Why should I use Poolscape?
Experience. We have been building ponds of all sorts and sizes, for wildlife, ornamental fish and human swimmers for over 20 years using the best equipment . We are interested in our customers' ideas and believe in quality and welfare. We offer a complete and professional service for both building and maintenance. Visit us at our Tillington Nursery in Herefordshire and at www.poolscape.co.uk.
What is a wildlife pond?
A wildlife pond is a pond containing mostly, or entirely, native species of water, marginal and bog plants such as king cups, yellow iris, water soldiers, reeds, sedges, water lilly and so on. The pond is carefully shaped to provide different planting environments and habitats and usually lined with a long lasting butyl liner which is carefully hidden to provide a natural look.
We recommend that to maintain habitat balance, only large ponds can be stocked with fish.
Why have a wildlife pond?
For yourself, your family and the wider environment. Village ponds and natural ponds were much more common in times past. Neglect caused many to silt up and be lost; modern farming methods led to many being filled in. A pond is an important provider of wildlife diversity which is beneficial to us all. The presence of water in a garden is an attractive, tranquil feature and has an ionising effect on the atmosphere around. A pond is of immense educational value to children.
Are they safe for children?
All ponds are potentially hazardous to children of any age and adequate supervision is the responsibility of the grown-ups. If there is a worry we can supply and erect fencing to ensure children don't stray in. If this is planned at an early stage we can make sure any fencing blends in with the overall scheme.
We also design our ponds so that they are easy to walk out of and most of our ponds have a jetty or deck to provide a sturdy platform from which to view, dip or simply relax on.
Is it easy to build one?
Careful planning and attention to detail at an early stage is essential. Small wildlife ponds can be effective, but can end up looking like a muddy puddle. It can take time digging out a large hole and landscaping afterwards. We can help at any stage of process from the initial consultation and design right through to the complete job. We can work with you to suit your budget or involvement requirements. Most of our customers love to get involved. Some even want to swim in them, which is why we now build specially made natural swimming ponds.
What about the frogs, newts and toads?
They will come and find it for themselves! Within weeks you will notice pond- skaters whizzing about the surface; then water-boatmen rowing about underneath. Diving beetle will appear. Later in the summer dragonflies will start to take an interest and lay their eggs which will hatch into water nymphs, emerging once again into the air a season or two later. Frogs, newts and toads will appear and lay their spawn in spring.
What about maintenance?
If your pond is properly designed and built maintenance is very easy. There is usually a period whilst the pond is bedding itself in and developing its own eco system – sometimes with a little help- but once everything is in balance, the water becomes clear and all that is required is the occasional top-up and removal of leaves and excessive plant growth. We can even come and do that for you.
I want one - what do I do next?
Talk to us. Now is a good time of year to plan. Tell us your thoughts and we will see how we can help. If you decide to do the whole thing yourself we can supply everything from liners through to plants from our shop in Tillington, open at weekends or by appointment. You may be eligible for a grant.
PONDS ARE FOR LIFE.
Koi Ponds and Ornamental Pools.
Is it easy to keep Koi carp?
With careful attention to detail in constructing and equipping the pond, pool or tank, the answer is yes. A small number of good fish in a large tank are easier to look after than a large number in a small tank. A good koi environment has smooth surfaces, to keep the fish from injuring themselves. Gravity filtration via a bottom drain outlet and skimmers to circulate all the water and keep it crystal clear.
What sort of equipment do you need?
Basically, you need a top quality filtration system, that is easy to maintain and inexpensive to run. The life blood of a pond is the water that the fish swim in and through which you see them; so healthy, clear water is paramount. With the right equipment maintenance is easy. We are filtration specialists and supply and install everything that is required.
We also supply ultra-violet filtration, viewing platforms, underwater lighting and windows.
When and how do I start?
This is the time of year to start planning. Decide on your budget then ask us what can be achieved and what method of building to adopt from flexible liner through to concrete block and fibre-glass.
We start with a survey of the site you have in mind and a discussion of your needs. Then we draw a plan. When we have agreed everything we can go ahead and start building knowing that we won't have to make any major alterations.
Why would we need decking in a water garden?
For practical reasons and to enhance experience of your water garden.
Water garden environments are quite delicate; pond edges can crumble and marshy areas get churned up by wellied feet. Decking provides walkways, jetties, wharfs and sitting or viewing platforms that let you get right inside your watery landscape, rather than just viewing it from the edges. It also provides you with access for maintenance.
