Society members learn from experience...theirs and others. This site is designed to provide you with both advice and what members have found as good sources of information and products, be it other websites, books, or experts. If you've discovered a book, website or resource you've found helpful, let us know and we will add it to our site. If you'd like to know more about pond plants, check out our "Plant of the Month" section.


Calculating the size of your pond

Knowing how many gallons of water in your pond is important in estimating how many fish your pond can support, maintaining the health of both the fish and the water quality. Overcrowding is one of the most common causes of fish loss. A rule of thumb is one inch of fish needs 10-30 gallons of water. Keep in mind that this rule applies to adult needing approximately 300-500 gallons of water. Below are links to a pond calculator and an article on "Creating a Healthy Environment for Koi."  LLWGKS has a water meter that can be attached to a garden hose when filling your pond to take the guess work out.

Creating Healthy Environment for Koi

Pond Calculator

Introducing new fish to your pond

These links give some great advice on introducing new fish to your pond. It is vital for the new fish to be introduced gradually and allowed to acclimate to your pond's temperature, water and overall environment.

Acclimating Pond Fish

Acclimating Your New Fish

Introducing New Fish to the Pond

Koi Beginners Guide

Pond Construction Advice

watergarden.com/pages/build_wg.html If you're planning to build a pond, this website, with its "Steps for Building A Pond" should get you on your way.

Ortho's All About Garden Pools and Fountains, Meredith Books, Des Moines, Iowa. This 96 page guide provides tips on water garden design, installation and maintenance. 

Fish, Plants, Supplies

Buckley's Prairie Landscaping, 3735 Chatham Rd., Springfield, IL; 217-787-5033

the fish man Pet Center, 3935 Peoria Rd., Springfield, IL; 217-523-3474

Books Garden Center, 14421 State Highway 97, Petersburg, IL. Society members Wayne and Aquilla Books are excellent sources of products and advice on all aspects of water gardens, from design to fish to plants and more.

Chalily pond & gardens, 14430 Manchester Rd., Manchester, MO; 636-527-2001; www.chalilypond.com

Got Koi!, gotkoi@yahoo.com; 217-254-7990  See by appointment only. All variety, sizes and colors.

Ponds Plus Water Garden Center; 1757 S. Old Hwy 94, St. Charles, MO; 1-800-598-9413

PondMarket; 500 South County Center Way, St. Louis, MO; 800-577-5605; pondmarket.com

Hammock Koi Farm; 1670 Corbin Lake Rd., Rutledge, TN; 865-828-3250;hammockkoifarm.com. Beautiful koi photos, products

Pond Supplies and Equipment, On-line

123ponds.com. Florida-based supplier of pond products and equipment.
aquaticponds.com Pennsylvania-based supplier of pond products and equipment.
azpond.com. Pennsylvania-based supplier of pond products and equipment.
pondbidder.com Maryland-based pond product supplier and equipment.
pondmart.com Online supplier of pond products and equipment.

slwgs.org. St. Louis Water Gardening Society
International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society
North American Water Garden Society
Midwest Pond and Koi Society


Top Ten Things I Would Say About Rocks in Water Gardens

Rocks typically serve very important practical functions within a pond (and at the same time they can be esthetically pleasing): Rocks are particularly useful in defining an edge between water and land; in shoring up the walls

of a pond; in concealing any liner, hose, pump, skimmer, or electrical cord associated with your pond; and in keeping soil and grass out of the pond. The following is a list of the top ten things I have discovered about pond rocks during the few years I have been tending a water garden. I dare say that you are likely to have knowledge about rocks that I need to know. I would be happy to adjust any list in the future. The following is intended to get the conversation started:

    1.     When positioning rocks in or around a pond, use nature’s examples and select natural groupings of flat rocks in layers (like natural rock strata) around waterfalls and along "cliff" edges, and use rounded pebbles/cobbles/boulders on the bottom of stream ways and along "beach" edges. Strive (with an artistic touch) to have water-edge rocks blend in with the water and to appear to emerge from the water. The best look for your pond may not be to vary the types of rocks too much, but rather to follow a particular rock theme that matches or extends the rock theme used elsewhere in your yard’s landscape.

     A mound of soil (perhaps left over when the pit was dug for the pond) should serve as the foundation as you position rocks to make a waterfall (often associated with a bio-filter box). Splashing, leaking, and evaporation are to be expected for any type of waterfall, so spend extra time designing and ultimately positioning the stones for the waterfall. A natural-looking waterfall will typically be made of the same type of stone that is used around the edges of your pond. Consider using black expanding foam to help in securing rocks and in sealing likely spots for leaks and back flows. The strategic placing of stones on the liner in a waterfall channel will train the water to take particular paths away from your waterfall.

