Building a Pond
ME? BUILD A POND?
NAH, it wasn't even remotely on my 'projects to do list'. But a local landscaping store had a sale on pre-formed fiberglass pond pieces & the prices were to low to resist. Now...where to put it? After considering several places, the one with the highest visibility to people passing by won. It also had a natural slope that was perfect for a waterfall.
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Since the pond was small (approx. 4 ft long x 19" wide x 14" deep) & the ground was sandy, excavation wasn't difficult. After digging a hole for the pond, a 3" layer of sand was added. This gives the form a soft surface to rest on with no jagged edges to damage it & helps with leveling. The pond is then filled with water & adjusted until it sits level. Once level, the soil from excavation is filled in & packed firmly around the pond, leaving the pond lip just above ground. Next the waterfall piece was added using a sand lining also. It's highly recommended to put down layer of thick, black plastic around the pool area before landscaping & adding rocks. The purpose of this is so any 'run off' water will be returned to the pool.
BUILDING THE STONE WALL
To create a 'natural look', the wall surrounding the pond was made of flat rocks. Luckily a drive on a nearby back road resulted in finding all the rocks needed for the wall.(A nice savings too!) Some of the rocks even had lichen growing on them which gives the wall a real woodsy & aged look. Building the wall was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together...getting all the pieces to fit. Every so often during the building process, the wall was checked to make sure it was fairly level. One thing you don't want, is a lop-sided wall when you're done.
CREATING THE WATERFALL
The hardest decision was how to create the waterfall. I spent many hours on the Net looking at pond sites & what other people had done for their waterfalls. There were so many possibilities to choose from. An off center waterfall was added to the pond using the same type rocks as the pond wall. Great Stuff, an expanding foam substance in a aerosol can, was used to 'cement' the rocks together. If you ever use it...BEWARE...it's very messy stuff! It's also extremely difficult to get off your hands if you don't wear gloves. Even after using nail polish remover and paint thinner there was still a thin coating of the stuff on my fingers. But it did the job well. After the foam dried, the excess was cut off with an Exacto knife & painted with medium gray spray paint. The tube from the pump to the waterfall was hidden by burying it under the mulch & adding plants.
Here's some 'hindsight' on waterfalls... All the information I read on building waterfalls recommended to not cement the rocks together. Regardless, we did. NOT a good move! After finishing the pond, we noticed it was losing water. After looking things over, we found there was a leak in the rock formation of the waterfall. Since the rocks were foamed together, it made it much more difficult to fix the problem. Another tip is to use thick clear aquarium type tubing instead of the black kind sold with pond supplies. It camouflages much better.
All the pond 'plumbing supplies' came from Lowes & Home Depot. Both stores carry Beckett Pumps. Beckett has lots of info available to help consumers plus color coded supplies based on the size of the pond. They make it very easy to figure out what you need. A small pond kit included everything we needed except for the tubing but that was located right next to the kit. Even though our pond was classified as a 'small size', we used a pump for a medium size pond because it had more power needed for the nozzle and waterfall. Better to have a little too much power than not enough! An adjustable diverter was installed to control the water flow between the nozzle & the waterfall.
There are several nozzles to choose from & we tried them each one before deciding on the water bell. Our pond isn't that wide so some of the nozzles caused the over spray which would have resulted in water loss. Other nozzles had a heavy water flow & the loud noise from them drowned out the sound of the waterfall. The water bell has a light tinkling sound that 'compliments' the trickling of the waterfall instead of overpowering it.
Visits to several local landscaping places yielded few choices of water plants for the pond but a trip to a nearby pond provided more than enough. The plants were placed in plastic bags that were weighted down with rocks. Ideally water plants should be placed in black pots to blend in with the fiberglass pond. There's differences of opinion on what to use
& how to pot the plants. We added some potting soil to the bags before putting them in the pond. In hindsight, it wasn't
a good idea because the half the soil (which included perlite) escaped, floating on the top of the water & making a mess. Another try using red clay didn't produce desirable results either. The pot tipped over & the red clay permeated the water making it red and putting a light red film all over everything (another mess!). Finally we used a dark grayish clay
and covered it with black aquarium gravel which worked great. Two years after the pond was done, we found potting soil specifically for ponds in Lowes.
Water lilies help keep the algae level down by lessening the amount of light. Plus, if you have goldfish, they give them a shady place to hide during the hot hours of the day.
A pond in Zone 5 must be 4' deep to leave plants and/or fish in it thru the winter. So every fall we take the water lilies out of the pond & dry them, leaving the plants in the pot. During the winter months the pots are stored inside to prevent the rhizomes from freezing. In the spring they go back out in the pond to grow again. One thing to pass along we learned about water lilies...they need still water to bloom. Every year our lilies grow lots of pads & are very healthy but never blossom despite feeding them. We finally realized it was because of the running water.
Our pond was started late in the pond season (mid August). Despite that, the pond seemed like it was lacking something without fish. So we bought two goldfish to add to the pond. They are so much fun to watch! We migrated from sitting on our deck to relax, to sitting in front of the pond so we could watch the fish & listen to the waterfall. Living in Zone 5 the freeze level has to be at least 4 ft. in depth to winter the fish in the pond. So they are brought in towards the end of September when the water gets to about 50 degrees & placed in an aquarium until spring when they can go back out into the pond. Fish aren't the only 'critters' in the pond though. It attracts wildlife. Shortly after we finished the pond, two frogs appeared & stayed all summer. Every summer they find the pond around mid-August. They love to sit on the lily pads soaking up the sun & gobble up flying insects that get too close. The birds LOVE to take baths in the shallow waterfall & the squirrels like to drink from it.
An underwater light was added for effect. It came with 4 different color lenses. The green lens seemed to be the most natural looking giving the pond a beautiful luminescent glow at night. A tulip accent light was placed near the waterfall to highlight it. The 12W bayonet style bulb of the tulip light was too bright initially & detracted from the overall look of
the pond. But, after two coats of emerald green glass stain to tone it down, it was just right & complimented the luminescent green of the pond.
The project took two full weekends to complete. Minor 'finishing touches' were added the third weekend. Total cost ran @ $300. Not bad, huh?
There are LOTS of links out there containing a wealth of information. As beginning ponders, we found a great deal of valuable information to help with our project.
One thing to keep in mind when perusing information on the Net...it's everyone's opinions. You will quickly realize the opinions vary widely & it may get confusing. If you have questions, go to a reputable source that is knowledgeable in ponds & stick with them. Take into consideration everything you read, including these pages & do what works best for YOU.
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