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Kevin Thompson stumbled into the business of creating custom ponds by accident.
“I went to St. Louis and they have great public parks there,” he recalled. “They have waterfalls and ponds and I said, ‘I can duplicate this.’ So I went home and tore my mother’s yard up and that was my first pond.”
So pleased was he with the results that soon he had created one in his own yard. Today, the yard of his historic Detroit home features a Koi fish pond and a water garden pond. The two ponds encompass 10,000 gallons of water. There are 22 tons of fieldstone and five tons of oversized stone in the surrounding landscape. The ponds showcase a variety of water plants, both perennial and tropical, and are surrounded by 30 different types of grasses and hundreds of mature perennials. The theme of the garden is a moon garden, meaning all the flowers are white – the only color flower that is visible at night, they actually glow.
Thompson’s friends were so impressed with his yard’s transformation that soon they were asking for his help in transforming their own.
“Everyone kept saying that I needed to do this,” said Thompson. “Someone asked me to install a pond for them and it just started snowballing.”
Thompson’s partner, Kirk Douglas, now helps with the work. Together they created Flora-Flora, LLC.
“Anyone can have a pond,” said Thompson. “It can be from pot size to astronomically large. It just depends on your budget and how much work you want to do to keep it up. You could have a little tub with two goldfish and a plant, or you could have up to 25,000 gallons with multitudes of fish and a filtration system.”
Koi is ThompsonÕs preferred fish for a pond, but they also take the most work.
“That’s what I would put in a pond but they typically have a higher maintenance requirement than goldfish or any other kind of fish because they live so long,” he said. “They have to have depth so they can swim and get exercise. As opposed to goldfish who only grow to 12-15 inches, Koi can grow up to 3-4 feet and up to more than a 100 pounds. They can actually be like a pet. You can feed them from your hand.”
Thompson and Douglas clean their pond out in the spring, change the filter regularly through the summer and feed the fish the fish twice a day. Other than that, additional maintenance is minimal. There are three waterfalls and a stream that function as a natural filter for the pond.
“It pretty much maintains itself,” said Thompson. “It’s a closed system but it pretty much maintains itself.”
The Koi go through the winter without being fed and survive just fine.
“As long as the water is over two feet deep, the fish can easily survive in the pond through the winter,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter what the air temperature is as long as it’s two feet. The pond is warm and you can always add heat to it if you like.”
If fish aren’t your thing, there are other options.
“There are waterless ponds for people who have kids,” said Douglas. “You still get the sound from the water but you don’t see the water because the pond is underground.”
Or you could simply have a water garden, in something as small as little tub or as large as you like. From either, you can get the tranquil sound of flowing water, which is what Thompson said attracts many to the idea of a pond.
“Most of the people want one for the tranquility,” he said. “They want to hear the water. It’s an escape. One of our customers calls her yard Carol’s Tranquility Garden. She comes home from work and sits out there with a glass of merlot and watches the water flow.”
If you’re interested in bringing a little tranquility to your yard, Thompson and Douglas would love to help.
“A lot of people say I’m good at taking their ideas and giving them what they want, and I guess that’s because I actually listen to them instead of trying to impose what I think they should have,” said Thompson. “I figure they’re paying for it, so you might as well give them what they want.”
Flora-Flora can work with any amount of space and offers free estimates. While they specialize in aquascaping and xerisaping (quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment), the duo does it all, including painting, fence installations and more. With Flora-Flora, you’re not only getting a bit of eco-friendly tranquility, you’re getting an outdoor piece of art.
“We never make two yards or two ponds look the same,” said Thompson. “Each one is an original.”