Hello, I’m in Pond Rehab!


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Brand new to ponds so please be gentle! ☺ I need help to figure out what to do with our old pond and rock waterfall. We’re fairly sure it was built around the same time as our 1940 Cape Cod home. We’ve found an old spigot at the top of the rock wall and an underground pipe running to the spigot along a slope next to the pond. We’d love to revive the waterfall and pond but don’t know if we should excavate to see where the old pipe goes and if we could still use it or if we should retrofit it? Is anyone on this site familiar with how the plumbing and mechanicals of ponds in the 1940s worked?

Basic Details
— 5’x5’x18” deep round concrete pond. The pond butts up against a 5’-6’ high stacked rock wall.
— Old spigot at the top and a splash basin about halfway down the wall. There is also a small rectangular opening near the splash basin.
— 16” tall vertical pipe in the pond for overflow. The pond is concrete without a liner but, despite it’s age, doesn’t leak.

More Details
We removed all the dirt from the pond and did a little excavation to see what pipes were where and tried to figure out how it once worked. There is an approximately 1/2”-3/4” dia. pipe about 6” underground that connects to the spigot on top of the rock wall. That pipe appears to run down a slope that wraps around the side of the pond. Unless we tear up that slope, we don’t know where that pipe goes. We found another wider underground pipe that exits from our basement and is aimed directly at the center of the pond which is probably 15’-20’ from the House. That pipe may take a turn and not be related to the pond at all.

We don’t want fish. Plants are nice. A noisy waterfall or fountain to drown out our neighbors swimming pool equipment is great. Cleanish-water and no mosquitos important. Right now it’s full of water with a layer of muck/leaves on bottom and the surface gets covered with green slimy algae. We don’t know if we should drain and clean the pond or scoop out the leaves and muck but leave the water in? In the summer we have lots of leopard frogs that live it in, but baby bunnies and shrews sometimes fall in and drown.

We have no idea what equipment we need for our size pond and to pump the water up 6 feet if we can utilize the waterfall wall feature. We don’t want cheap stuff but aren’t into several thousands of dollars either. Also, as low maintenance as possible.

Any help/advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks! —Gretchen in Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4b)
 
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You’d better post pictures. See if you can find a way to turn on the pipe to the pond to see where the water goes. For now, get a big pool scoop, and use it to remove and leaves and other such solids. Others will pitch in on water volume, pumps, filters. Keeping water flowing will reduce mosquitoes, but with out adding dunks, fish, or what have you, you’ll get some.
 
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Hi! I just posted pictures. There’s nothing to ‘turn on’. There’s a spigot (maybe that’s not the right term) with a hole on top and a hole further down and perpendicular to it. I don’t know if it once had an off/on knob or not. It looks to me like they once had hoses attached and/or were part of some ornamental fountain piece. There’s no pump that would connect to circulate water unless it’s underground. But the only outlet inside the pond to or from which water could flow is the vertical overflow pipe.

We do use mosquito dunks.

Thanks!!
 
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If you look closely at the top of second to last photo you’ll see a white-ish stick we poked in the top hole of the spigot. Hope that helps.
 
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So you’ll need a pump, and a filter. There are lots of styles of pumps, but considering the style of pond, if you want to use the waterfall feature an external pump may be better, placed as close to midway as possible. A hose would go into the water, to pull water, then the outlet hose would go into the waterfall outlet. Note that using that might damage the plant you have there. Option b would be to go with a submersible pump hidden by a water feature of some kind, and use the waterfall for plants. Pump will depend on which option you go with as well as amount of water in the pond. Others who know much more than me will pitch in with that kind of info!
 
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Lordy I wish I could do something like that! You’ve got very nice ferns growing on the walls! They’d be drowned if you used the waterfall at more than a light trickle. Until you get plants, if you’ve got good flat stones, you could build steps to help critters escape. Considering you’ve got things as small as shrew, I’d do a stack out of stones 2-3” tall, stacked biggest to smallest, set as firmly as you can against the inside wall, which if you decide to keep, could be set solidly with waterfall foam. It would let even the smaller creatures have a chance to get out.
 
