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4 4 gannon video artBy Mike Gannon

In the last video I shared with you, I relayed information about upgrading a do-it-yourself pond into a watergarden that exemplifies the value of an informed, professional touch. This time, a pond we updated was large enough that I know it was installed by a professional – but one who at the time seems to have been a bit lacking in insight and imagination.

There’s only a brief glimpse of the original watershape at the start of the video, but you can pick up all you really need to know by looking at the pile of rock we collected for future re-use: There’s an obvious uniformity of size (mostly small) and shape (mostly round) that makes it easy to see why the original pond lacked visual energy – doubtless one of the deficits that led the owner to give us a call.

The old pond’s interior contours tell much the same story: It had two basic depths with few interior features – nothing to grab the eye within the pond or distract from the uniformity of its bland rock border.

You can see the difference in our approach even in watching rocks tumble off the dump truck: Big rocks, small rocks, elongated rocks, flat rocks in a variety of shapes and sizes we’d be putting to good use once we sorted everything out and made ready to place each piece around the pond. And the point is, I knew what effects I was after when I visited my rock supplier and, on site, knew where I wanted to place all of the larger pieces within the composition.

The changes in interior details jump out as well: We worked on more levels and created more places where plants could be inserted and where large rocks could be placed – some breaking the surface like small islands, others just barely submerged and every single one purposefully placed to maximize the visual appeal of the pond from side to side and end to end, from waterfall to skimmer.

Comparing the original with its replacement, it’s easy to trace the evolution of pondcraft through the years – and the trajectory of my own career, as I was the “professional” who installed the original pond more years ago than I care to remember. These days, we focus on greater variety, on playing with depths and submerged features and addressing the health and safety of the fish population along with our greater awareness of temperature gradients, the capabilities of bog filtration and the value of creating hiding places where fish can get away from both predators and the sun.

From marking paint to pond foam, we’ve all come a long way through the years – me included!

To see this renovation project in all of its detail, click here.


Mike Gannon is owner and lead designer at Full Service Aquatics, a pond installation and service specialist based in Summit, N.J. A certified Aquascape contractor, he may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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