Koi pond? Goofy idea or nice?

mtnrdredux_gwApril 7, 2013

Last year we lost a very large tree (at least 30') in a hurricane. It was in a stone "well" in an area we call the courtyard.

Replacing it with a similar size tree would be tens of thousands, plus I am not sure we could do it logistically and I am not sure I want to.

Here is the tree and it's stone well:

So I was watching Salmon Fishing in Yemen, and the male lead had a round, stone koi pond in his backyard. And I thought, hey ... that's what we could do. Dig up the stump and go down a few feet (at least 4 since it freezes here), put in the drains, pumps, lights, etc, some lily pads and some koi.

I like this idea because it preserves most or all of the stone work, it makes a nice view from the breakfast room windows and the living room, and it might get us to use this area more. We have an extra table out there but this space is sort of orphaned. Our house is long and it is almost surrounded by stone patios. Most of the time we would be on the side facing our (large, natural) pond, or else in an area where there is a vine covered pergola. But I think having koi in this area would draw us to it, maybe for lunch or cocktails or??? Plus you can see it from our side entrance.

I would post this on GW koi ponds but the first post there is mid 2012 and the second was 2008!


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Perfect idea. I don't know the logistics of a Koi pond, but I'm sure there are pond experts in your area that could help you out there. From the little I do know, they could almost become like pets. They feed right out of your hand.

But watch out for the racoons!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:51PM
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I emailed a few Koi pond people locally, and actually just this second one got back to me. I told him we have a ~17 foot diameter circle, and we wanted to do and he gave me rough quote already (on a sunday night at 9pm!)

I am glad you like the idea. I remember a client I used to visit in LA, and the office complex had a huge plaza with two huge pools of koi. I would always take the time to stop and sit down on the edge and look at them ... they did swim up to you!

We have our entire property fenced and dont see too many raccoons, but heron are a problem! I love them, but oh boy. Last year my DH stocked our existing, natural pond, which is about 2 acres, with 200 trout. They would eat out of our hand. We went on vacation, three weeks later, ALL of them had vanished. In all likelihood it was the Great Blue Heron. (it was not lack of food, or temp of the water, etc.... and no bodies). My DH thought they were just hiding but he went out on the pond with his fish camera .... no trout.

So, our big issue will be protecting the koi from heron (there are a few ideas on that), esp since they cost about fro 100- 1000+ for each koi!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:05PM
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I think it's a great idea. I'd love to have one myself.

Funny, but we caught a show last week on Animal Planet called "Tanked" about some guys with a high-end aquarium building business. They built this fabulous koi pond for a guy who plays for the NY Jets. See link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bart Scott's koi pond

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

It's a little small for koi, especially if you plan on getting more expensive animals. A guy selling ponds will probably assure you it's fine though, and it's true that it probably won't be awful. But will it be optimal?

The koivet.com website used to have a really good forum including pond building and whatnot. The commercial side of it stayed out of the forums. I don't know if it's still any good--misplaced my membership info years ago and don't need to sign up again--but you should check it out or find a similar web site before designing a pond.

Think kitchen remodel. You gotta know your stuff before signing anything.

(And I'm all for it. Love the fishies!)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:26PM
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In re size ...
I read somewhere that a 10' diameter circle with 4' deep water was 3300 gallons.

Our circles is 70% larger, at 17' diameter, so I am thinking I can extrapolate that to 5610 gallons.

I understand the minimum is 250 gallons per fish, preferred is 500 gallons per fish.

So I am thinking 10 of them? Maybe more if we go five feet deep ... But I think 10 is plenty!

Thanks for the site! ... I will go look. Do you have koi?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:32PM
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When I read your post, I was reminded of our attempt at having koi at a previous home. We stocked our pond with smallish koi, not thinking at all about predators... We completely forgot about the 2 mallards that had decided to use it as a stopping off point for several weeks. Like your trout and the herons, our koi completely vanished. I couldn't believe how quickly! So you may want to see if using larger size koi would prevent that, or will all of them be gobbled up unless the pond is covered somehow?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:41PM
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The single best place for koi info. of any kind pond building care ect.is (koi plus phen plus .com )I,ll get into trouble if I post it here;) koi doc went out awile ago. If your thinking about koi thats where you need to go .Its a very active sight and there are lots of really helpful people there.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:45PM
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I think the gobble risk is the biggest problem, I agree.