Recently, we built a very large multi-level decking complex stretching out into a lake. The owners said that their favourite thing about it was that, being on the jetty gave them a new aspect over the lake and feeling of inclusion in the natural environment.
Doesn't timber rot?
Some timber types, such as oak, contain natural preservatives that give many years of life. Some timbers need treating to prevent decay. The most effective treatments are carried out by the supplier using a vacuum chamber and are reckoned to last at least 30 years. Permanently submerged wood doesn't rot. We discuss your needs and recommend the appropriate materials to use. Some decks are made from recycled plastics.
We use timber from sustainable sources and preservatives that are not harmful to wildlife and the general environment.
Would a deck be strong enough?
Our decks are very strong. We would rather make a deck that is over-engineered than make one that put you at risk. We do not rest until we are completely satisfied that there is no bounce.
What else do you do?
We do anything to do with aquatic gardening and fish keeping, and we do it well. We build wildlife ponds, Koi ponds and tanks, ornamental pools and water features, waterfalls and fountains, lighting, planting schemes, paving and garden buildings. We solve problems and rescue disasters . ... and we build Biotop swimming ponds – the beautiful alternative to the conventional swimming pool.
How much does a Biotop Natural Swimming Pond or Pool from Poolscape cost?
There is no simple answer to this question because there are so many variables to take into account for each potential project.
The simplest way of putting it is to say between £500 and £700 per square metre depending....
Depending on what?
Every Biotop pool or pond that we make is bespoke to the clients carefully agreed needs.
A small pool that is regular in form, placed on a level and stable site with good access for machinery, equipment and bulk aggregates, requiring little additional landscaping to set it off may cost as little as £30000 +VAT: possibly less with a lot of physical input from the client or resident builder, if there are other works going on.
A large, irregular pool on a sloping site with a major landscaping requirement, additional technical equipment to aid water cleaning, may cost between £70000-£100000 or more.
Some swimming pond builders appear to offer an “off-the-peg” range of pools; we have yet to find a client that wants such a pool. Every client is an individual.
But, you do build a range of natural swimming pools and ponds?
Yes, the combinations are endless and unique to each individual client. Read our website, the Biotop website and our competitors. Decide what will suit you best and we can go from there to provide you with your bespoke natural swimming experience
Can I build a swimming pond myself?
The short answer is yes, but you cannot build a Biotop pond or pool by yourself.
However, we can offer a halfway house that may be more economical, or suitable for DIY enthusiasts, if you want to be sure of the reliability and quality that a Biotop pool brings. We can look at your site with you, assess its suitability, and agree your design (we can design one for you, if you like). Once work has reached a suitable stage for the installation of our Biotop technical equipment we will deliver, fit and commission it. There will a pro rata charge for each visit and a cost for the equipment. The result will be a Biotop certified natural swimming pond or pool, benefitting from all the backup services offered by Biotop.
This service is also popular with clients who are undertaking major property building/refurbishment works and already have workers, landscapers and equipment on site.
Do you need planning permission?
Generally, planning permission is not required if a natural swimming pond or pool is to be built in an existing garden. If the pool is to be built on existing farmland then a change of use permission should be obtained: this is usually looked upon favourably because of the ecological advantages that a natural swimming pond brings.
Those with listed buildings should check with their local authorities.
Some larger schemes may be regarded as civil engineering projects and thus involve building control permissions.
Can a Natural Swimming Pond be heated?
There is no short answer to this.
It is impractical and uneconomical to heat a swimming pond where the water is cleaned through the action of aquatic plants that are planted in the same body of water. It is possible where the plants grow in a separate pond and the water circulates between that and the heated swimming chamber via pipework. The swimming chamber should be covered when not in use to conserve heat.
However, our clients will testify that natural swimming ponds heat up more readily from sunshine and warm weather: the water in the shallow reed bed areas heats up quickly and circulates to the swimming chamber. You can choose a black or dark coloured liner that absorbs heat more readily. Furthermore, a dark liner produces a beautiful mirror effect and when it’s too cold to swim, you have something beautiful to look at and enhance your garden.
Our Living Pool range of biofilter only, naturally cleaned swimming pools contain no reed bed filtration and may be heated in the same fashion as a conventional pool.
What about frogs and toads and creepy crawlies?
