Waterfall/Pond/Fountain Contractor?

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    I’ve become obsessed with installing a small pond for a water garden and a (perhaps connected?) waterfall or disappearing fountain in my Bed-Stuy backyard. Want to have some fish, maybe, and some aquatic plants. The waterfall/disappearing fountain is to create the sound of flowing water. Anyone done this? Tips? Can you recommend someone to do the installation who knows their stuff? Many thanks!

    11 Replies

    1. While a waterfall/pond can look great, I have to admit that I find it a bit annoying. A neighbor a few doors from me had one built several years ago. I swear, every time I go out to the backyard and hear that water running, I think that I must have a leak someplace. I disassembled a serenity device inside my house that I bought about 10 years ago. Same problem. I guess I just don’t enjoy the sound of running water.

    2. Previous owners had a goldfish pond in our backyard when we moved in (many years ago). Very pretty. Lots of water lilies and other aquatic plants, simple goldfish and some very fancy koi. Maybe five feet by four (the pond, not the koi). Depth changed from 12″ to 24″, according to the needs of the plants.

      We didn’t want the koi because they had to be brought in the house during cold months (previous owners used a plastic-lined whiskey barrel in the dining room for that), but we kept the pond going for a few years until it became a problem with kids, at which point we turned the hole into a sandbox.

      The pond took some upkeep–one or two days a year–to muck out the filters, etc, but it was pretty simple to manage. If you can use a shovel and plug in a pump you can do the entire installation yourself. Everything we ever needed or needed to know was in one catalog or another. With the right combination of fish and plants the ecosystem took care of itself. Never had a mosquito problem. (Later, when the pond was gone, we had a few wet summers in a row and mosquitoes have been a nuisance ever since.) We had feral cats back then (no raccoons), but I don’t think they ever got a fish.

      I used to like it in the winter, too, watching blurs of goldfish moving so slowly it seemed they must be moving through the ice instead of under it.

      Enjoy!

    3. If there’s potential for some varmints (cats, raccoons?) to get the fish, simply put something in the bottom that they can hide in/under, like a clay sewer pipe.

      I meant “filter” ditto. Apologies to the fish.

      Once tou learn enough about the process of building one correctly, just hire some day laborers to dig out the hole, supervise them on how to lay the underlayment and liner and it’ll be fine.

      There are many videos out there that go through the process as well.

      Get yourself a shipment of rocks for the landscaping around the pond and waterfall.

      As far as a waterfall, I built mine out here at the bottom of a small slope so I did it naturally just using pieces of liner for the waterfall and lots of stone to landscape around it. You ca also build one at the edge of the pond more vertically using stone as well.

      The look of your stone and landscaping around the edge of the pond will be the key to how nice the whole thing looks. Stone can be ordered by the pallet load, dropped at your curb and you can bring it back.

    4. Arkady – doesn’t one want moss & greenery. Sounds nice.

      My dad was all pissed last year when a heron turned up early in the morning and helped himself to the buffet of young koi in dad’s pond.

    5. HD & Lowe’s here don’t have them. There are some places in Staten Isl & Long Isl. that do but I’d go w/ a catalogue house. AAA Pond Supply is good (used to be AquaMart.)
      Mosquitos are not a problem w/moving water, just standing pools.
      It can be difficult to make a waterfall leak-proof: there are cast waterways that aren’t bad – just be sure to get stone, not plastic, because plastic won’t let moss & greenery grow on it.

    6. HD & Lowe’s here don’t have them. There are some places in Staten Isl & Long Isl. that do but I’d go w/ a catalogue house. AAA Pond Supply is good (used to be AquaMart.)
      Mosquitos are not a problem w/moving water, just standing pools.
      It can be difficult to make a waterfall leak-proof: there are cast waterways that aren’t bad – just be sure to get stone, not plastic, because plastic won’t let moss & greenery grow on it.

    7. “you can just install a circulator pump with a small filet ”

      I don’t think the pet fish are going to be very happy about that.

    8. I.ve done a few of these actually. First, get yourself a good book on the subject. Also, get the Drs. Foster & Smith catalog for all the options to see for pumps, filters, etc.

      Digging out the hole will be the biggest issue! Make it at least 18″ deep and preferably 24″ and then, by just running your pump all winter, it won’t freeze solid and your fish will live through the winter. Buy the heaviest liner you can afford, heavier lasts years longer than thin. Make sure you follow directions that you read about to line the bottom and side properly before installing the liner. If you have trees nearby and encounter roots when you are digging this becomes even more important.

      As far as an ecosystem and the clarity of the water, this is a wide range. You can spend thoudsands of dollars to install a system that stays crystal clear or you can just install a circulator pump with a small filet all for less than $100 for a pond about the size of a tub and throw in some comet fish and they’ll be perfectly happy.

      Right now I’m up in my MA property and I’ve had a pond here for 16 years and all I use is a 1 hp pump for a waterfall and no filters. The fish last for years and there are frogs every year. It normaly becomes filled with leaves and I scoop them out but I don’t obsess over it and everything is fine.

      Do it, you’ll love it.

      Not sure where to get liner locally in Brooklyn but HD and Lowe’s do carry them but not sure that the city ones do.

    9. I love the idea of a waterfall in the yard. However, one thing to consider is the mosquitos that will hang around your yard making it uncomfortable for you to sit in your yard and enjoy the falls.

      Otherwise I love the sound of cascading water.

    10. It is a big commitment. It takes alot of work to get that water “vodka clear” as they say. You’re building an ecosystem. Also remember that fish and fresh water are a raccoon magnet. Seriously.

    11. i have done all the options myself. Its not difficult just sweat equity. The key is the pumps and filters for all the options. It is also the depth so your fish can over winter, I have done these ponds and fountains in NYC and upstate in zone 4 with success. The trick part is the waterfall getting the right noise and water path so you do not loose water, thru leaks and evaporation. You do need to do maintenance its work. Its a commitment. The pondless waterfeatures are great if you do not want to make a high maintenance commitment.
      But they are all great ,work but great.