New pond.. basically my first attempt.

Discussion in 'Garden Pond Talk' started by brc, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. brc

    brc

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    I've been hanging around this board for a while, and planning my pond build, so I thought this would be a good time to finally say Hi!

    Sorry if this post is really long and light on pictures.. I promise the thread will get better!

    I'm basically 100% new at this, because the one pond I built before was extremely tiny (like 100 gallons tiny), and was at my ex-girlfriend's house, so I wasn't around to see it even a year later. This means I'll probably run into all the common newbie issues, but hopefully will know enough to keep things under control.

    The pond currently only exists in my head and in a pile of boxes taking up about half of the "family" room in my house for the past month or two (thankfully, I don't have a family to object to that!). It's not going to be very big compared to some of the ones on here, but I've visited some ponds in person that were very similar in size and layout to what I want to do, and thought they were very nice.

    Here's what I have so far:

    -Pond liner: one 15' x 15' and one 5' x 10', both the 45 mil Firestone stuff. How you guys use this stuff to make large ponds is beyond me.. it's amazingly heavy!

    -A 2900GPH Laguna pump. Up until I bought it, I found only great reviews -- the next day it seemed like everyone thought they were terrible. I guess I'll find out... It seems to blast water out with a very high speed and pressure, and I will have a low head, so I'm thinking of creating a venturi and using it like a jet pump. Google doesn't turn up anything (except a lot of places to buy jet pumps), but maybe someone's tried it?

    -A small-ish waterfall / filter box from Tetra. It may or may not be big enough.. I can improvise if need be.

    -Several dump trucks worth of mixed stone (cut blocks and boulders) that I found on Craigslist. Rocks are horribly expensive for some reason, but they don't seem to hold their value.. lots of people in the area are selling used ones for cheap. Hopefully they'll get delivered tomorrow. It looked like a huge amount when I saw it, but we all know how fast you go through them! Placing the larger ones will be tricky, as a lot of these are too big for me to even really roll around... Maybe someone has some tips on how to not destroy the pond liner doing this?

    -A half built patio made of huge limestone pavers (which used to be an old sidewalk). It's about 15' x 15' now, and will grow as soon as I find more stone that matches it. The pics below are kind of deceiving as to the size of the patio -- some of those are 3 - 4 feet wide. I want to plant moss in the gaps between the stones, so the top of it is almost flush with the patio, but it might take some experimenting to get that right.

    -A drain line from that part of the yard to the street, as it gets flooded in the winter. Not sure when the contractor will get here though... I will also add electric and water to the pond area at the same time.

    The goal is to make my yard less boring. What I have currently is a decent size for the area (one acre) and full of huge old oak trees, but otherwise it's a typical suburban yard -- flat as a sheet of glass. The idea is to build a pond up against that patio so that it looks like the edge of it is almost overhanging the water, with a stream wrapping around one side, and add some other stuff like furniture and a fire pit to make that area the main point of interest. In the picture with the wheel barrow, the pond will be against that corner with the stream going off to the right.

    I want to use the soil that's "liberated" from the pond and patio area to make a little hill up against the patio that the stream can run down, with a stone retaining wall. The top of the wall might be designed to act as a sort-of bench, but I'm not completely decided on that yet.

    As for the pond itself, it definitely wouldn't be big enough for koi, but there will be goldfish or something else in there. Aside from the stream, I'm thinking there should be some shallow area, for looks, then a deep center part with sides that go straight down. There will be a shelf a few inches below the water line around parts of it, so I can do a border of cut stone. In other places I want to have edges that are just gravel or sand, and there will be the patio on one side. It seems like most of the ponds I see have a border of flat rocks all the way around to hide the liner, and I'd like to keep that to a minimum, just because everyone else does it.

    There's a lot more stuff to talk about too, but this is getting really long for a first post, so maybe I'll stop here for now.
     

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    brc, Jul 10, 2013
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  2. brc

    HTH Howard

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    Welcome to the forum.

    15x15 will make a nice 9'x9'x2' goldfish pond. About 1200 gallons. Shallow areas reduce the capacity. Mike crates or benches can be used to set the plants on. The fish like to swim in and out of the milk crates. Gives them caves to hide in too.

    Nice yard. I have been down the fancy fence route but have chain link at my current house. Where I want to block the view I grow virginia creeper on it. Chain link doe s not rot or need staining ;) Also easy to move.
     
