Add a Water Feature and Save the Bees

In honor of World Bee Day, did you know that your pond or water feature in your backyard could help save the world bee population?

The world needs your contribution to the access of clean healthy water for our bees and you can do that by simply adding a water feature to your yard! The honey bee is more important that in just making honey. They are our pollinators for all of the grown food we eat in our daily life. The habitat that you create can help feed colonies of honey bees. Water feature fountains such as the OASE Quintet and Atlantic Basalt Columns are great pollinator fountains for bees!

Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor, Mike Garcia and his company, Enviroscape LA, do a great job of teaching us how to make pollinator fountains for bees and other insect life!

Mike shows us that you can even help the bees by making your Pond-free waterfall into a pollination water feature by adding some extra rocks to the water to give the bees a place to rest while getting a drink from your water feature!

You can create areas of shallow water, use rocks or twigs to make areas for bees to land on, collect water and not drown. Because pond water is chlorine free this makes the perfect environment for them.

Some fun facts on what bees use water for include:

Cooling – Water acts as air conditioning for the hive.

Humidity for the colony.

Utilize Stored Food – they dilute stored honey with water for food.

Larvae Food – Nurse bees feed the developing larvae.

Digestion – Water helps metabolization of their food.

So, if your pond is losing water it may not be a leak or splash evaporation, it may just be the bees surviving in our world! They can consume at least a quart of water every day, and even more when it is warm.

For more on our buzzing pollinators, see Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine and the book The Backyard Beekeeper.


About the Authors:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.


Jim Chubb

Jim is Atlantic-OASE’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager and has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

Let’s Talk Spring

For most of the country, spring has sprung and you pond or water feature is up and running and waiting for Mother Nature to wreak havoc on your creations. Here’s some helpful start up tips and advice to help combat any issues Mother Nature causes in your ponds, pond free waterfalls and fountains!

Ponds

Ponds need tender loving care from March to May depending on what part of the country you are in. 

All ponds need the left over debris from the previous Fall removed to give your pond a fresh start to the season. Some may need a complete overhaul (costly and may not be needed) but, most will just need a good clean up. Netting out leaves, debris and string algae that are starting to form should do the trick.

Once you have done the cleanup and your skimmer, pump and biological filter are running, you will need to start your beneficial bacteria treatments which will continue throughout the year. 

Remember, the only reason you have string algae is because the food source (nutrients in the water) is greater than the things that consume nutrients like plants, beneficial bacteria and fish. Once you have a balance, string algae will be greatly diminished. Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce growth, but the goals are to have your filter system and plants with the aid of beneficial bacteria do it naturally. 

Adding aeration to your pond is another way to enhance the water clarity and quality naturally. 

Pond-free Waterfalls and Fountains

Pond-free Waterfall and Fountains need the same tender loving care from March to May.  

Clean up any leftover Fall debris and hook up your pump to get the water moving. You may have a slight rotten egg smell once you turn your feature on after the winter months. Do not panic this will pass in about 24 hours with the water circulation.   

Mother Nature works on these water features also! Algae will start to form in the stream water and on the decorative pieces. Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce the growth and keep the feature clear. 

Another option for these features would be to add a copper ionizer; which releases a small dose of copper electrodes into the water to ward off algae. Remember, very small doses are all that would be needed (.03ppm) so make sure you are testing your copper levels if using an ionizer.  

Feel free to add your tips and suggestions about what you do the get your water features up and running for the Spring season below in the comments! How do you combat what the the spring brings to your water features? Do you work with or against Mother Nature? 


About the Author:

Jim Chubb

Jim is Atlantic-OASE’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager and has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor Spotlight: Jason & Tony Lenox

Join us in recognizing an Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) pair of brothers for another spotlight section!

Jason Lenox and Tony Lenox, Ponds Inc. of Illinois, Illinois 

Where are you from: Jason was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and is now residing in Dundee, Illinois. Tony was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and is now residing in South Elgin, Illinois. Ponds Inc. of Illinois is based in Gilberts, Illinois currently.

How long you’ve been working in the industry: I’ve been working in the landscaping industry for 30 years. We’re proud to be two time POND Trade Magazine Water Artisans of the Year Award Winners. 

What you love about what you do: My Brother and I love helping others while helping ourselves through our artistry and passion of creating truly enjoyable outdoor spaces that soothe your soul allowing smiles to flow like the waterfalls we create!

