Sweetwater Landscape Inc FAQ

Let’s face it, there seem to be more questions than answers regarding water features. We hope to address some of these more frequently asked questions below. If you have a question about anything below or a question not asked below please contact us here or give us a call 707-887-0140. We are happy to answer your water feature and landscape related questions.

Water Features FAQ’s

Will my water feature attract Mosquitos?

Yes, most of us know Mosquitos are attracted to Stagnant Water to lay their eggs. The eggs soon hatch into larva, which most of us have seen in water. A properly designed and functioning water feature will have enough water flow to break the lifecycle of the Mosquitos by tossing, tumbling and drowning the mosquito larva. Most pond fish including Koi will consider any bug including Mosquito larva a delicious meal.

Back to Index

Will Raccoons get my fish?

Yes…but… Many small ponds including preform tubs will certainly experience this issue more often. Slightly larger ponds fair mulch better, because the raccoon can’t simply stand at the edge and swipe for the fish. We have found over the years Koi are particularly at risk during spawning. The koi search for shallow water to lay and fertilize their eggs and do not pay much attention to predators during spawning.

Back to Index

How to keep koi fish safe from predators?

What to do? Number 1 on the list is to build a fish cave or fish hiding place so your fish have a safe place to hide during a predator attack. Second is a Dog, our loyal companions often offer the first line of defense when a predator comes to visit our pond. Third is a motion sensor sprinkler often called a Scare Crow. The last line of defense if needed could be either a net over the pond or an electric wire placed around the pond perimeter (this is the very rare case). Bonus – A DeKoi (decoy plastic Koi fish) can be placed and tethered by a fishing line. The DeKoi will be the one fish the predator attacks, giving your pets time to hide. Find an example of a DeKoi here.

Back to Index

Rocks and Gravel FAQ’s

Will Rocks and gravel hurt my fish?

No rocks and gravel will not hurt your fish, but if your fish have a parasite such as Flukes, your fish will try and get rid of the parasite by rubbing against just about anything to find relief. The parasite would be the issue, not rocks and gravel.

Back to Index

Will Rocks and gravel make my pond hard to clean?

So many people would say yes, but the truth is a properly constructed Ecosystem Pond is very easy to clean and maintain. Rocks and gravel are a natural component that not only enhance the natural beauty of a pond, but equally important rocks and gravel provide 12x’s the surface area for our beneficial bacteria colonies within the pond. These beneficial bacteria colonies are a very important part of the nitrogen cycle breaking down ammonia into nitrites, then nitrites to nitrates (plant food), think balance.

Back to Index

Will my pond or water feature have Algae?

Yes… Water, air and sun are the ingredients for algae. There are many species and sub species of algae, but for the sake of argument lets classify algae into two groups for now. 1) Platonic algae is the pea soup colored water often associated with ponds and stagnant water. String algae is the flowing strings or matts of algae, but your water is clear.

Back to Index

How do I get rid of Algae?

First step is to identify what type of algae are we dealing with, platonic algae or string algae. Next is choose the appropriate treatment measures. You have many treatment options including the addition of pond plant material to compete with the algae’s food source, add additional beneficial bacteria, add a fish safe algaecide such as Aquascape’s Liquid Algaecide (a phosphate binder). Bonus – We use and recommend the Aquascape Automatic Dosing system. This system adds beneficial bacteria, enzymes and phosphate binders automatically and daily to your pond. Greatly reducing maintenance.

Back to Index

What is importance of algae?

An important note about Mother Natures great plant, Algae. Algae is probably the most important plant on the planet. We would not be here to day without the presence of algae of one form or another. Your water feature should have algae, the algae should be part of a very important biofilm. The right algae in the right place can actually help you keep your pond or water feature clean. Too much algae does cause problems within a closed system such as a pond or water feature, thus the need for algae control.

Back to Index

I was told I have to have a UV light in pond to get rid of the green water?

Some ponds absolutely need a UV light to combat pea soup / green water algae. Ponds constructed consisting of the proper mechanical filtration, bio-filtration and recirculatory system will not need a UV light. We think of a UV light as a bandaid to a much larger problem.

Back to Index

Do I need to stop feeding my Koi in the winter?

Yes! Even though Northern California is not really known for harsh winters, our water temperatures get cold enough to stop feeding. As water temperatures approach 50* F your Koi fish ability to digest food is greatly reduced. Koi enter a state of semi-hibernation and their body functions including the need for food decrease. Koi do not have stomachs, the food they consume is digested in their intestines. Feeding in the winter can cause bacterial infections in the gut. Do not feed your Koi fish below 50*!

