EIPS Newsletter

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May 2004 Newsletter
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In This Issue: May 2004

May 13, 2004
7 pm
Harold and Barb Cassens
1215 B Avenue
Vinton, Iowa

Plant Exchange 2004

This year we will be meeting in Vinton to share our wealth of ponding materials… As in the past members are invited to bring plants and fish from their pond and garden that you are willing to give away… or trade. This is a great way to help out new ponders and old ponders alike.

May 22, 2004
7 pm
Rick & Marty Fangman
823 17th Avenue
Gilbertville, Iowa

The speaker will be Ryan Walrod, and his business is Light Prospective from Ames. He is going to do a presentation on pond and garden lighting. Ryan has taken extensive experience in theater lighting & design and adapted it to landscape lighting. He likes to apply that dramatic knowledge to accenting ponds and yard elements. This may be just the extra kick to take our great gardens into WOW gardens! Come listen as Ryan explains how we can light up our ponds.

Thursday,April 8th - Our regular Thursday meeting was held at the Noelridge Park Greenhouse in Cedar Rapids. The greenhouses were open and everyone was encouraged to explore before the meeting started and while there was still daylight. President Kacy Novak called the meeting to order. Carol Sindelar spoke about the Greenhouses, their history and how they came to be, and talked briefly about Caesar, the resident parrot there. The greenhouse was stuffed with hundreds of potted plants, all ready for the area public gardens.

Several new faces where present, so Kacy started with a round table discussion with everyone introducing themselves and talking briefly about what went “right and good” in their ponds this winter. Some of the good news was: leaf netting that did an excellent job and a long lost turtle turned up in the skimmer this spring, alive and well. Dennis Sindelar declared he spent less money trying to keep that hole open in the ice, due to his down scaling of deicer methods; also was happy with all his new surviving baby fish. Most members reported no fish loss this winter. One member talked about a product he used called “an ice guard” and had good success with it. We even had a report of a lily blossom bud already! All in all, the spring reports were good and positive.

However, following the “good news round” we had a “bad news” round. The second trip around the room everyone was to talk, ask questions, and assist others in solving “bad things” that happened to them during the winter. Some had small fish losses, several lost pumps they left running as pumps or associated pipes froze. Some complained of lilies running out of pots and wondered if they really had to repot them. The same member who spoke of his ice guard told a story about going out to remove snow to clear his venturi and while stepping on the ice to get to it, he took the big plunge! Dead frogs, leaves in the bottom of the pond, and frozen biofalls where other problems discussed. The whole discussion was a great way to get everyone to speak and hopefully helped us learn from other’s mistakes.

Both the secretary’s report and treasure’s report were approved.

Joe Olsen, chairman to this year’s pond tour, presented a couple options for this year’s tour location that he wanted the club to discuss and vote on. It was voted to have what Joe called. a Highway 20 Corridor Pond Tour. With as many member ponds as we can get from Gilbertville/Evansdale (East Waterloo) threw to Jesup and to Independence, on the Eastern most boundary. We’re now open to all suggestions and if you have a pond or know of a pond along Hwy 20 (no more than 5 miles off the hwy that we can recruit, please notify Joe or myself and we’ll see what we can do.

Joe also spoke briefly about a project EIPS helped to fund. The Wapsi Mill Agricultural Museum in Independence mailed some pictures of it’s landscaping project.

There were no other committee reports other than the newsletter writing committee still welcomes all members to submit stories at any time.

It was suggested that everyone bring in their spring pond catalogs for others to see what they could be subscribing to or what free product catalogs they would like to receive. Some said they got none while other’s are inundated with them.

Door prizes were drawn for before adjournment.

