Eddie and Nanci Utay bond over their pond.

The two enjoy sitting on their back patio in the evenings, listening to the ripple of the pond’s waterfall and having a glass of wine while dogs Molly and Hank demand attention. In the winter, they ignite the fire pit.

“We have all the elements — air, water and fire,” says Nanci, a retired school teacher.

The couple attended the North Texas Water Garden Society pond tour seven years ago to get inspiration, and the experience led to an outpouring of ideas. When the Utays bought their home on Thunder Road five years ago, they had a vision of the kind of pond they wanted. The result is a 2,200-gallon body of water so beautiful that it has been on the 40-home pond tour for the last five years, even starring on the cover of the $20 Pond Tour’s guide.

Water lilies disguise what Eddie calls the “underwater koi condo,” an open-ended pipe where the Utays’ 12 koi find protection. One koi is named Bevo because of his orange and white coloring. (The couple’s son graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.)


Dickson Brothers Inc. for aquatic plants; dicksonbrothers.com.

One morning, Eddie, who retired from operating the Utay Jewelry Center in Preston Center, looked out the window and saw a heron peering into the oval-shaped pond. He researched the species and found that the bird doesn’t like Canada geese. Eddie went to Bass Pro Shop and plunked down $99 for a set of four imitation geese, which he installed in his bushes.

The couple enjoys watching opossums, squirrels and other wildlife, who are attracted to the water. One morning Eddie heard a splash and watched a baby bunny swim across the pond.

Cousin Henry Ashner, who Eddie says has an eclectic pond, supplied an artistic dragonfly displayed on the couple’s fence. 

Eddie, who grew up on Northaven and graduated from Arthur Kramer Elementary, Ben Franklin Middle, Hillcrest High and the University of North Texas, savors detailing the pond’s upkeep. He recalls last fall when a blocked drain resulted in a fish kill.

Today, Eddie demonstrates how he cleans the filter daily and vacuums algae weekly. He hand-feeds and pets the koi. “Now that I’m retired, I’m out here every day monitoring the pond because it’s fun to do.”

The North Texas Water Garden Society is a nonprofit organization that meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Visit ntwgs.org. The annual tour of ponds supports its education fund. The society maintains the lily pond at Texas Discovery Gardens and the stream at the Dallas Zoo.


The first North Texas Water Garden Society meeting took place on April 14, 1992, at North Haven Gardens. 

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