Celebrating National Senior Citizens Day with Aquascape Water Features

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Aquascape, Inc. is proud to celebrate National Senior Citizens Day on August 21st by recognizing Certified Aquascape Contractors who have partnered with senior living facilities across the country to create stunning water features that enrich the lives of residents of independent living and skilled care centers.

Large pond at senior living center

The ponds at Elim Village Fleetwood in British Columbia, Canada

Sights and sounds of water and other elements of nature have therapeutic benefits. A study by conservation biologist Rachel Buxton in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2021, states that natural sounds help lower blood pressure, improve cognitive performance, and reduce pain.

No matter where you call home, living with beautiful water features is within reach. From patio ponds at compact apartments to meandering waterfalls at sprawling estates, natural, environmentally balanced water features connect people to water in the way that nature intended.
Aquascape, Inc. is proud to celebrate National Senior Citizens Day on August 21st by recognizing Certified Aquascape Contractors who have paired with senior living facilities across the country to create stunning water features that enrich the lives of residents of independent living and skilled care centers.

The Pond Gnome and Westminster Village - Arizona
“I am a firm believer that every assisted living facility needs a good pond or 10! Most of them just don’t know what that looks like yet,” said Paul Holdeman, owner of The Pond Gnome in Arizona.
Holdeman has introduced several facilities to the Aquascape Lifestyle and views Westminster Village, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, as a major success story. The Pond Gnome has installed four water features throughout the Westminster Village campus and has plans for additional features as well.
Tom Winkelman is the Chief Executive Officer at Westminster Village, which is Scottsdale’s only not-for-profit life care community. Several years ago, Westminster Village, which offers both independent living and skilled care, undertook an initiative to update its common areas. Facility residents suggested to Winkelman that part of this update include replacing a stormwater retention basin that was somewhat of an eyesore. At first Winkelman didn’t think this would be possible, so he was excited to receive a plan from The Pond Gnome that completely changed the retention basin’s function.
The Pond Gnome transformed that stormwater retention basin into a koi pond with a wetland filter and negative edge skimmer with a 3,000-gallon cistern. Winkelman was happy that the cistern can recycle extra rainwater, a valuable feature in the desert.
This first installation proved so popular with residents at Westminster Village that The Pond Gnome then installed three more features. The second feature, a 20-foot by 30-foot koi pond with a large wetland filter and connecting stream, is in a basin area visible from many residential units at Westminster Village.
The third installation was created for a popular member of the community—Bruno, an African spurred tortoise. Currently 15 years old and weighing in at about 175 pounds, Bruno enjoys meandering through a dedicated acre within Westminster Village. The Pond Gnome installed a Pondless® Waterfall in Bruno’s area that serves as both a perennial water supply and a lovely patio feature for residents in that area.
The fourth feature at Westminster Village is a retention basin surrounded by desert-adapted Argentine pines that create the look and feel of being in the mountains—some 5,000 feet above the desert floor where Westminster Village is located. The 60-foot living stream features small pools containing goldfish along its course. The Westminster Village community has cultivated a butterfly garden around the stream.
“It has become one of the most magical spaces with hundreds of butterflies filling the garden during much of the day and during certain seasonal events there can be thousands of butterflies,” said Holdeman. “It’s amazing!”
Winkelman noted that while some residents initially questioned the expenditure on the water features, they are now popular gathering areas that he believes deliver a range of benefits. It has helped that Holdeman pops by Westminster Village multiple times a year to educate residents on the water features and their benefits.
“Just getting outside, there’s something healing about that,” Winkelman said. “Having a pleasant place to go outside is absolutely a need for our physical and mental health.”
Mobility and some medical issues can make it a challenge for some Westminster Village residents to leave the campus. It is important to Winkelman that those residents enjoy as many on-campus opportunities as possible, from restaurants and activities to soothing sights. The water features fit the bill perfectly. All residents can enjoy the beauty and sounds of running water, and families visiting the campus love to gather around the water features as well.

Atlantis Water Gardens and CareOne - East Coast
On the East Coast, Jaak Harju of Atlantis Water Gardens was brought in to create water features at CareOne skilled nursing facilities. CareOne’s locations can be found in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania and include assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
Atlantis Water Features was approached through the landscaping company working with CareOne. Within a year and a half, Atlantis Water Features installed primarily Pondless and decorative water features at 12 CareOne facilities. Each facility had a water feature installed near its entrance, which Harju said helped to set the tone for the location and make an impression on future residents and their family members.
“This is definitely different than going to a hospital-type retirement home,” Harju said.
Atlantis Water Features also worked with the landscaping company to create beautiful courtyards at each location that highlighted Aquascape products such as stacked slate urns and basalt columns. These joined other features on the full courtyard landscapes such as outdoor seating, kitchens, and fire pits.