Respectfully submitted - Jackie Allsup

Saturday, April 24...... well if this meeting is an indication of the turnouts for Saturday night meetings, then we have to say it is by far the most popular night. In the cold wind and rain, over 50 members huddled in the dinning and living rooms of Janet Powell. And that was sad, because Janet and Deb have one of the most inviting back yards we’ve been to. With it’s flagstone patio, fire pit, beautiful pond, and lush plantings, the enclosed and private back yard is very conducive to entertaining company. Vice President, Bonnie Happel, called the meeting to order in Kacy’s absence. Janet began by talking about the evolution of her yard and it’s 2800 gal. pond. It started some 5-6 years ago as a normal grass lawn and now is a garden suited for pictures in Home and Garden.

Our speaker, Lina Grady, from Davenport followed Janet. She spoke to the club about the history of Feng Shui. She spoke about how it was a 3000 year old ancient Asian study of how everything must balance in nature. She tried to simplify it for the purpose of a brief presentation, but emphasized that it was a very complex science involving the interaction of air, water, metal, light, and earth. From a person’s birth date she would figure out what kind of person you were, meaning a north, east, south or west type. From that she could tell you how your house’s front door should be positioned and from your house’s front door position, she could tell you where the best location for your pond should be. Following her talk, several couples took the opportunity to find out their compatibility with each other and their homes. It was good for a lot of laughs as people found out either good or bad things about themselves and their pond locations. If you would like a personal on site evaluation of your gardens, Lina can be contacted at 563-940-4568.

Following Lina’s talk, we moved to club business. Nancy gave a treasure’s report. Again, reporting new members signing up all the time. That’s great! I announced some incidental information. I will be ordering hyacinth off the internet within the next week or so. So, if you want any you need to be calling me soon. 319-934-3665. I also spoke briefly about the trip to Kansas City that the Central Iowa Pond group is planning on June 19-20, with stops at the Powell Gardens, Kauffman Gardens,Discovery Center and Department of Conservation on Saturday , spending the night in Lawrence, getting up the next day to visit Water’s Edge, a huge water garden nursery, then back home. A couple of us are planning on riding along. A $25.00 deposit is due on the 30th, but if you’re interested call Darla at 515-961-5456 to see if you can still get on board the bus. I also spoke about a new CD that member Greg Bickal is selling for only $10.00. It contains many DIY projects from making your own skimmer to building your own pond vac, settlement tanks, and retrofitting bottom drains. A great buy if you’re into doing things yourself. I also handed out information on the Central Iowa Club’s pond tour. Start planning now to attend that. Maybe we need to put together a bus for that! Joe Olsen gave an update on our own pond tour planning. We’re looking for ponds in the Jesup area. Any suggestions, would be greatly appreciated. He’s got 8 or so lined up already. Anyone who’d like to volunteer to help on the committee is sure welcome. We need lots of help in the advertising area per normal.

Door prizes were handed out with Mary and Joe Robinson, Dennis Sindelar (pulled his own name, we’re thinking it was rigged) and Joe Olsen were all the lucky winners.

It was sure great to see such a great turn out! Hopefully this will continue the rest of the year.

Respectfully submitted - Jackie Allsup

It is only three months into our ponding year and I need to thank the writing committee. They are jumping right into the task of providing interesting articles for you all to enjoy. And not only are they writing them on their own, but also finding ones to reprint as well. Tim, Mary, Joe, Jackie, Greg Take a bow. Thank you!!!

And Peat Boggs has made an appearance through his memoirs in this issue. Something about walking in circles, raking rocks and being one with nature. Maybe you can figure this one out.

The Koi in the pond are becoming little beggars, always at the surface when I wonder by, begging for food. The weather was wonderful for my Magnolia, only a very few petals were harmed by the frost on Easter Weekend. I am sure you are all watching the seasons change through your flower beds. The Crab Apples are beautiful right now, and the Iris buds are popping up all over. The Marsh Marigolds are better than ever. I am guessing this is going to be a great year!


Well, it always happens to me. I was minding my own business, causing problems for no one! I might even say I was somewhat happy—and then it happened. She (my wife) came into my basement hideaway and woke me, while I was watching a game on TeeVee!

She said, “Will you go get the mail? I’ve got soup and a sandwich about ready for lunch.” Then she added, “I need your help on writing an article for the newsletter after we eat.”

