This may seem simple, but there are a few important things to remember that are often overlooked. Ensure to include them before placing the major components around your excavated water feature.
Pumps: Submersible pumps will be likely in the lowest end of your water feature (end of a stream or pondless waterfall). While an external pump doesn’t need to be, it is best to keep them as close to the feature’s water surface and as short of an intake as possible. This will make priming and startup easier.
Skimmers: If you have one, then it should be at the end of a stream. In a pond, you want it opposite of the waterfall. If you have a water feature that has dead zones or places where the water eddies and might collect floating debris, consider multiple, smaller skimmers. Debris should flow towards skimmers.
Bio and Conditioning Filters: Place these somewhere after the pump near the discharge. Since most all discharges will be at a higher elevation than the pump, consider the filters at that head height as well. This way you will have provision to easily make drains to empty these components for maintenance.
Plumbing Controls: Often hidden, you don’t want to make them inaccessible. You want easy access. Hidden and easy access doesn’t always go together; but strive to meet both for your plumbing controls. This is a good time to consider housings or placed behind berms of the feature. The same goes for fill plumbing. Ensure it is not only easy to fill, but have timers and meters in a usable area easy to monitor.
Waste Lines and Sewers: Somewhere near your skimmer in the lowest part of your feature is a good place for overflow lines, drains or other waste lines. Always plan for what happens if the pond would overflow. Will the water be directed away from the feature, a house’s foundation or septic field? You want the waste water to be safely removed and deposited into a sewer or outfall. The same goes for storm or rain water. During weather events, you don’t want large amounts of runoff ending up in your pond. You need to plan as runoff might contain pollutants, fertilizers, poisons, or unbalance your water.
Electrical: As water and electricity do not mix, you want the electrical wires, outlets and boxes safely away from water. As the system needs to be on a GFI, wet outlets will cause nuisance tripping. Not only could this stop your pumps, but it could endanger your fish. Ensure all boxes are weather-proof models with in-use covers and direct burial wiring that have waterproof bushings. Mount boxes 18” above grade. Again, consider locations for pump outlets, lighting, aerators, or other accessories such as pond vacuums.
Aesthetics: Fountains, waterfalls, or other main points of interests of your feature need to be placed in such a way as they can be seen from usable vantage point. Plan on your walkways, benches, patios, from the house, etc., so that you are not wasting features towards a fence or location you could sit and enjoy the feature. Conversely, hide things like skimmers, plumbing or housings that you don’t want to see from a welcoming vantage point. Any equipment that would distract from the pond should be tucked out of site.
Access: You want the pond or feature to be approachable. Many codes require a pool or pond to be fenced. You don’t want the fence between you and the water feature. Rather, you want to be within the fenced area. You also want to be able to approach the water feature easily not just to enjoy gazing at the water, but for practical reasons such as cleaning, fishing out debris, clearing vegetation, feeding fish, etc.
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