Pool gone, newbie needs help!

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by joesandy1822, May 26, 2013.

  1. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    Hello everybody. I posted a year or two ago about trying to convert an above ground swimming pool into a pond. Actually, I posted all over the internet! Anyhow, after trying and failing (just WAY too much water volume and equipment would have been too costly), we had the pool removed. Now we need to decide what we are going to do with the space left by where the pool was. I am including photos to show you what the area looks like, including the cedar deck sticking up in the air. Any suggestions on that? We thought maybe we could somehow have it lowered, but unfortunately, cost IS a huge factor for us right now. We may just tear it down and use it for firewood. :( The blue stuff is the pool liner that I am still working on getting out. It is heavier than I thought, so I've been cutting it into pieces. Plus it is now brittle from being dried out, so it cuts like plastic!

    Since the pool had a "deep end", there is some digging already done. It is a perfect place for a goldfish pond, which I've always wanted. At least some of the work is done, since the sod is gone, some digging done, etc. I have been reading for months and months, and seem to be getting myself more confused as I go. Can anybody recommend a post here, or elsewhere, which in a nutshell describes the construction of a simple goldfish pond from beginning to end? Is there a sticky I haven't found? I've found other sites, but most go off on some tangent and it gets frustrating. In a nutshell, here is what I'd like:

    The area is about 16x26 or a bit larger. I'd like a simple waterfall, maybe a skimmer, goldfish, and plants. Will probably not have koi ever, but if so, what would I need to incorporate "just in case"? I truly want to do it "right" to begin with, trying to avoid lots of newbie mistakes, but our budget is VERY limited. I'm a handy person, and DIY is up my alley, but I don't want to reinvent the wheel either. I want a simple design, no fancy streams, no UV, probably no bottom drain unless somebody tells me I HAVE to have one. I live in Zone 5a. We freeze hard in the winter. I had to winterize my pool bottom drain each winter with antifreeze. Antifreeze kills fish. So for those of you in freezing climates with BDs, how do you winterize them? I want to avoid unnecessary work. I don't mind getting dirty and mucking out a pond in chest waders once a year if necessary. I want to not get cheap crap equipment and have to replace it in a year or two, but I don't need to get the cadillac model of things either. Decent quality without spending excess money. I have more time than money right now, but I also don't want a maintenance nightmare. Maybe I'm asking too much, but these are considerations right now. I'd like frogs to come, and other wildlife. I don't want my goldfish eaten by herons (we do get them), or racoons, so maybe I should forgo plant shelves and just use milk crates to raise plants? I've read to go as big as you can in the beginning. That is what I intend to do. Is 3' deep enough, or should I go 4'? If I use biofalls, is that enough filtration for a pond this size? Is a skimmer even necessary? There is a large maple tree about 40' away, which makes me think it would be a good thing, although I could put a leaf net over the pond in the fall before the leaves drop. Also it will be right up against a row of arbor vitae trees which do shed a bit in the fall. How can I save money on a liner, or is that the one thing you should NEVER scrimp on? I've heard of using some sort of roofing material instead of a liner. Not sure about that.

    I will try and post a photo later today of the area as it is now. The pool was just removed yesterday. There was sand under it to protect the liner. If we get a good rain, it could wash, so I'm feeling like I'm in a bit of a hurry, which is bad, I know. But I've read so much, it doesn't feel like I'm jumping in knowing nothing. It's just that I've read so much that it's jumbled up and I can't seem to organize my thoughts enough to know what the simplest route would be to my goals. I get going on somebody's rabbit trail and then I get discouraged. The most recent rabbit trail was today reading about bottom drains. Then rocks in the pond versus no rocks. Then people directing me to Koiphen (a good site, I know), but I don't intend to have koi, at least not now, probably never. I like simpler. A friend has a beautiful koi pond, actually several. But with all his fancy equipment and the expense and time, it seems like way more work and expense than I would want. His budget and time are not limited. Mine are definitely.

    I know this is long. I so much appreciate any direction. As I said, if I could find one source with a concise, "how to" it would be great. Is there a book you could recommend, or some other resource that is concise rather than having to jump from post to post and getting lost?