“OK”, I said, really thinking; all right, I can slide out of this somehow. But I still played along. “What do you have to write about? I thought you had it already done.” “I was going to use an article I saw about Zen Gardening.” my wife replied.

“Well what do you need my help for?” I asked. I must say I heaved a sigh of relief and was about to go on my way out the door when things got real confusing. She started talking in half sentences and saying things in no particular order. There was a lot of hand gestures and wild eyed looks. It was like walking around the barn four or five times for no particular reason that was obvious or that I could understand.

But here’s what I got out of it. At the next meeting they were going to have a lady speak about Fein Shui and Zen gardening! I guess she has been classically trained on arranging rocks so they look nice. I think she must have a black belt on the subject—and my wife’s article won’t hold a candle to the expertise of this speaker.

Well I tried to calm her down, realizing I had not made a clean getaway, so I asked why do we want to arrange rocks so that they look nice anyway. “Well, she replied, you can make your surroundings beautiful, peaceful and more in tune with nature.”

I think to myself I didn’t understand half of what she was saying; could probably do the same thing in my garage with a six pack of beer! Then I muttered I would go get the mail.

As I walked across the yard to the mail box, I couldn’t help but wonder; why did this have to happen to me? Now I’m going to have to help write a dang article. Why couldn’t I have been attacked by a mad dog, or even hit by a car? That would be easier and more fun.

Then I noticed some rock that had been scattered along the edge of the drive way. When I remove the snow from the drive in the winter, some of the rocks get pushed into the yard. I must admit I was starting to see what she was talking about as far as arranging rock so that it looks pretty. I went and got my trusty rake and began my task of returning the rock to the driveway. After about 45 minutes of raking, I stopped to admire my results.

I will have to admit it did look a lot better, but I wouldn’t say beautiful or make me more in tune with nature, but I think I was on the right track.

I then heard the door open and my wife hollering that lunch was ready. I have to go now.

By Mary Robinson

Greeting fellow ponders!

I was made to help write for the newsletter about Zen gardening. After reading an article in the Iowa Gardening magazine (Fall 2003) and visiting various gardens that showed this influence, it has interested me for a while.

I had a hard time getting started. It is difficult for me to express the visions in my mind and translate them to paper. I hope I can give you a glimpse into the possibilities of creating a place of beauty, solitude and peace that a Zen inspired garden can bring.

To me, a Zen garden is a delicate blend of opposing forces. The books call it Yin and Yang. I see it as a sun light spring morning that is pure in its still and silent beauty. And a thunderstorm with its raw and awe inspiring power. Both make you more aware of the forces of nature.

Zen gardens vary in style as well as size. I guess I was attracted to it because there is usually water in the mix. It represents the sea, a magnificent life force. Without it, we can not exist. It also symbolizes life. And if you put carp in your pond, (according to legend), you are adding strength and resistance.

By adding rocks we represent the earth and thus bestow strength and character. (I can attest to the strength part; I used a lot of mine getting them in place!) As in nature, try to use odd numbers, and vary the size and shape. In fact, stones are so important in the Zen garden, they often place them first. Try adding a large one in a prominent place for you and use it as a center to contemplation. (I admit when we put the big ones in around our pond, I did drape myself over the first one and wonder how I was going to get the next one in place!)

There is a tremendous amount of symbolism in a Zen garden. Understanding it is the key to enjoying the garden. Placement of pagodas and stone towers on a hillside or just off a pathway imitates the presence of a distant mountain top temple.

Bridges, which many of us have added to our ponds, represents mankind’s journey from earth to a spiritual paradise. And you thought when you built yours it was just to get to the other side!

Deer are seen as ‘messengers of God’, carrying news from paradise to earth. I find that hard to understand when they are eating the bark off my willows!

To help us folks understand the meaning of life, Zen uses riddles, to break though conventional thought. Some people use a rope-wrapped stone (the size of a softball) in a path that tells us this path is closed; choose another one.

