Frequently Asked Questions

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Master Aquascape Certified Contractor since 2006

Your two options are to shut it down, or you leave it running. Most people in the Des Moines area shut their water gardens in the winter. To do this, there are a few steps to complete. If you have a pond with fish in it and you have at least 18” of water, the fish can stay in the pond. The pond just needs to be set up to have air exchange (an aerator and a pond heater), and the fish will be fine there all winter. If you want to leave it running, be prepared to enjoy some fantastic winter scenery. It is hard to describe how different your waterfall can look with LED lights shining through the ice formations. It is a rewarding experience to run a water feature year-round but is more work to maintain during the season. We offer winter water garden services if you need assistance.

Yes! If you are buying a home or have purchased one with a water feature or pond, we can help you. It is a good idea to hire a professional pond contractor to clean, assess, and educate you on the system you have in your yard. The investment in a professional pays dividends.

Not all ponds are built the same or created equal. Our trained techs can come out to clean, assess, and educate you on your water feature. We call this an “Exploratory Water Garden Cleaning and Evaluation”.

  • Impact: Nothing is more exciting or defines a yard more than an ecosystem pond with a stream and waterfall. The pond will change with the seasons and become more beautiful as it ages. The sound and sight of water will transform a regular backyard into a backyard paradise.
  • The Lifestyle: Transforming your yard from boring turf to an aquatic paradise will change your life. An ecosystem pond will draw you out into your yard to experience and explore. It will give you a reason to be outside. Imagine starting your day with a cup of coffee next to your water garden or ending the day unwinding with a glass of wine listening to the waterfall.
  • Nature: “If you build it, they will come!” Installing an ecosystem pond in your backyard will attract wildlife. Frogs, dragonflies, birds….expect them all!
  • Learning Tool For Children: If you have children, a pond could be the best gift you ever give them. An ecosystem pond in the yard will provide them with years of enjoyment and help establish their relationship with nature. They will observe, record, and photograph the plants and animals they see. They will tell their friends about it. Their appreciation for mother nature will be established and grow over time.
  • Water Gardening: If you are an avid gardener, an ecosystem pond will allow you to expand your hobby into aquatic plants. There are so many types of aquatic plants for you to discover and experience.

We can design a water feature for any yard. Some of our water features are very large while some are very small. Here are the minimum square footage requirements we think we need to build your water feature.

Landscape Fountain: Minimum of 4’ x 4’

Disappearing Pondless Waterfall: Minimum of 6’ x 6’

Ecosystem Pond: Minimum of 8’ x 8’

I’m sure you have heard the saying that “you get what you pay for”. That saying applies to water features as well. If you buy based solely on price there is a good chance you will have a bad experience. When shopping for a water feature contractor in the Des Moines and Central Iowa area, it pays to do your homework first. Make sure your contractor has plenty of experience, does quality work, continually educates themselves, and can provide references.

Cost of Landscape Fountains: The installed price of a landscape fountain starts at $4,000. Our average landscape fountain costs $15000. The cost of a landscape fountain can easily approach or exceed $15,000-$20,000 if you increase the size or add rainwater harvesting techniques to the feature

Cost of Disappearing Pondless Waterfalls: The installed price of a pondless waterfall starts at $6000. Our average disappearing pondless waterfall costs between $7,500 and $15,000. The installed cost of a large, advanced pondless waterfall with all the extras can increase to more than $100,000.

Cost of an Ecosystem Pond: The installed price of an ecosystem pond starts at $8,500. Our average ecosystem pond costs between $10,000 and $25,000. The installed cost of a large, advanced pond with all the extras can increase to more than $100,000.

If you are looking for a water feature with fish and plants, an ecosystem pond is for you. If you are just looking to enjoy the sound and sight of moving water without the fish or plants, we recommend a disappearing pondless waterfall. Some benefits of a pondless waterfall versus a full ecosystem pond:
  • Can be installed in a smaller area.
  • Starts at a lower installed price versus an ecosystem pond
  • The sight and sound of water moving without the pond.
  • Can be run as little or as much as you want.
  • Eliminate the concern of standing water.
  • Virtually maintenance-free during the season.

