The PONDerings Blog is our place for posting company updates as well as interesting stories and facts regarding water features.

Archived Posts

A Guide to Landscaping Around Ponds

Parade of Ponds: Ponds in Grand Rapids

Welcome to Our Blog

About Bennett Slavsky

Bennett Slavsky

I was born with an innate love of the outdoors and natural landscapes, which, in turn, led to a love of the environment and stewardship for it. After a brief stint living, traveling, and writing throughout Chile , I also fell in love with culture. More specifically, understanding, empathizing, and connecting with people and cultures foreign to my own.

I hold a B.A. in creative writing and English literature from Grand Valley State University. I am a freelance writer, having work published by Mic.com, "The Detroit Free Press," "The Rapidian," and many more. I specialize in writing about meaningful travel, outdoor adventure, and environmental awareness. I'm available for freelance and collaborative work.


A Guide to Landscaping Around Ponds

Bennett Slavsky - August 21, 2018

The key to landscaping around ponds is making your pond blend in, to make it look like it’s been there forever. The most stunning water features look like the developers that built your home were bushwacking back a jungle and stopped when they discovered the splendid waterfall in what would become your backyard. This post will fill you in on some essential tips and tricks to make your water feature look like a part of the natural landscape.

Hidden Waterfall

Hiding the Liner

The first and most important step in landscaping around ponds is to hide the liner. Nothing screams, “Hi, I’m man-made!” quite like long open strips of matte-black rubber showing around the edges of your water feature.

Disclaimer: hiding the liner is a delicate process. If too much is trimmed off, or if it is tucked down too far beneath the rocks when building the pond, leakage is a very problematic possibility. When dealing with the edges of the liner, always make sure there is plenty of excess and a high enough mound of soil packed underneath the liner to keep water in the pond.

Now, one of the best ways to hide the excess liner is to continue the rock-work out of the pond, up the mound, and into the surrounding landscape. However, we must be careful here that we don’t get too overzealous with the rock stacking. Otherwise the edges of the water feature might end up looking like a haphazard pile of stones--a phenomenon we wouldn’t likely see in nature.

So, instead of trying to fill every little gap in the stones with more stones, try using mulch. Mulch is an easy-to-execute and simple solution for hiding the liner around your pond. It takes just a few minutes but works wonders at blending the water feature with the surrounding landscape. But don’t stop mulching just where the liner ends, continue the mulch all throughout the bed around the pond that you are going to fill out with some more beautiful landscaping.

Pondless Waterfall

Planting Around Ponds

Planting around your pond is essential for a natural look. But there are a few important aspects to consider when it comes time to plant. Sand and backfill are generally used in construction of the pond for building shelves, berms, and retention, but don’t make for good planting medium. Be sure before planting that you’ve put down a nice layer of topsoil for the plants to take root in.

Another very important consideration when landscaping around your pond is viewing angles. If there is a spectacular view from your raised deck of the largest drop in the waterfall, you probably shouldn’t plant a five-foot Japanese maple blocking the sightline to the drop. Instead, plant a low and creeping plant like a creeping jenny in that spot and save the Japanese maple for the backside of the pond where it won’t obstruct the view. The creeping jenny will do what it does best and creep over the rocks and surrounding landscape, and the bright and beautiful Japanese maple will be a striking accent point.

Be sure to also plant some hardy, mid-sized perennials like hostas and ferns that will come back year after year and fill out the landscaping around your pond. These plants are low maintenance and will really pull together the lush natural landscape look.

Large Pondless Waterfall Pond with Retaining Wall Waterfall

Odds and Ends When Landscaping Around Ponds

Once the plants are planted, there are a number of other super simple features to add to your landscape to make your pond blend in. You would be amazed at how well a piece of driftwood or a dead branch over your spillway could accent your pond. Placing a long piece of driftwood over the stream seamlessly ties the water feature into the surrounding landscape. Even try using a big piece of bark to cover up some of the liner. Remember, not everything in nature is vibrant and full of life--contrast those bright colors of the plants with some darker and duller grays and browns.

Log over stream

Also, place some character boulders in the landscape around the pond. All too often rock work will end at the edge of the pond, and from a distance it can look like an unnatural piling of rocks. If there are some character boulders outside of the water feature it makes the water feature look like it’s meant to be there.

Remember, the water feature experience doesn’t end when the liner is hidden. The landscaping around ponds is equally as important as the pond itself, and can make or break the entire scene!

You can find more inspiration for landscaping your water feature by looking through our image galleries...



Parade of Ponds: Ponds in Grand Rapids

Bennett Slavsky - July 23, 2018

Each summer, we here at AWM host the Parade of Ponds, an in person showcase of some spectacular water features in Grand Rapids that we’ve built throughout the years. Attendees to the Parade of Ponds get an inside look at what their life and their landscape could be with a water feature. If you weren’t able to make it out to the Parade of Ponds this year, we have a quick virtual tour for you right here!

