Pond Newbie - Seeking Construction, Layout, Equipment, and Planting Advice

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First off, I want to thank all of the active forum members here for creating some amazing water gardens! I've been reading as much as possible, and admiring everyone's creations, and am getting very close to taking the plunge myself. I consider myself to be pretty handy, so am planning to do all of the work myself with help from friends/family for the heavy lifting. You'll need to bear with me though, as I'm sure I'll have a lot of questions.

I'm uploading a pic of the area I'm planning to put the pond and waterfall (no making fun of my 5 min MS Paint mockup:p).
pondsmall.jpg


For reference the patio to the left is 25'x25' square, and I'm thinking of making the pond approximately 10'w x 15'lx 2'd. The hill with the ivy is about 12' high and the run for the waterfall will be about 15' long and 3' wide with about 3 separate drops. I am planning to slowly add fish in the pond and am in Atlanta area. Will the 2' depth be enough with a single step at about at about a foot, or should I plan to go deeper in the center channel and have 2 steps versus a single? Freeze shouldn't be a big concern, but summer heat may.

The 12' rise to the top of the waterfall is going to require a pretty serious pump to get good flow, so I was thinking of using something like the Aquascape Aquasurge 4000 and 2" diameter flexible PVC from the pump to the waterfall filter. I'm not sure of brand recommendations, but read that the Aquascape stuff is pretty reputable, albeit pricey. Any other recommendations I should check out? Also, should output be about right based on pond/waterfall size to provide adequate filtration and water flow for the falls? Would going to 2 separate pumps be a better option for the size/layout? If I stick with Aquascape, I'd probably get the 2500 Biofalls filter and the 400 Pond skimmer, but again, am open to other brands.

Due to length of the waterfall, I'm guessing it will be easier to use two separate 45 mil EPDM liners rather than trying to get a single piece to accommodate both features? The drop is fairly significant, so I'm hoping that I won't have to seam the EPDM pieces, and can get away with overlapping the waterfall into the pond and using maybe a contact cement and rocks to avoid separation. Keeping the water contained over the steep drop will also probably prove to be a bit tricky. Will 2 smaller falls and a larger final waterfall slow the water down sufficiently to keep it in an approximately 3' wide channel?

Finally, as you can see from the pic, I've got a lot of trees to contend with, so I'll definitely want a good skimmer setup (both pine needles and leaves to contend with). Should I consider a bottom drain or will the weir type be sufficient?

This past weekend I installed an outdoor rated outlet next to the bush at the far left, and have wired landscape lighting around the patio and other areas of the yard. I went ahead and got a 200 watt transformer, and am not even using half of it at this point to allow plenty of headroom to expand the pond/waterfall area! Our daughter is graduating from high school this week, so I'll likely be breaking ground in early June. I look forward to the feedback, and thanks again for inspiring me to take on the challenge. I'm really looking forward to it!
 
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Take a look at the Tidal Wave3 series of pumps from Atlantic. I needed to find a bigger pump for my planned pond and those are a really good balance of high flow, not much loss from head, and energy efficiency. The Alpine Eco Twist looks decent too.

For your design, why not come in further into that grass area so you can walk up to your pond from your patio?
 
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Thanks for the recommendations. I'll make sure to check them out!

Are you suggesting bringing the pond right up to the brick or leaving a smaller walkway? The walkway currently serves as the main entrance to the patio from our house/deck and a walkway to the shed. The corners are all done the same with brick kneewalls capped in field stone. Currently there is a bed at the bottom of the pic that could be reconfigured to change the access point, but it would make the patio to house entrance slightly further away. The grassy area is about 8' wide, so I do have room to come in some.
 
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Yeah. I was. Obviously I can't see the whole layout. Or maybe you can bring it in some and use something to visually connect it (a tongue of additional patio or landscaping with a path). Anything that would encourage people on the patio to wander over to the edge of the pond.
 
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Welcome. Great area for the project. I do not have a bottom drain but my skimmer works great with the pine needles. The epdm liner will be easier with 2 and a lot less waste. I did mine with 3 pieces. One for the main pond and 2 for the stream. Good luck and post updates.
 
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Hmmm... I like the idea. What if I were to use prefab footings and float a deck level with the patio? I could even do a slight overhang of the pond area to give the fish some cover and simulate the feel of being on a dock. This would maintain the walkthrough capability, and I could even do a nautical rope railing for the overlook.
 
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I've seen that done (with overhang). Looked interesting. So you don't need to roll your mower through that space or something?
 
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RobAmy, I love how natural your pond looks! That's good news on the skimmer picking up the pine needles. I am leaning toward avoiding the bottom drain, as I think it will be easier to service without. I'll be sure to either update this thread as I go, or if it gets too crowded post a separate construction thread.
 

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Remember your pond will really need to be level with an over flow some where ..Not sure where you are from here but with the heavy rains I get can be scary .You sure don't want your patio washing away or the sand between the pavers .
 
