Ponds FAQ2017-12-21T17:10:28-05:00
Koi Myths:2017-12-21T15:38:36-05:00

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.

What do I do with my Water Garden in the Winter?2017-12-21T15:37:58-05:00

You have two options.  You can shut it down or you can leave it running.  Most people in the Des Moines area shut their water gardens in the winter.  To shut down a water feature, there are a few steps that need to be completed.  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 in there all winter.

If you want to leave it running, be prepared to enjoy some amazing winter scenery.  It is hard to describe how much different your waterfall can look with LED lights shining through the ice formations. It is definitely a rewarding experience to run a water feature year round but you need to realize you may have to do some work to keep it running.  We offer winter water garden services if you need help.

I just bought a house with a water feature. Can you help me?2018-02-27T15:47:52-05:00

YES!  If you are buying a home or have purchased one and it has 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 to figure out what you have as well as what you need to do to maintain maximize enjoyment is well worth it.

As we have found through our experiences is that not all ponds are built the same or created equal.  Our trained techs can come out out to clean, assess, and educate you on your water feature.  We call this an “Exploratory Water Garden Cleaning and Evaluation

Why should I install an Ecosystem Pond?2017-12-21T15:39:46-05:00


  • 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 to a backyard paradise.
  • The Lifestyle!  Transforming your yard from boring turf to a 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.  Most kids today spend too much time inside on electronics.  An ecosystem pond in the yard will give them 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.  They may even use the pond has a science laboratory.  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.


How big of a space do I need for my water feature?2017-12-21T15:33:21-05:00

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’

How much does a water feature cost?2017-12-21T15:32:42-05:00

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 $2,000.  Our average landscape fountain costs $3500.  The cost of a landscape fountain can easily approach or exceed $15,000-$20,000 if you increase the size or add rain water harvesting techniques to the feature

Cost of Disappearing Pondless Waterfalls:  The installed price of a pondless waterfall starts at $4250.  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 a Ecosystem Pond:  The installed price of a ecosystem pond starts at $5,000.  Our average ecosystem pond costs between $9,000 and $15,000.  The installed cost of a large, advanced pond with all the extras can increase to more than $100,000.

Should I build an Ecosystem pond or a pondless waterfall?2017-12-21T15:30:50-05:00

If you are looking for a water feature with a fish and plants, an ecosystem pond is for you.  If you are just looking to enjoy the sound and sight of moving water and are not excited about 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.
  • Start at a lower installed price versus an ecosystem pond
  • The site 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.
What is a pondless waterfall?2017-12-21T15:29:36-05:00

Instead of a your 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 Features

What is an ecosystem pond?2017-12-21T15:30:06-05:00

By definition, an ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. In an ecosystem pond, our goal is to set up the pond environment (the physical environment) so that the biological community of interacting organisms thrive.  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, over the years we have seen ponds built a number of different ways.  Based on our experience, we have found 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 product, turning it 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 leave should be removed from an ecosystem pond before they can drop to the bottom.  A pond skimmer, intake bay, or a 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 creates a more natural looking pond.  The surface area of the rock and gravel also provide habitat for the beneficial bacterias 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.

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