No Two Pondscapes’ Ponds are the Same
Deb Abraham Spalding
Imagine the serene sound of a waterfall splashing onto gorgeous, natural stones on its way to a lovely little pool filled with happy, colorful fish that are swimming through plants, flowers, and lily pads. Can you feel the peace that this space inspires? Now, imagine enjoying all of this with a grin on your face while you lounge in your own backyard!
Paul and Stacie Zelenka, of Thurmont, celebrate 20 years of building ponds, backyard sanctuaries, and stone patios this year. The couple first met in college at Frostburg University in western Maryland. After graduating, they continued dating while working at Lilypons in Buckeystown, Maryland.
In 1999, they married, and soon after, started their Pondscapes business utilizing Paul’s degree in biology, his extensive knowledge of pond fish and aquatic plants, and the professional wisdom in the art of pondscaping that they had both gleaned while working at Lilypons. Stacie admitted, “Paul got me into it.”
Pondscapes opened in the spring of 2000 with 10 clients. Stacie said, “The business blew up!” The Zelenkas now have over 600 Pondscapes’ clients.
The 20-year journey of Pondscapes mirrors the Zelenkas’ partnership in marriage. As they worked from their home, their success in maintaining a strong marriage, explained Stacie, is “keeping the business and conversation about business in spaces designated for business.” This obviously worked, as the business grew and their family grew with the birth of their daughter, Lyla, and son, Maceo.
Pondscapes’ first two clients’ ponds were memorable. They really showed the vastness of the Zalenkas’ talent because the scope of the projects was completely different from each other. One was a formal garden next to a formal patio. The pond, patio, and garden spaces were symmetrical. In contrast, the second client’s project was completely natural, with native plants that attract birds and animals and become symbiotic with the environment.
Both were very passionate clients who had two completely different objectives. Thus, the secret to Pondscapes’ success was quickly revealed in the couple’s knowledge of what would work in varying landscapes, their artistic ability, and their fluent customer relations.
When they started the business, the Zelenkas would travel far and wide for jobs, but as the years have passed, they’ve been able to rein in their residential business diameter closer to home.
Commercially, Pondscapes has designed and installed several watergardens at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. One is located at the emergency room, and one at the cancer center. Stacie said, “People who are there visiting family are obviously sad and having a hard time. For them to be able to go outside and sit by a beautiful pond and hear the moving water and see the fish swimming and smell the intoxicating aroma of the blooming water lilies, it means a lot.”
Paul does all of the design and works with the existing scape to fit it in any setting. Even clients with spaces that don’t really have much room for a pond are pleased with the finished project that fits in and naturally becomes part of the environment, no matter what space they have to work with. There is always gratification when people visit and say it looks like it was meant to be there and had been there forever.
Stacie explained, “It’s important to your soul to be able to be outside and connect with nature, especially in an age where people are deeply connected to their phones.” She said that even if it’s the smallest space like a tiny patio, a little spouting bowl where you can hear the moving water can make a big impact for a peaceful space. Kettle gardens and whiskey barrels with spouting statuary, mini water lilies, and small fish are other options in small spaces.
So, you see, no two Pondscapes’ ponds are the same!
To consult about the creation of your own backyard sanctuary, call Pondscapes at 240-446-2846 for a consultation and visit them online at www.PondscapesMaryland.com. Pondscapes specializes in aquatic gardening; the creative placement of natural stone for stone walls, patios, walkways, and steps; masonry and stonework that is durable and built to last; pond filtration; spring and fall pond cleanings and winterizations; and creating an ecologically balanced backyard sanctuary. Pondscapes carries a full line of pond products and supplies. They have earned the “Best in Show” award at the Frederick County Home Show for several years.
The Zelenkas wish to convey that they are truly appreciative of the community and each treasured client. Stacie expressed, “We appreciate, not just their business, but the personal connection that we’ve made with so many.” She added, “When we moved to Thurmont, I became involved with the Thurmont Economic Development Committee. Members were very supportive and helped in so many ways.”
Stacie continued by expressing, “How incredibly grateful we are for our crew. These guys are amazing. They work harder than anyone I know and do so with such a positive attitude. They are probably the best crew we have ever had. They are hard-working, knowledgeable, dedicated, trustworthy, and kind. They are a joy to work with and be around. We are so thankful to have them on our team.”
The Zelenkas were planning to host the Pondscapes 20th Anniversary North County Pond Tour in August, but the event will likely be rescheduled for next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pictured from left are Stacie Zelenka, Paul Zelenka, Lyla Zelenka, Maceo Zelenka, Chris England, Steve Browne, and Hayden Spalding.
Pictured from left are Chris England, Paul Zelenka, Steve Browne, and Hayden Spalding.