The Pondless Waterfall

Waterfall Stream Island

The first stop on our tour is a roaring thirty foot pondless waterfall. There are three drops total in the water feature, two smaller split falls near the top with a meandering stream that ends in a stunning two foot fall sheeting water off of a massive pink stone that disappears right into the earth.

The waterfall seems to spill right out of the natural hillside and manicured landscape of the homeowners’ backyard. Blue flag iris, cardinal flowers, and other aquatic plants accent the stream, with Japanese maples, conifer trees, and lilacs enshrouding the hillside. The adjacent patio provides ample viewing area for the water feature, and the water feature provides the tranquil sound of rushing water for those lounging on the patio.

The pondless waterfall is simple, beautiful, and easy to maintain. It is an awesome water feature for those looking for the soothing sights and sounds of water, without having to do the maintenance associated with an open water pond.

The Dual Waterfall and Patio

Pond Patio Waterfall

Our next water feature is an eighteen by twenty-eight foot pond with two waterfalls, one fifteen and one eight foot fall splashing into the open water. The dual-falls streaming into this pond doubles the sound effect amplified through the backyard. A flagstone patio lines the edge of the pond facing the home as a seating area for people to sit and bask in the serenity of the watergarden.

The pond is painted with a school of goldfish and a slew of aquatic plants including lilies, marsh marigold, water hyacinth, and more. The combination of fish and plants replicates a natural ecosystem, minimizing cloudy water and algae blooms, while also creating a natural looking and healthy pond.

The Quaint Watergarden

Pond with Retaining Wall Waterfall Waterfall Close-Up Backyard pond with Waterfall

This pond is a bit smaller than the others on the tour, but beautifully displays that a water feature does not have to be over-the-top to be dazzling. The body of water is eight by twelve feet, with a steep eleven foot long waterfall cascading into the pond. Although it’s a relatively small waterfall, the steepness of the grade creates a roaring sound that can be heard all throughout the backyard.

Similar to the previous stop, this is a natural ecosystem pond with ample plant life and goldfish creating biological filtration and an organic appearance. This water feature is nestled in a far corner of the backyard, surrounded by conifers and creeping jenny, with a stunning viewing area from the raised deck attached to the home.

The Limestone Pond

Limestone Waterfall Limestone Koi Pond Wetland Filtration System

The final stop on the Parade of Ponds is a seventeen by twenty five foot pond, with a ten foot long stream and a spectacular limestone waterfall. What is so incredible about using limestone to create a pond is that the stones fit together like puzzle pieces, creating the appearance of one large piece of limestone with grooves that look like they were cut naturally over time by running water.

The pond itself is five feet deep and is home to several large, bright, and beautiful koi who like to hangout in the shade of the koi caves built into the walls of the pond. There is a flagstone bridge over the stream that is peculiarly satisfying to stand on, watching and listening to the water flow beneath your feet. The water feature is sandwiched between the home and a pool deck with 360 degree viewing angles.

Another awesome component of this watergarden is the wetland filter located on top of the waterfall. The concept of the wetland filter is an idea taken straight from nature: a combination of gravel, rocks, plants, and bacteria create a natural filtration system for the pond that is more effective than any chemical treatment. The wetland filter not only looks beautiful and natural, it is also incredibly functional in maintaining water quality and a healthy ecosystem.


Welcome to Our Blog

Bennett Slavsky - July 16, 2018

It is with great excitement that we introduce you to the newest section of our website, the AWM Water Features’ Blog. This blog will be taken on with the same level of pride and commitment that we have when we’re out building water features in the field. We aim to be thorough, useful, and enjoyable to you, the customer and reader.


The AWM Water Features’ Blog will cover a wide range of topics on all things water feature. We are looking to give advice about how to get the most enjoyment out of your water feature, answering questions about subjects such as pond maintenance, types of filtration, maintaining a healthy ecosystem, aquatic plants, fish, wildlife attraction, pond renovations, pros and cons of different types of ponds, and much, much more.

Our blog will also feature success stories and testimonials from proud pond owners, giving those who are considering building a water feature a little taste of the water garden lifestyle. There is hardly a more tranquil sound than running water, especially when it is trickling down a babbling stream that looks as though it is a natural piece of your backyard landscape. Here at AWM, we want to bring that tranquility and that beauty to your home.

Pond with deck

Which is a great segue into who we are and what we do outside of this blog. AWM Water Features is based out of Grand Rapids, MI, and has been working all throughout West Michigan for over thirteen years. We focus on quality and pay close attention to the small details to ensure that your pond or your waterfall is as serene, healthy, and natural as can be.

We are the only Master Certified Aquascape Contractors in the area, which basically means that we’ve had an extensive amount of training from Aquascape--the go-to authority in the world of water features--and are the best at what we do.

Our mantra is Design, Build, Preserve, which is precisely what we do, in any and all ways that we can.