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The Hills Are Alive!

This is an article that was written by a local paper about my water garden written in 2002, so I thought I would share it with you.


"Backyard Ponds & Waterfalls Are Music To Process Manager's Ears"

Todd, process manager for a local injection molder, is not one to make a mountain out of a molehill, but he's not one to take the easy way out either.  When his wife, asked for a small pond and patio in the backyard of the family's home in Middleville, she had no idea that she was laying the groundwork for an elaborate landscaping project.  Today, he maintains two large homemade ponds that flow into each other via a series of waterfalls and a 35-foot creek which he recently widened from six inches to two feet.

The ponds, which feature assorted vegetation including water lilies, iris, miniature lily pads, have been stocked in recent years with several Japanese Koi and dozens of large goldfish. "It's been kind of a love/hate relationship," Todd admits. "When the mosquitoes aren't driving you crazy, it's just a nice, calm place to spend your evening, just sitting there and listening to the water.  "It's very relaxing and we get a lot of enjoyment out of it. But, boy, it's a lot of work, too. I suppose it's like any other hobby. You can take it as far or as little as you want to go."

He started the pond four summers ago. "When we first built this house seven years ago, the area was nothing but a big, brush-filled mess," he says. "We spent the first few years just cleaning everything out. "All my wife wanted was a small, preformed pond, but the land happens to have a nice slope and, being the Tim Allen type of person that I am, it turned into something more."  He started digging the hole for the ponds with the help of his sons, Jeremy and Joshua, now 22 and 21, respectively. (He also has two younger daughters, Jessica, 19, and Tabetha, 15).

At the time he didn't realize that he was digging a proverbial hole from which there would be no escape. In fact, the whole experience has been quite an education.  "Probably the biggest thing I learned is not to start so big — only because there's such a learning process in the beginning," he says.  "There's a whole lot more involved to it than just digging a hole the size of the pond you want."  His patience has been tried more than once. "We went through a ton of plants that first year because we didn't know how to take care of them," he says. "Water lilies can cost $50 apiece, so when you lose them, you lose a chunk of change each time."

Last summer, he lost all of his fish. "We were losing two a day," he says. "I never got an answer out of the water tests that I did, but I started fresh this spring with 50 goldfish."  Besides widening the creek this spring, he went to a 4,800-gallon per hour pump (from 1,600) to create a more dramatic waterfall. He also added a second waterfall tier, plus a planter box at the end. He also enlarged the backyard patio area.  Not surprisingly, the residence is on a tour of local homes with water gardens every summer. Early June is the time when the iris start blooming and the water lilies break the surface. "The unique thing about water lilies is they only last one day, although occasionally I'll have one open a second day," he says.  He also usually puts in a half dozen hyacinths each spring. "They're so prolific that usually by the middle of July I'm pulling them out by the wheelbarrow full," he says.


There is always work to be done, whether it's feeding the fish twice a day or cleaning out the leaf buildup and sludge from the ponds. Even so, Strait says that he's probably not finished with the landscaping quite yet.  "I plan to add one more pond," he says. "My wife only says that I should be ready for the extra work."  At least now he'll know what he's getting himself into.

Up ] Spring Pond Opening Tips ] Pond Summer 2000 ] Pond Winter 2000 ] Pond Spring 2001 ] Pond Summer 2001 ] Pond Fall 2001 ] Pond Winter 2001 ] Pond Spring 2002 ] Pond Summer 2002 ] Pond Fall 2002 ] Pond Spring 2003 ] Pond Summer 2003 ] Pond Fall 2003 ] Pond Spring 2006 ] Pond Summer 2006 ] Water Wheel Project ] [ The Hills Are Alive ] DIY Waterfall ] Bog Gardens ]


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