The 365 Day Pond Tour
I’m talking about a pond tour running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year since January 1st, 2005!!! Don’t worry I did the math already. That’s 7 years, 84 full moons, 365 weeks, 3,693,600 minutes and 221,616,000 seconds.
I know that last number kind of resembles a deficit the city you reside in faces but let’s not go there; come back to me please! Pond Tours are a great way to gather ideas for your yard, meet pond enthusiasts and escape from your day-to-day routine.
We host two major pond tours a year and yet, it’s still not enough! We constantly get phone calls asking for the date of our next pond tour. To solve the problem we officially launched what will certainly go down in the books as the Worlds Longest Running “Waterscapes Pond Tour!”
Our unique pond tour is the ultimate testimony to our pond construction company. Visit water features we have installed at high profile locations anytime you want. Day or night, rain or shine, hot or cold these ponds will be standing tall waiting for you.
If you’re curious to see what a disappearing pondless waterfall looks like as it disappears into a gravel basin, wanted to hear the audio produced by stand of 5’ tall rock column fountains or watch a group of beautifully colored Koi swim gracefully without a care in the world, this can be experienced on our 365 pond tour.
Plan to attend our summer and fall Pond Tours that offer a special look into private residential backyards displaying other waterscapes and backyard waterfalls that aren’t normally open to the public! Feel free to call our headquarters for more information. (800) 522-5043. Have a blast and we’ll look forward to your feedback.
Mike LaCombe is the humble owner of perhaps the most well recognized turtle ponds on the Earth right here in California. A pond dedicated to semi-aquatic turtles consumes over a 1/3 of his back yard while the rest of the yard is heavily planted with some of the most exotic plants available in the region.
In this backyard that could compete with most botanical gardens you will come across everything from carnivorous Nepenthes Pitcher Plants, rare cycads, palms, succulents, and unusual ground covers to a wide varieties of cacti, rare clumping bamboo, at least a dozen varieties of elephant ear taros and even a token topiary.
The garden is planted in such a way that there is always something in bloom regardless of season. There are so many cool things going on in this backyard it’s literally impossible to see everything in once visit. In fact, even Mike who spends most of his free time relaxing in this amazing garden can’t catch everything.
More than two dozen semi aquatic turtles dominate the yard and roam freely to do as they please, when the please and with whomever they please if you know what I mean! Well if I must spell it out, the turtles are breeding and laying eggs in the garden when Mike is off to work.
Well late this Summer Mike just happened to be tilling a small section of the garden preparing the area for yet another rare plant. Mike drove a large round spade shovel with the force of a size 12 steel toe boot into hard soil and flipped it upside down and unveiled 13 red-eared slider hatchlings no bigger than a quarter!
Mike is convinced that the little hatchlings would not have made it out of the hard pan soil that he was loosening up for a new exotic plant and even more amazed he didn’t chop one of the little guys up during his work. It’s unbelievable not a single little aquatic reptile was harmed in the action.
The funny thing is, Mike went to a ton of trouble during the construction of this pond to provide a nice sandy beach area for female turtles looking to lay eggs. Mike reports that he frequently finds females wandering the garden looking for obscure places to lay eggs.
These watery little reptiles typically breed in the spring around March but may continue into July. Breeding typically takes place at the bottom of the pond and can carry on for up to 45 minutes! Females may lay as few as a couple eggs however large females can lay up to 30 eggs at a time!
The red-eared slider can lay up to 5 clutches of eggs in once season. Eggs typically hatch in two to three months but can hang on through a long winter waiting for warm weather if laid late in the season.
Watch for yourself how cool Mike’s TURTLE POND DESIGN is on our YouTube video that has over a ¼ MILLION views. The video was filmed a couple of years ago and showcases two little hatchlings that he ran across that year. They baby turtles in the video are completely unrelated to the baby turtles in the photo however might very well be related if you catch my drift. Enjoy!
The Pond Digger
Blue Heron Warning Report
We get dozens of phone calls each fall, right around the end of September into early October to inquire about an unusually large bird hanging around their pond. After I break the news, you can only imagine the horror on the face of the person that has no idea the bird is actually their too hunt their fish!
Let me just give everyone a friendly warning right here and now. If you have not been visited by a Blue Heron, YET, consider yourself lucky. However, make no mistake about it, these birds are everywhere and when they are on the move, migrating, they just might pit stop at your pond for a little snack; your favorite Koi or fish!
Do yourself and your fish a favor and take a couple of precautions to detour these pesky predators. Do a tune-up on your Scarecrow motion sensor device and if you don’t have one, install one ASAP. Other methods to deter the feathered fish eating predator include putting a net over the pond, stringing piano wire above the pond, installing a patio-style cover, installing fish tunnels or caves for the fish to hide in, putting a dog on patrol next to the pond 24 hours a day, by designing bigger, deeper ponds and I have even heard contrary to my belief, that the alligator decoy works wonders, even here in California!
