Pamper your property value with a pond this summer. Ben Gable, head landscaper and gardener at Gable Gardening, shares some gardening secrets.
In today’s economic slump, more and more Americans are choosing to upgrade their homes with the latest organic facelift, the garden pond. With oil prices soaring, and the housing market on the back burner, homeowners are constantly on the lookout for ways to increase their home value, and that often means taking a closer look at landscape. According to the National Association of Realtors, “nearly 20% of buyers said they consider landscaping to be a ‘very important’ factor in their decision to buy a new house.” In August 2007, The Wall Street Journal claimed “real estate agents say a nicely landscaped property can have a pronounced effect on the asking price of a home.”
That said, we got down and dirty with Ben Gable, who shares some of his experience and know-how to better help homeowners understand the beautiful possibilities of a garden pond.
First, tell us a little about yourself and how you discovered your infatuation with gardening.
Well, as a little boy I would always watch my grandmother water her garden every Sunday. I loved the way the flowers would reach to drink the water and almost smile with life. One day she had a landscaper create a pond in our backyard. I would come home from school and rush out to play in our pond, watch my dog bark at the fish as they swam by, explore all the plants and critters that enveloped the pond. I was love-struck. I started working as a gardener on weekends and on school vacations and then later during the summers while in college. Then I eventually opened my own business, Gable Gardening.
How does one go about building a garden pond?
A backyard pond can be as easy or as intricate as you want. Beginners usually find it easy to just dig a large hole in the ground, cover it in pond liner, and stick in some pond plants. Adding pumps, water features, and fish comes next and can prove a little tricky for some. I say start with something simple and then continue to research and add elements as your passion for your pond grows.
Start online or at the local library and look for books on pond building. Looking at different examples will give you an idea of the type of pond you would like and how to maintain it.
Is there any location in the garden you would recommend?
Start with shady areas. You want to avoid an area with direct sunlight and also try not to build your pond in areas where a lot of trees are present. Falling leaves and roots can wreak havoc when it comes to both digging and maintenance. Also if you decide you want a big and deep pond you have to research your garden beforehand to make sure you have access to underground pipes for water and drainage.
What tools will I need to start working on my pond?
Well, a strong husband or friend who enjoys digging, a digging spade, a wheelbarrow, a hoe, a level, a plank of wood, and a pick-axe. If you have a beautiful lawn I recommend buying a few planks of wood and creating a path for your wheelbarrow so you don’t destroy your lawn.
How do I line my pond?
The easiest type would be pre-formed plastic liner. All you need to do once you are done digging is to put in the liner, fill the pond with water, and voila! The issue is that you have to buy the shape beforehand as it’s ready-made and this might affect the shape you have already decided your pond should be. This is still the easiest liner and makes maintenance a piece of cake. Another great liner is concrete. Once set, concrete is fabulous, it protects from penetration by bird beaks and claws. There are a few other options; it’s best to visit a garden store and consult with a professional depending on the size and depth of your pond.
Can you give us some basic tips when it comes to adding fish?
Each square foot of pond surface area can support one inch of fish. If you want a fish pond you have to make sure your pond is at least 500mm deep. This is perfect for small fish like goldfish, shubunkins, and orfe. Remember, the right temperature is vital. If the water is too cold or hot the fish will die so it needs to be fit for both summer and winter temperatures. If you decide to create a koi pond, most experts say the depth should be at least one meter.
Think carefully, as it’s going to be you wading in winter to maintain the liner of the pond. Remember also that different plants thrive at different depths so if you have a plant you like in particular you need to do the research.
What’s your take when it comes to waterfalls and streams?
I love them! Waterfalls are the brain of your pond. They allow you to create your pond at different levels and this adds to a more rocklike natural effect than a flat pond. The waterfall gives the fish oxygen and the sound turns your garden into a Zen paradise – oh, and of course, they look fantastic.
Are plants important when it comes to building a pond, assuming the pond is already part of the garden?
Absolutely. Plants add color, shape, and life to your pond. They also give a habitat to pond animals and protect baby fish. Some plants also destroy nutrients in the water that might attract algae. What’s important is maintaining the proper equilibrium regarding types and sizes of your plants.
What is the biggest expense in building a pond?
Definitely the water pump and filtration system. You can of course make your own filter, but it’s recommended you don’t. The system you choose really influences the quality of water and the health of your fish and plants. A green-algae-infested pond with dead fish and smelly plants is not a pretty sight.
Ultimately, Gable stresses that ponds can be used as an almost landscape therapy, while simultaneously providing an added level of beauty to your garden. So if you’re looking for that extra something to put your garden over the edge, consider a pond and start digging.