I have read that heron statues can scare off herons, I have also read that fishing line strung from the edges can dissuade them. It is also true that they can't eat the big guys, but sometimes they try to and that is just as bad ...
It's one of the things we will need advice on.

I told DH that we should put a big urn/fountain type thing in the middle so that if we can't keep fish there at least there is something to look at!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:46PM
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2 of my neighbors have koi ponds and the Blue Herons took several large fish from the one neighbor's pond. He now has a very life-like fake Blue Heron that he moves around the pond a few time a week and it keeps the real Blue Heron away.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:49PM
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Thanks, Rob, it's hard to believe that works, isn't it?
Too bad in a way, I love the see the Blue Heron. You can't have everything!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I have a 5000 gallon koi pond that is protected by several fishing lines. But there are other just as easy ways to protect the fish as well. You can also buy the fish really small , they grow quickly.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Mtn, do you not have enough infrastructure to take care of, lol??

Have you considered a tiny veg plot for your kids--- maybe just two or three varieties? Or a lovely specialized flower bed for them, each child selecting two or three varieties ?

We had a stocked pond of bass, bream and catfish. Now we have snapping turtles and a blue heron :-)

When your children are a bit older they will escape to all those less used areas of your property with no additional lure than privacy !

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:55PM
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Check! This was one of the things the PO's did a nice job on. Raised beds, good irrigation, just the right size. Not crazy that they aren't stone but once things are growing you can't see it. We just ordered more seeds to start indoors!

Our pond has bass, catfish, sunfish and algae-eating carp. They do not need to be stocked, I guess this habitat is ok for them. But DH likes the trout. We even ate few before the Blue Heron feasted ...

I know I know I'm a little crazy. Always a project up my sleeve. Wouldn't a 17' wide bed of flowers be boring?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Not to me it wouldn't, but I love flowers. Maybe you could do a butterfly garden or a hummingbird garden? Hummingbirds are fun to watch and the flowers that attract them come in many colors and heights.

I love the vegetable garden it is beautiful,

Can see you must have multiple projects going on at once with seemingly limitless ability to research best practices, material and so on. I think you need a wider scope.... Like world peace :-) and only half kidding!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:50AM
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You are indeed wise, KSWL. Frankly I should not have retired. I worked in such a "go, go, go" culture, it is hard to turn off. When I did retire, a colleague said to me "I don't see you as the 'enjoy life' type". Isn't that kind of funny? But he is so right.

At first I over-applied myself to all school and school related volunteering, but that wanes as the kids get older and are about to leave elementary school.

Maybe I need counselling, not koi! : )

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 7:44AM
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How about an aquatic garden? If you have good sun there, you can stock it with irises, water lillies, etc. Better than koi, IMO, because you can enjoy the garden without getting right up to the perimeter, and no worries about predators.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:32AM
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I would want a tree back, but maybe you're enjoying all the extra light and open space by now. Perhaps a smaller ornamental? First thing that came to mind with the fish pond was predators. The neighborhood cats will be very happy to hear of your plans!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My friend has a koi pond in his backyard and it was voted the nicest backyard in his town by his local paper.

I think he's put electric wire around it to keep the coons at bay, but now he also has dogs which helps. His has a waterfall and of course a buddah statue and he uses it for meditation. I have meditated there too and it is a fabulous experience. Not only does the babbling water sound soothing and help drown out the other noises, but it also releases negative ions into the air which are relaxing. The fish seem to winter over pretty well, but it does require maintenance....feeding and cleaning and the annual spring set up and the annual fall shut down. He did lose one esp large nice koi because during the start up, the guy didn't do the water temp properly and the fish was shocked as I recall....

The pond area you are considering seems more enclosed so I'd be surprised if the heron are a problem....we have them at our pond, but it's a large open space.

