Ponds can add beauty and tranquility to a backyard, and can even be swimmable

By Misty Pratt –

Imagine being able to enjoy all the benefits of cottage life in the city: sitting on your back deck with a frosty drink in hand, listening to the gentle sounds of water lapping on the rocks. With aquatic landscapes such as ponds, waterfalls and streams, residents are finding unique ways to bring nature closer to home.

“The best part about designing a water feature in the Kitchissippi area is that every property is unique,” says Nicholas Bott, General Manager of The Pond Clinic, which is the installation and service division of Aquatopia Water Garden Conservatory in Carp. 

The type of water feature homeowners choose depends on the size of the yard and architectural style. “If you’re in an apartment condo with a terrace, a patio container pond can be installed in a few hours, complete with aquatic plants, a small fountain, and even fish,” says Nicholas.

Full ecosystem ponds with waterfalls or streams are a wonderful option for most single-family homes. Westboro resident Nadja Becsey knew she wanted her own swim pond when she moved to the area. “I lived in Germany for twenty years, and it’s standard practice there to have what’s called a natural swim pool,” says Nadja.

After searching high and low for a pond expert, Nadja stumbled across The Pond Clinic and made plans for her own backyard oasis. She knew that a larger size pond was the best option for her. “I could never have a body of water in my backyard that I couldn’t swim in,” she says.

Her tiny Westboro backyard was the perfect landscape for a deck and water feature. “We went from never going into the backyard to using it twelve months a year,” says Nadja. The pond freezes over in November, and her children test out the ice stability, sometimes even trying to skate. Last winter they built quinzees (snow forts) on the pond, and the kids took turns sliding down the frozen waterfall. In April, ice flows made for hours of entertainment, and by May it’s warm enough to take the first plunge.

[Click images to enlarge.]

The swim pond relies on nature’s own biological processes to clean itself instead of using harsh chemicals. A pump pulls the water through a bed of sand and gravel (which acts much like a filter) and then bubbles up to a higher rock garden that contains natural water plants.

After choosing the type of water feature that’s appropriate for your yard, the next step is deciding who’s going to roll up their sleeves and do the installation. As with any home renovation project, the decision to DIY or hire out depends on several factors. Those who consider themselves handy may be excited about the challenge. Nicholas cautions people never to take on a project themselves simply to save money – often, hiring a professional is worth it in the long run. 

Finally, don’t forget to check the rules. “Any ornamental pond should be no deeper than two feet at the deepest point,” says Nicholas. Deeper than that and you’ll need a City of Ottawa pool permit as well as a fence.

In the end, Nadja wouldn’t trade her swim pond for anything. “I feel like I’m on a lake; I close my eyes and it’s the freshwater smell and the warm rocks.” The pond offers an escape in the heart of the city.

This article is part of our September 2018 Homes & Condos special feature and you can read it in full online. Want to advertise in the spring edition? Contact us!

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