Our ponds become full of life from microscopic creatures to frogs and toads. That is what makes them work and makes them such a wonderful asset. Children absolutely adore them for this reason. It may be some small consolation to those that worry about such things that most of the larger aquatic creatures tend to inhabit the planted areas outside the swimming chamber, but that is no guarantee.
How do you prevent algae, blanket weed and green water?
In short, we work with nature, not against it.
Green water is the result of single cell algae growth and blanket weed is the growth of string-like or filamentous algae. One of the key elements to the growth of algae is the presence of phosphorous in the water. Without a phosphorous count of more than 10 parts per million, algae will not grow. Biotop recognised that the key to algae control without algaecides (of which chlorine is one) is to reduce phosphorous levels. To achieve this, Biotop has developed the Phostec and Ultraphostec which employs a pressure vessel. The natural swimming pool water passes through a special mineral granulate that absorbs phosphorous and renders it inhospitable to algae growth. We cannot kill all algae growth, but we control it to acceptable levels so that periodic growth in spring and autumn is mainly confined to areas around plant stems and roots. Dead and decaying plant matter must be reduced during the spring and autumn maintenance cycle.
What sort of maintenance is required and is it expensive?
Running costs are low as there is no need for continuous dosing with noxious chemicals. We use low wattage pumps within a low water-lift architecture, which uses less energy and puts little strain on the pumps.
The bottom of the swimming chamber should be vacuumed 2 or 3 times a year.
All top growth should be removed in the early winter.
Some oxygenating plants should be cut back at the end of spring.
Sometimes the plants my need some Biotop fertilizer.
Sometimes, natural blanket weed control is needed.
Casual removal of floating leaves and matter that doesn’t make it to the skimmers with a hand net is undertaken: many people find this therapeutic!
The skimmers need emptying.
Every few years the planted areas need overhauling.
Most of this is pleasurable and free. Poolscape also offers maintenance contracts for the busy.
Aren't saltwater pools a natural alternative to chlorination?
Saltwater pools are another method of chlorination whereby salt (sodium chloride) is converted to chlorine by passing an electric current between metal plates as the water is pumped over them. The amount of chlorine produced is lower and more optimal than pools where chlorine is added, but a saltwater pool is still a chlorinated pool and thus not natural.
Can you provide back up and guarantees?
As partners of Biotop, Poolscape benefits from the very best equipment and development programs in the field. We actually spend time troubleshooting the ponds of some of our competition. We have the best resourced back up there is.
All our equipment comes with manufacturers guarantees, but for understandable reasons we cannot guarantee the quality of the water. Some of our clients like to have an annual analysis of the water which we gladly organise and work with clients to make any adjustment required.
What about safety for children, in particular?
We always work closely with our clients to make our natural swimming ponds and pools as safe as they would like to be, and as is possible.
We can use elements of landscaping and location to provide discreet fencing. At present clients are not required to provide close fencing required under EU law for conventional pools.
Naturally, children should always be supervised.
Can you put fish in a Biotop Natural Pond or Pool?
We do not advise it, nor would we supply fish to put in one.
Fish poo simply provides too much nutrient for our plants and bio-filters to cope with safely.
Can we have a waterfall or fountain in our natural swimming pool or pond?
Yes, you can, but be prepared for more maintenance, as blanket weed can take a tenacious grip on any rocks and stones over which a waterfall or fountain might tumble.
We have a stream which we could widen to become a Biotop natural swimming pond with a constant supply of fresh water:wouldn't that be ideal?
If you live in a mountainous area with no agriculture and few sheep; such as the Alps, then that would be ideal. Indeed, it was through the study of Alpine lakes as to how they keep so clean and clear (the science of limnology) that led to the foundation of Biotop. Unfortunately, most streams and rivers are tainted with agricultural chemicals and nutrient by- products that make them very difficult to keep clean and clear. Biotop natural ponds and pools depend on closed circulatory systems and we build each one to ensure that there is no ingress of run-off water. It is possible to incorporate a Biotop pool into a flowing stream landscape so that it appears to be part of the stream and, indeed to use the stream water to fill the pond and for topping up purposes, but we would not allow a stream to flow through a Biotop natural pool or pond. Remember, Biotop pools are cleaned through the circulation of water through aquatic plant roots and gravel/grit or sponge bio-filters.
Of course, many people enjoy swimming in natural and homemade ponds, but they are usually very muddy and ad hoc affairs used only on very hot summers days. We offer a more consistently usable product.