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I've seen that done (with overhang). Looked interesting. So you don't need to roll your mower through that space or something?
I sometimes roll my dirtbikes through there, but seldom a mower:D... It should be plenty strong though. Looking at cantilever rules, http://www.decks.com/how-to/43/deck-joist-cantilever-rules-and-limits, I could easily do a 2' cantilevered overhang and the footings would not even need to be submerged to get the look I'd be going for. Updating the original mock drawing, it would look something like this:
pondsmall2.jpg
 
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Remember your pond will really need to be level with an over flow some where ..Not sure where you are from here but with the heavy rains I get can be scary .You sure don't want your patio washing away or the sand between the pavers .
The natural runoff would head just left of the shed as there is a very slight grade. The patio is actually brick/mortar on a concrete slab (used to be a basketball court before we dressed it up), so no worries there. On the other side of the fence is a 15' wide real creek where the runoff would eventually go. I am considering using an old sump pump and garden hose to fill the pond from the creek, since it will already be non-chlorinated and stabilized with natural bacteria capable of sustaining fish.
 
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I may want to trench some under the deck if I go the decking route though. The runoff from the yard tends to follow the grassy area before it hits the woods... meaning some may hit the pond. I'm guessing nitrogen from lawn fertilizer wouldn'the be good for fish!
 

sissy

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Just be careful what you pump from the creek as little critters survive there .They may be injured or it maybe something you don't want in your pond .If you don't want fish you may get fish eggs or frog eggs .The taddies will grow up and go away but the fish may be a different story .
 
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The area I put my pond in was very similar only the hill was a little higher. I would suggest making your stream twist a little so that it isn't a straight run. Mine ended up being 45 feet long with five small falls or steps carved out. I think that 3 feet would be too wide, it will look out of proportion. I used strips of liner 3 feet wide and it worked out for me. Be sure that you understand that the stream will not be anywhere near as wide as the liner is. You must dig the sides down deep enough so that the water doesn't flow over the sides on the way down. You also will need stones along the edges inside and out to hold the liner in. You will also want to have a high enough drop at the top so that it looks like a falls. I put my stream in first. The pond it needs to sit level but on a sloped site that isn't the easiest thing to do. I have a 1 foot difference from front and side to the back . That problem was overcome with a ledge built into the side and rocks placed on top of the ledge. As far as getting it level I filled the pond then added dirt along the low side and lifted the liner up until the water didn't flow over the edge. For a pump I used a Vanc pump from Amazon and a Little Giant skimmer and 2" flex pipe. I actually put the skimmer in after the pond was filled with water. I had to drain it down but I knew exactly what the level would be. It was more work but made the job easier. I don't have a center drain, and I made my own skippy filter out of a 250 gallon water storage tank.
 

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addy1

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I have a 25% drop from the top of our slope and the deck ponds down to the main pond. Around 40 feet. My stream ended up being switch backs with each bend being a small pond, water retention area and water fall to the next drop. The stream itself ended up being 85 feet long. I had one long piece of liner that I ended up cutting for each leg of the switch back. I joined them by some double side tape and overlap.

The frogs have taken over a lot of the small ponds (fishless) the plants help with the filtration of the water.

I made the stream bed around 10-12 inches deep, 1-2 feet wide, with the slope the main problem I had was digging in the slope side to make a stream bed, then covering all that dirt.

You can sort of see it here. The red line sort of follows the stream bed. I can't find my winter naked picture .
stream.JPG
 
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cas

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Just a note - be aware that when the pump is turned off, all the water from the stream will go into your pond and it may overflow.

If you do go with the deck overhang I saw someone place their skimmer under the deck and then build a trap door to get to it. It hid the skimmer really nice.
 
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Without practical experience in ponds, I think you are out of your mind...only cuz Im jealous you are more courageous then me. I would fear a total disaster and a big mosquito ridden hole. I cant wait to see how you accomplish your ideas and I trully look forward to seeing the results!
 

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Just a note - be aware that when the pump is turned off, all the water from the stream will go into your pond and it may overflow.
.
My stream is run on a separate pump on a timer, due to head pressure. It draws the pond down 1 inch refills one inch when done running. I didn't want to pay for a pond pump that could handle 100 feet when I already had 4 pond pumps in storage. and pricey to run.
 
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mgmine and addy1... thank you for the pics and suggestions! It sounds like I need to go narrower on the waterfall with a longer snaking run. 15' would have been close to a straight shot but I can likely double that with more bends.

Cas... great idea on hiding the skimmer! Note to self - resist urge to turn on pump until pond reaches desired fill.

KC Crook... I probably am a little crazy and over ambitious. At least, I had the sense to seek advice here first! I'll start a build thread with pics when I break ground in a couple weeks.
 
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Off your first post w/o reading rest. You should go another foot at least, or 2 '
I'm in atl and mine is 3ft deep.

I'm decking mine next year and putting in benches, but I'm re digging to 4 ft deep, will look into an under deck skimmer
 
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