Instead of a stream and waterfall ending in a pond, a pondless waterfall is built so the water just disappears at the end of the feature.

Check out our Pondless Water Features.

By definition, an ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. Our goal is to set up the pond environment (the physical environment) in an ecosystem pond so that the biological community of interacting organisms thrives. In turn, this will create a low-maintenance piece of paradise for you, the pond owner. Just Add Water is a Master Certified Aquascape Contractor. We have installed over 300 water features and repaired or serviced hundreds more. As you can imagine, we have seen ponds built several different ways. Our experience says that the most beautiful, low-maintenance ponds are designed and installed with the ecosystem approach in mind and share the following characteristics.
  • Biological Filtration: The biological filter is what keeps the pond water clear. It’s the home to beneficial bacterias that break down waste products, turning them into usable material for the pond ecosystem. A BioFalls Filter or plant and gravel wetland filter are two great examples of biological filtration.
  • Mechanical Filtration: Foreign debris such as leaves should be removed from an ecosystem pond before they can drop to the bottom. A pond skimmer, intake bay, or vanishing edge skimmer are the best mechanical skimmers.
  • Aquatic Plants: Aquatic plants feed on nutrients in the pond and help to control unsightly algae (another aquatic plant). They also help naturalize a pond and provide habitat for animals that are important for the pond ecosystem.
  • Fish: The most popular pond fish is the beautiful koi. Koi fulfill their role in the ecosystem by helping to control algae growth. They eat it.
  • Rocks and Gravel: Rock and Gravel are used to cover the rubber pond liner. This protects the liner from harmful sun rays as well as creates a more natural-looking pond. The rock and gravel surface area also provides a habitat for beneficial bacteria and other smaller pond organisms.
We sometimes compare ourselves to a chef preparing a meal. If we leave out one ingredient, our meal will not turn out as we hope. The same is true in a pond.

Here are some of the most common objections we hear, and the truth about these common fears.

Myth: Fish create more pond maintenance.

Truth: Fish are a crucial part of the pond ecosystem. Koi reduce algae by feeding on it, and they fertilize plants with their waste. In actuality, fish help to lessen pond maintenance.

Myth: Koi cannot live in a pond with rocks and gravel.

Truth: Koi, or carp, are river fish where rocks and gravel cover almost everything. Aquascape ponds, which house perfectly happy and healthy koi, are always lined with rock and gravel.

Myth: I’ll lose all my fish to predators.

Truth: If constructed properly, the risk of predators can be eliminated. Installing fish caves in ponds provide areas of safety for fish. Pond plants also create cover and places of refuge for your koi.

Myth: Koi need at least three feet of water to survive.

Truth: Just Add Water recommends installing ponds that are two feet deep in the center. This depth allows the fish to survive through the winter months.

Myth: I don’t want the trouble of bringing fish inside for the winter.

Truth: Koi are extremely hardy fish whose ancestors over-wintered in freezing conditions and still do. Keep the water circulating and maintain a hole in the ice, and they should be fine.

Myth: I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on koi.

Truth: Pet quality koi start as low as $5 each, with show quality koi going for hundreds of dollars or more. Since fish food is relatively inexpensive, how much you want to spend on koi is up to your customer.

Happy Customers Are The Proof

Having a water feature designed for you will enrich your day-to-day life. See what our customers say about working with us.


Will at Just Add Water came up to Jefferson and talked with us twice about placing a pondless water feature in our gardens.

He was very professional and gave us many good ideas.

Johnny Turpin


We had a little difficulty getting the job done due to the unusually wet weather. Will made sure that the job was done to our specifications.

Will made sure he understood exactly how we wanted the repairs to our pond to be completed. Very professional. We were very pleased with the end result.

Karla McDowell


All I can say is WOW! This company is comprised of a group of professional gentlemen who care about what they do. From the first call to the final walkthrough, we couldn’t have been more pleased.

The end result is far better than what we could have imagined. If you’re looking for a quality company to design and care for your water feature in Iowa, call Just Add Water.

Kasi Koehler

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