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Loving Your Little Landscape

I have never been a natural gardener. For years, I struggled to keep basic houseplants alive, only to kill them at the first opportunity. It was difficult and stressful to buy a home with a yard, but I knew that I might be able to learn what I was doing wrong and correct the problem. To start off, I focused heavily on the lawn, and tried hard to keep it trimmed and well-maintained. Next, I cleaned up the flowerbeds. It was a lot of work, but I knew that it would pay off in the end. When I was done, my front yard was gorgeous, and guess what--it even stayed alive. This blog is all about loving your little landscape.

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Loving Your Little Landscape

Gone Fishing—What to Know When Adding a Koi Pond to Your Backyard

by Charlotte White

Water features add charm and vitality to a backyard landscape design. But if a simple water feature—a small pond, a waterfall, or a bubbling fountain—isn't enough for you, you can also add the energy of having living things in your water. 

However, a pond with fish in it isn't quite the same as just any other water feature. It has some special needs to understand before deciding where and how you will build your pond. Here is a handy guide to creating a successful fish pond.

Size and Location

Koi and other backyard pond fish need space to move around and grow. This may mean a larger pond than you would otherwise choose to install. You are likely to need at least 1000 gallons of water and more surface area and depth—three feet or more. 

In addition, fish need both shade and sun to thrive. Try to locate a space in your yard that is shaded for at least a significant portion of the day, such as in the shadow of the house or outbuildings or underneath a deciduous tree. If overhead shade is not possible, consider planting tall grasses, shrubs, or dwarf trees around your pond to provide shade.

If you're unsure how to integrate a large fish pond into your landscape plan, it may be best to work with an experienced landscape designer for the installation process.

Water Plants

While you may choose to decorate a non-stocked pond with many types of greenery, plants become necessary when you add fish to the mix. Water plants not only provide needed shade and hiding places for koi but also provide a valuable food source. Koi eat the plants, algae, and various insects attracted by the water plants. Water plants also provide oxygenation for the water.

Filtration and Aeration

A fish pond will require some additional moving parts to keep it functioning smoothly. One of these is filtration to keep the water clean. You can use mechanical filters, such as bottom drains, pump baskets, or skimmers, or you can use biological methods as recommended by your local fish store.

Aeration keeps the water moving so that it circulates oxygen for the fish to breathe. Simple aeration techniques include adding a waterfall or fountain to circulate the water. If you live in a warm climate or have larger fish, you may need to add additional pumps or jets.

Maintenance

Keeping your pond well maintained is a must for fish owners. The water should regularly be checked to ensure that it is within normal temperatures for koi (usually between about 40 degrees and 65 degrees). In addition, the pH levels should be regulated according to the recommendations of your fish provider.

Keep unnecessary debris out of the pond and make sure the surface stays clear. Care for the  condition of the water plants inside and around the pond to ensure they stay healthy and don't overrun the pond. 

Once you know how to properly plan and care for your koi pond, you will undoubtedly find that it's a soothing and enjoyable addition to any yard. 

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