    HTH, Jul 10, 2013
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  3. brc

    sissy sissy

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    welcome and yes the liner is heavy i know having moved one 2 times .I laid mine in the sun for an hour to make it more supple so it relaxed and was easier to work with and my liner was 25 x 30 .1 person ME
     
    sissy, Jul 10, 2013
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  4. brc

    Shdwdrgn

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    You said you wanted suggestions, so here goes...

    I've had that same Laguna pump for the last 3 years. They're easy to take apart and clean when you get grass wound up in the impellers, and I haven't had any problems with them yet.

    Do NOT make a raise hill for a stream to flow down. If anything, built your waterfall (which of course needs to be raised) around a mound of dirt. The reason I say this is because you want to consider what happens when you shut off your water pump... the water runs downhill, and ends up flooding over the sides of your pond. My setup has a large and small pond, connected by a shallow stream, all at the same level. The water flow through the stream is caused by the pump pulling water from one end and dumping it over the waterfall. When I turn off my pumps, the water just sits calm, but nothing overflows. Also, you don't want to deprive your fish of the chance to swim in the stream. They love going back and forth, and it gives them a little more room. I have seen my largest koi up in the stream even when their backside is out of the water!

    If you can't pick up the rocks, they are too big to go in the pond, or even sit on the liner, especially if there are sharp edges. Check the threads for tips on how to tuck your liner around the edge of the pond... you want to try and set this up right the first time, or you'll be doing like me, and rebuilding the edge of your entire pond again in a couple years.

    Aesthetically, you might consider digging the deepest part of your pond right up to the edge of the patio. You will need to build a rock/brick wall at the edge your your patio stone don't collapse into the pond (the dirt behind the ledge can wash out in a heavy rain). This would give you a nice view while sitting there, and the depth might make the fish feel more secure in coming up to the edge.

    Plan out your shelves by the types of plants you're expecting to get. Most of the common plants require less than 6" of water, and there are several that want their crowns out of the water. It's really hard to change the profile after your pond is built. Also consider some plants in the stream, since it will be more shallow than the pond.

    I initially built my stream with square ledges, expecting to just put rocks there. Unfortunately I was using round river rocks, and they tend to want to slide into the water every time a dog steps on them. If you are using paving stones all around the edges, this is fine, but if you want to use round rocks, make your river wider and slope the sides at about a 30-degree angle, then you can stack the rocks from the bottom, and they are more likely to stay put.

    As far as only using flat stones around the edge... Nope! Anything goes, you can use whatever you like. Here's a couple pictures to ponder... This is my pond in March after I had to rebuild the edge of the liner, and then another picture in June, as all the plants are growing in again. Plants make all the difference in how it looks!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Shdwdrgn, Jul 10, 2013
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  5. brc

    sissy sissy

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    I saw the sight that said they use geo textile fabric on top of the liner to protect it from the rocks .I wondered about this after I saw it on DIY Tv last week .
     
    sissy, Jul 10, 2013
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  6. brc

    sissy sissy

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    remember to consider run off that could go in your stream or pond .The fertilizers you use on your grass and bug killers and even weed killers will ruin your pond and your day
     
    sissy, Jul 10, 2013
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  7. brc

    brc

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    First, thanks for the replies and tips so far! I'm new at this, so I am definitely listening to all input at this point. The part about making sure nothing overflows if the pump shuts off is a big one, as well as the post about the runoff. I don't think the stream will hold that much water that it can dump back into the pond; I will set it up so that the pump needs to be running to maintain the flow.

    Having the deepest part of the pond be right up against the edge of the patio sounds like a good idea too. Maybe I can use some concrete blocks along that edge so that there's a wall there. I plan to have French drains around the pond / patio area, but a good bit below the level of the pond water. The patio also sits on top of a bunch of gravel that I am thinking of using for drainage, and the pond will have an overflow into the drain.

    I've read enough stuff to know that runoff getting into the pond -> major problems, so the yard will have to have drains that catch the water before it gets there. One thing I have not thought about at all is how the fish might be able to swim up the stream and hang out in its little pools.. I always pictured the stream as a separate thing with its flow falling into the pond, as it involves its own piece of liner. Is there a way to glue the sections of liner together securely so that the "pond" and "stream" sections could come together underwater?

    The first batch of stones I bought were delivered today.. it was two dump trucks of cut blocks and boulders, for $300. From what some friends have been telling me, I either got a fantastic deal, or could have gotten something similar for free. Either way, there is now an enormous pile of giant rocks in my yard. I would say about 50% of them are too big for me to move easily by hand. I'm a pretty big guy, but some of these look to be in the 200-300 pound range. However, the cut blocks that I really want to see around the edges are the smallest. Some large boulders really would look nice in the pond too, though, especially around the waterfalls. Maybe it will be OK if I lay a scrap of carpet over the liner, and have a solid (but smooth) clay below it? Other people seem to be getting huge rocks to sit on top of their pond liners without problems. Attached is a pic of the first load of rocks to be delivered.. the pile looked a lot bigger in person, even before the rest of them arrived!
     

