Managing Pond Motives and Expectations


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Water in the garden. It brings us refreshing coolness on the hottest summer day. It satisfies our senses with sounds that only water can make. It delights our eyes with the unsurpassed beauty of colorful water lilies, the glimmering iridescence of fish and reflections from the sky.

Water has immense attraction to all people. For centuries Europeans have enjoyed the beauty of fountains and water gardens in their public squares and private estates. Water gardens create “natural" focal points, whether located in the home garden, shopping mall, or office building.

This book is written to fill a void in today's selection of gardening books. A few books are sprinkled here and there, covering specific areas of water gardening such as plants and Koi, but this book is written to cover all facets of decorative water gardening for homeowners as well as professional landscapers and architects.

The word “pond" conjures up different images for different people. Some envision a farm pond with a dirt bottom, fed by a creek bed and alive with ducks and frogs. Others see a mossy-covered goldfish pool in the corner of a yard. For our purposes, the word “pond" will be used in the Webster's Dictionary sense: “artificially enclosed body of water; a body of standing water smaller than a lake, often artificially formed. " In this book you'll also find some of the newer terms - aquasphere, aquatic habitat, aquatic environment, or waterscape.

The reasons for considering a water garden are varied. Commercial landscape architects use water in their designs for effect and uniqueness. Homeowners want to exchange their rakes, lawn mowers and weedeaters for a work free garden. Others desire a pond “just like grandpa always had, " yet most of us are simply looking for a garden to enjoy, a haven for relaxation.

Water does have a relaxing affect, whether it be the rhythmic waves of the ocean, a gently running brook, or the quiet beauty of a pond. While we may be unable to recreate nature with oceans and brooks, we can find pleasure in designing and building ponds.


Before deciding on a water garden, consider your motives. Ask yourself the following questions:

* Why do I want a pond?
* Am I trying to save work for myself?
* Do I want a part of nature in my own backyard?
* Am I looking for a fishpond? Or a plant pond? A fountain or waterfall?
* Do I want to cool off in the pond?
* Do I want to convert a swimming pool?

Am I looking for a focal point in the yard or simply a subtle blend of plants and fish? Many people think water gardening means digging a hole, filling it in with water, plants and fish, and that's all there is to it. While it's true that established ponds require minimal work, prospective water gardeners should realize that a certain amount of responsibility goes with a pond garden.

When you build a pond, you're putting in a natural habitat, something that is “alive" and “breathing" with plants and animals. Plants live and grow in this natural habitat; natural gas exchanges are going on; birds, bugs, fish, frogs and animals come to visit and drink from you pond. In other words, you're doing more than just cementing an area in the yard and filling it with water. You are bringing nature into your surroundings.


Prospective water gardeners should also examine their expectations. What do you want from your pond?

Before starting construction, you should decide if you want a fishpond, a fish and plant pond, a fountain, or a waterfall. For example, a Koi pond without plants will be constructed differently than ponds containing both fish and plants.

Do you want you pond to be a focal point - something that stands out dramatically with waterfalls or spraying fountains? Or is your life hectic and frenzied, so you're looking for a quiet haven for meditation and relaxation?

If you expect a low maintenance, relaxing environment, you'll find it in water gardening. You may wonder how water gardening can be effortless. The answer is nature. Properly planned water gardens achieve an ecological balance of water, plants, fish, and snails.

Water ponds answer a multitude of expectations, but the final decision on what you want from your water garden must come from you.

2005 Brett Fogle

Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several pond-related websites including and . He also publishes a free monthly newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over 9,000 pond owners. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive a complimentary ‘New Pond Owners Guide’ for joining, just visit MacArthur Water Gardens at our website.


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