Decorative koi pond in a garden pacific northwest

Outdoor ponds are an amazing feature in any landscape. However, not all fishes thrive in outdoor ponds, and the Pacific Northwest regional climate could be hard on your choice of fish. Thus, there are several things you should consider before choosing a fish species for your outdoor pond. Some of these factors include:

  • Pond Fish Capacity – It’s pertinent to check the number of fishes your pond can accommodate. This is a significant factor for choosing fish species that will live in your pond.
  • Oxygen Requirement – All fishes are not the same. While some require more oxygen and space, others can survive in environments with restricted amounts of oxygen. For instance, Goldfishes can survive in ponds with a lower oxygen level than Koi.
  • Cold Water Fish – When you think about outdoor ponds, you should consider cold water fishes mainly. Since outdoor ponds are located outside, where the element is mostly uncontrolled, cold water fishes can survive easily.

Here’s a list of fishes that have proven to survive in outdoor ponds:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi Carp
  • Crucian Carp
  • Chinese Barb
  • Peppered Corydoras
  • Flagfish
  • Red Shiner

Selecting the best fish species for your pond is the most important factor of owning an outdoor pond. You can choose any of the fishes listed above for your pond, as they are some of the hardiest fishes that are ideal for outdoor ponds. If you need help installing your outdoor pond, you can reach out to us at Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping today!

landscaping around your waterfall or water feature

Landscaping around your waterfall or pond is an easy and effective way of adding beauty and value to your landscape. Whether your waterfall is a lavish or budgeted one, the addition of thoughtful landscaping around it can also help include an element of relaxation and tranquility. The following are some beautiful landscaping ideas and designs you can use, as well as ways to go about landscaping around your water feature.

  1. Pick a Style

Before you begin landscaping around your waterfall, it is important to choose a style or theme. Although there are many landscaping styles to choose from, picking the one which complements the overall theme and design of your home can help make it stand out. Some of the most common landscaping styles include Asian, Tropical, Desert Oasis, etc. If you live in an environment that supports it, a desert oasis design is very easy to arrange and also aesthetically pleasing, too.

  1. Choose the Plants to be used

 The type of plants you want to use for your landscaping depends solely on your personal taste as well as climate, and budget. The plants you use should also be able to tolerate constant splashing of water, as there are certain plants which cannot handle so much water. If you have a luscious garden, you can choose plants like Pussy Willows, Red Osier Dogwood or Hawaiian Ti. Bamboos, in addition to the others, are great choices because they are easy to maintain and can add a beautiful backdrop to your waterfall.

  1. Add Effects

You can choose to create any design you want artificially or simply manipulate vegetation to add visual effects for you. For instance, you can use plants and rocks to shape the waterfall and also decorate it however you see fit. You can also decide to combine an already existing waterfall with another feature such as a pond or a pool to make it stand out even more.

  1. Construct a Water Source

There is a common misconception that plants around a waterfall do not need a source of water because they are already close to one. This is often incorrect, as plants around a waterfall also require a source of water for them to thrive. It is therefore important to construct an adequate supply of water for plants around your waterfall, as failure to do so will kill your plants. Also, the source of water for the plants should come from a different source aside from the waterfall itself, as water from the waterfall is not ideal.

  1. Avoid Shaded Areas

When landscaping around your waterfall, try as much as possible to avoid planting your foliage in areas where the shade from the water feature covers the plants. While a little shade is alright for your plants, it is important that they get an adequate supply of direct sunlight if they are to flourish as you expect them to. Ensure that they get their optimum amount of sunlight daily to aid their growth.

Landscaping around your waterfall will definitely enhance the beauty of your garden or yard. However, to explore all the available options and make sure it’s done right, consider hiring a professional landscaper, such as Levys Lawn & Landscaping. At Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping, we’re experts at designing beautiful water features, including thoughtful landscaping design, in your yard.  Contact us for an assessment of your yard.

landscaping around your waterfall or water feature

Landscaping around your waterfall or pond is an easy and effective way of adding beauty and value to your landscape. Whether your waterfall is a lavish or budgeted one, the addition of thoughtful landscaping around it can also help include an element of relaxation and tranquility. The following are some beautiful landscaping ideas and designs you can use, as well as ways to go about landscaping around your water feature.