But then again, what do I know.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:40AM
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To me, ponds look best when they are in a organic shape, incorporate a waterfall feature, and are landscaped with a wide berth of plants around the edge. Ponds are also high maintenance to keep them looking pristine--which is another reason why you want it to look naturalistic, so that a little algae and leaf litter is acceptable. Predication is a big concern, as was mentioned. A small water feature that would attract birds might be the best of both worlds. You could plant around that water feature with plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies. The sound of water movement would be soothing and refreshing.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:02AM
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If it is right out your window I would do a fountain. unless you have some kind of waterfall somewhere else. I love going to my dads house and hearing the water through the windows. So peaceful! Theirs happens to be attached to a koi pond, which is lovely, but we don't sit out there that much either and it is the water sounds that I enjoy.

Their yard is not fenced all around so they have to watch for bear too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:41AM
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We had a small pond at our last home. I was on the phone one day when my 3yo started saying "look at the bird." It was a heron standing over my pond! We had Shubunkin, smaller than Koi. Luckily, I ran him off before he ate anyone!

Those fish multiplied several times, so maybe you should buy less than full capacity.

I bought three large snails to help eat slime. The raccoons ate my snails. :( The adults also multiplied frequently.

The largest Shubunkin here taken out of the pond by a raccoon and left beside it or under a rock. :( The rest were given to a friend that had a larger, deeper rectangle pond when we replaced pond with fountain. Much easier to take care of and I didn't have to worry about raccoons or herons anymore.

You'll have to get power to the pond, and a place for the filter, pump etc to go (unless it's underwater kind - which ours was and it was a PITA to keep unclogged). Most larger ponds have them outside the water - easier to maintain, change filter, etc.

Like Theresa said, ponds are high maintenance. While I like natural shaped ones, yours would make a lovely water feature. I wouldn't add a waterfall, since it would look too unnatural, but you'll need some source to keep the water moving.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:51AM
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I think it's a lovely idea, but one best considered and then discarded. Please indulge me while I sound like Miss Minnie Shake-a-finger...

The fish become your responsibility when you put them in an environment where they depend on you. A fish may not seem like a puppy or a kitten, but you wouldn't put those in the certain path of predators, and I'd think long and hard before I thought of a fish any differently. There is credible research showing clearly that fish feel fear and pain, and the process of their predation is an ugly image. Not just a simple "they were there and then they weren't."

Water, yes. Fountain and lilies, certainly. Critters in the path of likely harm, no. Not a message you want to send your children, I imagine.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:04AM
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The raccoons won out here. They would bite off the koi heads and toss the carcasses around. We gave up.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:23AM
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I realize you have a huge pond on your property, but wouldn't a 4-5' deep, little pond right next to the house be a safety issue? The difference being, children can easily wander to that little pond quickly. It wouldn't necessarily be off limits since it's so close to the driveway/home. Also, the water doesn't get deeper gradually like your large pond. In the small one, ff they fall in, they're in all the way.

Personally, I would do a dwarf conifer & perennial garden there. Something with a a little (contrasting) height, but nothing that gets large enough to potentially fall on your house again. That tree could have easily fallen the other way. Anyway, I think the softness of the plants is nice with all that hardscape. A shallower water fountain would be pretty too.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:38AM
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Koi can become a very consuming and relaxing hobbie. Thats probly the best way to view them not as just a design feature because a simple water feature suits that purpose much better.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Mtn, first, you might read a little on the 'Ponds and Aquatic Plants' forum over on the Garden side of GW. It is much more active. I haven't been over there in a while because it's often a lot of people wondering what to do about algae problems, etc, but it will give you an idea of what to expect.

Second, we have had a small pond for about 6 years. The idea started with a small water feature. You know, a little urn or something with some trickling or bubbling water outside our bedroom window. It grew to a small waterfall with a 1300-gal pond. Not huge by any stretch, but manageable. It is by no means maintenance-free. We live in the country and my first fear was the herons I see in the nearby creek and neighbors large fish ponds. Not to mention the raccoons and other critters. So we opted for some fancy goldfish instead of expensive koi to start. I didn't want to cover everything with netting all year just to protect the fish. So I bought an iron 'decoy' heron and he seems to work, or else the herons are much more satisfied with fishing at the bigger sashimi bars. However, we have lost 4-5 fish over the years to the raccoons. Haven't caught them in the act but found the remains.