Back to Index

Are ponds safe for kids?

I want a water feature, but I have small children or grand kids? Safety is always the first concern regarding water features and ponds. We should always think of the impact a water feature will have on our lives concerting the safety and wellbeing of our small children. Water attracts kids and the first line of defense is to never leave your small children unattended around water. We have many clients that initially wanted a pond, but safety concerns raised red flags. In these cases a Pondless Waterfall was the way to go. With a Pondless Waterfall we have the ability to provide the sight, sound and peacefulness of a mountain stream or babbling brook with a maximum depth of water 2”-3”. The Pondless Waterfall is a great option for safety, people on the go and for those who want the water feature, but not necessarily the pond.

Back to Index

How long does it take to construct a pond or water feature?

The average pond or water feature takes about 3 days to complete, while small fountains may only take  few hours and very large ponds may take 3 weeks.

Back to Index

Can my water feature run on solar?

Depends… Small solar pumps work marginally okay for smaller fountain features. Although our pond and waterfall pumps can be very energy efficient, the solar panel to run the average pond or waterfall pump would be very big and not cost effective. We do have many ponds and waterfalls that are powered by a whole house solar system and these pumps perform very well.

Back to Index

Landscape FAQ’s

Do you guys install landscapes?

Yes we do! Although landscape is in our name, there has been some confusion because we do specialize in naturalistic water features. Over the years water features have led to a lot of landscape work and installations. The detail in the water feature work transcends to our landscape construction.

Back to Index

Do you provide landscape maintenance?

No we do not, but are happy to recommend one of our landscape maintenance friends to help you out.

Back to Index

Wood Mulch or Rock Mulch?

There are benefits to ‘mulching’ with both although there are more benefits using the right wood mulch product. Rock or gravel mulch can be the look you are after and is very easily maintained, simply rock or gravel mulch stays in place better. The negatives to rock and gravel mulch is that the gravel does not provide any nutrient value to your plants and the heat absorbed can cause plant burning / stress issues on the hotter days. Wood mulch does provide varying nutrient value to the soil, insulates the soil from heat and cold protecting plants and holds moisture in the soil. Choosing the right mulch for your garden is a very important last step in a successful landscape installation.

Back to Index

I want to install my landscape in phases, is that possible?

This question comes up a few times every year and really has to be considered on a case by case basis. Like most home improvements you the client, the integrity of the project and the best use of the contractors time is crucial to a successful landscape installation. The key in doing a job in phases is to pick the phases in the right order, not necessarily the order the client has in mind, but the order the job dictates. We have broken the steps down in order to help our clients visualize the complete process here.

Back to Index

Will my new landscape add value to my home?

Yes! a tastefully designed and well constructed landscape will most definitely add value to your home ( Money magazine estimates that you can expect a return of  100%-200% of your landscaping construction cost, should you decide to sell). More importantly is the stress relief value the landscape provides you, the home owner. Value is a very subjective word. Value pertains to money spent and enjoyment of your new landscape.

Back to Index

Do you provide design drawings?

Yes although on a limited basis. We do however work with other landscape designers and can recommend a designer if needed.

Back to Index

Are you licensed and insured?

Yes! Yes! Yes? The state of California requires all home improvement contractors to be licensed in their trade and part of that is the requirement to carry a bond and Workers Compensation Insurance. We also carry a $1m liability policy for our protection and yours.

Back to Index

I just need a quick and cheap landscape, do you do this?

No we are probably not a good fit.

Back to Index

Do you provide free estimates?

Yes, over the phone based on photos you provide and the conversation of what your wants and desires are. After a phone conversation discussing your project we can give you a pretty good ball park figure. If that figure or the conversation leads to a different figure that is agreeable we can then schedule a design consultation. The initial design consultation is the beginning of the design process, takes about 1.5 hrs onsite and starts at $250. All residential design costs including plan costs will be rolled into the cost of the job, providing you choose us to construct your landscape.

Back to Index

How much does landscaping cost?

The easy answer is ‘it depends’, while true this answer does not offer much insight. We actually love this question, because it is a question that leads too many more questions, so we can discover together what exactly you have in mind. Major factors that influence landscape costs are grading and drainage, hardscape including walls, patios, walkways, garden boxes, water features, arbors and other structures. So in the end it does depend.

Back to Index

Can you help me save water in my landscape?

Most often a big yes! Through new and I believe affordable technologies in equipment and practices, we can certainly save water in your landscape.

Back to Index