experience needed for setting up a garden pond for the first time

Discussion in 'Pond Construction & Equipment' started by StuartLawrence27, May 21, 2013.

  1. StuartLawrence27

    StuartLawrence27

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    Hey guys,

    I would like to build a Garden Pond for my backyard which I have never done before and I hope that you can help me. I am not experienced in construction or mechanics but I have planted lots of trees and plants. I would like the length to be 10-12 ft by 6-7 ft wide and 4 ft deep. I would like the pond to have plants, Koi, Mosquito fish, High Fin Sharks, tad poles and maybe a turtles, and maybe other types of fish. I would like to have a waterfall as well.

    I've watched videos on you tube on how to build a garden pond and some things I understand and some I'm unsure about.I've been told to dig the hole first and that I should not have shelves. Do I make the bottom of the pond completely flat? There is a slope does the entire pond have to be completely level? what about the sides? Do I build up the pond around the perimeter?

    Do I make a shelf all around the pond just below the water level so I can place rocks and hide the liner? Can I get plants without shelves and use milk crates?

    Here's some photo's of where the pond will be:
    http://imageshack.us/f/855/imag0154h.jpg/
    http://imageshack.us/f/824/imag0155v.jpg/
    http://imageshack.us/f/839/pic1ue.png/
    http://imageshack.us/f/560/pic3zh.png
    /http://imageshack.us/f/849/pic2ol.png/


    Looking forward to hearing from you.
     
    StuartLawrence27, May 21, 2013
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  2. StuartLawrence27

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Good questions..........

    The bottom of the pond can be flat or sloped. Mine is sloped from a walk out area down to 5 feet. My last pond was 5 feet, flat, once I got into it I could not get out easily, this one I made a walk out area.

    A low shelf 3 inches or so below water level about 6 inches wide, makes a very nice place to stack rocks to hide the liner. You do want the edge of the pond higher than the surrounding ground, you can use rocks to hide the edge of the liner or a dirt mound. Someone here has a nice drawing to explain. I have one but not on this lappy.
     
    addy1, May 22, 2013
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  3. StuartLawrence27

    dieselplower

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    I have plant shelves in mine and I'm very glad I do. The reason some people say not to ha e them is because it may give a predator like a racoon or Herron a place to stand and hunt for fish. I have not had this problem, yet.
     
    dieselplower, May 22, 2013
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  4. StuartLawrence27

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Hi, and welcome! You have the same questions I think we all start out with. Though frustrating at first, the challenge becomes fun!!

    I don't have shelves, but I did add a "lip" around the edge to hold rocks for hiding the liner. Advice, if you go this route, is to make the lip slant toward the side -- it will help hold your rocks in place and keep them from sliding into the pond (though it still happens every once in a while....).

    Milk crates work well, and somewhere on this site someone made some "plant holders" out of PVC pipe. The PVC pipe idea is good as you can make them different heights. My pond isn't one depth, but several, going down to 4'. I built "terraces" at several locations, which is good, except that I made them all with a slope..... If I had it to do over, NO SLOPES. The terraces would be FLAT! Can't put anything on the bottom -- it slides. Like Addy's slope, I did include a tiered walk-out spot.

    I used dirt from the dig and built up a berm around the perimeter. The liner goes over this, is usually covered with rocks, and is meant to keep yard-water from running into the pond.

    Is your yard sloped? If so, you can build up the low sides, because you do want it to be as level as possible. There are others on here who have dealt with that issue, so maybe they will see this and chime in.
     
    Mmathis, May 22, 2013
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  5. StuartLawrence27

    StuartLawrence27

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    I greatly appreciate the help.

    If you can post a picture it would be appreciated. I have some more questions. Just to clarify I would make a shelf around the entire inside of the pond 3 inches lower than the water level and 6 inches wide for the rocks (with a lip so the rocks won't fall into the pond). I then build a mound around the outside perimeter of the pond so that water from the ground won't seep it when it rains.

    About how high should I build the mound around the outside perimeter of the pond? Would 6 inches high be sufficient? Also how wide should I make the mound? How would I make the bottom of the pond sloped?