I will stress again, the pond is not maintenance free. There are filters to clean about once a week, skimming to be done, plants to thin out, re-filling with water when it's hot especially, and other chores. I have a yearly maintenance and clean-out done and algae-preventive to add at least weekly. Sometimes I long for just the little urn with water bubbling out that I originally wanted to begin with. But it is beautiful in the summer especially. And the grandkids love to feed the fish that will eat out of their hands.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Bronwynsmom and outsideplaying covered the major points.....the inhabitants and the maintenance. If you're going to be the one to care for it then be prepared to do your homework on the chemistry of water and the care of fish. You'll essentially have a huge outdoor aquarium, very unlike your natural fish pond.

I had a large pond in my previous house, didn't do Koi due to expense but did have 10"+ goldfish/shubunkins. You'll need to install a good filtration system (which has to be cleaned/maintained), make water changes, check water chemistry, clean debris off the bottom and leaves/trash off the top, and regularly feed the fish.
I loved my pond and miss my fish, but I don't miss the work.

Unless you're going to hire someone to tend to the koi pond, or you're really ready to take on another job, I'd suggest putting in a water feature.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:30PM
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heron have been the only real problem for our neighbors with a pond...

i love your garden set-up!!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:35PM
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we had a koi pond here in CA at a house we were renting a few years ago. we had to keep it covered year-round with wire mesh because of raccoons. a bit of a hassle to do every day.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Bald eagles sometimes hang out in a tree on our block, so predators immediately came to mind when I read your post.

You have such beautiful, mature landscaping. Perhaps it would be fun to plant an 8 to 10 foot tree and watch it grow over the years. I can't believe that the stewartias and dogwoods I planted in our yard are now about as tall as the house. Seems like it was just yesterday.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:10PM
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Whew, go outside for the day and you get really "behind" on your GW duties. : )

First, some general points. I am thinking of making the circle into a koi pond with plants and with a fountain in the middle; that way if the koi doesn't work out it is still a nice feature.

As far as maintenance, the PO, left us his gardener of 15 years. He is here 2-3 days a week most of the year, and also in winter and fall for snow removal, plant care etc etc. He knows a bit about koi since he has another client with koi. So, he will likely add maintenance of this pond to his duties. I have done some research and I know that in addition to this physical maintenance, we need to keep our pond lightly stocked and buy and install the best equipment. I'm willing to do that.

I'm cautiously optimistic about keeping predators away, but my fallback is just have it as a fountain. However, it is pretty close to the house and sheltered. See this old plan ... It is the thing that looks like a daisy on the far left.

Michou, Our entire property is fenced. We have never had raccoons in our trash and I don't know why, I am sure they can get under a fence. Maybe the coyotes?

Thank you!

Annz, We will be hiring someone for primary resp. ... but if I know DH, he will enjoy this.

Thank you so much for the suggestion! I like those urns, too...

Made, consuming and relaxing? Interesting combo. I get easily consumed. Hope I don't end up trying to breed show fish, LOL

Lolauren, My kids all swim and have since about age 3 ... we've always had pools. So im not worried.

Celtic, I dont know why we don't have raccoons here. In our old house we had the cutest family that lived in a hollow tree. They were fun to watch.

I wouldn't just buy fish and keep replacing them as they were eaten. But if they were eaten, I would not think that is a tragedy. I love the Blue Heron, and he does need to eat. Just because my fish is pricey and pretty, doesn't mean he deserves to be spared anymore than the sunfish the Heron might otherwise take from my pond. If the heron or other predators prove too wily, i will cave and resort to it being a fountain only.

I can see you shooing away a Heron! Probably bigger than you are! Good point about the fish multiplying; one of the pond service locally mentioned they "thin the herd" for you too.

