is a sight to behold and music to the ears of the happy homeowners who
have discovered the simple pleasures of pond gardens. While the
popularity of gardening continues unabated, the water landscape
business is adding new depths of creativity and fun to backyard
"The installation of a water garden will enhance your yard
like no other landscape improvement that money can buy," says
Doug Hurth, owner of Hurth Waterscapes in Saukville.
Owners of ponds see them as their personal sites for recreation,
reflection, relaxation. Some like the added opportunities they provide
for outdoor puttering. Hurth calls the pond experience the "water
garden lifestyle," as it often draws people outside more during
the warm-weather months to enjoy their yards as gracious living
The Wisconsin Water Gardeners Club is a group that celebrates this
lifestyle and shares its love of water landscaping and the many
outlets for great design that it provides. The club will host a Parade
of Ponds tour June 23 and 24, featuring waterscape projects throughout
the greater Milwaukee area. Here is a sample of some of the unique
features of these land-and-pond settings, shared by water-garden
Double the bubble
Twin waterfalls enhance the beauty of Donna and John Pattersonís
Mequon setting. "Our pond took us from a nothing backyard into
something we think is so pretty," John Patterson says in
describing the 18-by-22-foot waterscape.
A small stream runs from an exposed deck, he says, then spills over
each of the falls before winding down its course near a footbridge.
Flower gardens and a gazebo complete the setting where the Pattersons
can enjoy some sunlight out on the deck while taking in their
Patterson says he loves "the sound of moving water. I think itís
a very tranquil setting."
The gardens, situated on either side of the deck, consist of
limestone terraces from which the stream flows to the waterfalls.
Native Wisconsin flowers and shade-loving plants, including hostas,
fill the beds, and a large maple tree shelters part of the pond. The
pond supports water lilies and other aquatic plant life, and a variety
Some unwanted guests would like to dine on the fish. "We have
to keep the herons away," Patterson says.
Pattersons make the most of the waterscape, powering up the water
movement in mid-March and letting it run through the end of October. A
heating device allows the fish to winter in the pond.
Patterson says the maintenance is minimal. "If you enjoy being
outdoors, the additional maintenance isnít that much as you would
tend to think."
The waterfalls are his favorite feature, but he also is pleased
when the water lilies begin to bloom. "The color that you get,
plus the overall ambience, is nice."
Down in front
Not all ponds have to be in the backyard. The layout of the front
yard of Sharon Matusinecís Brown Deer home made it a natural for a
pond environment. "Itís serene. Iím a person who rush, rush,
rushes through life. I come out here and I just sit. Thereís
something nice about that," Matusinec says.
A friendís waterscape inspired Matusinec to have a pond
installed. Situated between the Matusinecsí home and a large berm
area, the water element is secluded despite its front-yard placement.
Passers-by "donít really know itís there," she says.
On either side, the berm gives way to two fieldstone areas from
which a shallow stream, about 12 feet long, feeds into the
8-by-11-foot pond. "Itís a mix of fieldstone, some granite,
some red, dark, tan, sparkly. I like rocks, so itís ideal,"
Matusinec says. "There is one big, nice rock, the sitting rock,
where you can sit and dangle your feet in the water."
The water forms a bit of a minirapids before dropping about 3 feet
into the pond, Matusinec says. The pond is home to water lilies, tall
aquatic grasses and miniature cattails. A patio area situated between
the house and the pond is blanketed by purple crocuses in the spring,
with Ladyís Mantle, variegated dwarf shrubbery and grasses softening
the landscape in the summer months.
The resident goldfish, and some "invader" species that
showed up, add a lot of fun to the scene, Matusinec says, describing
how her young grandson attempted "fishing" with a worm and
some dental floss. "There are lights in the pond and itís nice
after dark to come and watch the fish," she says.
Matusinec says she is not always adept at visualizing yard
projects, but that she is very pleased with the waterscape. "It
just came together beautifully."
Before you dive in
If the "water garden lifestyle" sounds appealing, itís
a good idea to talk to the pros to get an understanding of the steps
involved and the maintenance. Doug Hurth of Hurth Waterscapes in
Saukville offers these tips to get what he calls the "wow"
ē Take into consideration the views from inside your home as well
as out when positioning the pond so you can enjoy the scene from your
breakfast nook or other favorite indoor spot.
ē Position the water element close to outdoor seating areas, such
as patios and decks.
ē Install the proper electrical system; a pond will require an
electrical outlet within 10 feet of a skimmer box to plug in a pump.
ē Avoid placing a pond in the lowest part of a yard; additional
runoff water can be detrimental to the water quality.
ē Size the pond and waterfall to fit the yard. Too big is
overwhelming, too small trivializes the project.
ē Keep scale in mind when designing landscape features; do a
layout using colored rope to visualize proportions.
ē Use accessories to accent your pond, such as lighting, plants
and shrubbery, fish caves, rocks, bridges, gazebos, trellises.