  1. Pick a Style

Before you begin landscaping around your waterfall, it is important to choose a style or theme. Although there are many landscaping styles to choose from, picking the one which complements the overall theme and design of your home can help make it stand out. Some of the most common landscaping styles include Asian, Tropical, Desert Oasis, etc. If you live in an environment that supports it, a desert oasis design is very easy to arrange and also aesthetically pleasing, too.

  1. Choose the Plants to be used

 The type of plants you want to use for your landscaping depends solely on your personal taste as well as climate, and budget. The plants you use should also be able to tolerate constant splashing of water, as there are certain plants which cannot handle so much water. If you have a luscious garden, you can choose plants like Pussy Willows, Red Osier Dogwood or Hawaiian Ti. Bamboos, in addition to the others, are great choices because they are easy to maintain and can add a beautiful backdrop to your waterfall.

  1. Add Effects

You can choose to create any design you want artificially or simply manipulate vegetation to add visual effects for you. For instance, you can use plants and rocks to shape the waterfall and also decorate it however you see fit. You can also decide to combine an already existing waterfall with another feature such as a pond or a pool to make it stand out even more.

  1. Construct a Water Source

There is a common misconception that plants around a waterfall do not need a source of water because they are already close to one. This is often incorrect, as plants around a waterfall also require a source of water for them to thrive. It is therefore important to construct an adequate supply of water for plants around your waterfall, as failure to do so will kill your plants. Also, the source of water for the plants should come from a different source aside from the waterfall itself, as water from the waterfall is not ideal.

  1. Avoid Shaded Areas

When landscaping around your waterfall, try as much as possible to avoid planting your foliage in areas where the shade from the water feature covers the plants. While a little shade is alright for your plants, it is important that they get an adequate supply of direct sunlight if they are to flourish as you expect them to. Ensure that they get their optimum amount of sunlight daily to aid their growth.

Landscaping around your waterfall will definitely enhance the beauty of your garden or yard. However, to explore all the available options and make sure it’s done right, consider hiring a professional landscaper, such as Levys Lawn & Landscaping. At Levy’s Lawns and Landscaping, we’re experts at designing beautiful water features, including thoughtful landscaping design, in your yard.  Contact us for an assessment of your yard.

Do you have an area in your yard that’s subject to water retention, mud or swamp-like conditions? How about installing a rain garden? Rain gardens collect runoff from the roof, your dry creek bed feature, the sidewalk, patio or deck. The shallow depression of the rain garden, in combination with the plants you’ve added, allow the water to seep back into the soil and protect pollutants from entering waterways. Additionally, they are inexpensive and attractive additions to your yard, as well as being environmentally sound solutions to urban storm-water runoff. Instead of pushing any fertilizers or pesticides into the street and subsequent waterways, these chemicals are contained and will slowly percolate into the soil. A rain garden can benefit your yard through pollution control, protection from floods, habitat creation and water conservation. Also, some counties in Washington offer up to $1000.00 in reimbursements if it is properly done and native garden products are used.

Here are a few steps to take when building your rain garden:

  1. Make sure you have an even depression or berm in your yard, located at least 10’ from your house foundation. Tamp down the soil with a shovel or your feet.
  2. There are three zones to your rain garden. Try to use native plants in your berm. The outside zone should be planted with plants that tolerate drier conditions such as the western bleeding heart, or Beech strawberry. The middle zone should contain plants that will tolerate some standing water, like the Snowberry. In the center zone, plant ferns, sedges or grasses.

You’ll end up with a pretty, easy care garden that will be a wonderful addition.

There’s nothing quite as soothing as the sound of a waterfall or trickling stream. Many backyard enthusiasts like to landscape with a water feature. If you live in the Seattle area, you might also wonder what kind of fish to get, once your pond or waterfall has been installed. We can help!