I would like a gurgly soft fountain. We have two very noisy very large fountains for our pond, which we need to run to keep the pond aerated. We have a small waterfall off the pond, but only when the water level is high.

Theresa, We do have a naturally occuring waterfall, albeit seasonal and small! I actually do not care for man made water features that attempt to look natural, to me they never do. They always seem to have sprouted out of the topography, to me. Plus I am using the circle that we have.

Good to know he has had success with keeping predators away! Meditation, huh? We will rename it the Yoga Courtyard!

Andee, I will have plants, too,

Snookums, A tree will look so sad in a ~17' circle, kwim? There is not a lot of space to crane in a big one, it is so near the house.

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Mon, Apr 8, 13 at 21:53

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Fori is not pleased

Lotus garden!

If you find you don't have space for koi, butterfly koi (while perhaps sneered at by purists for being some weird hybrid) don't get as big and I think they are super purty.

A tree will also look fine there, even a little one. Put some stuff around it and be patient!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:10PM
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I think the space really needs a tree, though obviously a smaller one.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:11AM
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My landscaper suggested a koi pond for our vacation home in the mountains. As we discussed the possibility he then informed us that we'd have to net it in the winter to keep the leaves out and of course be aware it's a buffet for the herons.

Our home is surrounded by a forest so obviously we have tons of leaves. Do you have mature trees that would shed leaves into the pond? He also said that to thwart the heron you should have ledges that the fish can hide under.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:42AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If it were me, I'd skip the fish entirely and just do a water feature as you have to be standing near the pond and looking in to see the fish vs. a water feature can be enjoyed from a chair or at a distance too, and it's far less maintenance.

I love the bamboo rocking fountains and I think they're supposed to help repel the deer with the noise, but that probably only works temporarily

Here is a link that might be useful: bamboo rocking fountain

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Having seen photos of your property posted on GW, mtn, I would also venture to suggest that a koi pond is n'est pas tout a fait.

Edited because I still cannot type on an ipad

This post was edited by kswl on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 10:44

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:30AM
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Be sure to show a picture when you are done installing. I would love to see it!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:31PM
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If you decide to do a koi pond, make sure you do a bottom drain.
Our set up in a bottom drain into a gravity fed filter system. ( it
works like a swimming poll -- the water flows through the bottom
drain, then through the bottom drain, through the filter tubs which
traps all the waste, then returns to the pond)
The second year we added a biological pond 18 feet away, after the
water exits the filter tubs it travels underground, and enters the
bio pond, which is filled with rocks and plants...the water passes through
the bio pond getting scrubed by the vegetation, then exits the bio pond
and returns to the main pond via underground.
If any pond builder you get quotes tells you that you do not need the
bottom drain, don't believe him...
Our pond is 16 years old and has never been emptied for yearly cleanings
the bottom drain filter system keeps the water clear and sharp.
The filters get cleaned once a week.
Without the bottom drain, the pond has to be emptied yearly, vacuumed,
cleaned and refilled...our koi are 16 years old and two foot long,
they would have not survive the stress of yearly pond emptying.

Also, koi are extremely friendly and trainable...They swim on top of the
water and are highly visible from everywhere, you don't have to by the
pond to see them (we see ours from inside the house)
They love to be petted, hand fed, and tickled under the
chin. They are wonderful little water puppies.
If you need any more info, I'd be happy to answer all questions
you have on maintaining a successfull koi pond.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:39PM
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I like the idea of another tree. It's mind boggling to me how quickly time passes, so a smaller tree wouldn't look forlorn for long.

If you decide to go with koi, just know that it's a BIG pond. Your extrapolation is incorrect. The volume of a cylinder of water varies with the radius *squared*, not simply the diameter or radius. So your pond with a diameter of 17' will hold 289% more water than a pond of the same depth with a 10' diameter. Given your number of 3300 gallons for the 10 footer, yours would hold 9537 gallons!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:47PM
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In re trees:
We have pretty much every kind of tree that we could want on our property already. To pay for the cost and installation of a decent size tree seems silly for such an unremarkable result. I might do it for a really large, spectacular tree but it would be hard to shoehorn in that space without a crane and then you are talking really silly numbers. Like the 45foot tall copper beech recently mentioned in the NYTimes ($80k and up installed).

