Specialized information on Hardscape Landscape Waterscape Ecoscape

"...Have you ever been to the mountains and experienced the energy and peacefulness of a natural waterfall?  We can bring that experience to your yard!  Imagine coming home everyday to your very own beautiful private stress relieving natural looking water feature..." Read More

Berkshire Watergardens has been designing and creating beautiful natural looking waterfeatures in Jacksonville backyards for many years.  You can visit the Berkshire Watergardens website for more great photos and videos showcasing their work. 


Choosing a Water Fountain

It’s said that the sound and feel of moving water can reduce stress, so it’s no big surprise that people are consistently adding water features to their backyard spaces. From swimming pools to a standard store-bought birdbath, water is a great addition to any hardscaped, landscaped and everything in between backyard. In this article, we’ll focus on fountains – from the lavish and extravagant to the Do-It-Yourself.

Wall fountains can be a grand focal point for your garden entryway or hardscaped wall. Most are made from concrete, fiberglass, copper, cast stone and sandstone with a wide variety of stains and washes and are refired to protect the finish. Choose from cherubs, lion heads, shells and seahorses to trickle the water into a bowl that is then circulated back through the fountain.  

Tabletop fountains are usually considered an indoor accessory, but many are made weatherproof and can be functional in your backyard space. According to Feng Shui principles, a tabletop fountain is believed to bring positive energy into your life. They can range from simple, bamboo structures to a large, intricate three-tiered stone water feature.

Birdbaths may not be considered a fountain, but they are a great addition to any backyard and can range from a simple, store-bought version to an elaborate model purchased through your area hardscape professional. Choose from raccoons, grapes, orchids, climbing roses and doves to attract local wildlife to an outdoor, fresh water source. 

Garden fountain can be a great idea for pet-owners. If put at ground level, your pet may consider the fountain a big water dish, bathtub or even a swimming pool. Choose from a one-tier, three-tier, jar or lily pad fountain in a variety of colors and styles.

For Do-It-Yourself fountains, check out online sites like hgtv.com and diyideas.com for ideas on how to build a backyard fountain to fit your budget and skill level.

FYI: Most fountains have adjustable pumps, so you can change the desired flow and noise level. If you live near a major roadway or just have noisy neighbors, let the sound of flowing water drown out unwanted sounds around you.


Container Water Gardens

Not everyone can afford a full-scale pond feature in his or her backyard space. For those looking to include aquatic plants without professional construction, try a container water garden. They are a great alternative (like a flower container to a flower bed) and give you more control over environmental factors including invasive plants and pest control. Here are a few tips to get started:

Containers: While even a small bowl or Mason jar can hold a water plant, a nice size container is about 12 to 24 inches wide by 12 to 16 inches deep. Plastic containers are the easiest (since they’re already water-tight), but ceramic and wooden vessels are the most attractive. Just make sure the ceramic is sealed and the wooden barrels lined with plastic before building your garden. Remember, you can group various size containers together for a real statement.

Selecting Plants: Depending on the size of the container, select a spiky, erect plant, such as sweet flag, Acorus calamus, or yellow flag iris, Iris pseudacorus. Combine with a broad-leaf plant, such as Giant arrowhead, Sagittaria latifolia, or calla lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica. Add a cascading plant, such as water mint, Mentha aquatica, or parrot feather, Myriophyllumaquaticum.

Planting: Pot your plants in containers filled with a heavy, packed clay and then submerge them underwater. You may have to place them on an item like a brick or old, terracotta pot to keep the plant’s foliage above the waterline. Add floating plants like water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, or water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, but be careful not to crowd the container.

Care: Position the container so it receives about six hours of sunlight per day. Make sure to add water every few days, as the sun will evaporate some. Add a fertilizer tablet once the plants start to grow. You can find one at any garden center. If algae develop, remove the plants, empty the container and refill with clean water.    


Koi Ponds: Consult a Professional

Scales of bright orange and fiery red, somber yellow, black and white – Koi fish are ornamental domesticated varieties of the common carp. Historically, they were developed in ancient China during the Jin Dynasty for decorative purposes in outdoor pools. The fish have since gained popularity in Japan, Korea and the rest of the world for their symbolism of love and friendship.

While Koi Ponds are beautiful to look at, there are several misconceptions about how to properly build and maintain such a complex watering hole. First, consult a professional. Jeff Mansen, owner of Berkshire Watergardens on Declaration Drive in Jacksonville, helped Jacksonville Backyard understand some of the ins and outs of Koi Ponds:

Proper Filtration: “Without it, Koi fish can poison themselves from the ammonia and toxins from their own waste [excrement],” Mansen explains. “Their health is a major concern.” Unlike a natural waterway where water is constantly filtered, ponds need to be set up with the Koi in mind or they will turn murky from toxic waste and algae-causing nutrients. The pond needs to have a constant flow of oxygen.

Watergardens are for Plants: Mansen stresses that watergardens are not built to house Koi fish. “One pond is built for the beauty of the fish, one is built for the beauty of the yard and the landscape,” he says. While goldfish can survive in a watergarden, Koi are better left to their own domain. “Watergardens are generally covered with river rock and other sharp material,” he explains. “Koi can nick themselves on the rock and waste gets stuck in the crevices.”

Proper Depth: Bigger is better. “For every one foot of fish you have, you should have three feet deep of pond. So if you have a two-foot-long Koi, you should have a six-foot deep pond,” Mansen says.

Bottom Drains: Bottom drains count for the vast majority of circulation in a Koi Pond. Starting at the sides, the elevation needs to slope toward the drain situated in the middle of the pond. This way, waste goes into the water, settles to the bottom, gets pulled to the drain (“gravity fed”), goes into the filter and the filtered water goes back into the pond.

Get it Right from the Beginning: Koi Ponds are permanent fixtures. Koi generally live for 30 years – even 100 in some rare instances, so fixing a problem once the pond is constructed and the fish are in is nothing short of a nightmare. Also, make sure to put the pond somewhere you can admire it everyday, since you won’t be moving it anytime soon.