First, we’d like to offer a few guidelines. Non-native species of reptiles, amphibians (especially bullfrogs), and fish wreak havoc on the local environment if they escape your pond. They can take over habitats and food supplies, as well as introduce diseases to wild populations. Choose from a quality pond supply or garden store when selecting your fish.

The introduction of fish will alter your pond’s ecosystem. Plus, if your fish reproduce resulting in overpopulation, the fish can end up stressed, add excess ammonia to the water from waste products and deplete the oxygen of the water, resulting in an unhealthy ecosystem. We’ll have more tips on proper filtration coming soon.

Here are a few of our favorite fish for the backyard pond:

  • Koi – Koi are ornamental varieties of common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens. They add color to your pond and are relatively easy to keep.
  • Goldfish – A popular choice of fish for a water garden, these fish are well suited for almost any pond size. Goldfish come in a number of varieties and colors.
  • Golden Orfe – Orfe are pretty rocket shaped fish, yellow orange in color. They often have black spots on the head and silvery flanks. They’re very fast and surface feed primarily. They eat insects, small worms and possibly fish fry.
  • Plecostomus – These catfish-like sucker fish are great bottom-feeders. Known to clean up what other fish leave behind, they can be great assets to your pond.

Need help installing a water feature in your backyard landscape? Give us a call. We excel at designing and building pleasing backyard water features.

hardscaped yards in the pacific northwest

Let’s face it—here in the Pacific Northwest, we have an abundance of rain. The rain leaves us with green forests, abundant plant life and, from spring to fall, a swiftly growing lawn.

If you’d like to put away the mower for good, you might consider lawn free landscaping. If done right, this type of landscaping can provide you with less maintenance, as well as a lot more texture, color and visual appeal. And, it can save you money—gone are the water costs for keeping your lawn green and lush. You can say good-bye to having to fertilize the ground surrounding your house. No more back-breaking weekends spent mowing or dumping lawn trimmings, or having to pay to have your lawn maintained by someone else. Instead, you get to relax and enjoy your yard instead of being a slave to it.

Here are a few ideas for lawn free landscaping ideas in the Pacific Northwest, including Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and Belfair:

  • Go native! There is an abundance of native plants in our region, perfect for maintenance free landscaping. Plants already adapted to their native environment generally require less hand-watering, far less fuss, and will blend nicely with cultivated plant species. Choose from small to medium sized trees like dogwood (which look splendid when covered with spring flowers), or taller trees like the Bitter Cherry tree or Shore pine. Red flowering currant, Tall Oregon grape, and Salal are excellent mid-height plants (less than 10’). Add low growing flowering plants like Trilliumand Cinquefoil, Beach strawberry, ferns and camas to complete the array. To find out more about native plants for our region, please visit the King County website.
  • Create a soothing Zen garden. A winding walkway made of pavers, lined with Japanese maples and dogwoods, and a rock garden peppered with succulents or native grasses, sedge or rushes can create an easy-to-care-for, tranquil oasis. Or, consider placement of Zen-friendly statues, like the laughing Buddha or a tranquil Buddha in meditation. Also, a wind chime or two can turn your yard into a soothing musical oasis.
  • Many yards in the Pacific Northwest are set on slopes. A mix of boulders and flowering shrubs and flowers will both help prevent erosion and add striking curb appeal. Or, create a terraced effect with rust edged steel and pavers. Add some grasses, like Red Tussock, Feather Grass or Variegated Purple Moor. Mix in a Sword Fern or two. You might want some trailing vines, like Virginia Creeper or Trumpet Vine. Avoid ivy as it’s quite invasive.
  • Plant native flowers on either side of a gravel or stone pathway, creating a calming walkway. Dahlias and Shasta Daisies provide height, while Solomon’s Seal, Primrose and Wild Ginger grow lower. The Cardinal Flower yields bright spikes of color in late summer, and appeal to hummingbirds as well.
  • Replace your lawn with a fountain, babbling stream or other water feature. Add lighting to really give a romantic or dramatic effect.
  • Consider an entire hardscaped yard. There’s no reason there has to be plants in your yard. Try an artful sculpture garden. Or, a mix of stone, granite and various kinds of gravel. Surround the hardscape with small shrubs or trees and you’ve got a wow backyard.

