Ponds 101

/Ponds 101
Ponds 101 2017-11-05T12:58:43+00:00

Here are some of the most basic questions (FAQs) and answers about ponds to help equip you for the Water Gardening Lifestyle:

What are the Components of an Ecosystem Pond ? 2017-02-16T13:12:40+00:00

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.

An Ecosystem pond is a pond with these components that works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter, and safety to the wildlife around it. It also provides you with an all-natural, low-maintenance piece of paradise.

Premier Ponds is a Certified Aquascape Contractor that specializes in low-maintenance water features. We have built over 450 ponds and have serviced & repaired over 1000. As you may imagine not all backyard ponds are constructed in the same way. However we have seen over and over again that the most successful ponds (low maintenance, beautiful in appearance, and healthy & thriving ecosystems) all share these same five important features:

  1. Biological Filter (Bio-falls) – This type of filter is necessary to help keep the pond water clean.  It colonizes bacteria which breaks down pond waste products. These broken down wastes are then returned back into the pond where they can benefit the ecosystem.
  2. Mechanical Filter (skimmer) – This unit removes and collects debris from the pond before it can sink to the bottom or get passed into the Biological filter.
  3. Aquatic Plants – These are extremely important for a well balanced ecosystem. They help remove nutrients from the pond that would otherwise be food for algae. They provide food, shade, and protection for pond critters and they look beautiful and natural too.
  4. Rocks and Gravel – Rocks and gravel provide a much needed surface area for bacteria to grow which aids in the filtering of the water. They also protect the pond liner from the suns harmful rays.
  5. Koi Fish – Fish help to control algae growth (by eating it).  They add color, beauty and enjoyment for the family.

Check out this time lapse video of a Frederick, Maryland pond installation project. This pond is built for success!

What are the Components of a Pondless Water Feature? 2016-12-22T15:04:54+00:00

How Much Does the Average Pond Cost? 2016-12-22T15:05:00+00:00

Maryland Koi Pond Pricing

The word “Average” is always tricky when talking about a product or service as unique as pond building. This is a great place to start before speaking with a pond professional directly!

Well certainly you have heard the age old saying “You get what you pay for” right?  Well when it comes to a koi pond the saying generally holds true.  If you buy a cheap product or service, 9 times out of 10 you will be disappointed as it will not live up to your expectations. When shopping for a pond contractor service in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas do your homework first.  Just because a contractor throws out a low number doesn’t necessarily mean they will deliver a quality product.  Make sure the pond contractor you choose has plenty of experience (been around a while), does quality work (check their website for photos of their work), and continually educates themselves with the latest and greatest water feature technologies (call them to see if they know what they are talking about).

Cost of Basic Koi Ponds

Let’s start off with a basic pond size. A basic pond size would be somewhere around 10’ x 15’ length and width, and about 24 inches deep (max depth).   If it’s constructed with the necessary components (mechanical & biological filters), rocks, aquatic plants and fish the cost is probably in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 thousand dollars.  Naturally a few added pond features will increase the cost of the pond.  For example the same basic pond that was 8 to 10 thousand dollars can jump to 12 to15 thousand dollars with the addition of fish caves, an algae fighting system, and maybe a stream.  Pond Contractor Premier Ponds has constructed over 500 ponds and water features in the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area.  Their average pond project cost is right around 20 thousand dollars.  Every pond project is different.  Sometimes the pond project will include things such as flagstone patios, retaining walls, and garden paths.  Let’s face it you probably could get a pond for under 8000 dollars but it may be much smaller than 10’ x 15’ and it may also be lacking some of the important components for a successful pond.

Cost of Advanced Ponds

Not all ponds are created equal!  Ponds can be as big and creative as a budget allows! Just like a car has options, so do ponds.  And the more options you get will elevate the cost of the pond.  The pond size can also be larger than 10’ x 15’ and deeper than 24 inches too. It is not uncommon to have a 20’ x 20’ pond with a stream and a lot of upgrades and spend 40 to 50 thousand dollars.  Go a little bigger, add a patio, walkway, an additional waterfall and the cost can easily be 50 to 100 thousand.  With ponds, backyards, and a creative pond contractor the sky is the limit.

So there you have it.  In the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas ponds can be anywhere from $8,000 to $100,000 and up.  Always remember most often you get what you pay for!

