Welcome Tommy! I also live in IL, but south central, so no idea where you are located in Chicago, but glad there are others on here that will likely visit your store in the near future, or maybe wait until spring. I, too, would like to hear your recommendations to a new pond owner. Don't worry, you can't give a wrong answer. People on here will comment on what they have done the same way and how it worked out, if they have done things totally different and how THAT worked out, etc. We are a very diverse group, and love to hear all different ways to set up ponds.