    Any reason to make the bottom of the pond sloped vs flat? Should the entire pond be 4 feet deep? Would the inside walls all around the pond go straight down or be at an angle? Any other reason to go with shelves besides for plants? Would I be losing too much volume of water for the Koi if I go with shelves?

    How far from the trees should I dig the hole?

    Would digging the hole be the first thing that I should do before I buy the equipment (pumps, filter, liner, waterfall)? At what point do I dig the hole for the skimmer? There is a slope where I want to put the pond. Do I build up the sloped level when digging the hole? The entire pond has to be level? How would I make the entire pond level? Would I use a long piece of wood with a leveler to make sure that the pond is level?

    Anything else that I need to know when digging the hole?

    Thanks
     
    StuartLawrence27, May 24, 2013
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  6. StuartLawrence27

    Mucky_Waters

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    Mucky_Waters, May 25, 2013
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  7. StuartLawrence27

    gardengimp

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    Another option is to use a 'string level'. I used the long piece of wood and a level, and it didn't work exactly right. A string level is suppose to be more accurate and not as $$ as a laser level.

    Also, don't be afraid to fill your pond, test the level by seeing what the water does, then drain it and do more work. Better to take your time and get it right while you can do so easily.
     
    gardengimp, May 25, 2013
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  8. StuartLawrence27

    capewind

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    Not a great pic, but cropped a picture from a present install to focus only on a shelf start ... the depth and width of your rock shelf will depend on the size and type of rocks used, as well as your individual goal ... THIS shelf is set up for two courses of rocks to be IN the water (second course will only be a bit under water), gravel will be added behind the rocks, and then the liner will then be folded over the top of the second course, and more rocks added to hide the liner ... the "row of rocks" to the left sitting inside the liner is going to be a "wall" for a bog like planting area ... (the rocks presently holding the liner down are just sitting there to be grabbed to put on the rock shelf) ...

    [​IMG]

    Grade it with a rake to the desired angle (hand tamper to compact the dirt to a solid base) ... this picture was from our present main pond, getting ready to put in the liner. The shelves shown are rock shelves ... I didnt want any plant shelves in this pond. The sloped sides are typical to what you get at this depth when digging in sand, without the need to reinforce the sides. IF you have a clay type dirt, you can do steeper sides ... the bottom of this pond slopes from 4' to an area at 5' ...

    [​IMG]


    In theory a sloped bottom will have all the debris go to the lowest point and easier to clean ... that said, good circulation, and that really isnt an issue with a flat bottom pond either ... in the next week or so (as soon as hubby finishes a pond for a client), our next pond will be going in .. that one is being built FOR lilies, and will have a flat bottom ... using a 20 x 25' liner ...

    Totally a personal choice. I dont really like shelves all that much (aside from the concern for predators) as I am the type of dummy who would knock plants off the shelf LOL ... On our next pond, and the pond hubby is working on now, he is building a shelf of sort, but it will have a rocked wall inside the pond (like the one I mentioned above), which will be filled with gravel, for direct plantings ... on the one he is building now, it will work out to only being a gravel bed about a foot wide on the left side (the one you can see a bit of is larger).

    Easiest to have everything on hand before you begin to dig. Depending on your soil type, you really do not want to dig the hole before you are ready to put the liner in! Here, with our sand, an open hole, and a good rain storm (an actual issue this weekend for the install hubby is on now) would mean a cave in, if he didnt get the liner in before the rain hit.

    Not my area (Im not an installer), but have seen hubby get the liner "secure" with the rocks, leaving an area open where he still had digging to do, to put the skimmer in ...

    Deal with your grade issues as you excavate for the pond. Water will level itself, but you can add more rocks, tiers, etc, if there is a sustancial grade difference ...

    Depends on the size of your pond. A 4' level works fine, but if you have a laser transit, and really want to be spot on, all the better. Liners and rocks are forgiving:)

    Cant answer this ... some is common sense ... read a lot, watch videos, and ask specific questions...
     
    capewind, May 25, 2013
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