Reality television is vast. Turn on the flat screen and pick from any number of reality shows centered around cooking, daily life, home repair, landscaping or business development. Viewers can do everything from riding along with “Ice Road Truckers” to following a large family’s everyday life with “19 Kids and Counting.”
In the mix with home and outdoor themed shows comes “Pond Stars,” a new program from Nat Geo Wild focusing on the waterscaping industry. The show debuted September 2014 and chronicles pond and water garden builders as they turn outdoor spaces into beautiful but natural-looking water features.
Hoover native Brian Dahle, owner of The Fishman, LLC, found himself on the show with friend and fellow water garden expert Greg Whittstock, CEO of Aquascape Inc. Each episode follows Aquascape, which helped Dahle get involved. Dahle, who is a Certified Aquascape Contractor (CAC), was called in to work on the episode “Turtle Power” located in Buford, Georgia. Dahle can be seen in several shots throughout the episode.
Select CACs within each region of the United States got the invitation to come and participate in the show. “Greg wanted builders with a deep passion and seriousness for what they do in the show,” Dahle says. Like most shows, there was no guarantee to the participants working on the show that they would be on air in the final cut. “It was more important to everyone to be part of something big and unique within the industry,” he says.
Dahle says his best memory from the show is a moss-gathering hunt. A few seconds made the final cut of the Buford episode. “We went out to some adjacent woods and searched for really unique moss varieties and a stump or driftwood pieces. We incorporated them into the finishing details of the feature to tie it directly back into the existing landscape and make it look as if it has been there forever,” Dahle says. “I found a really neat rotted-out cedar stump that had to be pried out of the ground. I ended up breaking the shovel handle in half in the process of removing it. Upon returning to the jobsite with the stump, I exclaimed to the rest of the guys, ‘Check it out: I broke the shovel handle in half in order to get this really neat Cedar stump for the water feature.’ Well ultimately, that made the episode, and it was edited down to ‘Check it out!’ My friends and family had a great time playing it over and over – so much so that we started hashtagging it #Checkitout!”
Back home in Hoover, Dahle continues designing and building. One current project near completion is a memorial water feature located in Russet Woods at the home of Connie and Tim Rockett. The feature is in memory of the Rockett’s son, Michael, who passed away in 2005 of cancer at the age of 22.
One of Michael’s favorite things to do was riding motorcycles in the Georgia mountains with his stepfather. “All of the pictures were always by a river,” Connie says. “I wanted to create an area that brought peace along with positive memories. My yard had a natural slope, and I had a vision for a natural creek running over rocks dropping into a pond.”
The Rocketts had the creek and pond dug by their son’s best friend from high school. Things were going well but slow. They realized they needed help.
Connie chose the services of The Fishman to finish their memorial. “Brian listened to my ideas and then made recommendations. As I listened to how he grew up playing in the local woods, creeks and nature as a kid, I saw he had a passion for what he did. He supported my ideas and my vision, truly understanding the need of keeping memories alive.”
Dahle designed a feature using the existing work for a 45-foot hillside stream with several waterfall series, emptying into an 11-by-16-by-2-foot basin. Within that design were several unique elements such as a decorative wrought iron stream bridge crossing, select driftwood integrated into the waterfall series, a fish cave for the fish to hide and underwater lighting for nighttime viewing.
Also, one of the downspout gutters recaptures some of the rainwater for use in the feature. Another aspect about the feature is that it can be viewed from several different angles and positions within the backyard, especially from the screened-in back porch and tiered deck.
Finally, the best element of it all is a street sign that Connie had made in her son’s memory with the street names of Michaels Way and Memory Laneoverlooking the entire feature.
“Brian is a true professional and a master of creativity,” Connie says. “I watched as he and Chris, one of The Fishman employees, placed every rock making sure it was perfect. He really took a blank canvas and made a masterpiece.”
Connie looks forward to adding new things to her feature as spring blooms across the state. “Since we were not able to take the creek to the top of the hill where I thought it would start, Brian has an idea of adding a pondless fountain. A privacy fence will be at the corner, which will act as a backdrop for the fountain, falls, pond and a flower arbor. At first, I was not interested in fish, but when I stood on my deck and looked down into the pond, I knew I had to have fish.”
For more information on Dahle and The Fishman, visit Fishmanservices.com.
[This article originally appeared in the March issue of Hoover’s Magazine. Pick up your free copy at one of these locations.]