Favorite Atlantic-OASE product: There are so many incredible products to choose from especially with the Atlantic Water Gardens products combined with the OASE North America products! 

I guess I would have to say must have favorite or a useful product for maintaining and servicing water features is: PondVac 5 it’s a very useful tool for us!

For creating incredible elements to any water feature design: the FastFalls Series is also impressive!

One of your favorite projects you’ve done: Key West, Florida was definitely a beautiful place for my Brother and I to build an incredible all Atlantic-OASE product water feature! What’s even more exciting about it is that we were able to build together with the #CrazyHappyIrishPondBuilder known as Gerard Touhey of WaterFeaturesbyGerard.com! How can building a large scale PondFree water feature in paradise with our great friend Gerard Touhey not be a favorite project? Even Lloyd Lightsey, ThePondMonster.com from Florida came down to participate in our shenanigans!

Gerard Touhey, Water Features by Gerard

New projects I’m working on: Ponds Inc. is currently designing a large water wall waterfalls feature in downtown Chicago working with David Montoya of StoneMakers.net utilizing incredible artificial rock work combined with Atlantic-OASE products to create a truly magnificent outdoor dining space at a well known Chicago restaurant! Stay tuned! 

Anything else you’d like to share with your fellow APC’s: Number one, the most important advice I can offer is to get your company’s website listed with the Team at www.p-o-n-d.services so you’re found on page one of search engines like Google! Encourage your distributors, retailers, landscapers and manufacturers to get connected also! The more our industry gets connected, the more beneficial it is to us all!

My next best advice is to learn and soak up as much as you can from other pond contractors throughout our industry. We all can always learn from each other through networking! This includes attending industry events and landscape shows. Get to know others who you can help which in turn helps you all to succeed in this industry that we all love!

Lastly, help each other out by participating in social media by sharing, watching, liking, subscribing and commenting on each others content from Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest, Tik Tok, Twitter and Snap Chat! Give Google reviews, Facebook reviews and reviews on Houzz etc! Help each other succeed and others will help you succeed!

See more of the Lenox brothers on all of their social media! Facebook Ponds Inc. of Illinois, Twitter @PondsInc4you, Houzz Ponds Inc. of Illinois, Pinterest Ponds Inc. of Illinois and Hometalk Ponds Inc. of Illinois, Jason Lenox.


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

If You Build It, They Will Come

In honor of National Save The Frogs Day I wanted to make our readers aware of just how desperate frogs are for decent places to live and breed, and how fast frogs will find a new water feature. It’s a direct result of there being so little high-quality habitat in the wild. Every little pond or water feature is a beacon, and I certainly don’t have to tell our pond builders out there how quickly the dragonflies and butterflies and birds and frogs respond. 

One particular example always brings a smile to my face. Many years ago we were asked to build a circular patio for a customer at this time of year, in the back yard of a new subdivision. With rain on the way, we worked furiously to dig out the clay in a 16’ diameter circle to about 10” deep before the storm. The rain hit just as we finished raking and tamping the soil. And it rained. And it rained. It rained for over a week. When we got back to the site to finish up almost two weeks later, as we were unloading the tools and wheelbarrows , we noticed our circular excavation was filled to the brim with rainwater. Not unexpected, but the water itself looked very strange indeed – it was jet black in color! 

We came closer, and the black water MOVED. Now we were really interested and dropped to our knees for a better look. Up close, we could see tens of thousands of tiny moving dots, only about an eighth of an inch long, wriggling furiously away from us. I rinsed out my coffee cup and scooped a few dozen up to take a better look. 

There were two shapes visible – the first, a black tear drop, round in front, trailing off to a tiny tail. The vast majority of the wrigglers were this shape. The others, far fewer, were tiny transparent footballs, fatter in the middle, with two black dots – eyes! They were tadpoles and fish fry! We couldn’t figure out how they got there in their thousands – still don’t know to this day. But we did our best to save them.  

We started late that day, after visiting three of our projects in the local area and dumping a bucket of wriggling tadpoles and tiny fry in each. The tadpoles turned out to be spring peepers which found their way out of the ponds and into the trees that season. We still have populations of the fish, a small native minnow, in many of my ponds, where they are excellent insect control. 

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME! Celebrate Save The Frogs Day on April 25th!


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.

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.