    Thanks for listening to my rambling. I appreciate any direction.

    Sandy
     

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    joesandy1822, May 26, 2013
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  2. joesandy1822

    BlueOrca

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    I live on the other side of the Ambassador bridge, so we are in the same general area. I bought a liner from Menard's on Hall rd when it went on sale, roofing rubber is fine. You need to know the exact size you want so you can get the right sized pump, I bought a pump off ebay, on sale to suit my needs. I made 2 of the Doc barrel filters (got the barrels for free, check out car wash places). My pond is 3 feet deep, with no shelves, I bought plastic shelving units to set the plants upon. A decent pond can be made on a budget and you can get plants from other pond owners usually for free after theirs have multiplied. Good Luck!
     
    BlueOrca, May 27, 2013
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  3. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    Thanks! The tips are much appreciated.

    Do you have rocks in the bottom of your pond? Can you see the shelves you built for the plants? I am concerned about using milk crates for fear they will look cheesy (mine are all bright colors like red and blue). I suppose once they are covered with algae, they will be less noticeable. Do you have any photos posted here? I'd love to see your pond.

    I am getting really excited to get this going, but I still have a lot to learn. Like whether a 20 mil liner is good, or if everybody is using the 45 mil. I don't want to skimp on the important things because I've learned that usually leads to regret down the road.

    I haven't been to the new Menards yet. Do you remember the price you paid there for your liner? Do they sell it by the square foot? I think Lowes and Home Depot also sell liners. I've been checking eBay. Still need to hop on over to Amazon and take a look. If anybody has any suggestions for getting a good liner at a great price, I'd love to hear.

    Thanks again.

    Sandy
     
    joesandy1822, May 27, 2013
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  4. joesandy1822

    adavisus

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    Anything that holds water reliable, has an average depth two to three feet deep, stocked low density with a few fish, planted with a good choice of aquatic plants is going to be easy to keep, not that expensive

    It will not require pricey chemicals or water squishing gizmo's.

    That is a perky garden feature to look forward to.

    Concise enough?

    Regards, andy
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/21940871@N06/
    http://swglist.wordpress.com/
     
    adavisus, May 27, 2013
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  5. joesandy1822

    Dave 54

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    It's really quite simple keep half the pond, then fill in the rest.
    Use the deck as a viewing platform as the ponds main feature, however you dont say what fish you wish to keep.
    We feel koi would be perfect for this where you and your friends and family can look down at the pond ,
    You could put a QT facility under the decking as a good use of the space you have under there plus its ot to far to lift fish if they need to go into the QT tank

    rgrds


    Dave
     
    Dave 54, May 27, 2013
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  6. joesandy1822

    koiguy1969 GIGGETY-GIGGETY!!

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    i am available for hire to come help you out!...
     
    koiguy1969, May 27, 2013
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  7. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    Ok, your opinions on my plan this far would be appreciated.

    Let's say we utilize the majority of the 16x26 area for the pond, and we dig an average of 3' deep. I may put a couple shelves at one end for ease of getting into the pond. According to at least some of the calculators, that would be roughly 9,000 gallons of water. Let's say I want a "goldfish" pond with lots of plants. Many of the floating plants would not really take off until mid summer (like hyacinths, lilies, etc.). Say I do not want koi. 3/4 of the pond would get full sun most of the day. The back row of trees will shade the back quarter of the pond most of the day.

    Here is my plan. Please tell me if I am totally off track in any area, and possibly making newbie mistakes, or if this would work for my scenario.

    No bottom drain, 1 waterfall with some sort of bio and mechanical filtration inside at the deeper end of the pond, 1 skimmer at the opposite end of the pond, which would be slightly shallower. 1 pump. Would the pump go in the skimmer box? Would the pump have to turn the water over twice an hour since there are no koi, or would once per hour suffice with just plants and goldfish? I would like a decent amount of goldfish, and would find homes for extras as needed each year. I would like the waterfall to be 2 or 3 feet wide and 2 or 3 feet tall. I will plan on a 45 mil liner. No UV. I don't have to have perfectly clear water, but would like to be able to see the fish, and I don't want pea soup all summer.