Resting in your Zen garden, and yes we are supposed to rest once in a while in our gardens; reflect on the beauty and movement around you. Know in your heart that the peace and serenity of this ever changing garden is what all our hard work is about.

by Jeff Rugg

The following was published in the Northern Iowa Association of Pond and Water Gardeners March 2004 newsletter.

Finding a leak in a pond can be really frustrating. You just know that the water is disappearing faster than it should be, but you do not see a wet spot anywhere along the sides. You wonder if this is normal evaporation or if this is a big leak and you worry about how much your water bill is going to be or if excessive new water additions of water might contain excessive chlorine or chloramines.


Every pond is located in a different microclimate. Water will evaporate faster from ponds located in full sun, on a hot or windy day, with a large and splashy waterfall and with a long bubbly stream. If sunlight and therefore heat is reflected off a building, then more water will evaporate.

The first thing to do is to figure out if the water is just evaporating or if it is really leaking. This is easy to do. Just fill a bucket with water, set it next to the pond, watch it for a day or two, and see how much water evaporates out of the bucket. The bucket method will not account for evaporation from waterfalls and streams, but will give a good indication of how fast the water normally evaporates. If pets can drink from the bucket, it should be set out in the pond, away from slurping tongues. If the bucket tries to float, fill the bottom half with rocks. If the evaporation is nearly the same in the pond and the bucket, your problem is solved. Well, planting a tree or installing a trellis may be necessary to really help slow the rate of evaporation.

Plants covering the water's surface, floating in the pond or growing along the shoreline actually increase evaporation. Water moves through plants (even the biggest trees) through evaporation. Water molecules stick together very well. As one molecule evaporates off a leaf's surface it pulls on the next one and next one and so on down the branch, trunk and into the roots and soil. The more leaf surface area there is in the pond, the more water will be evaporated. Having many plants in a pond provides a lot more surface area than the water alone, so a well-planted pond will lose more water.

Small leaks are okay, because they force the pond owner to replace it with cleaner water. Water chemistry does not stay static in a pond. As water leaves the pond through evaporation, the salts, proteins, hormones, poisons and other chemicals all remain, with their concentration slowly increasing until more water is added. Therefore, they become more concentrated in the pond water. An old adage is that "the solution to pollution is dilution." Adding new water, in this case, merely puts the chemicals back to their original concentrations. Making an actual water change is better and so if the water is leaking out of the pond and carrying away polluting chemicals, the new water being added is a refreshing change to the pond water.

An automatic fill valve that is left running can mask a leaking pond. Water fill valves should be left off periodically to check for leaks. A valve that is left on so that the water just trickles in to the pond can keep up with a small leak or evaporation and not add too much water too fast or add too much chlorine too fast.


If evaporation is eliminated as a problem, the next thing we must do is determine if the leak is in the pond containers or in the powered portion of the system or possibly in both. The first thing we do is shut the pump, filters and streams off. We mark the water level on every container in the system. We scratch a rock in the pond, use a pencil on the skimmer box, waterfall box and any other filter containers and we mark the water level in every stream section that holds water. Then we wait. We do not want to wait long if the leak develops in the season when the filters need to be on to manage fish waste and other pollutants, but in cooler seasons we can wait overnight if we need to.

If one container goes down and the others don't, then the leak is in that one and not the others. If none of the containers go down, then the leak is in the powered part of the system. It is possible to have two or more leaks, one in a container and one in the powered system.

The most common place for a leak in a flexible liner pond is along the edge. The liner will have wrinkles that have an "S" curve look to them. If the liner is folded over at the top of the pond edge to tuck it into the mulch, the "S" curve can fold over and become lower than the top, visible portion of the liner. If rocks are placed on the top edge of the liner to hide it, then the "S" curve may get stepped on and when it settles down into the soil, it leaks. This is especially common in the spring when the soil is soft and several people over a period of time, take a single path to the pond edge to check on the fish after a long winter.

