Teen designs and builds water garden
AKRON, Ohio -- You might say Brendan Kovarik's family is a bunch of enablers. When he was 11 or 12 and wanted to put a pond in the backyard, his mother and grandparents consented. They just didn't envision it turning into an addiction. The Kovari...
AKRON, Ohio -- You might say Brendan Kovarik's family is a bunch of enablers.
When he was 11 or 12 and wanted to put a pond in the backyard, his mother and grandparents consented.
They just didn't envision it turning into an addiction.
The Kovariks -- 17-year-old Brendan, mother Sheryl and grandparents Shirley and Terry -- now have a waterfall and 20-foot river coursing down their Sharon Township, Ohio, backyard and spilling into a 3,000-gallon pond, all of which Brendan designed.
If water gardening is an obsession for the Highland High School junior, at least it's a healthy one. It prompted him to enter the Medina County (Ohio) Career Center next school year to study landscape design, and it got him a gig designing and helping to build a water garden this summer for a homeowner in Copley Township, Ohio. That's on top of his job at a veterinary hospital.
"He's got to be doing something," his grandmother said. "He can't just sit."
Brendan's interest was piqued when he visited a great-uncle in California several years ago and helped him build a small pond. "I just liked the way it looked and everything," he said.
When he came home, he wanted to build one behind the house he shares with his mother and grandparents. It was just a little 90-gallon, preformed unit, and he installed it in about two weeks. But that pond turned out to be a bit of a hassle, because its sunny spot and small size made it hard to control algae growth.
A few improvements
So four years ago, when he was 13, Brendan decided to make a few improvements.
Mom Sheryl Kovarik admitted she had her doubts when Brendan broached the idea of a waterfall and a considerably larger pond. But he'd read books on the subject, and when the two talked to water-gardening specialists at Hoffman's Garden Center in Green, Ohio, they assured her he knew what he was doing.
Out came the original pond, which is in the process of becoming a flower bed. Brendan spent a week digging the waterfall and river, all by hand. He intended to dig the new pond, too, until he realized that was more work than he'd bargained for.
A friend came through with heavy equipment, which grandfather Terry Kovarik used to remove the earth. It took eight people to carry the pond liner and position it in the hole, atop an old rug that had been scavenged for cushioning.
Brendan and his grandfather stopped at every construction site they saw to ask for rocks, which Brendan used to line the river and edge the pond. He was still adding stones last summer, "'cause I was waiting for them to build more houses," he said.
Planting the flower gardens surrounding the pond became Sheryl Kovarik's job. Like the pond project, those gardens started with a few flowers and just sort of grew.
Now "I'm in charge of the weeding," she said gamely.
Flowers cover the slope above the pond -- bee balm and hollyhocks, black-eyed Susans and lilies.
Fish hover under the water lilies floating on the water's surface, and hibiscus and canna plants poke up from the water. A gravel path surrounds the pond and provides space for a porch swing, chairs and a fire pit.
The water garden has become a project the whole family pitches in on, although Terry Kovarik insisted there's not much work involved other than opening and closing it for the season.
Brendan, however, still has plans. He's thinking of building a bigger pond farther back on the one-acre lot, he said.
No one has said no.