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    brc, Jul 11, 2013
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    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Welcome! My only comment, and it comes too late if you already have your liners bought -- go BIGGER! You obviously have the room for it. After you get this one built and stocked, it won't be long at all before you start seeing all the possibilities, "If I had only made it bigger, I could have done this or that." I like the idea of streams connecting ponds, as several members have with theirs. Unfortunately, my yard won't accommodate that, but if you think ahead, see all the possibilities for you! Also, a bigger body of water is actually easier to maintain (keep in balance). You can add a bog and all kinds of cool plants..... And you can still only have goldfish if that's what you want (like me) -- big ponds aren't JUST for koi!
     
    Mmathis, Jul 11, 2013
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  9. brc

    Shdwdrgn

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    That's actually what I was trying to say. Build up a good solid wall so the edge stays firm.

    There are glues you can use. I got a box of tape to use on mine. I have separate pieces of liner for each pond, the stream, and the waterfall. Once you get the liner laid in place, clean the mating surfaces very well, then tape or glue them together in place. I didn't want to take chances, so I left a lot of overlap between each liner and ran two pieces of tape, about 6 inches apart from each other. If the first piece fails, hopefully the second piece will hold.

    Are you sure the rocks are on top of the liner? The setups I have seen, they actually folded up the liner around the edge of the rock. That way you can partially bury the rock in the ground for stability, and your liner can be moved for maintenance, if needed. If your design calls for the rock to be in the water, try using two or three layers of scrap liner on top of the actual pond liner, then when the rock is in place you can trim the scrap material back close to the base of the rock. Carpet in the water will break down over time, until you have nothing left protecting your liner.
     
    Shdwdrgn, Jul 11, 2013
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  10. brc

    JBtheExplorer Native Gardener

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    Welcome! If you think 100g is tiny you should have seen my 30g! Though to be fair it did treat us well. The fish were happy and toads had a blast in it.
    391570_10151117400958689_1286987376_n.jpg

    This year we put in a 400g and are already talking about replacing it with a 800g-1000g next spring.
     
    JBtheExplorer, Jul 12, 2013
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  11. brc

    brc

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    Well, it's Friday night, so tomorrow I will get to start working on the pond! This also seems like a good time to sort through all those big rocks and pick out the ones that look like they "belong" somewhere. I think I'm going to begin by laying out a rough shape, and then mocking up the stone blocks that will go around the edges of the pond and in the little retaining wall. That retaining wall should probably be built next, since I'm going to be piling the dirt behind it. Hopefully, I can find a rock for each location without having to cut any -- I have not figured out how I'm going to do that yet!

    The picture shows (cartoonishly) how I am thinking of doing a most of the pond edges. It's not really to scale, and it shows the pond side being a vertical wall of dirt under the rock (won't happen, except with concrete blocks), but the idea is to have a shelf a few inches below the water line, to lay cut stone around. To make this work, I'll have to have the water level decided on, and then set up a string line to keep the whole edge level. The tops of the stones can be level with the grass or even a tiny bit below it, and the red part of the picture is some kind of material I'll use to protect the liner from any sharp edges on the rocks -- be it plastic, styrofoam, carpet, etc. These rocks are also not the heavy ones, but even for those, the more I think about it, the liner is totally safe even with the 300+ pounders, as long as it's just being compressed and the weight is distributed over more than a few square inches. What is going to put a hole in it is pinching it between a rock and another sharp edge under it, or moving large rocks around on it -- things that cause a slicing or tearing effect.

    What's a little bit tricky is thinking ahead to where things are going to be that aren't here yet. There will be storm drains and utility connections, for example, that connect to the pond. I need to make sure that stuff has somewhere to go when it's installed. Also, I'm not decided on what all the plants will be, in or out of the water, but I need to have places to put them.

    The stream and waterfall(s) can be built after, since they are going to flow into the pond. I think I'm going to go with a waterfall right where the stream empties into the pond, rather than trying to glue the liners together, and I'll just be really careful that the stream can't empty more water into the pond than the pond can hold. I would like the stream to have a series of small waterfalls in it anyway, since they are so interesting visually (especially at night when back-lit).

