Frequently Asked Questions

General

  • How do I get clear pond water?

  • There are essentially 2 approaches to clear water ponds;

    The traditional method of throwing lots of technical kit at a pond striving to battle mother nature into submission. This would involve costly 'pump-room' filters, chemicals etc. Look on YouTube and find even the most determined koi enthusiasts often having to deal with issues no matter how much equipment they have!

    Our clients tend to prefer a more relaxed go with the flow of nature approach.

    Most clients don't want all that hassle and high running costs, so our approach is to build a system that works in harmony with mother nature. For example; no angular shaped ponds, ensuring beneficial bacteria get the right conditions to be effective - such as water moving slowly through bacterial stages, keeping some water below ground and out of sunlight etc

    A pond takes a year or so to establish a biosphere capable of keeping algae in-check. In ponds with plants and filter systems, the cycling can happen more naturally as plants and filter work together to establish a biosphere for your fish.

  • Is a pond just a hole with water in it?

  • Imagine placing a child's paddling pool on your lawn with a foot of water in it. What would it look like in a years time? Full of leaves, muck, dead insects, bird poo, dust and filth. A pond is the same unless properly designed.

    People often say 'well it can't be that complicated, wild ponds manage perfectly well on their own'. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a start very few genuinely wild ponds exist, most are managed & maintained and where wild ponds do succeed it's because they are not closed systems, they receive snow-melt and spring water, streams water and flooding which acts to clean the pond.

    A pond left alone and poorly designed simply wants to become land over time. Good pond design relies upon bio-mimicry of ponds that self-maintain in the wild.

  • What is the best natural swimming pond system?

  • We see swim-ponds where maintenance is very difficult indeed due to poor design, particularly those with gravel beds surrounding the swim-zone. Imagine trying to clean 50 tons of 5ft deep gravel...

    It's very important that the design is built with maintenance in mind so we favor well contained easy to clean filters such as up-flow wetlands.

    Some external factory made equipment is required but can be placed out of site.

  • What is the best filtration system for a pond?

  • The myriad of filtration options can be bewildering. Our philosophy revolves around working with mother nature, not trying to fight her, so from the get go your system is designed to establish a natural balance & not so reliant on machinery.

    A big issue we see is where people have had filter 'boxes' fitted but then daren't ever go near them as they feel intimidated & so over time these systems fail.

    We try and keep your filter system as user friendly and simple as possible. We cab build bespoke filtration units such as Bakki rivers on request.

    Sure if you are the type that loves tinkering for hours on end with equipment then a koi pool might be for you, but our specialty is natural eco-ponds.

  • HERONS!

    Probably the question we're most asked about, how to protect your fish from heron?

    Our number 1 solution is to build a fish cave into which your fish can escape that sharp beak. A determined Heron may still be a problem but a fish cave, where requested, is sound deterrent.

  • What is an ecosystem pond?

  • An ecosystem pond uses a pump concealed safely away from wildlife.

    An intake or skimmer bay is used to 'suck' and direct debris towards an area for simple removal with a net or skimmer basket. This means unlike many ponds debris does not accumulate much in the pond which in turn keep nutrients lower meaning algae and blanket weed are reduced.

    We usually incorporate a bio-falls opposite the skimming area. This is a waterfall with built in filtration layers and the all important habitat for good, cleansing bacteria.

    Plants are key to helping strip the water of nutrients that would otherwise feed algae and blanket weed.

    A thin green film with develop on the rocks and gravel which is vital for a healthy eco-system.

  • Why should I use Creative Cascades to build a water feature or pond?

  • Our particular area of expertise is building ecosystem ponds and water features that work with mother nature and not against her. This means less reliance on man made expensive kit that can be costly to run, and more emphasis on creating systems that work in harmony with nature to keep water cleaner naturally.

  • Outdoor electrical regulations

  • Please note that any outdoor electrical sockets and supplies should be installed by a qualified electrician to current regulatory requirements. Where you request items such as outdoor lighting we will plug into these installations and have assumed they meet current regulations.

  • What services do you offer?

  • We offer a landscaping solution with the focus on water features and ponds as well as planting.

    We also offer some specialist services such as rain water harvesting and flood water systems which can be useful where a space such as a driveway is prone to flooding or a garden with water logged soil.

  • What is the cost?

  • Every pond or water feature is unique and so please contact us to discuss your plans over the phone. We like to ensure what you have in mind is deliverable and where possible we will give a cost indication over the phone.

    Most ponds and water features are poorly done due to contractors or clients having undertaken the work without a full understanding of what is involved. Creating a well functioning low maintenance attractive water feature or pond is a serious undertaking that requires considerable planning and thought. Don't thin it's a case of digging a hole and filling with water - this is a small part of the work involved.

    The price will be fixed at outset and only altered where the client makes additional work requests or if unforeseen tasks are required such as having to address obstacles or existing underground pipes. We are not interested in additional charging unless truly necessary and will always try and find a workaround where possible, for example working around underground obstacles as opposed to trying to remove or re-site them. The bulk of the cost will be for our labour and expertise.

