Category Archives: water features

200 Miles, 1 Well

For the past month we have been actively soliciting donations for our first annual charity: water fundraising campaign we’re calling ‘200 Miles, 1 Well’. Why water? Several weeks ago I spoke about this issue while out on a training ride, check it out:

The idea for the fundraiser is simple: In the second week of November, Dave Bockman & a select group of equally crazy cyclist friends will hop on our bikes and not stop until we’re 200 miles from where we started. Consider making a personal or corporate donation? Thanks from all of us!

@National Wildlife Foundation Headquarters

After my weekly business networking meeting I headed over for a full day of landscape restoration on the grounds of The National Wildlife Foundation‘s headquarters in Reston, VA. Arriving early, I was met with an army of organizers and support already on site and raring to go. Clearly, a great number of people did an enormous amount of preparation work before this day, some of whom I will try to mention below. Several knowledgeable horticulturalists took the time to color-code
everything in the landscape: Pink stays put, Yellow gets yanked, Purple
stays but gets pruned back. Simple but very effective:

Below, Al Short of HPI gives us marching orders, while the lovely and talented NWF
Chief Photographer Susan McElhinney beams. The lady between them is
Julianne, I’m so sorry I didn’t get her last name but she was verve
personified, I really enjoyed meeting her as well. She worked like a dog and eradicated several nasty stands of Raspberry canes– bloody, hard work.

Looking down from the bridge, over a waterfall and the large pond far below:

While certainly beautiful, the Cattails are unwelcome as they quickly dominate and set up an aquatic monoculture– indeed one cannot even see the pond at all. Note the far end, where Al set up several very large portable water tanks to temporarily hold a portion of the pumped-out water, as well as create a holding space for any desirable aquatic plants which could be saved and replanted after cleanup. Below, looking the other way up the water feauture, one can see the view is totally obscured by more overgrowth of Salix and other less desirable plants:

For the entire day scores of volunteers, contractors, and designers pulled thousands of pounds of weedy biomass, all of which was placed in an onsite, 30 yd. rolloff container to be sent to Loudoun Composting for recycling (thank you to Loudoun Composting for donating their services as well!)

Above, a lovely underutilized native, Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Learn more about Boneset here.

One serious challenge we faced was an absolutely daunting crop of Chinese Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata). Lespedeza is highly invasive and unfortunately was brought in when the original meadow seed was planted– illustrating the absolute importance of insisting on high quality, pure seed mixes when establishing meadow designs. This plant completely dominated the meadow. The only possible solution is eradication and replanting– I suggested soil solarization and a safe system of re-establishing the appropriate plant combinations in the spring of 2011. I’ll have more about this later, but it looks promising and I do hope to assist further in this area of the restoration.

Above, Chinese Lespedeza, close up and in context.

I’ll also have a ton of ‘after’ photos shortly– I became so filthy that holding my camera was just out of the question, so I’m relying on the excellent documentary work of Susan McElhinney, who covered everything from start to finish.

You are welcome! Thank you for letting me be a part! I look forward to more restoration work very soon.

greeneyedesign Gives Back: Helping The National Wildlife Federation

Recently I was approached by Albert Short, President of Harmony Ponds in Fairfax, VA. Harmony Ponds is one of the premier water feature design/build/maintain firms in the Midatlantic region; Al’s projects include the fountains and other water features for the largest expansion to date of the Virginia Museum in Richmond, as well as the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC.

Al asked if I would be interested in donating some time & materials for a worthy cause: renovating the grounds of the National Wildlife Federation Headquarters in Reston, VA. Once a gorgeous and environmentally savvy landscape, it has fallen into a bit of dishabille: The towering and exciting waterfall, stream, and large pond are all almost completely obscured from view by volunteer trees and shrubs, as well as the designed native vegetation.

Heck yes! I will be there all day tomorrow, October 21st working the business end of a pair of loppers ( and tree spade, shovel, pole pruners, etc) and lending advice wherever it’s needed. It looks like we will have a small army of volunteers, both professionals like me as well as from the ranks of the NWF membership and donators. Should be fun!

Today is Water Day– It’s All About The Water

I sell stuff on eBay. It’s been a nice little revenue stream for me over the years. For quite some time now I’ve been donating 10% of what I earn through my auctions there to one of the finest charities I know of:

charity: water

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. Learn more or donate.

I hope you will consider learning more about this serious problem and wonderful, worthwhile charity. Thanks for your time!


Today I had the chance to sit down with the founder and president of Harmony Ponds, Inc., a full service, turnkey design/build firm just down the road from me. As the name suggests, Harmony is a landscape contracting company that focuses on water features and water ecosystems– so from highly ornate and geometric fountains and water sculptures to gorgeous natural ponds, waterfalls, and streams, these guys are just sterling.

Al Short spent the better part of the morning introducing me to his company’s history, philosophy, and best practices and also had a good look at my own portfolio.

Creating naturalistic water features is completely an intuitive art.  There is certainly a science and engineering when it comes to the proper installation of these types of features, however engineering alone will not solve the problem of what encapsulates or suggests a truly naturally occurring spring, waterfall, or pond (or some combination therein).  As a designer, I have often struggled with how to graphically represent what will occur in a client’s space when a water feature is called for or desired.  I can design and sketch and draw all day long, however, what I draw cannot ever be exactly duplicated on site because of the vagaries of natural rock selection, as well as the geography and the geology of the site itself.  Stone selection is an art form.  Often it takes hoisting a large boulder and swinging around 360° to find its “good side” as well as the side which will marry itself most closely to the surrounding neighbors.  Therefore I tell my clients, “We won’t really know how this will turn out until we’re on site actually building it.  I do know it will be beautiful.  I just don’t know how it will look exactly.”

I will say that creating a believable and naturalistic water feature is one of the greatest challenges of fine landscape design.  It’s one I absolutely love doing, and when a client comes to me seeking a small or large freshwater ecosystem in their space I am absolutely thrilled with the challenge.

Below are some gorgeous examples of Harmony Pond’s work over the years.  Enjoy!

Koi ponds are especially complex.  Think of them as an enormous freshwater fish tanks over which you have even less control with regard to temperature and water quality.