     Make sure that large rocks do not crush what they are supporting or concealing, and that they are stable – being structurally sound and safe if walked, sat, or leaned on. Particularly large rocks may compress the underlying ground and cause your pond bottom to subside over the years, so provide extra reinforcement beneath them (either on the liner or beneath the liner). To attempt to preclude rocks from poking a hole in a liner, most ponders suggest that an under-liner be positioned between the liner and the ground. (I provided a layer of old carpet beneath our liner to absorb the pressures typically associated with persons walking in the water on the thin bottom layer of rounded river gravels lying on the liner in our "swimming pond.").

     Sandstone is often preferable as large rocks in waterfalls, streams and the pond itself, and as paving slabs and walls along the water edges. They might be soft and will weather quickly because of their porous nature, but they can be found (or fashioned) in some very interesting shapes and will not change the chemistry of the water when they split and break apart over time. Colors and patterns may vary and be quite beautiful, but any sandstone rock (actually, any rock) sitting in water will soon become a uniform muddy brown color as algae begins to grow on it. 

        5.     Limestone, too, is commonly found as rocks of waterfalls and pond edges (but these rocks are not particularly flat unless very large or cut that way), and as decorative elements when large examples are positioned in or near the pond (the irregular, weathered field stones). Some limestone varieties (the massive limestones) will hold up quite well while sitting in water (and will actually help buffer acid contributors to the pond – keeping the pH between 7.0 and 8.5); whereas, other varieties (the crumbly limestones) will leach lime into the pond and will increase the alkalinity of the water. An alkaline pH of greater than 9.0 will spell doom for fish; needing the removal of sources of alkalinity or chemical correction. (With regard to high pHs, any concrete, concrete blocks, and mortar used in the construction of a pond should be treated with lime neutralizers or a non-toxic sealant to avoid leaching lime into the water.) A close cousin to limestone is dolostone (formed of the mineral dolomite). This particular rock form of calcium carbonate will not likely increase the water’s pH. Within our pond, dolostone blocks are used in the walls that form several sides of the pond, sticking out above the water level and extending to the bottom. 

        6.    Shale deteriorates way too easily in water to be placed in the pond itself; but it can serve as a linear natural habitat feature above the water line. Its close cousin slate is very hard and splits easily into thin sheets that hold their linear form even beneath water, and can serve as stepping stones around the outside of the pond.

        7.     Granite is perhaps the hardest of the rocks listed so far and holds up well in and around ponds. Glacial granite boulders are smooth and can come in some quite impressive colors and sizes. Smaller rounded river granite rocks (and other igneous rocks, and even marble) can be suitable for the bottom of ponds; but be sure to remove any split cobbles that have sharp edges that could cut through a liner. (There is much discussion that can be had of whether pond bottoms should be with or without rocks. So be sure to get that discussion going sometime with the older ponders of our group.) You can’t beat the very large glacial boulders for visual impact in or around any pond. 
     Most of us do not have a ready supply of rocks from nature. It is embarrassing that one typically has to pay big bucks for rocks. Sacks of gravels and cobbles can be purchased from most garden centers, but the large quantities typically used in ponds are most economical when purchased as scoops from rock/landscape suppliers and plant nurseries (delivery charges may apply if you do not have an open-bed truck). The other rocks are found at plant nurseries, rock/landscape suppliers, and rock quarries. Keep in mind, a big rock might be beautiful for a pond, but there are transportation and placement concerns that will likely cause you to keep your selection to the more manageable sizes. Get help (people or heavy construction equipment) when positioning the large rocks. You will need a large amount of rocks (a big part of your pond budget) to do what most want rocks to do for a pond. 

        9.     Flat rocks can be used to construct bridges and to serve as stepping stones (short-cuts) across shallow areas of a pond. But keep safety in mind by ensuring that the rocks are structurally sound and will not move when stepped upon. A flat stepping stone with a rough texture will be the best choice for a good foot/shoe grip; and keep that stepping stone protruding above the water level to ensure that algae does not grow on top resulting in a dangerously slippery traverse.

        10.     Some folks like for their ponds to have potting areas on their liners with "aquatic soil" being provided and the plants being rooted directly into it. These areas should be lined in rock to keep the soil from leaching out into the rest of the pond. For those folks that root their aquatic plants in containers/baskets to be set down into the pond, be sure to top your pot’s soil with at least an inch or so of gravel or small cobbles to add weight and to keep the soil in when the fish come rooting about.

     Forrest Gump might say that water and rocks go together like peas and carrots. Thanks for looking over my top ten thoughts about rocks in a water garden. (Did you notice how I squeezed much more than ten thoughts into the list?!) Again, this is just an opener for a conversation about rocks, so be sure to match my two-cents worth at a future meeting. 

--Dennis Campbell