    Obstacles or other impediments may mean we need to change an installation with clients consent.

  • Access to site

  • We will require good access in order to carry out the works. If there heavy deliveries are required these will be at the driver’s discretion on the day. Please ensure at the time of works, we have full and unfettered access and parking.

    Most exterior projects will ideally require use of a hose for various process's such as removing dust and dirt from materials prior to installation, however if you do not have one we can usually find a workaround.

Ponds

  • Please see our Ponds page for all pond related matters.

  • Please click here for more

Waterfalls and water features

  • I want maximum engagement and interactivity with my water feature, what do you suggest?

  • The more you can engage with the water, touch it, feel it swishing past the more meaningful the experience. Choosing to have a waterfall or feature right there in amongst where you sit, will very much enhance the experience.

    Please observe sensible health and safety at all times to include water safety.

  • Why should I consider a pondless water feature?

  • Pondless features are designed to be virtually maintenance free unlike a pond which requires more maintenance and cleaning. The water is stored in a below ground reservoir or above ground trough which also acts as a natural filter in a similar way natural spring water is filtered through stone.

  • What does pondless mean, where does the water go?

  • The diagram below shows the basic workings of a pondless project.

    Pondless waterfalls and features involve an underground reservoir so that above ground standing water is no necessary which means the maintenance issues associated with ponds and pools are avoided. Typically between 2 - 3 feet in depth, and completely concealed from view.

    Some projects will require above ground water storage, for example a modern waterwall where water trickles into an above ground trough which the client does not wish to have place below ground.

    With pondless features it is important the pump is separate from the main chamber as much as possible to avoid clogging which is why we house our pumps in their own self-contained chamber or box-vault. In the event the pump needs a quick clean, ours are easily accessible.

  • Is the pump accessible if its underground?

  • Yes, we ensure easy access via a simple ground level flap. We place all pumps in a separate vault of their own which is easily accessible and only requires a very small amount of gravel or stone to be moved for access. Beware, a cowboy installer will bury your pump deep under gravel making access extremely difficult and messy meaning a long term cost somewhere down the line. Anyone advising you a pump does not need it's own separate vault is not taking into account longer term issues.

  • Do you offer planting advice and services?

  • Very much so, from low maintenance planting schemes to lush jungle type effects, we're more than happy to advise on planting.

    I recommend lush planting around the feature for that truly finished and special look. I would tend to suggest planting that compliments an aquascape to include ferns, acers & fatsias unless the site is very sunny or exposed in which case other plants could be suitable. Of course the choice of planting is all yours, indeed you are free not to have any planting should you prefer.

    The planting is something we’re more than happy to provide and rest assured the soil preparation will be top-notch. Ferns dotted around on the face of a waterfall look particularly striking.

    Shrubs, ferns and small tree’s require little ongoing maintenance other than a quick annual tidy. Flowers and perennials on the other hand tend to require a bit more love and care.

    By all means supply your own plants and let us do the planting if you prefer. Properly proportioned planting will add the finishing wow factor that brings everything together.

  • WATERWALLS - What watewalls do you offer?

  • We offer a hand built bespoke waterwall design and construction service for both indoor and exterior waterwalls.

    The most important aspect when it comes to waterwalls is in avoiding some contemporary erection in your space that may look incongruous and out of place. You may soon tire of it if it’s not in balance with the rest of your space. We’ll help you to think about a design that will keep you contented for years to come.

    There are different ways in which the water can ‘spill’ out onto the wall. We tend towards an invisible top-trough which then overflows out onto the wall. Some clients prefer the water to cascade just in front of the wall.

    Our bespoke walls come in various surface materials such as stainless steel, oxidised coatings, stacked stone, large stone panels and rock fascia's.

  • Is a mains water supply required?

  • The system once up and running requires NO water mains supply. You can have it connected to the mains for auto-topping up but we would tend to suggest this is not necessary, although a business may require a large feature on 24/7 in which case automatic topping-up is potentially a good idea.

    When using the system it is sensible to top it up as required with a hose or watering can.

    Rainwater is preferable as it is softer than local mains water, so if you have a water butt, please re-fill from this.

  • Is mains electricity required?

  • Most pumps require mains electricity, which we will arrange if required by the client. Some clients do not request exterior electricity and simply plug into the interior sockets as they would for an electric mower for example. If you prefer a solar pump you should understand these produce only modest flows suitable for small systems such as drilled rock monoliths and towers.

  • Can lighting be provided?

  • Yes of course, and we would tend to suggest good quality solar lighting which will save you on electricity bills! Keep in mind some solar lighting will not come on until after dusk, so be sure to say if you want more control over when it comes on. Solar won’t be as bright as mains fed lighting, and so if you prefer, mains lighting can be installed.

    Bulb replacement can be an issue with a poorly executed water feature design. We endeavour where possible to ensure ease of access for bulb replacement, but please be careful not to move the rocks or injure yourself in the process!

