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updated: 5/21/2012 7:58 AM

Fountains and ponds continue to improve

Aquascapes Inc.

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  • Many homeowners like the sight and sound of a water fountain near their front entrance or patio.

      Many homeowners like the sight and sound of a water fountain near their front entrance or patio.

  • New pondless waterfalls create the sights and sounds of running water, without requiring the space and maintenance of a small pond.

      New pondless waterfalls create the sights and sounds of running water, without requiring the space and maintenance of a small pond.
    Photos Courtesy of Aquascapes Inc.

  • Aquascapes provides customers with information on how it creates a balanced ecosystem when installing ponds.

      Aquascapes provides customers with information on how it creates a balanced ecosystem when installing ponds.

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

The sound of running water in a yard fascinates and soothes most people. That is why fountains, ponds, waterfalls and streams are popular with so many homeowners, especially those who also enjoy having native landscaping around their homes, said Jennifer Zuri, marketing and communications manager for Aquascapes Inc. of St. Charles and Lisle.

"Water features also tend to attracts wildlife like butterflies, birds, frogs, salamanders and, if you live in a woodsy area, even deer, which gives homeowners so much more to watch and enjoy," she said.

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Those who are interested in having their yards named certified wildlife habitats, in fact, must have a water feature on their property, so homeowners who want to pursue that designation often find their way to Aquascapes, Zuri said.

"Our buyers run the gamut from baby boomers who want to enjoy nature to young families who want to educate their children about nature and entice them away from electronic games," she said. "For those with very young children, we generally recommend pondless waterfalls which give the sounds and sights of running water without the pond. An underground pipe recirculates the water and people often choose to remove old overgrown shrubs and install these near their front entryways."

A homeowner can purchase a kit to install a pondless waterfall themselves for $999. It comes with everything but the rock. To have one professionally installed generally runs around $4,000, Zuri said.

In today's economy, homeowners are most often gravitating to small, ornamental water features for their yards, like fountains made of rocks or urns, Zuri said. The natural-looking rocks (and the lightweight, synthetic rock look-alikes) are generally more popular than ceramic urns and more traditional fountains. Homeowners can purchase them in do-it-yourself kits so that they may take them home and install them themselves.

"These are for people who want the sound of running water but not the big pond," she said. "It is a great first step."

Homeowners who are especially interested in sustainability, on the other hand, generally gravitate to Aquascapes' ecosystem ponds that come installed with a balance of plants, fish, rocks and gravel, filtration and circulation materials, all of which combine to create a low maintenance, cleaner pond that demands much fewer chemicals.

The filtration components of the pond include a mechanical skimmer with a basket that removes surface debris like leaves, and biological filter mats that are included in any waterfall. Circulation is supplied by a fountain or waterfall that aerates the water for the sake of the fish and plants and prevents the growth of algae.

Aquascapes ponds range from a 4-by-6-foot pond on the small end to ponds as large as an acre. But the most popular sizes for ponds are 8-by-11 feet or 11-by-16 feet, Zuri said.

You can keep the price of a small pond low by installing it yourself. Kits start at $950 (fish, plants and rocks not included). Prices for fully-installed ponds, on the other hand, tend to start at $4,000 or $5,000 and can go as high as $100,000. But most fall into the $20,000 to $30,000 price range, Zuri said. Additional features like land bridges, huge waterfalls, streams and gazebos all increase the price.

"When we put in a stream for a customer, it starts with a biological filter and then runs down to the pond where a pump then recirculates the water up through an underground pipe to the top of the stream again," Zuri said.

Underwater LED lighting is also gaining in popularity because they are very energy-efficient and because it allows homeowners who work all day and are seldom home before sunset to enjoy their pond late into the evening, she said.

Many customers today are calling to have their earlier-installed ponds renovated or enlarged.

"The No. 1 regret pond owners tell us they have is that they didn't make their pond larger," she said. "So people have been calling us to enlarge their pond, correct issues they have had with their self-installed ponds or with those installed by other companies, and to tweak their existing pond in order to make it look different, new and fresh."

Other homeowners are opting for rainwater management systems that generally involve rain barrels or underground reservoirs that allow them to harvest stored rainwater for use on their landscaping or for recirculating pondless waterfall spillways.

For more information about Aquascapes, which has been in business for 22 years, call (847) 659-2057 or visit www.aquascapedesigns.com.

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