The funny thing about a leak like this is that the soil or mulch on top of the ground does not necessarily get wet. Since the leak is already several inches below the soil surface and water sinks in to the ground, the leaking water moves away from view. It is helped on its path downhill if an underlayment is used. The underlayment material wicks the moisture down under the pond and into the ground. If the soil under the pond liner is heavy clay, the underlayment may wick the water to a lower area on the far side of the pond and it may appear that the leak is occurring in a completely different location.

If the pond container goes down a few inches and stops within the level of the skimmer door opening, you could have a leak around the skimmer door or a leak somewhere else. Since most people are very careful about how they install a skimmer, because they know it could leak, the leak is rarely there. The most common reason for a leak at the skimmer is that the silicone is not applied in a line wider than the screw holes that attach the liner to the box.

If the water level goes down and the liner edge has been checked so that it is above the water level, there may be a hole in the liner. The hole will be near the water level when it stops, but it can be below the actual water level, because it may not really be stopped when you start looking. Also, water pressure may force the hole open so when the water level drops the hole may close. Water seeping from the hole can also slow down because a leaf or other debris has plugged it up. Once the water level stops going down, you can lower it another few inches to make finding the leak easier.

Burrowing rodents have been known to chew small holes in several places around a pond as they dig their burrows. They seem to stop each burrow when the water starts squirting them in the face and they move to a new spot to continue digging.

When installing the pond, never trim the liner just above the water level. You must leave several inches of liner, folded over and tucked into the mulch, so that if there is any settling, you will have enough liner to pull up and use it to still hold in the water. If you trim it off too low you will never have the chance to easily fix the leak over the edge of the liner. This is especially true on sections of a stream where just a few leaves sticking at a waterfall can raise the water level behind the waterfalls by a half-inch or more. That may not seem like much, but when the water is running over the liner, it will add up quickly. Switching to a larger waterfalls pump or just cleaning an existing pump can have the same effect on water levels & leaks in streams.

I only know of one pond that leaked all the way to the bottom. After a frustrating week, the new pond customers finally drained the pond, flopped the liner out of the way and lined the hole with white newsprint paper. They flopped the liner back into place and partially filled the pond with water and red food coloring, after a few minutes they drained the pond and pulled up the liner. The paper was covered with more than a dozen red water spots. We do not know if some one poked the holes in the liner or if the liner roll rolled back and forth on a nail in the freight truck, but a new liner quickly solved the problem.


If a pond only leaks when the pumps are running, there are several places the leak can occur. The most common is a leak caused by the splash of a waterfall. Any water that lands on a rock and evaporates away or that rolls off the back of the rock and out of the pond is a leak. Framing the area around the waterfall with cloth or paper will quickly show where the splashes are landing. Rebuilding the few rocks that are causing the splash is not usually very difficult.

Use black expanding foam that is designed to fill gaps between rocks, to force the water to stay where you want it to be. Mortar is difficult to work with, because it cracks and leaks with frost action and does not easily come off the rocks when you want it to. The foam sticks better, expands to fill voids, moves with the seasonal changes and brushes off when you want to make changes.

The third most common pond leak after leaking containers and splashing waterfalls is the leak of water from the powered part of the system. Dirty filters pads in a waterfall box or other open container can sometimes cause an overflow condition. Inspect around the edge of each box while the filters are running to see if water is bubbling up due to the water channeling around dirty mats. This is an easy leak to fix, just clean the filter pads more often.

It is rare to find a leak in a cracked pipe or fitting, but they do occur. Since they are usually underground, we try to eliminate all the other possible leaks first. Leaking pipes may only leak when the system is running and pressurized. If there is a check valve on the low end of the pipe and a filter box full of water at the high end, there may be enough water pressure to show a possible leak in the underground pipes. If the water in the filter box drops when the system is off, the leak is between the box and the check valve.