  • Is there any maintenance?

  • Ever popular pondless features such as rock waterfalls require virtually no maintenance. Ponds will require routing maintenance such as netting off leaves which a skimmer may not have caught.

    Keep any water installation system topped-up as required using a hose or water butt to offset evaporation - typically you will not find much topping-up is necessary especially if rain water fed from for example a water butt. The larger the underground reservoir (if applicable), the less will be the loss from evaporation.

    The pump can be removed easily for a simple clean as necessary which in typical cases would be once per year.

    Some clients like to add chemicals such as those readily available in shops aimed to keep fountains clean.

    Please follow pump manufacturers guidance.

Firepits

  • Why do I want a stone fire pit?

  • Our pits hold the heat far better than metal or other off the shelf fire pits. Each is hand built and unique, there really is no comparison.

    The social experience is quite something; you will find your guests never wanting to leave as they urge you to throw another log on!

    Shared cooking is a special experience quite unlike having a standard BBQ.

    Shared cooking is where each guest is able to cook their food, think Swiss fondue but with whatever foods the host has provided or asked guests to bring along.

    Look out for our unique easy firepit recipes designed to keep the host out of the kitchen and in the garden with guests.

    The grill can be cleaned before use with a wire brush.

  • What are your fire pits made from?

  • Stone fire pits can be constructed from granite or other suitably heat resistant rock. Thought is needed with regard to the top surface; do you want a smooth machined surface or something more rustic such as simple rocks aligned as flat as possible?

    We take drainage seriously and ensure your pit is built on good foundations. The interior of the pit will slope to allow for good water run-off. Where possible we will construct foundations on top of a decent drainage bed. If we are building on an existing patio, this may not be possible.

  • What is meant by a 'cooking' fire pit?

  • Unlike a traditional fire pit, ours can be designed for cooking whereby guests seated around the pit can cook on the grate. This makes for a very social experience somewhat different to a standard BBQ whereby one person does all the cooking.

    Look out for our easy firepit recipes designed to keep the host in the garden with guests, and out of the kitchen.

  • Cooking with fire- tips

  • We suggest growing the UK native Juniper plant close by as the boughs from this small tree / shrub are excellent to cook upon where you want a gentle cook for example when cooking fish. Also consider herbs such as Rosemary. Herbs can be cooked on, or tossed on the fire during cooking to release wonderful aromas. We like to carefully move the grate / grill nearer or further from the fire as required. For good social cooking with low hassle, why not have a bunch of kebabs on skewers ready to hand that guests can cook at will. If you use wooden skewers these can be thrown in the fire after to save on washing up. Soak wooden skewers prior to use.

    Look out for our easy firepit recipes designed to keep the host out of the kitchen and in the garden with guests.

    Our fire pits are built to order on site with stone and rock and an interior of fire render.Ours are generally designed to be cooked upon and we supply the cooking grill or grate.We provide ground level air intakes to improve the burn.The interior render will quickly blacken as you would expect, and we think this enhances the look and authentic feel of a fire pit.The air intakes aid the burn and also help to distribute rain water so it doesn’t sit in the bottom.

  • Firepit Lighting Guide

  • We suggest kiln dried, seasoned birch wood logs as they tend to produce less smoke and burn well and hot, but any decent fire wood or charcoal lumpwood can be used, indeed some use ordinary BBQ ‘bricks’ as fuel, or a mix of these and wood.

    It’s ok to have the fire concentrated in one end if you want to cook smaller quantities. Having a cooler end is ideal when you want to move cooked food to that area and also means you can attend to the fire and cooking from the cooler end.

    Our preferred method:-

    1) Place 10 or so loosely scrunched up sheets of newspaper at one end, or towards a corner. By all means add some firelighter fuel blocks if you wish.

    2) Next place approx. 15 pieces of kindling or dry small sticks and twigs to form a tepee shape.

    3) Place some smaller logs, charcoal and/ or briquettes over the tepee of sticks/kindling. You may need to place some to the sides of the tepee and then a couple supported by these going over the tepee. Use the fire pit walls as support.

    Light using matches at the lowest parts of the newspaper. If it all collapses, using metal tongs or a metal poker and wearing oven mitts, move the material into position.

    Once the logs / briquettes are burning well, gradually add more, always mindful that fire burns upwards. Don’t overfill the pit.

    Use common sense and take precautions to ensure the safety of all! We suggest the area is well lit so you can see what you’re doing.

  • What shape and size fire pits?

  • Generally we find rectangular or square work well, just above seated knee height (assuming standard seating height), although circular is fine as long as we can source circular grates of sufficient size.

  • How do I add fuel when cooking?

  • We usually ensure the grate does not cover the entire fire pit, so as to allow for adding fuel. We always recommend good oven mitts are worn when adding fuel or attempting to move a hot grate. We also recommend you and your guests sit back from the fire pit so they do not suffer a burn.

loading