The scoop on pond installs as an add-on service

Pond with a fountain (Photo: A+ Watercare and Fountains)
Pond with a fountain (Photo: A+ Watercare and Fountains)
Pond with a fountain (Photo: A+ Watercare and Fountains)
Details such as a water fountain can circulate the water within a pond, but adding lights and music can also make it showstopping. (Photo: A+ Watercare and Fountains)

When it comes to ponds and aquatic works, there are many options available, from small water features to something as large as a few thousand gallons. But is adding an aquatics division the right move for your operation?

For Mark Harpenau, owner of A+ Lawn & Landscape and A+ Watercare and Fountains in Des Moines, Iowa, it was about expanding his company’s portfolio.

“It was a niche that we thought could go well with what we already offer as a full-service company,” he says. “We mow, we do landscaping, construction — everything about lawn care we do.”

Harpenau was approached five years ago by the owner of tree care and aquatics business to buy the operation.

“Not a lot of people work with water, you can charge more per hour,” he adds. “On the mowing end of it, you only charge $40 or $50 an hour. In the pond business, since it’s a specialty like a plumber or electrician, you can charge $125 an hour.”

He adds $125 an hour is for a typical service call — including drive time — which can last for 20 minutes or more.

Know your stuff

It’s important to find a good pond equipment supplier, one that offers educational opportunities, advises Winfield Lentz, owner and project manager for Wild Bamboo Pond & Landscape in Fort Meyers, Fla. Lentz uses Aquascape’s product line. Many companies like Aquascape offer trainings and certifications on pond care and how to use the products. Companies also sometimes offer training on how to sell the products to clients.

“Take that training,” he says. “When you’re selling the pond, it’s not just the aesthetics and the look, but it’s also the maintenance.”

Also, many manufacturers have brochures landscape professionals can share with clients, all to help better educate them on what their service provider is doing and how to care for their purchase.

“Very few people want to spend $25,000 on a black box,” he says. “Your standard pond customer wants to know a little bit more about how it works.”

Before beginning a project, it’s critical to understand exactly what the client wants and what you as a service provider feel comfortable doing.

“It’s all about making sure you’re installing what the homeowner needs and balancing out that with what the homeowner wants,” he says. “That’s one of the frequent mistakes that I find, the wrong system was put in for the maintenance level.”

Lentz also says it’s a good idea to start small when it comes to a pond or water installation.

“If you have space in your yard, put in a small water feature,” Lentz says. “It’s good practice for you and for your crew. Having one yourself, then you can learn some of the tricks.”

Watch the details

Knowing what type of equipment is available for use in ponds is another key step. This way, contractors can advise clients on best management practices for keeping water moving and what type of depths are effective.

“You can put a fountain in or a diffuser in the fountain, you can put lights or different color lights, you can put music with it,” he says. “Now you’re controlling the water, but you’re also taking that piece of water and making it beautiful. You can kind of make it look like the Bellagio.”

On the other hand, Lentz says sometimes all the client wants is a piece of nature. In that case, the best way to construct as natural looking of a
water feature as you can is to get out in nature and look at how waterfalls and ponds are created.

“You can do a lot of things with a lot of practice and just observing nature,” he says. “What nature has already done, don’t try and reinvent it, just work with it.”

Christina Herrick headshot (Photo: LM Staff)

Christina Herrick

Christina Herrick is a former Editor for Landscape Management. A Journalist graduate from Ohio Northern University, Christina is known for sharing her insightful experiences on the road with her audience.

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