The book “Complete Guide to Water Gardens Ponds and Fountains” gives you everything you need to know to build and run a small to medium sized water feature in your yard.

The book lays out every detail in clearly worded and well organized sections with plenty of supportive photographs and images.

It is focused on all garden water features but it is not a book on natural pools. The reason I read it was to increase my knowledge in natural pool building and upkeep because even though that is not the focus of the book, natural swimming pools share everything in common with a typical natural pond.

From that perspective I did learn a lot about how to build a natural swimming pool.

But if you are simply looking to build a pond then this book is more than adequate.

Eco Brooklyn offers as one of its eco garden design and construction services the construction of natural ponds, bogs and wetlands. A Manhattan or Brooklyn garden is not big but the NY ecosystem  lends itself wonderfully to water features.

Brooklyn gets 4 inches of rain per month regardless of whether it is August or January. If your average plot is 80’x20′ then that is a monthly deluge of 3700 gallons of water.

For your average brownstone that is not a local problem since all that water flows into the sewer system to become somebody elses very big problem. There is a reason our waterways are cesspools of sewer.

But when Eco Brooklyn does a green renovation of a brownstone we disconnect all drains from the sewer system.

This makes the water our problem and not somebody elses. It is a big resposibily, especially if you are thinking long term like we are. What if every brownstone disconnected from the sewer system. That is a hell of a lot of water to deal with on site.

The last thing you want is everyone’s back garden to become a flood zone every time it rains.

And this doesn’t take into account the extra brownstone average 2000 gallons per month of gray water produced that you are also now diverting from the sewer.

So what do you do?

Enter the water feature, part aesthetics part water management.


Depending on how visible you want the water feature to be you can go from one extreme where half your garden is a natural pond to the other extreme where you barely see the water in your yard because it all drains below the engineered ground.

A natural pond, or ideally swimming pond, needs areas for plants to grow since the water plants filter the water and keep it clean. It really comes down to how much of the yard you want to allot to the filter area.

This area is full of plants so like any planted area you don’t step on it. So it doesn’t effect you much if that area is a shallow pond, a marsh, a bog or a rain garden – all different options for water management.

Each option has its character in terms of how it looks and the plants it has. They are all beautiful in their own right. It really just comes down to the design of the garden.

Back to the book, the one thing they don’t stress enough is the importance of using only native plants in the water feature. They list the really dangerous invasive plants which is great. They do a good job at pointing out how these invasive plants can get into waterways through seeds and other means and clog them up with growth that is inedible to local wildlife, thus creating a monoculture dead zone that can continue unchecked forever unless people actually go in and physically remove the plant – an expensive and almost futile effort.

Many parts of the US are getting overgrown by invasive plants and it is a real problem.

I have a VERY liberal view when it comes to US immigration law but when it comes to imported plants and animals I am a downright isolationist.

The book has a great list of plant options but unfortunately a lot of them are not native so use the list with care and seek out only the plants native to your area. The plants you choose are very important because a natural water feature is nothing without the right collection of plants to aerate and filter the water.

Eco Brooklyn has expanded this year to offer Ecological Garden and Water Management Services to the Manhattan and Brooklyn home owners. This may be a natural swimming pool, a rain garden or an integrated system of managing all the house hold water. We look forward to growing this very important part of our business.