If you still need ideas, give us a call at (360) 265-5231. We’ve got great ways to make your yard easy to care for and the experience to back it.

Keep your koi pond free from algae

You’ve done it. The new pond is installed in your Pacific Northwest backyard, complete with waterfall, and, boy, is it a beauty! You’ve added a few koi to add color and a touch of relaxation when you’re sitting next to the water. A pond plant or two gives the fish something to hide in, and you something to delight in as you sit back, put your feet up, and soak in the wonder of the new crowning jewel of your backyard. Now all you need to do is relax and enjoy your new water feature, right? Sadly, no. Next comes the upkeep and maintenance.

There are many culprits that affect the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of your pond. Falling leaves, dirt, dust, even your fine new fish can all contribute to a dirty, scum-filled pond.

Fish produce ammonia from both their gills and kidneys. If allowed to remain, it can, in turn, be toxic to the fish. Even the food pellets you sprinkle at the surface can produce unclean water, as the uneaten bits float to the bottom. Frequent water changes can be helpful, but a filter or bio-filter is a must.

Leaves are some of the worst pond-villains. In a short time, they can completely cover your pond. If left unchecked, they’ll sink and decompose, resulting in poor water quality. They can also produce ammonia, adding to the likely demise of the fish you paid a pretty penny to own! The result may be murky, cloudy, smelly, or even toxic water, as well as dead fish—not the kind of environment you were hoping for.

Before you get out the shovels and the backhoe and prepare to tear it up, let us assure you that it doesn’t have to be difficult to maintain a healthy environment in your pond.

Here are a few “must-have” items for your pond to flourish.

  • Filtration: A great filtration system is a key component in maintaining good water quality. There are many pond filters available on the market. Make sure to get the right one for the size of your pond. Keep the filters clean or replace as needed.
  • Pond pump: A pond pump provides aeration of the water. The attachment of various nozzles can add drama in the pond by adding spits, trickles and shooting fountains.
  • Bio-filters: Biofiltrationis a pollution control technique using living material to capture and biologically degrade pollutants. While not essential, they can greatly increase the health of your pond. Simple biofilters for pond use can consist of black or green boxes submerged in the pond. The boxes hold sponges, brushes or other means of trapping solid particles. They also contain plastic tubing, plastic balls, other plastic shapes, lava rock, special tape, string bags or coke bottle tops, all designed to support the growth of “good” bacteria. The biofilter has a few needs of its own:
    • A good mechanical filtration system to clean the water before it gets to the biofilter.
    • A large quantity of beneficial bacteria to eat the waste products of the fish. Beneficial bacterias include Nitrosomonas bacteria, which consumes the ammonia, turning it into nitrites (harmful to fish); and Nitrobacter bacteria, which then oxidizes the nitrites into nitrates. This becomes food for the plants in your pond.
    • A continuous supply of oxygen provided by the pumps aeration.
    • Good water flow through the biofilter.
  • A long handled leaf rake or scoop will enable you to easily and quickly scoop the leaves from the water’s surface. These can be purchased from your local nursery, Home Depot or Lowe’s, or even purchased online.
  • A pond vacuum can help suck up the debris that collects on the bottom.
  • Certain plants, like Anacharis, a bristly looking vigorous grower, actually help prevent algae growth.
  • Last, but certainly not least, the cheapest way to kill algae in a pond is to put a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in once per week.  Add 32oz per 500 gallons.  It doesn’t hurt the fish. But, always use the correct dosage! If you think some is great, why not use more and decide to use more than suggested, you’re going to do a lot of long-term damage, including stunted plant growth and other mini-ecological disasters. Use moderately, as recommended here.

Make a schedule for your pond and stick to it. This way it will become a matter of course, and not take up too much of your valuable time. And, you’ll be able to enjoy your pond for years to come with minimal care.