    Do you think this setup would be sufficient? Would a skippy type filter work in the waterfall?

    Will wait for your suggestions, and keep reading.

    Thanks for all those who've replied so far. I would love to keep the deck, but it just seems to stick out like a sore thumb. May put it on Craigslist. Not sure yet.

    Koiguy, how much do you charge? :)

    Sandy
     
    joesandy1822, May 27, 2013
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  8. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    I am still reading, but I've seen a lot of pond "kits" available. Do these usually cost more, in general, than purchasing the components separately? Do they tend to include lesser quality components?

    This may be a dumb question, but I don't know the answer so I will ask. Based on what I am looking to achieve, and wanting to be simple, what is the largest size of goldfish pond (volume of water) that one could get by with one pump, one filter, and one skimmer? I know they make pumps that will pump over 5,000 gph, so I'm assuming a pond could be up to 5,000 and work with only one of everything?

    Please be patient. I am still learning. :)

    Sandy
     
    joesandy1822, May 28, 2013
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  9. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    Can somebody take a look at this 16x21 pond kit, and tell me what you think of:

    1. The price
    2. The component quality in general
    3. Basic thoughts

    I'm thinking to shrink the original 16x28 area down to less than 16x21, then I could just get a kit. I think from my reading that I answered my previous questions, being that I can do what I want to do with one pump, one filter, one skimmer, etc. Are these kits foolish? Would I do economically better buying the components separately?

    http://www.graystonecreations.com/americanpond_xlargepro_pond-kits.shtml

    Sandy
     
    joesandy1822, May 28, 2013
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  10. joesandy1822

    don't ask

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    Sandy, I'm going to stick my neck out a bit and say purchasing a kit is fine although yes, you can buy individually and save money or build your own filter/waterfalls and even a skimmer. A lot of people have built skippy type filters and used as a waterfall as well. You will need to purchase cinder blocks to elevate it though to have a decent waterfalls in my opinion. While a bottom drain is not necessary it is helpful and beneficial especially if you ever plan on having koi. They can be a double edge sword as in if your skimmer doesn't capture leaves it can block parts of the drain and you'll be trying to figure out the best way to remove or vacuum it from the bottom drain. Kits give you generally everything you need to just plug and play without much worry about parts marrying up. But they determine what depth they want you to go I think. Deeper is better in that when winter comes when your fish move to the bottom you won't have to worry about the pond freezing solid if you go down at least 36 or more inches. Flexible pipe although easier to use and connect is costly in what they are providing. You will get a myriad of responses and suggestions as to what to use and how to build and what equipment to use. The epdm liner is good and will be one of your more expensive items. Whether you use carpet or purchase an underlayment is your choice but carpet if you can get free saves you a hundred or so, just make sure no staples protruding. Not sure if I've touched on all your points, there were many but I'll try to answer anymore questions you post as I'm sure others will offer their suggestions and knowledge as well
     
    don't ask, May 28, 2013
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  11. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    Thank you so much for the response! I guess (to me) part of the appeal of a kit is that it is all together and takes away at least some of the confusion. I should take the time and calculate the cost if it were all purchased individually. My husband thinks you should be saving money if you get a kit. I am thinking it will be more costly (because of convenience). I know DIY would be much less expensive, and I love DIY. But in this situation, when I start reading about "head", leaking behind waterfalls, trying to make a DIY weir, and on and on, I just get overwhelmed and then I stall. For me at this time in my life, I will probably be better to fork over a few extra bucks and get it done.

    One big question is how to get in the pond if I don't do shelves. We do have herons and sometimes a racoon. I will have goldfish only, no Koi. But I do want plants, lots of them, so without shelves I will be having to somehow raise some of the plants to the proper height. And then how do you get in the pond to do any cleaning with no "steps"?

    Will wait for more responses. Thanks again!

