BURGOON - Landscaping has increasingly used water features to add to the beauty and the relaxation component of a property.
Outside Bettsville, on SR 590, Jay and Nancy Stearns, owners of The Pond Builders, have converted a hog barn and surrounding land to incorporate a shop with pond supplies and other landscaping accessories, four ponds and various other water and gardening features.
An addition to the shop last year allowed them to add more merchandise for pond owners and a green house now is used. Some of the plants are used for one of the newest trends in gardening, fairy gardens.
"We have some of the miniature plants for the fairy gardens, and the accessories, it seems to be a big thing," Nancy said. "We started checking into it then offering a few classes for people who were into it."
The greenhouse area offers clay pots and bowls most commonly used for fairy gardens, as well as miniature plants, figurines and other accessories. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24, Pond Builders is to host a Fantasy Garden Day, which also is to incorporate pirates into the mix.
"We had 35 kids last year," she said. "We will have a scavenger hunt, green crafts and they can take home a fairy garden in a container."
The Stearns also plan to have their new butterfly gazebo operational, with chrysalis arriving soon which will develop into butterflies.
The fairy gardens are generally set out on patios or porches as a decorative accent. Among the accessories for sale are "shadow fairies," black silhouettes on a stake. Another popular use for the miniature plants, and ceramic people and animals, is with outdoor railroads.
"People make landscapes out of them," she said of the variety of miniature plants. "They don't get very tall. We didn't know there were so many. There are miniature hostas, shade and sun plants. They can be put right in the ground. They are getting popular again."
Walking through the grounds, visitors can see tanks filled with fish of all sizes, koi and goldfish that can keep ponds stocked.
"We'll get four or five shipments this summer. We always sell out of fish," Nancy said. "A lot of them are hardy, and will make it through the winter."
Also for sale are water plants, which are helpful in ponds, keeping the water clean.
"We have waterfalls and fountains for every type of garden, even pondless waterfalls," Stearns said. "It has a reservoir of water underneath, and can be any size. There are those that have streams, we can build any size you want."
Many customers build the waterfalls or pond features themselves, she said. Nancy and her husband provide instructions for the do-it-yourselfer.
"We want to make sure that they know what to do," she said. "We do install them, and we do maintenance, including cleaning in the spring, or if they develop a leak, or a rock settles, we'll come out and fix something."
If a customer is having difficulty keeping the pond's water clear, Pond Builders offers the water treatments, including algae products, to use.
The store also carries outdoor furniture, tables, chairs, benches and rockers made from recycled plastic that looks at first glance to be treated lumber. The advantage is they don't have to be treated, and can be exposed to the elements without suffering any ill effects. They come in a variety of colors, and can be left outdoors during the winter months.
"There's lots of statuary, and liners and rocks, pumps, filtration systems and water treatments," she added.
Those looking for patio pavers and retaining walls can also find them there.