Water gardens offer a refreshing alternative

By Cynthia Blair

Our House
a supplement of
The Times Beacon Record Newspapers

April 29, 1999

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"This corner of our property was overgrown with volunteer plant material - ivy, cat briar, volunteer sassafras, volunteer cherry," explained Alice Dawes, a Setauket resident and member of the Three Village garden club. "We use to dump leaves back here."

...Dawes needed a professional landscaper to actually construct the water garden. Last spring she called upon Steven Antos, owner of Setauket Landscape Construction. "I'd done similar projects, but on a smaller scale." Antos noted.

Construction took about three weeks. Antos began by clearing Dawes' property." They were wonderful," she reported. Then, using machines, he did a rough excavation for the pond and bog. The rest was done the old-fashioned way: with a shovel.

The construction materials included 25,000 pounds of stone, a pump that pumps 3,600 gallons of water per hour, and 80 feet of underground pipe that lead from the pump to the waterfall at the top of the hill. The main pond holds abut 2,000 gallons of water, with the entire garden using about 2,500. Lights were placed inside the pond and waterfall for nigh time viewing.

The most difficult part was making subtle adjustments to ensure that the water flowed correctly and evenly. "It was pretty tricky," Atos said. "We didn't want it overflowing or moving too quickly."

Antos moved three large rhododendrons from the back of the house to the side of the parcel that the water garden covers, roughly 3,000 square feet.

"It's wonderful," Dawes said. "The water is such a peaceful place to sit. And it's a wonderful magnet for the birds. They bathe in it and twitter around in the branches. It's taken an area that wasn't very pleasant to look at, and turned it into an exciting, dynamic, enjoyable area in my yard."