The Permaculture Activist
Review by Peter Bane
This is Tim Matson’s fourth book on ponds and perhaps the most beautiful yet. Showcasing a range of natural features that might enhance the aesthetic of a country pond, he nonetheless manages to include a lot of useful information for pond builders. Handsome color photos throughout illustrate stone embankments, edge vegetation, specimen trees, benches, and mountain backdrops, while including a few buildings, docks, and other bits of built infrastructure. A handful of nicely executed line drawings show design features, plans, bridge variations, underground connections, and other elements not easily photographed.
The style is understated but very informative. The author has made so many ponds he knows the full range of vagaries, opportunities, and problems you may encounter in the process, and shares much of that insight. He explains excavated versus embankment ponds, and how to site the pond. There is a review of pond structure so that the reader understands safe and functional construction, plus discussion of water quality and sources.
As his earlier books dealt at greater length with the basic elements of pond construction, this one emphasizes the planting, though this section of the book also addresses environmental conditions, water flows, etc. An extensive list of suppliers, and a catalog of potential pond plants illustrated with color photos rounds out the offering.
One caveat – the ponds shown are all from New England, and while the information is broadly applicable, special conditions not discussed may apply in other areas. As the title implies, only earth-sealed, not lined ponds are covered.
An optional DVD is available with the book, and I found it to be an unexpected gem. Visual quality was only so-so, but Matson narrates an excellent script and he does it well. The editing is crisp and the film shows great attention to detail. Pond building can be a messy business, but we get to see the machines and the builders at work unadorned. Pond building may be one of the best uses of fossil fuel we can make today.
The number of ponds shown is fantastic – representing a lifetime of learning. The DVD covers biology, construction, design, aquaculture, wildlife use, and virtually every aspect of a pond in an intelligent, matter-of-fact manner. Plus, the virtual tour of Vermont summer (plus a little ice skating…) is heady and enticing, the sound of peepers virtually erotic for a viewer cooped up at mid-winter.
Altogether, book and DVD represent a very attractive package, taking the reader and viewer from basics to sophisticated design concepts in short order. Highly recommended.
"The various uses and construction of small-scale, artificial, backyard reservoirs are covered in this video by designer Tim Matson… the video quality is good, making this a practical overview and visualization of construction concepts."
"I viewed this video four times the day it arrived. Tim Matson demonstrates a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subjects… presented in an entertaining format."
Praise for the book, Landscaping Earth Ponds
January 17, 2007
Pondering a pond? Very few people with acreage in the country have not created a pond or at least thought about it. A body of water has practical value for swimming and fishing and as a fire pond, but it also brings a placid contrast to the surrounding property and draws wonderful wildlife. There are a number of books about the engineering aspects of building and maintaining ponds, but few about the value of landscaping them. And yet, an artfully planted pond environment is one of the most powerful landscapes you can effect. Tim Matson's softbound book, "Landscaping Earth Ponds ($30), offers great insights into what to do (and not; invasive plants can soon consume your feature). It includes an illustrated section on suitable trees, shrubs, perennials and bog plants that will make your pond something beyond the ordinary. It also lists suppliers, nurseries and other resources you will need.
Garden books pave a path of poetry, history and adventure
by Adrian Higgins
December 14, 2006
Very few people with acreage in the country have not created a pond, or thought about it. A body of water has practical value for swimming and fishing and as a fire pond, but it also brings a placid contrast to the surrounding property and draws wonderful wildlife. There are a number of books about the engineering aspects of building and maintaining ponds, but few about the value of landscaping them. And yet, an artfully planted pond environment is one of the most powerful landscapes you can effect. I can think of public gardens where this has been done well: The trusty New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Chanticleer in Wayne, Pa., and Stonecrop in Cold Spring, N.Y., come to mind. But Matson's softbound book offers great insights into what to do (and not; invasive plants can soon consume your feature). It includes an illustrated section on suitable trees, shrubs, perennials and bog plants that will make your pond something beyond the ordinary. It also lists suppliers, nurseries and other resources you will need.
Water Gardeners International
by Charles B. Thomas
Countless water gardeners began their aquatic experiences with a fish bowl or an aquarium. Lessons learned from experience with an aquarium apply to the water garden, but with modifications and additions. Likewise, when water gardeners make the next big step up to an earth pond, many old lessons apply, but again with significant modifications and additions.
When I think of earth ponds, Tim Matson comes to mind. Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire, says, “Aside from some particularly thoughtful frogs and phragmites, no one on earth knows more about ponds than Tim Matson.” He has been designing, restoring, and building earth ponds for nearly three decades. Along the way, Tim found time to author three landmark books on his favorite professional subject. He now shares his extensive experience with earth ponds and wetland in his fourth earth pond book.
In the book, the reader learns how earth ponds “enliven your landscape, create recreational opportunities, help the environment and increase your property value.”
Landscaping Earth Ponds - The Complete Guide Chapters include:
- New Ponds
- Existing Ponds
- The Pond at Strawberry Hill
- Techniques (Shaping the Basin, Planting)
- The Lornell Pond
- General Techniques
- Save That Tree
- Planting Considerations and Techniques
- Recommended Pond Plants
Two chapters (Strawberry Hill and Lornell) relate Tim’s projects from start to finish. Techniques cover vital aspects like shaping the basin, planting, siting, inflows and outflows. Helpful sketches, planning schemes, and beautiful pictures support the well-written text.
Reading this latest Tim Matson book provides the reader with essential information for anyone who owns or plans an earth pond or wetland.
A pond adds value to a property, but many books which extol its virtues are mysteriously silent on just how to install and landscape for maximum benefit – until Landscaping Earth Ponds: The Complete Guide. Tim Matson's proven methods and designs come from his background as an aquaculture consultant: he's been designing and restoring such ponds for over twenty-five years, and his tips update his prior Earth Ponds with new details on everything from assessing and maintaining water quality to considering types of fill and handling embankments. Color photos throughout enhance the presentation.
Review from Midwest Book Review
Tim Watson draws upon more than 25 years of experience and expertise building ponds and developing wetlands in Landscaping Earth Ponds: The Complete Guide. Here is a informative, step-by-step, profusely illustrated reference for creating a more lively and beautifying diverse landscapes and home-area garden areas with ponds. Providing "user friendly" information on how ponds work to enhance a landscape, create recreational opportunities, help the environment, and increase property values, Landscaping Earth Ponds offers a complete and readily accessible account of a variety of methods and techniques to employ in the creation of a pond. An important addition to any personal, professional, or community library reference collection, Landscaping Earth Ponds is very strongly recommended for anyone searching for an all-inclusive instructional guide to pond building and encouraging natural beauty through the development of a customized pond appropriate to the rest of the landscaping environment.