    Sandy
     
    joesandy1822, May 28, 2013
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  12. joesandy1822

    don't ask

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    Hmmm, well I guess you could tie boat rope to the old pool deck and use it to get in and out? I would do what you thought about making a shelf or steps at the shallow end or you could just kinda slide in and use rope to pull yourself out, not sure if hip wadders will be enough to keep water out especially if you slip and fall. Doing a few steps the width of pond at shallow end will allow you to put different plants that don't like deep water too. And leaving the deep end for the fish to hide, overwinter and keep cool during the hot summer months. Yes a kit will probably take care of your worries compared to buying individual items. The one thing I would say possibly is like others have said, go as big and deep as your purse will allow. Second don't go overboard and put lots of fish in the pond after its cycled.. Just because they are small they will grow and like all species on this planet, will love to multiply faster than you think.
     
    don't ask, May 28, 2013
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  13. joesandy1822

    markd

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    I have a feeling that lowering that deck should not be that difficult.... what kind of footings are under the legs if you dig down a little?
    Getting it all the way to the ground would be easy... the trick is getting it to end up where you want it! That is going to be a pretty heavy chunk of material. I assume you want it right where it is, but basically on the ground?
     
    markd, May 29, 2013
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  14. joesandy1822

    joesandy1822 Sandy

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    There is cement footings holding the 7 posts. Getting it to the ground would be fine. Yes, we would like it where it is, only on the ground. What were you thinking as a way to get it there (without killing ourselves in the process)? :)
     
    joesandy1822, May 29, 2013
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  15. joesandy1822

    Minto Flats

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    I'm a newbie too (1 post to this forum), so I'm not exactly an "expert" in the advice department. However, the pond kit option vs. DYI sparked my interest. You see, I was leaning to the kit route, myself...until I read up, more in depth, as to all of the potential caveats involved with building a fish pond, that is. [Gets confusing, doesn't it?]

    Now, off the cuff, if you were to consider purchasing a kit, you might consider this site as an alternative: http://www.halfoffponds.com/LH2.aspx

    It appears to me that you would be getting basically the same size kit--but at around 600 bucks less. That said, here are a few of the reasons why I'm getting away from the pond kit option:

    1. The liner size: As I believe that you have already observed, all of these kits (or all that I have found) calculate the liner size based upon a 2-feet depth--not good, when you live in a colder climate (I'm in the Denver area) and where predators are abundant. Now, I had considered purchasing a larger kit from what I actually need—just for the liner—but, unfortunately, this usually means an unnecessarily larger pump, etc. as well.

    2. No bottom drain: This means a submersible pump, with the plumbing (hoses) running up along the side of your pond. This in itself is not necessarily a big deal, as they can be pretty easily disguised. What has swayed me against not having a bottom drain is that the latter—especially if accompanied with an aeration fitting—appears to do a better job of debris removal (fish poo, etc.) from the bottom. [If I do decide on going with a kit, I would definitely install a future (capped off) bottom drain, just as an insurance policy.]

    3. The filtration system: Included with the kits is, of course, the pond filter. From what I have gleaned, these are pretty much those filter-in-a-box/combination waterfall trays. I guess, if the relatively small filter is not really doing a good job in keeping the pond clear, you could always upgrade. But, when the filter itself represents three or four hundred bucks of the overall kit price, this becomes a serious consideration should this filter not work out.

    In summary, I believe that I can build a DYI system for not only less that the cost of a kit (pond size per pond size) but add a lot more in the way of future pond quality at the same time. I do not know for sure if this will prove out to be true, of course—which is one of the reasons why I joined this forum in the first place!

    Help, anyone?
     
    Minto Flats, May 30, 2013
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  16. joesandy1822

    markd

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    First see if you have a rental center that will rent hydraulic jacks (bottle type)- you would probably need two.
     
    markd, May 30, 2013
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  17. joesandy1822

    markd

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    markd, May 30, 2013
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  18. joesandy1822

    cr8tivguy Tim Thompson

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    Personally, I would remove all the deck boards and disassemble the deck. Then lower the posts by cutting them down. Finally, I would reattach the decking with the bottom sides up. WHALLA! NEW DECK!

    It may seem like a lot of work, but I think it's safer and would be less expensive than renting, building and/or hiring someone to come lower the deck.
     
    cr8tivguy, Jun 27, 2013
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