What is the Average Pond Size? 2017-02-16T13:13:27+00:00

How to Determine an “Average”

Talking about pond size, is like talking about everything else you buy that’s related to size. There is no mold that ponds fit into. Think of how hard it would be to search for ‘average house size’ and buy a house based off of that search. Everybody has their own style preference and taste for nature. Do you want to add an addition for an indoor pool into your house? That’s going to increase the square footage of your house by several hundred square feet!

Average Pond Size

Like houses, there is no average pond size. The surface area of a pond is different for a lot of ponds. Some people only have a small courtyard on the side of their house to have the ability to put in a water feature. And then some people have an entire front yard that is nothing but grass that they want to do something to. Pond sizes can also change from the shape of the pond. Ponds can be square, oval shaped, hour-glass shaped, or anything that you can think of!

  • The most common size of a pond is approximately 10? x 15? with a waterfall.
  • Different shapes change the overall size of the pond
  • Streams, like additions to houses, add to overall surface area of water feature
  • Normal depth of a pond is 24 inches at the deepest part

Average Pond Depth

Ponds usually have a shelf that runs along the inside of it. This shelf is generally 12? inches below the surface of the water and is made to place plants on. The shelf is usually 24? wide. This is so the plants are at a consistent height that is the most beneficial to their growth. The bottom of the pond is usually 24? deep, meaning it goes 12? inches below the shelf. For more information on pond sizes, contact us!

How Long Does it Take to Build a Backyard Pond? 2016-12-22T15:05:13+00:00

Building a Pond in Your Backyard Doesn’t Take as Long as You Might Think!

In this present day and age, the most precious thing we have is time. It’s never stopping and we can never get it back. So, who wants to spend weeks on a project that they initially thought might take a day or two? Nobody, that’s who! To properly assess the length of time it takes to build a pond, we need to break down the steps of the build. For this, we are going to assume that it is a brand new 10? x 15? pond build and not a renovation. We will include a waterfall that flows into the pond, but no streamAll times given are for normal ground conditions and a crew of 4 men.

Above is a much larger than average pond, but the beginning to end of the pond is shown.

Step 1: The dig

Digging the pond out usually takes one day. A huge factor of this time frame is the dirt that you are digging. Sometimes people find that the perfect spot for a pond is near their favorite tree that has been sitting in their yard for 40 years, but that means 40 years of roots stand in the way of a fully dug out pond. Even though you only have to go 24? deep to build the average sized pond, majority of tree roots don’t grow deeper than 24? below the surface. Shale and clay are other common issues that can cause a delay on the dig.

The biological filter and skimmer are ‘set’ during the digging process. This can be difficult and time consuming for someone building their first pond. The correct height and pitch of both filters must be attained to ensure proper function once the pond is up and running. It takes the guys here at Premier Ponds a few hours to set both of these units.

Step 2: Laying down

Once the pond is dug out, and the filter units are set, the next step is to drop the underlayment. This geotextile underlayment provides added protection for the liner from the hazards remaining on the ground. This added cushion to the liner also helps prevent hydrostatic pressure. Once the underlayment is placed, the liner must then be put into place. This will usually take about two-three hours, since attaching the liner to the skimmer and biological filter takes precision.

Step 3: Rockin’ out

Once the liner is down, the pond must be “rocked out.” This means that the liner needs to be covered with rocks. This can be very time consuming and depends on the type of look that the homeowner wants. It can usually be done in a day. This also includes building the waterfall.

Step 4: Additions and Clean up

Adding any additions to the pond can take up some time. These additions include LED lights, aquatic plants, autofill line, etc. Generally, multiple tasks occur at the same time. So while one guy is doing all the wiring for the lights, another is setting plants. Cleanup usually includes mulching around the new water feature, planting any plants, and generally tidying up things so it looks as if the pond wasn’t just built. This step takes about a day as well.

Pond or a Pondless Water Feature, Which is Best For You? 2016-12-22T15:05:18+00:00

Pondless Water Features

So here’s the big question! “What kind of water feature is right for you?”  If you want the enjoyment of water with the aquatic plants and the fish then a pond is probably the choice for you.  If you are not interested in aquatic plants and don’t want the fish then the choice should be a pondless water fountain.  The Pondless Waterfall is a Water Feature that has all the beautiful sights and sounds of water, but without the pond.  These recirculating Water Features are extremely popular especially where space is limited, or children’s safety is a concern.  If you are not sure that a pond is for you, or you do not want the maintenance of a pond, the Pondless Waterfall makes a great alternative!!!

Having a pondless waterfall will have an impact in your yard.  It will bring excitement and character. The waterfall can be the focal point for everyone who enters your garden.  The sounds of the water and the nature it draws can help drown out undesired background noises and give you the feeling that you are in a garden oasis, and not just in a backyard.

