New backyard pond


See the planning and construction area for my plans for this ~3000 gallon pond

Planning and Construction

These are the rough plans I have for my back yard pond. This will be a garden-style pond with goldfish and Rosy Red Minnows. Comments are most welcome, especially before I break ground.

The first diagram is things as they are now. The brown area is part of my patio and towards the bottom is the line of the house. The red line is the property line. Unfortunately the tree next to the patio has to come out. It's already suffering from having the patio put it and is much to close to the house for such a large tree (roots are starting to attack the foundation).

The second diagram shows the large cherry tree close to the house removed and a small, wide tree (undetermined as of yet) near the patio and pond. I plan some hedge-type bushes atop the berm and along the side for privacy. The main pond will be about as big as I can get with a 20x25 liner and maintaining a "natural shape". The skimmer will feed into a water fall filter with a series of cascading pools (3x3x1' deep?) dropping back to pond level. Cascading pools area will be a separate 10x15' liner.

Overflow will come from the skimmer box to the lowest point of the yard and will tie in with a downspout coming off the house about bottom center of the sketch.

Planned components are
  • Easy Pro small skimmer
  • Atlantic BF2600 waterfall filter
  • Atlantic Tidal Wave 3 5,000-6,000 pump
  • Flex PVC connections
I'm also thinking of a submersible filter like the Lifegard Trio with a fountain head in the center for additional interest/aeration/winter hole keeping.

I've also got four photographs of the area in question:

Looking out from my back door

Looking from the corner of the patio

Looking from the backyard tree or about where the cascades will be

And looking overhead from my bedroom window (which shows the entire area)

As of May 15, work has begun. First up is removing the cherry tree and stump that was too close to my house and patio.

These are the paint lines for the rough excavation. The pond will be about 1-2' larger on all edges than the excavation (rock and plant shelves). The main excavation is the circle marked with 3'. I'm going to try to remove the topsoil from the other areas since there things will need to be built up and there is no sense burying great topsoil under clay.

Here's the beginnings of the excavation. Rather than do it myself I hired someone with a bobcat to come out and do it in a few hours. This was a great move because of all the tree roots in this entire area. I just had dig the rough, central hole so I could sculpt the edges as I wanted.

Here it is coming towards the end of the dig out. He's managed to separate out the sod and topsoil and the underlying clay fill quite well. Since the yard slopes about 1.5 feet, a lot of this extra dirt will be used to build up the side away from the house.

Here are a couple of views of the site after the rough excavation. He moved some of the clay around so it would be approximately where I needed it with the sloping yard. Still lots to move by wheelbarrow, but it certainly helped. It's kind of hard to tell from the photos that there is a sizable hole in the ground.

My initial work was mostly moving around the dirt outside the hole to make some room. There also had to be a lot of dirt piled up on parts of my yard that I didn't want to destroy, so uncovering grass and allowing it to recover was the initial focus.

At this point I have a pond, although not really the kind I wanted. Rain would come in and accumulate. I made an attempt to build a tent over the pond with a tarp to keep out water, but that was a disaster. I just left the tarp in where it had fallen and pumped out the water as it fell in.

These next few photos show the waterfall filter and the overflow system. I would ultimately drop the water fall filter twice as I got a better look at what I was doing. I wanted two drops with an intermediate pool and that's what I got, but much smaller than what I was initially planning. My initial plan would have involved a 4' wall right up against my neighbors property. The overflow comes from the skimmer with 2" PVC and then into flexible drain pipe. Along the way, I merge in a downspout and I have a drain near the house. It all empties out near the waterfall into the lowest part of the pond area and drains into the yard.

Now you can start to tell that this is actually going to be a pond with plant shelves, etc. In the second photo you can see a hollowed out place and the garbage can that will go in it as a hideout. I don't know if any fish has ever used it.

At this point you can see the underlayment in, the liner, and starting to fill the pond. Much work around the pond remains to be done.

Here the pond is fully full in its first iteration. But I wanted to change the shape of the shoreline near the patio and give the whole pond more volume, so I drained it. The photo of the waterfall area shows some of the rocks around that area, but not the built up fall. The fall area is actually a separate liner which overlaps the pond liner.

To drain the pond, I didn't have to remove the rocks around the fall or the skimmer, just pulled back the liner in that area to work.

These two photos show the outflow of the overflow and the side of things I'm putting towards my neighbors. Remember there was a lot of slope to here, so the slope of rocks (which was the only way to stabilize it) is taller on the back side than going back down into the pond. I'm putting stone crop into the crevices to its not just rocks, but with some greenery.

This is the construction process as it's winding down. The pond is in its final shape, most of the rocks are in place. There still is a lot of dirt to move around and landscaping around the pond to be done. The flagstone/stepper area off the patio is intended to be an inviting walk up and viewing area for the pond. The liner needs to be trimmed and hidden.

Here you can get a feel for the final pond. I'm trying to keep the edge "soft" by not having a solid ring of rocks inside and out, but rather water plants growing out of the pond and land plants growing into the pond.

Here is the view from the back of the nearly finished final product:

Finally, here is are two time-lapse videos I took of the whole construction process. A shorter version is first, a longer version for those really interested follows.

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