Just Add Water and Edgewater - Iowa
In Des Moines, Iowa, Chris Thompson of Just Add Water has completed four projects at Edgewater, a WesleyLife Active Life Community. All four projects have been remodels of existing water features that needed some help.
The first project was rebuilding a non-functioning water feature. Just Add Water developed a plan to rebuild it in its existing location with added visual and maintenance improvements.
“It was just a need for them, but for me, it was an opportunity to rebuild it and make it look and function better,” Thompson said.
The success of that project led to Just Add Water being able to approach the next three projects with greater freedom. For the second project, additional waterfalls and fountainscapes were added to a 100-foot Pondless Waterfall system. The third project involved doubling the length of a stream to 80 feet and adding a 15-degree grade change to the hill the feature was built upon. Larger boulders were also brought in for this project.
The third project proved so popular with residents that Just Add Water is currently constructing another feature on the same hill that will be visible to residents who do not have a view of the previous project. In addition to these projects, Just Add Water built a 15-foot-by-25-foot indoor ecosystem pond in the facility’s remodeled lobby and has two additional projects it plans to complete by the end of summer 2022.
Because the Edgewater property is large and many of the water features are enjoyed from a distance, Thompson’s team has been increasing installation size and using larger stones. They also keep both maintenance requirements and resident enjoyment top of mind while designing. The previous water features were difficult to maintain, so Just Add Water has changed that.
In terms of resident enjoyment, “We have increased the number of waterfalls and changing directions so the residents can enjoy them more,” Thompson said. “For example, on the longest stream we installed two waterfalls that were aimed back at an outdoor dining area, whereas the old feature did not have any waterfalls directed in this area. We have added color-changing lights to all the features as well.”
The Edgewater installations also came with some bonus reunions for Thompson. He was delighted to run into former clients who now live at Edgewater and are happy to be surrounded by gorgeous water features again. “I had one daughter of a past client email me to let me know how happy her mother was with one of our new features and how it reminded me of her small pond at her previous house,” Thompson said. “It is very rewarding to know that the work we are doing is bringing joy to so many people.”

Fontana Water Features and Elim Village - British Columbia
Sometimes individual generosity benefits an entire community. Such is the case at Elim Village Fleetwood in British Columbia, Canada. Residents Dewey and Dina DeVries made a generous donation to the facility that, among other things, allowed the facility to rebuild its existing upper and lower ponds. The DeVries previously lived above one of the old ponds and wanted to improve its look, ease of maintenance, and functionality. Enter Fontana Ponds & Water Features.
“Fontana Ponds & Water Features and Elim’s vision for the new feature were very similar from the beginning,” said Kris Versluis, Elim’s Manager, Facilities & Maintenance. “They were very receptive to our input and their experience and professionalism really came through when adjustments had to be considered.”
Diego Asturias, co-owner of Fontana Ponds & Water Features, said that the team installed a large ecosystem pond that spans 70 feet by 35 feet and is four feet deep. It features multiple cascading waterfalls and streams that span 130 feet and a large 20-foot by 20-foot wetland filter.
On top of the wetland, Fontana Ponds & Water Features designed and installed a custom fountainscape with multiple urns, spillway bowls, and flat stepping rocks to make the area interactive.
“Due to multiple seating areas, this had to be a 360-degree view and lots of movement to create interest,” said Asturias. “We also incorporated large flat granite boulders where grandkids could jump from place to place.”
The area also features two bridges, one over the intake bay and the other over the stream immediately preceding the wetland area. The intake bay bridge is over an 18-inch stream through which fish can swim.
Not only are the new water features more aesthetically pleasing and functional, but they have also become a huge draw for residents and guests. The main pond features a beautiful hexagon-shaped patio cantilevered in the pond with a gazebo that allows residents and visitors to easily feed the koi, which Versluis said have become the area’s main attraction.
“There was a large initial buzz when everything was being built,” said Versluis. “Now that it’s complete, we are seeing a routine of people visiting and residents getting assistance in experiencing the tranquility the pond brings.”
Fontana Pond & Water Features kept this desire for tranquility in mind while designing the water feature. “We wanted to create a haven for watching and enjoying the fish and waterfalls,” said Asturias. “The falls have the perfect amount of sound and deep pooling areas to create a deeper, soft sound rather than a loud treble-like sound that may be too harsh for the environment.”
The finished water feature is a source of joy for all involved.
“I can see that everyone is very proud of having such a wonderful feature to call our own yet be able to share,” said Versluis.
“The residents came by nonstop the whole project to look at the progress, ask questions, and watch the construction happen. In some ways this was very entertaining for them and for us as well,” said Asturias. “We got to know so many people and their stories over the course of this project and it was all around a phenomenal experience. Another favorite, and maybe the best part, was showing up on a Saturday when the project was almost complete and seeing two families with children from the neighborhood and half a dozen seniors enjoying the pond. It was a moment when you realize that what we do isn't a product, but a lifestyle. A chance to put the phone down and enjoy nature, family, and aquatic life. We feel as though our purpose is to give a place for people to come together and make precious memories. That is a sense of purpose and a reward bigger than any other career we could imagine.”

For more information about Aquascape Inc. products and services, visit https://www.aquascapeinc.com/

Featured Certified Aquascape Contractors
Atlantis Water Gardens
Fontana Ponds & Water Features
Just Add Water
The Pond Gnome

Aquascape, Inc. is North America’s leading innovator, manufacturer, and installer in the water gardening industry. Founded in 1991, by Greg Wittstock, The Pond Guy, Aquascape invented the low-maintenance, naturally balanced ecosystem pond that is the #1 contractor-installed water garden. The St. Charles, Illinois headquarters, dubbed “Aqualand,” is a workplace utopia that received Silver-Level recognition in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating system in 2006. The Aquascape mission is to connect people to water the way nature intended and our company goal is to help customers succeed at building, selling, and retailing water garden products. Aquascape made the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies four years in a row.

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Jennifer Zuri