Boost your design/build portfolio with ponds and water features

May 19, 2023 -  By
Water features are a great way to retain customers over time, experts say. (Photo: Blue Thumb)

Water features are a great way to retain customers over time, experts say. (Photo: Blue Thumb)

If you wish to broaden your service offering or jump-start growth, ponds and water features are a logical addition. Here are compelling reasons to add this service to your professional repertoire.

Customer Expectations

Whether it’s a large pond or a simple fountain, consumers value water elements. These features don’t need to be complex. For example, a simple set of 3-foot basalt columns with water flowing at the top adds beauty to an established outdoor area.

“Landscaping, in general, is silent, and water features bring a pleasant, mellifluous dimension to that environment,” says Demi Fortuna, director of product information at Atlantic-OASE.

Brandt Reynolds, contractor sales manager at Blue Thumb, says the average customer desires the benefits water features add to an outdoor environment.

“Someone can sign up for a $30,000 patio installation with a fire pit and patio seating area,” he says. “But nine times out of 10, their favorite element is that base fountain tucked into a corner by the patio door. Or it will be the fountain by the fire pit that places elements of fire and water into the landscape.”

Easy addition

Experience with irrigation installations and pool construction is a solid foundation for water feature services. Familiarity with pump sizes and filtration requirements also applies to this work. In addition, landscape and design/build contractors generally have the equipment — from hand tools to compact loaders — to complete these jobs.

In addition, many suppliers offer water feature kits and turnkey packages simplify the installation process for contractors. Fortuna says kits are a great place to start.

“The kits give you the information you need to guarantee a successful project before you really know what you’re doing,” he says. “They’re set up for beginners or even experienced pond builders. They make it easy to gain experience with water features. And they (prepare contractors) to do custom installations.”

Partnering with a local pond supplier offers newcomers essential knowledge and know-how to minimize mistakes and ensure project success, says Todd Cruikshank, owner of The Pond and Rock Shop.

“Vendors are always willing to lend a hand on-site with your projects, and ponds are no different,” Cruikshank says. “I would recommend lining up site visits from my vendors on the first couple of jobs to ensure we install their products according to the manufacturer’s specifications.”

Attractive margins

Adding water features to existing hardscapes is an attractive profit center. While the profit margin for this work is attractive, every project has challenges. Factors such as project size, complexity, location, accessibility and even the unknown, all affect costs and the bottom line.

“The more complicated it gets, believe it or not, the less profitable they are,” Fortuna adds. “The projects can get a little crazy, and those really are for the more experienced contractor.”

Additional opportunities

After installation, discuss an ongoing service plan with your client to properly maintain the feature. For example, a fountain bathed in sunlight for 8-10 hours daily will develop an algae problem.

There are recurring opportunities to put these systems to bed for winter and get them going again in spring. Lastly, Reynolds says clients often develop a passion for their water
features that drives them to expand their environment.

“Nine times out of 10, they want to make it bigger and add a different element,” he says. “The opportunity is there. Once they’ve got that passion, they’ll want to change something within a few years, and that’s a new installation for you.”

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