I do think that the space needs some verticality, so I am going with a fountain in the center. Something simple, like a verdigris amphora shape. I don't think modern or Asian goes.

Funny, I had my 5th grader calculate the area since it was finally a real life use of pi x rsqd. I didn't know how to turn that into gallons but came across the stats on the 10' diameter and figured, at a minimum ours would be 70% bigger. Anyway, i ended up going to the link below, fwiw.

Thank you thank you Cliff and Joann. I have seen your posts on this subject on GW and was hoping you'd respond. If we move forward I will def have more questions. I am having people out to take a look this week or next. I have specified bottom drain based on what ive read already. Quick q --- are you pro or anti rocks?

Just for the verticality? I like the "before" best, believe me. but we can't recreate it.

Theresa, Will do. Still exploratory. We actually have two places on our property where this happened. Two big holes to fill. My daughter says we should put in a plunge pool in one of them!

KSWL, Criminy, made me go an look that up! Do you mean a koi pond per se, or a fountain. If the fountain is simple, why do you think it would not go?

Maire, I don't think the leaf problem would be terrible there. But also, we already have regular maintenance for that, since this is our primary home. In a second home you probably don't constantly have someone tending the lawn and gardens.

Annie, we have no deer due to our deer fencing. Which I kind of miss but OTOH its theonly way to have gardens around here. I do like those fountains, but probably not here.

Fori, I don't know what a lotus garden is ... will google. Yes the butterfly koi are lovely. But I think bigger is better if they are to fend off heron!

thanks, all!

Here is a link that might be useful: This link says 6800 gall?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:48PM
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If you have a BD you can't have rocks, we have a shallow rock beach
section that is Approx 4'x5' ...it's shallow, sloped and rocked. We just hose it
every couple of weeks to keep it clean. The rest of the pond bottom is bare
and dark.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:56PM
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I've been thinking about your koi pond idea and will admit that I am posting for the second time to urge you to reconsider a tree. In your lushy planted setting I worry that the pond will feel like a blank area -- a lone flat place in the center of a larger flat place (the courtyard area). I do think it's calling out for another tree. To my eye, it needs height.

I bet you're imagining any replacement tree to need to measure up to the toppled giant it's replacing, but that's not necessary; nor does it need to be an evergreen. I'd look for a spreading (as opposed to starkly upright) deciduous tree with interesting bark and branching pattern for winter, and lush foliage for summer. Maybe flowers as an added bonus. Once you envision the courtyard area as a blank canvas and consider more modestly sized candidates, the tree option may seem more doable. Something with a mature height of 25 to 30 feet or so would be great in that space.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:53PM
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I don't know the number of gallons per cubic foot (though google could give that info), but used your number of 3300 gallons for 10' diameter x 4' deep pond. Your pool calculator says it's 2300 gallons for that size pool. Increasing the latter number by 289% gives 6647 gallons. Still not small! :)

(This is what you get for letting a math geek on a decorating forum!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:57PM
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It's the koi pond per se, mtn.

Your setting is so very New England countryside---beautifully landscaped but not too, too. A koi pond today is so not indigenous to your area. Even though they seem to have wide geographic appeal nowadays, it seems to me there is a certain aspect of "Californication" when a lovely traditional landscape setting tries to incorporate that sort of thing.

For the record, I have NOTHING against koi. The incongruity of the fish on a Connecticut semi-country property seems akin to Mtn planting Mexican heather in a herbaceous border.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:26PM
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We have a koi pond by our front patio and it's quite relaxing to watch the koi. We keep ours fairly lightly loaded and use a pretty simple filter system. - an in ground box with gravel for a biological filter. Water feeds from the bottom drain of the pond into the top of the filter and is pulled out from the bottom of the filter by a pump and fed through UV filter to kill floating algae back into the pond over simple falls to help with aeration.

The koi keep the wall algae in control.

The main maintenance is back-flushing the filter periodically.

