The Pond Build Of Laura Rathe Of

The co-founder of Pets Without Partners builds her dream pond.

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The pond build of Laura Rathe. Photo by Laura Rathe
John Virata

We purchased our property about 15 years ago and we always knew in the back of our minds that a pond would be in our future.

We began the remodel of our home, inside and out. We built stalls for horses, fenced and cross fenced, built a deck around a pool,  and finally, we got to the point where we could plan our dream of building a pond.  The inside and the outside was all coming together, it was time to finish.

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We run a non profit that is dedicated to saving the lives of shelter animals, we are crazy busy. The only way that we could realize our dream of a pond is to plan the time frame that we could begin.


The time had finally arrived. We contacted our friends at Sunset Koi in Redding, CA. They agreed to come out and see if they could help us to realize our dream. We all hit it off and decided that we would begin our project in the spring of 2014.
Some of the first pictures you see are the initial ground breaking, in all it only took 3 full days to see the project come to life.

Then it was off to find plants that would be deer “resistant.” Again, our friends at Sunset Koi came to the rescue.  We ordered our plants and we could not be more pleased with the result.

As anyone with a pond knows, its never really “done.” We enjoy gardening around our masterpiece, but what we really enjoy is our quiet evenings after all the critters are cared for. We pull out our chairs, feed the koi and just watch the movement of our pond. This is now where we spend most of our “free” time.

The pond has taken on a life of its own. We enjoy watching the birds, deer and other wildlife pass by on our quiet evenings. The fish now have names, and the pond is a centerpiece of our property.

We never realized how much a pond would change our lives. You just have to smile when you can open your front door in the morning and view such beauty, it makes your whole day happy.’s John Virata speaks with Laura on the pond build

John Virata: It Looks like you guys did the majority of the pond build yourself. How much of the build did you contract out?
Laura Rathe: I wish that we could take credit, but in reality, our friends at Sunset Koi, Victoria
and Lowell, were the brains AND brawn behind our pond.  They came out to our house and met with us, took a look at the proposed build site and came up with a plan.  We talked about the waterfall being a large part of the project and they built our dream.

JV: How did you get the ideas for your pond? Was there a pond that you visited that gave inspiration? And was the waterfall a central part of the build?
LR: Yes, we visited a local pond store, they have a similar pond on the grounds.  And yes, the waterfall was most definitely a central part of the build.  I wanted to be able to plant flowers to attract hummingbirds and since the waterfall could be seen from one of the bathroom windows, we wanted something beautiful to see when we looked out that window.  I think we got it right <smile>.

JV: What was the most challenging aspect of building your pond?
LR: Probably just coming up with the design that would work for us.  We wanted it to be a focal point.  We have about 5 1/2 acres in No Ca, and while the property is gorgeous, it just needed a bit of “oomph.”

JV: Have any critters made their way into the pond and now call the pond home?
LR: We just love that dragonflies visit often, we’ve never seen them here much before.  We also have frogs (where were they before?) and of course, the deer visit for a drink, pigeons, local blue jays and assorted other critters.  We also have bats that swoop low over the water in the evenings.

JV: How did you choose the koi?
LR: Sunset Koi, our local Koi store.  We pretty much chose them according to colors.  We have never had Koi before, so that’s all we really knew what to do.  We love them now and they all have names and their own little personalities.

Are you running a heater/UV sterilizer/filtration?
LR: No heater, but we do use UV sterilizer as well as a biological filtration system.

JV: What plants do you have surrounding your pond and in your pond?
LR: Since we have lots of wildlife, including deer, we needed to choose plants that would be deer “resistant.”  We knew we could never get “deer proof” so we also backed up our plan with a really nifty gadget that works on infrared.  When something comes into the “zone,” it shoots out a burst of water for 4 seconds.  It really does work.

The plants that we chose are:

  • Dwarf parrots feather
  • Lovesick blues
  • Creeping jenny
  • Fiber optic
  • Cherry bounce water iris
  • Lotus
  • Umbrella palm
  • We have two islands, one is royal pickerel and dwarf blues bells and the other  is lemon bocopa and society garlic.
  • On the waterfall, we wanted to stick with one kind of plant, just different colors.  We chose verbena with some local grasses for height.
  • We also have one lavender bush planted in a container near the flagpole.

JV: How deep is the pond?

LR: 3 feet at the shallow end and 4 feet at the deep end.  The pond also has shelves around just one side for plants.  The other side doesn’t have plant shelves, but we tucked some fiber optic plants into the rocks as well as some other plants that we were able to tuck about.

JV: Have you had any green water issues since the build?
LR: No we sure haven’t.
JV: How many months did it take to get where your pond is today?
LR: We had it built in April of 2014 and now its August, so only 4 months.

Article Categories:
Fish · Ponds and Koi