To determine the location a leak in a stream, you will need an extra length of pipe. Take the pipe off the pump that normally runs to the top of the stream and replace it with the new piece. Run the new piece to the closest section of the steam to the pond and turn on the pump. If the leak shows up, then it is in that stream section. If the leak does not show up, then move the pipe up to the next higher stream section. Keep moving up the stream until the leak shows up and you will know the leak is in that section.


Leaks caused by holes in flexible liners are generally easy to repair once they are found. Clean off the liner around the leak with a scrub pad and soapy water if necessary. Dry it thoroughly using a hair drier if it is cool outside. Cut the corners off a piece of single sided rubber backed tape and stick it on. Rub it down so that it makes good contact and you are done.


No matter where the leak really is, the first place it will show up is in the bottom most pond level. That is because the water is being pumped out of this pond level and filling all the other levels before the water makes it back to the lowest level.

In most flexible pond liners, the leak is easy to find and easy to fix, which is one of the reasons we used the flexible liner in the first place.

We have a NEW web address www.eips.org Isn’t that an easy one! Pass the word.

Renewal time: It is that time of year again, time to renew your membership. Fill out the membership form and mail to the PO box or deliver it to Nancy Baldwin at the next meeting.

Dealer Discounts

We want to thank the following local businesses for offering discounts to EIPS members:

In the Country Garden & Gifts
Hooked on Fish
Earl May Nursery & Garden Center / Cedar Rapids

If your favorite business would like to offer a discount, have them contact Carol at (319) 365-1839 or fishlounge1@cs.com and we will send out an example of our membership card and list them in our newsletter. Because we run on volunteer power not all businesses have been approached, your assistance is appreciated, especially outside the Cedar Rapids area.

Many members would like to contact other members, car pool to meetings and to visit their ponds. We would like to distribute the membership list to all members to allow this to happen. If you would NOT like to have your name, address, phone number and e-mail address distributed to the membership, please contact Nancy Baldwin to have it deleted from the master list. 319-472-2241 or RnBaldwin@aol.com

Roger & Marg Thompson’s pond will be featured on the KCRG channel 9 morning new, between 5 and 7 am on Monday, May 3rd. Check it out!

Water Hyacinths
EIPS will be ordering Water Hyacinths in bulk at a discount. If you would like to order some with the group, please contact Jackie Allsup by May 6th. 319-934-3665 Cedarserviceja@AOL.com

Lilies & Lotus
If anyone has a lily or lotus that needs transplanted, contact Jackie and bring it to the May 13th meeting and we can divide it there also as a demo. 319-934-3665 Cedarserviceja@AOL.com

You would rather push mow a 2 acre yard than buy a new riding mower so you can spend the money on your pond.

You tell your family to make their own dinner because that it is your time to spend time with the fish.

You are sneaking one more fish into the pond hoping your spouse will never notice.

You eat bologna sandwiches but buy frozen shrimp for your Koi.

You threaten your 4 year old that you will chop off both arms if he throws one more rock into the pond, and you mean it!

Thursday 8th - Noelridge Park Greenhouse - CR
Pond Keepers Roundtable

Saturday 24th - Janet Powel - CR
Feng Shui and the Garden Pond

Thursday, 13 Harold and Barb Cassens - Vinton
Plant exchange

Saturday, 22nd. Marty and Rick Fangman – Vinton
Pond Lighting

Thursday, 10 Carol and Dennis Sindelar - CR
Breaded Iris

Saturday, 26 Ron & Edna Rife - CR
Bonsai around the garden pond???

Thursday, 8th (In tour area) Pre tour

Saturday, 24th Jackie Allsup – Quasqueton
Fish health

Thursday, 12, Kacy Novak - CR

Saturday, 28 Tim & Linda Nolan - CR

Thursday 9th.. Deb Frese & Kevin Dolan - CR
Winterizing ponds???

Saturday, 25 Roger and Margie Thompson – Springville

Sat/Sun Sharon Weiss - Vinton
Ornamental grass????

Sat/Sun TBA Recognition & elections

All locations and topics are subject to change.

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