It has been said that these birds do not tolerate each other, are extremely territorial and will not allow another Heron in close proximity. However, do not fall for; “A statue of a blue heron will keep the bird away”, because I have reports of sexually aroused herons, fornicating with heron statues! Seriously no joke, this is a TRUE STORY!
Now, let me share with you one of my scariest personal pond keeper moments! Several years ago, I was awakened just before dawn by my dogs outside barking franticly. Instinct overtook me; I just knew I had to get to my pond and FAST!
I ran outside, in my skivvies, around the bend, approached my pond and standing in the top shelf of my pond was this humongous, Great Blue Heron! My heart immediately sank. I waved my arms, yelling at the top of my lungs and just before this bird, possibly The Spawn of Satan Himself, displayed this massive wing span of over SIX FEET, the bird glanced behind me as it lifted off.
Freaked by this emotional visual in the birds face, I spun around just in time to watch, what I can only assume was The Spawn of Satan’s mate; lift off from a low branch in my Cedar Deadora Tree over hanging my pond. To add intensity to the already intense moment, the bird had to swoop in a downward motion, towards me, to navigate below the limbs of the tree as a part of its getaway plan! Further solidifying my doubt of the myth, that a statue of a Heron will protect your fish from predation by the Heron!
As you can only imagine, I dropped to my stomach in the cold wet dirt, remember in my skivvies! Oh you think that’s funny do you? Just think what the early bird joggers thought! This pond happens to be in my front yard.
It may seem like these nasty water fowl predators, i.e. egrets, night herons and blue herons, have not bothered your fish all summer, but let me remind you that your water temperatures and the metabolism of your fish are at their peaks in the heat of summer!
You will find that as your water temperature cools in the fall, so will the metabolism of your fish, equaling slower reflex movements from your fish meaning, your fish become much EASIER PREY for the Tyrannosaurus rex of the pond world!
I personally have had the most success keeping these pesky birds away with the use of a motion sensor sprinkler device called, a Scarecrow. Be sure you have a working Scarecrow motion sensor for every 100 square feet of surface area in your water feature to detour predators from hunting your scaled pets that deliver so much tranquility to you year round.
Understand that by design the Blue Heron hunts fish; that by design, camouflage extremely well, in natural ponds, lakes, rivers and streams with sometimes little to no visibility in the water! So you see why a small pond, with brightly colored fish, in crystal clear, two-foot deep water is like a dream meal for these birds.
You have to understand that as the Blue Heron flies over your home on the way to its local fishing hole and spies your pond; a smorgasbord is what crosses the bird’s mind.
Make no mistake; The Blue Heron is a very successful & persistent predator that will literally wait at your water’s edge, motionless, for hours on end, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The bird even has a trick to lure your fish to the surface for easy pickins’. Regurgitation! That’s right the Blue Heron will often blow chunks, Ralph, barf, puke or whatever you want to call it, into the water, luring your fish to come up for a tasty snack and then, become the meal themselves!
The very latest breaking news I have on these crafty bird’s habits are hunting your ponds on the full moon cycle! These birds are crepuscular, which I have always thought meant that they were by your pond hunting at dawn and dusk! The actual meaning of crepuscular is; active in the twilight! I now have record of a Great Blue Heron hunting right here in my home town, Redlands, California at 10:30 PM on a full moon in September!
Consider starting a Pond Predator Neighborhood Watch Program with your pond buddies! One morning on my way to work I got a call from a fellow pond owner and he said frantically, “Hey Eric, a Blue Heron just left my place and it’s heading in your direction!”
I thought, Cranky! I couldn’t remember if I had turned my Scarecrow back on after feeding my wife’s goldfish pond that morning, so I immediately flipped a U turn, quite possibly illegally, and broke several speed limits headed for home!
As I pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t believe my eyes; the Great Blue Heron was standing right next to my pond and YES the motion sensor was OFF! As the bird took flight, off above the roof tops, I picked up the phone and called a couple pond owner buddies in the wayward direction of the Heron’s route!
Don’t forget to install fresh nine volt batteries to your Scarecrows on a monthly basis because these Feathered Predators will make daily rounds to your water feature testing your consistency! The day that you forget to turn your sensor on, turn off the water source or your battery dies, the bird will be there to capitalize on your forgetfulness.
Respect this amazing bird and focus on the legal things you can do to protect your prized pond fish. Shooting a protected bird species could cost you a fine of up to $20,000.00. Scarecrow motion sensors still cost under a hundred dollars.
The Pond Digger
How Many Koi Can I Have In My Pond?
This is certainly one of the first questions we inevitably get from new pond owners. Rules of Thumb are great to put you in the ballpark but they really shouldn’t be taken as the end all final decision. I hear this DANGEROUS old RULE OF THUMB from the aquarium hobby brought over to the pond world on occasion. “You can have 1” of fish for every gallon of water.”
