prevent lowering the deep-water temperatures and causing undue stress on your fish or koi
    • Store your non frost-protected pumps or anything, such as filters and uv clarifiers, that has glass or plastic inside, in a bucket of water in a frost-free location. This keeps the seals moist and debris residues from hardening.
    • Install an aerator, deicer, or heater.

Modern Technology Defies Freezing Weather 

Winter is the biggest threat to a pond and its’ equipment. In the winter there is ice; ice expands and can burst pipes and filter housings. Be sure to remove all points of the system where pressure can accumulate. Remove filter pads and lids from filters, allow for pressure relief in the system where possible.

The good news for pond enthusiasts: sub-zero temperatures cannot harm the AquaMax Eco Premium pump. It can be turned off but remain frozen in ice and snow without damage!

The following applies for all products that are not frost-proof: safeguard them from winter conditions accordingly! You should take pond pumps and filters out of the pond before the first frost. Store them in a place that will not allow freezing.


Read the original OASE Living Water Article here.

In Honor of Old Rocks

From Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens by David A. Slawson

10. There is an instruction that says you are not to change the position of a rock from what it was in the mountains. Placing a rock so that the part of the rock which was underneath in the mountains is on top is called “reversing the rock” and is to be avoided. To do this would anger the spirit of the rock and would bring bad luck.

I love Secret Teachings. The book is written in two parts; the second is a translation of a 500-year-old treatise on gardening attributed to the Buddhist monk Zōen, from which the quote was drawn. The rest of the book, by far the greater portion, is Slavin’s exquisite explanation of the concepts that inform and underly the classical Japanese garden, pulled from both his own hands-on experiences as an apprentice in Japan, and subsequent years of study. There is a reason to every rock in the Japanese garden. Each has spirit; each has purpose: to strike a scenic, sensory or cultural chord in the soul of the viewer.

Here in the States we see the same reverence for the spirit of rock in our best works. We may not always be able to express the idea as elegantly, but all of us share that feeling we get when setting stone when it’s just… exactly… right. We know by how it makes us feel when we look at it. The spirit of the rock is pleased.

Today is Old Rock Day, nominally a celebration of old rocks and fossils, which also fascinate me. But I couldn’t help thinking there’s more to “old rocks” than just their composition and origin. Somehow it makes sense that after millions of years in the womb of the earth a rock, a special rock, grows not just in age, but in character, personality, spirit.

So the next time you see an old rock that speaks to you, take a moment and really listen. It will tell you about its roots in the mountains, its position in the earth, its placement in the garden. You’ll know when the spirit of the rock is pleased. Whatever you do, don’t anger an old rock! We all need all the good luck we can get.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to all!      

Be on the look out for more blogs coming soon on rock placement in your water features! In the meantime, check out more of our blogs here!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Atlantic-OASE SandBox – Indoor Training Facility

The time is finally here! The SandBox reveal you’ve all been waiting for. While we finished the SandBox back in October 2020, we wanted to wait until the 2020 Virtual Conference in December to show off all of our hard work for the first time. (And it gave us more time to play and build with our new toys.) Come take the journey with us of the creation of the SandBox and watch the progress!

Prequel – It was January 2019 on a snowy day in Muenster, Germany. The OASE regional managers from a dozen European countries met in the greenhouse where the training would be held, using products from the US that they had never seen before. Max Colditz, our organizer, had me explain what the Basins and FastFalls and Eco-Blox were used for, and how they were installed in the States, then let the crew loose with shovels. They went to town, delving into the sugar sand and silt clay that made the special soil mix a delight to dig in, not a single grain larger than a coffee ground. We had a blast installing Atlantic product in ways I had never imagined possible. I was delighted with the training, impressed with the space, but awed by the soil. Being able to build water features year round in a designated space? We needed this at home!

The Space – August 2019, touring the new warehouse in Aurora OH, we opened a door and there it was. Dirty, dark, and PERFECT! The room was vast, almost 4,000 feet with 30-foot ceilings. As we entered from the factory side, four feet above the floor below, I immediately noticed the solid poured concrete walls on three sides, with a high-pressure water line and center drain. There were entrances at both levels, rollups and traditional doors, and the room had its own heat. We were so excited we actually debuted the plan in the 2020 Catalog introduction.

The Design – The name was obvious from the start: The SandBox. We had a giant walled pit right in the warehouse where we could teach year-round, regardless of Northeastern Ohio’s notoriously fickle weather. We started on the plans even as we were moving in. Would this be a simple dirt-filled pit, like Randy Stewart’s brilliant Training Center in Shawnee? Or, as Kendahl our Director of Marketing proposed, could this also be a beautiful backdrop for videos and product shoots in the off-season? A recreation of a planted back yard where the sod could be rolled up, contractors could build and the next day we could shoot new products for the Catalog – brilliant! We worked on the designs for almost a year.

