Who hasn’t dreamed of a beautiful backyard landscape with a waterfall cascading down a hillside covered in tumbling rocks sprinkled with flowering bushes and tufts of tall ornamental grasses and ending in a serene pond filled with lily pads and koi fish? It’s your own personal paradise! At Nature's Image Aquatic Design in Topeka, it’s all in a day’s work.
Brad Cheney, owner of Nature's Image Aquatic Design has been dabbling in outdoor water features his whole life. “My grandfather had a koi pond and I got to help him with it when I was a kid,” Brad said. “I guess that’s where my love of water and nature began. It was a lot of fun.” Today, Brad and his crew design and install nature-inspired low-maintenance water features of all sizes. From cascading waterfalls and koi ponds to disappearing streams and bubbling fountains, they bring the sights and sounds of nature to their clients’ landscapes.
Nature's Image Aquatic Design is a Certified Aquascape Contractor which means they are the most qualified and informed water feature installers in the industry. “Aquascape is a product supplier with a huge support system,” Brad said. “On big projects, we collaborate with other companies in the Aquascape family.” Every year, all the contractors gather for Pondemonium, a training and networking event where they build a big project together. “Last year we had about 100 contractors who built a large pond in a park in Florida in about two days,” Brad said.
Brad considers himself a water feature artist. “Everything we do mimics nature. We use all-natural, hand-picked stone. There’s no concrete,” he explained. “Our water features bring together nature and art. We use the sound and movement of water to create a magical outdoor space that will become your favorite place to spend time.”
Brad said that koi ponds are one of the most requested features, but recreational swim ponds are becoming more and more popular. Larger than the typical two to three-foot deep koi ponds, these natural ponds are an alternative to swimming pools. Surprisingly, recreational swim ponds are easier to maintain than traditional pools. “These ponds use our wetland filtration and recirculation system that mimics nature. It keeps the water flowing and consistently oxygenated to support aquatic plants and fish while keeping the pond algae-free and crystal clear,” Brad said. Another advantage is that recreational swim ponds look good year-round. They can run all winter so instead of looking at a covered pool in the winter months, homeowners see the natural beauty of a swim pond with its rocks and plants and surrounding trees.
“I enjoy being outdoors and having the freedom to do what God created me to do,” Brad said. “There are a lot of psychological benefits to getting outdoors. What I really like is that water features get the kids outdoors again. Kids need a break from all of the technology today. Ponds get them outside.”
Brad said one of his favorite features to design is waterfalls. “I like to make them high so they are loud and dramatic and drown out the sounds of the city and the highways,” he said. Another popular water feature is the disappearing or pondless waterfall. It’s a waterfall that disappears into a rock bed at the bottom where an underground pump recirculates the collected water by sending it back to the top. The pondless waterfall provides the beauty and soothing sounds of running water without the additional maintenance of a pond. It’s the perfect choice for smaller backyards that don’t have the space for a pond, but would like the sights and sounds of running water. These waterfalls are also safer for small children as there is no pond to fall into.
Another great solution for a water feature, if you’re short on space, is a fountainscape. A fountainscape is a recirculating system of water that is usually constructed below ground with some sort of bubbling feature above ground. The trickling water creates a relaxing atmosphere perfect for patios. “There’s just something therapeutic about water,” Brad added. “I think everybody wants a pond… they just don’t know it yet.”
Nature's Image Aquatic Design serves the Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City, Kansas areas. Find them at Naturesimageaquaticdesign.com or call them at 785-250-6412.
“There’s just something therapeutic about water. I think everybody wants a pond… they just don’t know it yet.