I bought most of our koi at local breeders at the very small size - a few inches long. They cost less than $10 each, some much less. The breeder tries to cull the fish to keep the best ones to develop into large fish and sells the culls small. As long as you aren't going for show quality fish, one can get very nice pond koi inexpensively this way.

We have some very nice metallic ones and some nice patterned ones. A couple of the patterned ones grew into rather uninteresting patterns as they got large, but several others developed quite nicely.

We also have some nice ones that were born in the pond. We sometimes have to cull some of the young out to avoid over populating the pond, but the koi eat most of the eggs when they spawn so we don't need to take out that many.

Straight pond sides (which may require a concrete pond rather than a liner one and depth 3' or greater are suppose to reduce predators. Herons and raccoons like to wade in and fish and want a sloped bank for that.

We have racoons in our area and they have never bothered our pond even though it is only 18" deep (no danger of freezing here). 3 feet is a better environment for the koi, but the pond was already in existence when we bought the house. We just got the filter restored and going again and cleaned it out. We do have a net across the gap between the patio roof and the Japanese maple to keep out the herons. We went for years without one and thought that the tree cover and patio roof didn't allow enough wing span room to admit a heron but then one spring a very hungry heron managed it and we had to put the net up.

Other things to help against predators are to build some hiding areas in - like a pipe where they can hide. Plants in the water help provide hiding areas too. We can't do much for that in our pond because it's in a very shady area, but your pond looks like it would get plenty of sun for that.

If you don't get koi and just do a water feature, you might put some mosquito fish in to keep it from being a mosquito breeding ground.

We have windows almost floor to ceiling in the entry hall looking out on the pond and the koi will come to the window to beg when they are hungry (which is most of the time) and they all go to the feeding area when they hear the door open. I think they would come to the door and knock if they could get out of the pond.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:31PM
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By the way, it is about 7.5 gallons per cubic foot.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Do the water feature and for verticality add a kinetic wind sculpture....ever changing, fascinating and meditative...and they come in all shapes, sizes, styles...

We have the windcups going around on our flying piggy weathervane I love to watch...and a wind spinner on our porch with a sun on it that is also fascinating to watch. (Ours isn't blue though)

Wind spinner:

Here is a link that might be useful: kinetic wind sculpture

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:56AM
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We have a garden pond that has koi and other types of fish along with some plants. We've had it for app. 15 years. I can't tell you how much I enjoy it. Yes it can be time consuming but if you enjoy gardening you will enjoy the maintenance that comes with it.

A few years back we lost some large koi, we think from a heron. It was after we took out some large trees and opened up the backyard more. It's important to have some hiding places for the fish, such as caves formed by rock or plants on the surface for them to hide in. That's why our pond isn't considered a "koi" pond but a garden pond. I also enjoy the lillies in the pond. You have to be more selective with the plants as koi may eat them. They don't seem to bother my lillies.

You also need 3-4 ft depth for the koi to swim. We don't have a bottom drain. If we were to do over may be a good idea, but hasn't been a problem for us.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:32PM
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I think it would make a great pond, but then I love water gardens. However, Allison is right about the wiring, plumbing, and filters. We have a biological filter which is big, but it is so much less maintenance than a pump filter.

My suggestion is that you find a pond tour to visit. Should be a month or so after things green up in your area. You can talk to pond owners about how to get set up and believe me, no one likes to show his pumps, ponds, and systems like an owner on a pond tour.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 1:59PM
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Marti8a, Thanks. We did a little on line research and we know what to expect in the way of eqp ... luckily there is an easy out of the way place to site it. Not sure if we have local pond tours ... garden tours, yes.

KMarcel, Glad to hear you enjoy them. We are planning on 4' minimum, and a bottom drain. I want the little fellas happy!

Those are cool. But I think we need something with visual weight to anchor a 17' wide circle ... these are so delicate.