How a Pondless Water Fountain Works!

A Pondless Water Fountain works a lot like a pond does.  In most cases an area (reservoir) is excavated in the ground for the Pondless vault and water storage area.  The vault is the chamber that houses the recirculating pump.  That excavated area is lined with a protective fabric and rubber liner, and filled up with special cubes called Aqua-blocks.  These strong blocks fill the reservoir, keep the side walls from caving in, and allow for the storage of many gallons of water.

All of these parts are then disguised beautifully with rocks and gravel.  The pump in the vault recirculates the water through hidden plumbing right into a waterfall or stream which then flows back into the reservoir again.  There can be a small pool of water in the reservoir which can make a great sounds and can even function as a bathing area for birds.  If you don’t want any water visible in the basin the water can just disappear right into the rocks and gravel with no pool at all.  In areas where digging is not possible the Pondless reservoir can be constructed right on the ground (inside of a retaining wall of some kind).  Add some LED lights to your pondless feature for night viewing.  Lit up at night they are spectacular. The possibilities are endless!

5 Benefits of a Backyard Pond 2017-02-16T13:14:07+00:00

So here’s the big question! “Why should you have a koi pond in your yard?”  Why get one? Well, whether you know something about ponds or have no knowledge at all, here are some of the benefits you will have with a low-maintenance pond.

#1 – Impact in a Yard  

Having a pond in your yard will bring excitement and character. Most ponds have a waterfall or stream as the main focus.  That element becomes the focal point for everyone who enters the yard.  The pond will establish itself and change with the seasons and in time become more and more beautiful!  The sounds of the water and nature will help drown out undesired background noises and give you the sense that you are in a garden oasis, not just in any backyard. 

#2 – Create a Lifestyle

Do you spend a lot of time up-keeping your yard?  Or does your lawn just exist for you to mow it again and again?  Transforming that dull grassy plain into an exciting ecosystem will completely change you!  An ecosystem will draw you into it and invite you out for exploration.  It will create a lifestyle for you that you never knew existed.

Whether it’s tinkering around in your pond or just enjoying its scenery, it will give you a reason to be outside.  You will wake up in the morning grab your cup of coffee and go see the pond.  If you don’t drink coffee then you’ll grab a water.  Either way you will enjoy getting out into your yard.

The same goes when you return home in the evening. You will want to go enjoy the beauty as you unwind from the day.

#3 – Bring Nature into Your Yard

Having a pond brings nature up close and personal right into your yard.  Add fish and get mesmerized as they swim back and forth.  Frogs will find it.  Dragonflies will too.  Different colored birds will splash in the waters.

As every pond is different the nature is different from pond to pond too.  Add water to your yard and they will come!

#4 – Introduce a Learning Tool for You and Your Children

 If you have children it can be the greatest gift you can give them.  Adding a backyard pond has huge benefits for young kids.

Most kids today can’t find a reason to get off the couch and get outside.  A pond in the yard will entertain them for years.  It will give them a reason to be outside.  It will be endless exploration.  They will learn all about ecosystems and nature.  They will record and photograph the plants and animals they find.  They’ll talk about it, tell their friends, and even base their school projects on some of the things the pond has to offer.  Their appreciation for nature will grow and the lifestyle will be created for them as well as you.

#5 – Advanced gardening (aquatic plants) 

Take your gardening to a different level with aquatic plants.  In no time at all you will be hooked!  Hardy aquatic plants begin to grow in the spring, become magnificent in the summertime, and then fade off in the fall only to repeat the cycle year after year.  Aquatic plants are fascinating and there are so many varieties and colors to enjoy.  There are even Tropical aquatic plants which will add an entirely new dimension to your aquatic gardening.

Start your Pond Journey with Premier Ponds

The water gardening lifestyle is one for everybody to enjoy.  It starts with a pond.  If fish and plants just aren’t for you or children’s safety is a main concern then a pondless waterfall may be the perfect water feature that’s for your needs.

Furthermore if space is a factor you may also be better served by a pondless waterfall or a bubbling fountain.  Either way there are many choices out there!  Call Premier Ponds today at (301) 821-7777 to discuss yours.  Premier ponds is the pond and waterfall contractor of Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia.


Over the past 14 years we’ve not only installed over hundreds of ponds and repaired thousands more, but we have also committed ourselves to being our industry’s best educators when it comes to all things water features. Pond 101 is a place to get started with the most basic information about installing a backyard pond or water feature.