What You Need To Know About Water Features

by Ben Bowen

Water Features Basics

modern japanese water feature

Water features started it all for Ross NW Watergardens. Since 1999 a high percentage of our projects have involved water features. They are one of the most desired landscape elements and, for us, the most gratifying to build.

Many companies build water features and some of them do quality work. How do you pick the right landscape contractor? Knowing a little bit about water features should help!


Water Feature and Pond Pumps

You shouldn't be able to see your water feature pump- but that doesn't mean any old pump will do. There are two types of pumps that are commonly used in ponds and basins.

The most common is a submersible pump. These pumps sit under the water. The initial cost of a submersible pump is relatively low. Despite this, many contractors will try to save a little money (for themselves) by installing the wrong kind. Pond pumps should always be continuous duty not a sump or garbage pump. A continuous duty pump is designed to run for long stretches of time, they never need to be turned off. A sump pump will not very long running in your pond- though it will probably work long enough to get your landscaper out of his warranty.

The second pump type to consider is an out of pond centrifugal pump. These are similar to pool or hot tub pumps. Centrifugal pumps are very efficient, last a long time, and can move a ton of water. For larger pumps (or large budgets) these are the way to go.


Water Feature Filtration

Some ponds need filtration, others do not. If your pond will be large, have fish, or be maintained without chemicals it needs proper filtration. What is proper filtration?

At a minimum, your water feature should have a skimmer (which has pads/brushes that filter) and a discharge filter. A bottom filter is the next step up and should always be included if you will have fish. Planting pockets in the stream and pond also aid filtration.

All of these offer bio-filtration. That means they provide a home for good bacteria, which filters the water as it passes by. With proper filtration a water feature will stay clear and healthy. What kind of filtration will your contractor install?



A fall we built. Go check it out at Rood Bridge Park.

Some water features have just one dramatic fall. Others may meander and drop for 20 feet before reaching the pond. Either way, the falls are key to the beauty of your water feature.

Some pond equipment suppliers have promoted a very simple and fast way of building water features. This method calls for using flat pieces of slate to make the falls. This results in a wide, flat, "perfect" fall. Unfortunately, this is extremely unnatural.

The correct way to build a fall is with small boulders- the same stones the rest of the feature is built with. This is the only way to create a gorgeous and natural cascade. Look at examples of a landscaper's work- what kind of stone do they use?


Portland Water Feature Landscaper- Ross NW Watergardens

There are a lot of landscapers in Portland who build water features. Ross NW Watergardens specializes in water features. We will explain and show how we will build your water feature so that you can be sure to have a beautiful water feature that will age gracefully.