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I wonder if I could set the pump on one of the two planter ledges and hide it behind some plants? That would raise it up almost halfway, I think. I’m not sure how big pumps are. The ledges are probably 16” x 16”. Or, could I set the pump in the splash basin and have a wide sheet of water shoot out in front to hide it? I hope to avoid any tubes showing on the face of the waterfall wall, but maybe hose(s) get hidden behind the water? We have tons of ferns so I’m sure I can dig those out and plant them elsewhere. I’ll definitely build the stairs for the creatures. I presume waterfall foam is a stone setting foam that works under water? Thanks for all the great advice, Jamie!
 
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I just thought of something! Maybe there’s something hidden inside those planter ledges. I’m going to see if I can lift the capstone up!
 

addy1

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That is one neat pond!

Welcome to our forum!

A external pump, would work great, you could pull water from the lower pond, plumb it to send water down via the upper pipe. With the way it is built you could hide the new lines.

Or see if you can find the input line in the lower pond, get a submersible pump, pump it to push water into the lines. See if you get water coming down from the top.
 
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Very cool water feature! And if it doesn't leak after all these years, then someone did a great job building it!

I'm with @addy1 - an external pump is probably the way to go. But keep poking around and see if you can figure out where they had the pump. Something had to move the water from the bottom back up to the top. I'm not sure what that "spigot" is for but I question whether it was part of the pond plumbing.
 
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Welcome to the forum! You have a 'goldmine' of a pond. It reminds me of something one would find in a nice Vegas hotel. Absolutely investigate and let us know. We are a very friendly group so no worries. Can you box it up and send it to me? :)
Again welcome!
 
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That is one neat pond!

Welcome to our forum!

A external pump, would work great, you could pull water from the lower pond, plumb it to send water down via the upper pipe. With the way it is built you could hide the new lines.

Or see if you can find the input line in the lower pond, get a submersible pump, pump it to push water into the lines. See if you get water coming down from the top.
Thanks for the welcome! The only pipe or opening in the lower pond is a vertical pipe I thought was to prevent the pond from overflowing. The top of it is always just above the water lever so I don’t think it was hooked up to anything — or am I wrong? Maybe I should run the garden hose into it and see if and where water exits?
And how would I hide the lines? Any idea what kind of pump, how much power, do I need a slimmer or other equipment? We are total amateurs. I’d love to get a shopping list for everything I need from an expert because we don’t know what we don’t know! Also, I’ve heard the electricity bills can be really high. Any idea how much it costs for 4-5 months of operating it (without fish)? We should probably figure that out before we buy all the equipment.

Thanks again!
 
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Welcome to the forum! You have a 'goldmine' of a pond. It reminds me of something one would find in a nice Vegas hotel. Absolutely investigate and let us know. We are a very friendly group so no worries. Can you box it up and send it to me? :)
Again welcome!
Thanks so much, Stephen! We think it’s pretty cool but the frustration of trying to figure it out and what to do has been discouraging. Any advice is appreciated!
 
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Very cool water feature! And if it doesn't leak after all these years, then someone did a great job building it!

I'm with @addy1 - an external pump is probably the way to go. But keep poking around and see if you can figure out where they had the pump. Something had to move the water from the bottom back up to the top. I'm not sure what that "spigot" is for but I question whether it was part of the pond plumbing.
Thanks! I’m pretty sure the plumbing (spigot was the only word I could think of!) was for the pond as it sit at the top edge of the waterfall wall. It has two holes where it looks like hoses would attach. When we first looked at the house before buying it there was a statue sitting over it but that statue disappeared before we took ownership. I’m thinking we’ll need to set up our own system and forget about what’s existing. We just need to find out how much it will cost to operate and what we need to buy. Any advice is appreciated!!
 

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