    Building a pond is definitely an art form.. so I hope I can pull off something even remotely close to the picture I have in my head.
     

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    brc, Jul 13, 2013
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    sissy sissy

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    glad I'm not moving those stones . :cheerful:
     
    sissy, Jul 13, 2013
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  13. brc

    sissy sissy

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    If you put the grass up to the edge you may get fertilizer run off and plus mowing
     
    sissy, Jul 13, 2013
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  14. brc

    dieselplower

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    I agree I would make sure the edge of the pond is a few inches higher than the surrounding area.
     
    dieselplower, Jul 13, 2013
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  15. brc

    brc

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    OK.. now I am completely exhausted from top to bottom and my hands are totally beat to hell! On the upside, I did not get hurt (that I know of), which was my biggest fear for the day.

    So I worked on the project for about 10 hours today, and have yet to actually scoop a single shovel of dirt out of the pond area. I was moving those stones all day.. I have about half of the edge of the pond edge selected and mocked-up, and the retaining wall is almost done. I will try to get a picture of the whole thing tomorrow, but what's built is about 12 feet wide x 2 feet tall. On the one end, it has a corner that goes back a couple more feet. I decided to get this built early on so that it would get the first pick of all the stone, since it needed to be very straight and uniform. I still need to square up the end of one rock, and place one more before that part is done. The wall is supposed to double as a place to sit, and it seems to be at just about the perfect height for that now.

    Thanks for the tip on the fertilizer runoff / mowing -- I hadn't even thought of grass clippings getting in there until I saw that. That will make mowing a little more work than before. Maybe I will have the ground hump up a little right at the edge to make it harder for stuff to get into there as well.
     

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    brc, Jul 14, 2013
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  16. brc

    brc

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    Here's a view of the whole area today. I placed the last couple of stones on the wall today, but didn't get too much further due to my entire body being sore from yesterday!

    Parts of the patio came up to accommodate the wall, and the end is going to be removed for the stream, so I will be able to use those pavers to add more up against the pond. I still need to buy more of those as well, to make the patio a good bit bigger.

    Also, the circle of stone will be almost flush with the ground at the pond edge, so it will look a lot different from what's shown. Still, it gives an idea of where things will be.

    The stream is going to go alongside the patio, with the filter-falls box going probably right behind the left end of the wall. I'm not sure what will be behind the wall yet. I know the dirt from the pond will go there, but I could either plant stuff up there, or make some kind of rock garden, or even have more pavers there.
     

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    brc, Jul 14, 2013
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  17. brc

    sissy sissy

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    I moved 5 truckloads of stone up on my hill out front and the trucks were any where from 17 to 19 ton a piece.They knock you in the butt
     

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    sissy, Jul 14, 2013
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  18. brc

    Pondinginsocal

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    We have similar construction in our pond with the edging rocks sitting on a shelf in the water. We have one extra large rock that has an extra layer of liner under it to protect the main liner, but none of the other rocks have extra liner. We did put a layer of sand under the liner to help protect the liner. The water level in the pond is about 3-4" below ground level, but outside the pond edges are raised above ground level to prevent run off getting in the pond, we also have french drains around the pond that work very well. The pond is 10 years old with no problem having the rocks in the water.
    Carol
    IMG_1063.JPG
     
    Pondinginsocal, Jul 15, 2013
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  19. brc

    CometKeith

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    brc, good luck with your pond. The way your rocks look remind me of another famous rock formation!
    [​IMG]
     
    CometKeith, Jul 15, 2013
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  20. brc

    brc

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    I dug the hole today!

    I got lucky too.. about a foot below the surface, the digging got really easy. I hit this funky white clay-ish stuff (that I've never seen before), which was very soft and had zero rocks or roots in it. The hardest part was having to change clothes about 3 times due to the humidity...

    So, the hole is almost completely dug. I need to trim down the "shelf" that the edge rocks sit on, and the pond could still expand a little bit, depending on what I see when I lay the liner in it. It's a little on the small side now because I didn't want to take the risk of coming up short on liner and having to put dirt back in.

    If the weather is decent tomorrow, I could get as far as having the liner in. I'm really hoping that's the case, because if the hole gets filled with water, I don't know how fast it's going to absorb into that clay.

    On a related note, would it be bad to fill my pond with rain water? I was thinking, since I have to buy a bunch of PVC drain pipe anyway, I could just temporarily run it from a downspout to the pond and let the next thunderstorm (Tuesday?) fill the thing up. Part of me thinks that can't be a good idea, but at the same time, it seems like it would be pretty convenient?
     

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    brc, Jul 22, 2013
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