Cloudswift, It sounds delightful to have koi. I am not sure about hiding places vs cleanliness. Some things I read advise to keep the bottom clean and empty, it seems... Good news about straight sides. Ours would be straight, since a slope would look odd within the stone circle IMHO. One thing DH said is that any heron that is on our property would have two choices. 1) An almost 2 acre pond with carp, bass, sunfish, frogs, snakes and (as of their delivery 2 hours ago) a seasonal supply of 200 trout, 100 feet from our house. Or, a 17' wide pond only ten feet from our house with a few koi in it. Hopefully they don't have a taste for koi!

KSWL, I see your point. And I do try to keep to the vernacular, although some elements ... indoor pools, flat screen TVs, etc are hard to make "ye olde"! I think the issue here is that you will only see them when you want to. They are off to the side entrance. Most of the time, it will just read as a fountain, which is why the fountain cannot be asian, modern, or italianate.

That is very sweet and kind of you to post again to press your point! From my breakfast room banquette, I would probably only see a small trunk of a new tree (given the roofline and the windows). I would like to create a reason for people to go to this overlooked patio area. I need a draw. A tree won't be.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:22PM
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There are two downsides to putting a tree near a koi pond.
- Shade from it limits the water plants that can be happy in the pond
- In the fall, some leaf removal will be needed.
Our pond gets a lot of shade so water lilies don't do well in it and I've not even tried lotus. Irises do fine. We use to have to net leaves out a few times in the fall but now that we have an anti-heron net above the pond, we just have to blow it off. Netting wasn't a terrible chore.

But there are some pluses to the trees too.
- The shade helps keep the area cooler which is nice in the summer for sitting out next to the pond.
- The dappled light through a tree like a Japanese maple is so beautiful.
- I've read that providing some shade is healthier for the koi because they can get cancer from excessive sun exposure.

There are trees that tend toward shorter height and don't need many years to look nice. For example, dogwoods or Japanese Maples. We have some dogwoods and there are plenty of branches at a height that would be seen from your ground floor windows. In the spring there are the flowers followed by nice foliage through the summer and a good fall display. There are Japanese maples that would have that type of height too. You could chose one that has red or yellow leaves in summer. I think that shorter trees by the pond or instead of the pond would look nice in the foreground against your background of very tall trees.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:00PM
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On keeping the pond clean and empty. You don't have to be a cleanliness freak about the pond. You don't want to leave a large mass of dead plant mater in the pond, e.g. a bunch of fallen leaves, because that may produce more decay products than the filter can handle and may also encourage too much algae. But a small amount such as one gets from having some plants is okay.

You can also build ledges or put some ceramic pipes in the pond to provide some hiding places. Avoid anything with a sharp edge that might scratch the koi.

I tried to take some pictures of our koi to give you an idea what inexpensive ones can grow up to. Unfortunately, the sun was not at the best angle for it and the koi are in a very active spring mood so these aren't the best pictures:

The one on the left is a gold metallic. Coming out from under the fern are two black silver metallics - the larger one was bought and the smaller one was born in our pond. There's a pine cone one in the picture, but you can't see the pinecone effect well at this distance (the scales are darker in the center making the pattern look kind of like a pinecone.

The orange and white fish was the best patterned one we got from buying $3-10 fish.

Most of these fish were bought for less than $10 at a 2-3 inch size and they are over 25 years old now.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:33PM
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thank you so much for takingg the time to write and post photos. it's beautiful. I'm so glad to hear that i needn't spend a fortune on koi!

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Please come and visit the Aquatic Plants and Ponds forum. The posters range from newbies to old hands and the range of style, size and location varies to the extreme. Almost all subjects are addressed since the ponds range from tiny porch ponds to almost lake size. Posters there would love to give you input on everything including mechanicals, to structure, to materials, to maintenance, to fish care and even controlling the critters that come to visit. Cliff and Joanne are valued members.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:28PM
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There's a pond forum? wow.

I heart GW

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:45PM
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I'm voting for the pond so we can watch the progress.

Koi would boil here in Houston right now. :( It would take a huge, deep pond to keep them from doing so.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:40PM
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beautiful fish cloudswift. Do you have any photos of your heron net? This guy (or gal) relieved us of several fish one winter.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Hi guys, just dropping in . We have a koi pond and we are loving them. Will post more when I can.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 12:20AM
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