Koi pond

Stainless steel Diamond Spa hot tub converted into a custom koi pond with waterfall. Underwater lighting and ground level landscape frame the focal point. Reynolds residence.

By Annaliese Jakimides
Photography by Tanek Hood

For thousands of years, water gardens have been a focus of public and private gardens in a variety of cultures. The earliest planned gardens that employed water features were likely in Egypt around 2800 BCE. Although water is clearly the focus of life on LBI, creating intentional waterscapes in our backyards is a recent development here.
For any one of us, a leisurely day off may mean a trip to one of our fabulous beaches or entertaining in our backyard, often around the pool, visiting family and friends. For some of the staff at Reynolds Landscaping and Garden Shop, a day off is also an opportunity to explore and dream about what’s in their blood—land and water plants. You could find such plants at Longwood Gardens (over 1,000 acres in Kennett Square, PA) or Grounds for Sculpture (just shy of 50 acres in Hamilton Township, NJ). Both are noted as landscape design landmarks with significant areas of water that are contemporary and classic.

Underwater camera view of koi in the pond feature. McCabe residence.

At Reynolds, the last 15 years have been devoted to developing custom landscapes, many of which have included a variety of water-based landscape features, waterfalls, koi ponds, and fountains. Inspired by the powerful dynamic that water is in larger environments, Reynolds has learned to create water features to scale that don’t compromise that experience.

People love both the visual and auditory aspects of water, so building water into your landscape can be more impactful than other features. Once you are clear about your lifestyle and your budget, the setting will dictate which water feature is right for you. If you don’t know what that is, Reynolds will help you determine what best suits your lifestyle. Most large water features will require a contractor with the ability to provide advanced features. To complete a small or large pond there are some essential, and technical, components: two dedicated 120 V GFI circuits for the lighting and pumps, appropriately sized pump set-up and stand, filtration, privacy enclosure or screening for pump and filter, service set-up, and possibly a UV light to filter.

Ultimately your water feature and the site it inhabits, whether mainland or on-island, will become the focus of the home from inside and outside, at night and during the day. Choosing a site in a flat area with minimal grade changes drives many of the koi ponds and water features Reynolds builds. Prior to the Industrial Age and the invention of the water pump, water could only be diverted from river and springs into the water garden. Although faster water can now be created with the use of pumps and diverting valves, Reynolds is committed to working as much as possible with what nature has provided.

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From a pond-less waterfall to a 100-gallon koi pond to a 3,000-gallon pond with waterfalls and boulders, the basics that go into designing the ideal water feature for any family relate to some key pieces. The orientation and position must be prominent to draw your eye. The soft, soothing effect of the water needs to relate to the seating areas. The primary focus is on plants, but they will sometimes also house ornamental fish. The decision to add fish means the client must commit to the work, feeding and care required.

Over the years, Reynolds has learned how to get the most from the land without compromising it. They know water in its natural state (on the bay, along the beach) and repurposed (water gardens, waterfalls, koi ponds). They know aquatic plants. They know fish—out there in the ocean, and in an artificially constructed water feature. More than anything, they know people and how much they value their time at home on LBI.

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