Well, that’s great if you have a ten-gallon aquarium with 10 neon tetras and that’s great if you have a ten-gallon pond with ten mosquito fish. Not a good rule of thumb if you have a sixty-gallon aquarium with two 30” Koi! Or in the pond world that translates to thirty-three 30” koi in a 1000-gallon pond. Even a new pond enthusiast knows that’s ridiculously over crowded and a disaster waiting to happen.
So let’s get down to a RULE OF THUMB you can use to help you stock your pond and then we’ll review a few things to help keep you grounded when using a RULE OF THUMB.
If you are consulting with a high-end Koi keeper you will hear rules like one female Koi for every 1000- gallons of water or one male Koi for every 500 gallons of water. For those of you new to the hobby the female Koi gets much larger than the male fish and has much more mass.
This may seem radically conservative to the person that just spend a ton of money installing a 3000-gallon pond in their backyard. That translates to 3 female Koi or 6 male Koi for that 3000-gallon pond.
For most people limiting yourself to one Koi per 250 gallons of pond water is still conservative assuming you have a good life support system on the pond and you aren’t opposed to some routine maintenance. Cleaning skimmers, pre-filters and doing water changes would be standard practice. That translates to twelve Koi in a 3000-gallon pond and since I don’t recommend even numbers in a Koi pond then your target would be eleven Koi in 3000 gallons of pond water.
Buying koi, especially if you are new to the hobby, is a ton of fun and can be incredibly addicting! Taking into consideration the average family with Mom, Dad, and three pack if kiddios. Everyone wants to pick out a few of his or her favorites. Before you know it you have 25 or 30 small koi in your 2000-gallon pond.
That should be fine for a couple of years when the koi are young but then all of a sudden you are grossly overstocked with to many fish. Algae is growing like crazy, the pre-filters need to be cleaned everyday or they stop working and the filters are not keeping up with the amount of fish poo! Let’s do the math. 2000-gallon pond translates to 8 full-grown koi and you have 30! Obvious Solution – Get rid of 22 koi or build a bigger pond. Good Luck telling the kids you need to get rid of a few of their favorite Koi.
If you are starting with small Koi remember they will get big and it really doesn’t take that long. In just two or three years you’ll have a hefty size herd of Koi mobbing around your pond. In my travels I’ve come across a great deal of over crowded ponds with unhappy Koi. One of the worst I’ve seen was a 350-gallon pond with 13 large adult Koi. It’s was not pretty! It was a straight up rescue mission. Don’t put yourself or your Koi in that position.
Here’s a FUN FACT to help you wrap your arms around the demands of large Koi. A 13” Koi weights approximately 1 lb. Guess what a 26” Koi tips the scales at. Approximately 13lbs! When Koi double in size you are looking at more than a tenfold increase in mass! That’s an incredible burden on the ponds life support system!
I can give you a rule of thumb to get you in the ballpark but I can’t express to you enough, the importance of a solid life support system for your pond. Now go do the math on your pond and tell me how your Koi Herd stacks up to this rule of thumb. One Koi per 250 gallons of Pond Water.
The Pond Digger
Waterfall Recipe for Success
A person in Santa Paula, California considering a waterfall in his backyard has concerns because a friend of a friend said they were a lot of work and had one removed. Please read the following email I just sent him. NOTE: My mother isn’t reading our blogs yet! Shhhhh. Enjoy………
It’s always hard for me to hear details of failed water features from a friend of a friend in a second hand fashion. I don’t tell this to many people, but my Mom is a terrible cook. She couldn’t produce a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies if her life depended on it! Seriously…..
Fact of the matter is, cookies are good, yummy, and delicious. They make my wife and kids smile just looking at one! They go crazy when they smell a batch of cookies baking at the perfect temperature. Touching a warm cookie fresh out of the oven is even a treat and the taste, ahhh that delicious taste.
It’s amazing how many senses a simple chocolate chip cookie touches. We can all be thankful that even though my Mother is a cookie killer, it hasn’t kept the rest of the population frightened of such a wonderful thing.
Now a pondless waterfall on the other hand; Well, 1 bad installation, 1 bad experience, 1 bad contractor deviating from a perfect recipe can produce horrifying results. You can certainly understand how easy it is to destroy a perfectly good thing in the water feature contractor arena.
Just a simple as it is for me to connect you with 1000’s of men, women and children that love chocolate chip cookies, I can literally connect you with 100’s of people that have disappearing waterfalls that couldn’t imagine owning a home without the sound of waterfalls on their property.
I didn’t let my Mother’s poor cooking keep me from the joy’s of eating as you shouldn’t let the poor experience of your friend’s friend keep you from the tranquility a properly installed water feature has to offer.
I will hold your hand through all your concerns and can assure you that it is very possible to have a beautiful, low maintenance disappearing waterfall that you will enjoy for years and years.
By the way, our company will travel to Santa Paula, California for new water feature construction. We have tools and will travel!
Touching People’s Lives With Water,
The Pond Digger