The Materials – After the final approval in July 2020, Brandon synthesized all the ideas into the working plan above, and we got to work on the materials. First, the walls. Belgard REALLY stepped up. We’ve had a great relationship with them for years, working together at trade shows (remember when those were a thing?), on videos and various other projects. We told them we really wanted to work with their products – and boy did they come through, with wall stone, steps, pavers, even concrete block! Next, the soil. After months of searching for just the right stuff (many thanks to Max for the formula from Germany and Peter for the legwork!) we found an old quarry nearby that had the perfect sand/silt mix. Finally, the plantings. Kendahl found a great supplier of artificial plants, we chose a top-quality artificial turf that didn’t need ballast and– we were ready to put it all together.

The Execution – We had to finish before our fiscal year ended on October 1, so it took quite the concerted effort, but things went smoothly. The lights went in first, next we set up the drainage and electric, then the walls, both stone and the stud framing for the façade. Before we knew it, we were backfilling, and the siding and trim were going in. The finishing touches, the sod, plantings and pallets of stone, were done just in time for the end of the fiscal year.

Epilogue – The SandBox was scheduled to be unveiled during our Virtual Conference December 3rd, but it has already proven invaluable. We’ve shot three install videos already, along with a nifty Friction & Flow demonstration, with different areas in the background. We are really looking forward to our first builds in the coming year.

We’re looking forward to seeing you here in the near future to get your hands dirty and installing some water features!

Watch the progress of our Sandbox construction here!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Zooming Around The World: 2020 Atlantic-OASE Virtual Conference

Hey All! It’s Demi, we’re all still fired up about our first Virtual Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor Conference last Wednesday and Thursday. Zoom allowed us to reach hundreds of attendees from Europe to Australia, Mexico to Canada without a hitch, and without the hassles of travel, masks and distancing.

Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic-OASE kicked off the Conference, welcoming attendees around the globe from Aurora, Ohio. Next, Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water, presented a riveting recap of how OASE started, and where we’re going, speaking from World Headquarters on the other side of the world. When the head of the world’s largest manufacturer of water feature equipment speaks, it’s the real deal and we were very excited to have him join us!

Next up, from Michigan, our recently promoted Training Manager, Jim Chubb, showcased OASE Advanced Filtration systems, and how they dovetail perfectly with Atlantic’s Skimmers and FilterFalls. From a mile high, Kyle Weemhoff and Sean Bell continued the theme of ‘Two Is Better Than One’ with a detailed look at a Denver pond with both an OASE pump-and-filter setup and a traditional Atlantic skimmer/falls combo. We’re calling this the “A-O Water Feature.” It’s the perfect combination of both brands to create the ultimate water feature.

After a short break, newest member to the Marketing Team, Leah La Farciola, flew attendees via camera drone all through the 170,000 square foot facility. The highlight was the SandBox Training Center, something we’ve been working on for a couple of years on paper and has finally come to fruition! The Training Center combines the hands-on training areas you’d expect to find (it ain’t called “SandBox” for nothing) with a beautiful fully landscaped façade and “back yard”, complete with sod lawns, plantings, walks and patios. Not only can we train in the dirt and host on-line events year-round regardless of weather, we now have an indoor backdrop for Marketing’s photos and videos. We’re ALL thrilled. Next Frayne McAtee covered calculations for single and multi-nozzle fountain systems, followed with participants continuing lively discussions of the benefits of the pair-up in Round Table discussions.

The first day of the Conference ended with attendees splitting up into ‘Zoom Rooms’ to network during a virtual Cocktail Hour – mine was the Long Island Ice Tea Room.

Day Two opened with Frayne and yours truly presenting New Products – new filters for smaller water gardens and hardscape features, Product Bundles that add water and light to hardscapes and cool new hand-hammered brass bowls similar to the Copper Bowls but heavier, with an amazing patina. My friend and Category Manager, Maximilian Colditz, was up next with an informative presentation on state-of-the-art Natural Swimming Pools from Germany, a topic of particular interest to many, including me. Frayne followed up with what’s coming to North America for Natural Swimming Pools. Then, we Zoomed back to the States where Regional Manager, Sean Bell, unraveled the knots of Estimating Hardscape Water Features. Jim Chubb batted cleanup with an in-depth inspection of the latest in remote control of filters, pumps and lighting via wifi and applications with the Easy Garden Control system or EGC.

In closing Thursday afternoon, Jeff Weemhoff, presented the President’s Award to renowned sustainability expert, fitness coach and award-winning designer and builder of water features Mike Garcia of Enviroscapes LA for his years of teaching the responsible use of water in the landscape. The Pond Monster, Lloyd Lightsey, presented the Monster Award to Art of the Yard’s Shane Hemphill and Heath Webb for their selfless and constant support of other contractors across the industry. Jeff ended the Conference with the presentation of the APC Contractors of the Year Award to Jason and Tony Lenox and their crew at Ponds Inc. of Illinois for their public promotion of excellence in pond construction and practices. “The Conference went off without a hitch”, commented marketing director, Kendahl Kreps, “but we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in person next year!”

Thank you to everyone who attended or registered and watched the conference on demand this year!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.