Create your own backyard oasis

Looking for a quiet spot to lounge by a pond and watch fish swim while listening to water trickling across rocks? With an outdoor pond, you don’t have to travel farther than your yard to find such a getaway.

That’s what Carol MacKay and her husband built in the backyard of their Laurier Drive home in Aberdeen eight years ago. They constructed their own 18,000-litre pond complete with butterfly koi and water lilies so MacKay could have a place to seek refuge before and after work.

“It’s a great place to start your morning, have a cup of coffee,” said MacKay.

“There’s a whole lot of sitting going on out there.”

And the pond acts as a magnet for nature, with the running water attracting a variety of warblers and robins. She said the pond has turned her backyard into an outdoor paradise.

“It’s like a park. It’s fantastic.”

MacKay and her husband built the pond with material she purchased from work. Fortunately for MacKay, she works at Art Knapp Garden Centre and Florist, where she specializes in outdoor ponds. Art Knapp doesn’t install ponds, but everything a person needs to build one is available — less the aquatic life.

She explained the process of building an outdoor pond to The Daily News, but said it’s important anyone wanting to install one on their own do the proper research first.

The first step is digging a hole, which can be done by hand or with an excavator. The hole is then covered with a flexible liner that can withstand 20 years of fish, algae, weather and plants.

Rocks are secured to the liner with foam. MacKay said rocks can be purchased or gathered from the wilds around Kamloops.

Add the fish and plants and you’ve got yourself an outdoor pond, she said. But, in order to fully enjoy it, a final step must take place.

“Filtration is something that people forget about,” said MacKay, adding ponds, like pools, need to be kept clean so they don’t go green and murky. “People like to be able to see the fish.”

Top of the line filters move water through a biological tank built beside the pond and a UV light, which kills the surviving algae.

Outdoor ponds range from small and simple to large and elaborate. The crew at Lyons Landscaping and Garden Centre has installed them all.

Owner Colin Lyons said there are ponds in Kamloops with submerged lighting, bridges and waterfalls. What he has discovered are a lot of people who build or install smaller ponds end up rebuilding and going big.

“Bigger is better with ponds,” Lyons said. “Some people want a beach where they can walk down into their pond.”

People also want them finished in a variety of styles. Lyons said there’s the Shuswap look with big, jagged rocks and the in-town style, which has smooth, oblong stones.

He’s also installed pondless waterfalls that recycle water through a reservoir. He said they negate any liability for homeowners who want a water feature but are afraid that someone might fall in and drown.

“Do you want one creek or multiple creeks?” he asks people who want a waterfall.

Lyons said ponds can cost upwards of $70,000 and $100,000, depending on how large and elaborate the feature is. That might sound like a lot but, for the homeowner, it’s worth every penny.

“A lot of people are getting into making their backyard an oasis,” he said. “It’s a stay-cation for them.”

The cost of building a pond yourself equates to about $1,000 for every 4,500 litres, said MacKay. For people who want something more affordable, Art Knapp sells small resin waterfalls for $350.

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