With the housing market continuing its sluggish ways, many homeowners, who were once hoping to sell, are now planning to stay – at least for a few more years. As a result, many people are looking for ways to make improvements now that will increase their home’s value, without breaking the budget.
There are a lot of simple home improvements that can be made inside a home. A fresh coat of paint, new curtains or blinds, cleaning the carpets and installing new light fixtures are just a few ways to spruce things up.
However, updating your landscaping and making better use of your outdoor space can have a dramatic impact, too. In fact, according to the American Nursery & Landscape Association, an improved landscape can increase property value by 7 to 14 percent. The association’s study also revealed that such improvements could help accelerate the sale of a home by several weeks.
One of the best ways to enhance your landscape and the visual appeal to your home is to install a water feature, such as a fish or wildlife pond. Ponds create instant beauty and provide a relaxing, eco-friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.
Add Water, Add Value
“Whether you are planning to stay in your home for several more years or are thinking of selling soon, adding a water feature is a great way to make your home stand out from others,” said Bill Johnson, technical field engineer for Firestone Specialty Products.
While garden ponds that hold exotic fish, such as koi, are fairly common, there is growing interest in ponds that attract native wildlife. Like any other home project, building a wildlife pond can be as simple or complex as you want. There are options for nearly and budget.
“Today, homeowners are paying more attention to the link between indoors and outdoors,” Johnson added. “Installing a wildlife pond is an excellent way to attract native and migratory birds, various reptiles and amphibians, and other wildlife.”
Unlike most fish ponds, wildlife ponds may be shallower and have varying depths. These ponds are living ecosystems that benefit the environment. And the wildlife they attract can help control mosquitoes in the surrounding area.
Creating Your Wildlife Pond
The size, location and lining material used to build your wildlife pond are among the most important considerations you need to make. Choose a size that complements the rest of your landscape and fits well within your yard.
Wildlife ponds need plenty of sunlight, so avoid locations close to large shade trees that will drop a lot of leaves into the pond during the fall. Look for a relatively flat site where you can add different depth levels and gentle slopes. Pick a site that is easily viewed from as much of your home as possible.
Choosing and Installing the Liner
“PondGard™ Rubber Liners, which are one of the lining products made by Firestone Specialty Products, provide outstanding flexibility allowing them to be shaped to fit the contours of nearly any water feature,” said Johnson. “They are ideal for a wildlife ponds because they are eco-friendly, require minimal maintenance and are extremely resistant to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and ozone, even when exposed.
Once you have the perfect site picked out and have created your own unique design, call 811 or your local utility company before you start digging to get information on how to steer clear of any underground cables or pipes. Also check if any permits are required by your local building ordinances.
To create a habitat for smaller wildlife and allow animals to get in and out easily, your pond should have shallow edges. Deeper depths should be toward the center, which is also a good place for a few logs or large rocks to serve as perches for birds and shelter for small visitors.
Place a layer of fine sand or use a synthetic underlayment fabric throughout the excavated area. Then, place the rubber liner in the hole and fill with water, using rocks and stones around the edges to secure it in place.
Plant life is an important element to attract wildlife. Aquatic plants come in four general categories: submerged, marginal (grow on pond edges), emergent (root to the pond bottom) and floating. The best plant options are native species of aquatic plants, rather than tropical plants. Be sure all chlorine is removed from the water before adding plant life. Your local nursery is a good resource for plant information.
Wildlife ponds are a great way to restore the natural environment. Depending on where you live, you might find small creatures, such as salamanders, turtles, frogs and toads making their way to your pond. Dragonflies and, of course, a variety of birds will find hours of enjoyment, while keeping nature in balance by eating many common backyard insects.