Little Landscapes by Sean Adkins — York Sunday News

April 24, 2006

This article, Little Landscapes, by Sean Adkins was published in the York Daily Record on April 23, 2006.
Aquascape Water Garden in progress.jpgWaterfall into Aquascape Pond.JPG
[Images ©2002 Mark Willoughby. Above photos courtesy of Mark Willoughby, CLP and were not included in the published article]

Little landscapes


Daily Record/Sunday News

York Daily Record/Sunday News

At bottom: · Parade of Ponds

Apr 23, 2006 — Many of you wake up on weekends to the sounds of birds chirping and children chatting as they pedal past your house.Not me.

A cacophony of lawn mowers and gas-powered Weed Whackers is my spring weekend alarm clock.

Not to say that I don’t like the smell of fresh-cut grass as much as the next guy, but the buzz of mini-engines running in temperatures above 65 degrees always makes me anxious that I have yet to start any landscaping projects.

I have a small back yard, less than a quarter of an acre, so outdoor adventures should be fairly easy with not much in the way of hard work.

A lawn mower, a few bags of mulch, a tray of flowers and a shovel, and I’m set.

But several hours later, a medium-sized patch of land that was once grass is now dirt. The bags of mulch are still unopened and I’m hoping the flowers can hold out in their plastic containers for one more day.

I’m tired. Landscaping, even in a small yard, can be labor intensive.

Fortunately, options exist for those of us with smaller backyards, who want to keep pace with our landscaped neighbors minus the hard work.

Some of Mark Willoughby’s customers have torn up much of their lawns and installed low-maintenance ponds that require little more than a quick once-a-week filter cleaning.

An installed pond that runs 11 feet long by 16 feet wide and about 20 inches deep can cost roughly $8,000 installed, said Willoughby, owner of The Garden’s Edge in York Township.

A once-a-year maintenance call to clean the pond can run between $300 and $600.

“Ponds don’t require weed killer or fertilizer,” he said. “You don’t have to mow your pond. It’s a lot less work.”

Several of his customers own smaller-than-average backyards, Willoughby said.

Four years ago, Helena Baughman’s three daughters pitched in to buy their mother a koi-filled pond that ate up nearly half of her lawn.

Workers with The Garden’s Edge removed Baughman’s much smaller pond and installed a larger version equipped with waterfalls, underwater lights and plants.

Baughman left just enough grass to be of use to her dog.

“(The pond) is low-maintenance landscaping,” she said. “The pond is very relaxing and it’s a joy seeing the fish.”

Koi that live in ponds at least 18 to 20 inches deep remain active in winter - albeit at a much slower speed. During the winter, koi dive to the bottom of the pond and remain there until warmer weather arrives, Willoughby said.

It’s wise to have one inch of fish for every 100 gallons of water, he said.

“Koi can live up to 200 years old and can grow to three feet long,” Willoughby said. “We have had a number of customers who have passed their fish on to their kids. We had one customer about two years ago who willed their koi to their daughter.”

Other lower-cost landscaping alternatives exist for residents with small backyards who do not have the extra funds to afford a $10,000 to $20,000 pond.

One option is to install a pondless waterfall that looks attractive and flows into a small basin minus the fish, said Barb Hively, co-owner of Hively Landscapes in Dover Township.

Another trend that has caught on among small yard owners has been tree screening.

The amateur landscaper can install six of the same evergreen trees, 15 to 25 feet tall, along the property line for added privacy, Hivley said.

Low-voltage lighting also has taken hold among novice backyard builders, she said.

“It takes more creativity for a smaller yard,” Hivley said. “It can take a lot of planning. Sometimes smaller is harder.”

Reach Sean Adkins at 771-2047 or

Parade of Ponds

Residents searching for some backyard inspiration need only look to their neighbors.

The South Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the North American Water Garden Society will hold its third annual Parade of Ponds June 24 and 25. It will showcase more than 22 ponds throughout the county.

Tickets for the self-guided tour cost $10. Gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 24, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25.

The North American Water Garden Society will donate all proceeds to Olivia’s House.

For details, call 747-9266 or go to

Waterfall into Aquascape Pond.JPG

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