Raised Garden Pond Against Brick House


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Hello everyone,

First time poster here. This website seems to have a lot of good information. I'm a DIY homebuilder who is designing a pond against the brick on the southern side of the house and I wanted to run my plan by all of you and see your thoughts. I've attached some sketches of the situation to help you visualize my plans. I thank you in advance for your time and experience.

The idea:

The point of the pond is for rainwater catchment, protein/fertilizer production, and to add significant thermal mass to the southern side of my house. Ohio has some brutal summers AND winters and I'm hoping I can temper them a little bit. I'm planning on building a pergola over the pond and using it as a trellis for grapes to give the pond a respite from the July sun. The pond will be powered with a solar-panel on the pergola and a submersible pump. A voided bog filter/waterfall will provide filtration and oxygenation to the pond. The pond will be lightly stocked with bluegill and minnows until it matures. Longterm I would like Koi.

Construction:

I'm torn on how to build the envelope and how much I should dig out the bottom. Currently I'm thinking of digging a concrete footer and building a concrete block wall on top of it. Then I would shape the walls with clay or sand and use a pond liner to make it water tight. I can dig the deep part of the pond as deep as I would like because my house has a basement and the house footer is about 6' deep. I haven't decided how deep I should make the dugout.

Questions:

What is the optimum depth for a long narrow pond? I'm worried about freezing and boiling my fish.

Do I need to construct a back wall for the pond, or can I rely on my existing brick wall? The house is old and sturdy and the brick is at least a foot thick. Also, I only have a three-foot width to work with including the thickness of the wall. Also, I haven't worked out how to "lip" the edge for the back wall and attach the liner.

Do I need to add pavers as a "splash-guard" for my brick? I'm not sure how much moisture is dangerous.

Should I consider building the pond completely out of concrete? I like the idea of block and liner because it could be removed in an emergency, but I'm open to ideas.

How deep should I make my "Bog Pond"? I will have basket full of gravel on top that is only 3" thick or so to house my plants. I will set this on top of milk crates. Is there a benefit to having a deeper void under the basket? Could I fill this void with plastic media or maybe grow clams or crustaceans underneath?


I'm really excited for the project. Thank you in advance for all your help!
 

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Greetings, welcome to the Forum.

I think a reinforced concrete raised pond including a backwall against the house would be the most secure construction.

Of course, if possible it would be great to build the pond larger, but you know how much space you can give it.

A deep pond would be neat, but a deep, narrow pond might be a problem for accessibility, and possibly oxygenation as well, if you do decide to keep (small) fish. It would be great for water storage though. I like the idea of keeping the plants in supported trays near the surface, somewhat like a suspended bog. The plant baskets could also be wall-mounted or perhaps even floating. The shade from the pergola and grape vine should just be partial, as most pond plants will want some sunlight.

If you do want to collect rainwater, consider an additional underground extension or separate cistern. What is the square footage of your catchment area (roof)?
 
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Hey Marck,

Thanks for your quick reply!

As far as water catchment:

The total roof catchment area is 900 sq feet
Columbus, OH gets around 40 inches of rain a year.
Total catchment potential: ~22,000 gallons

The way the gutters are situated, about 25-50% of this will be diverted to this pond. The pond will hold ~1,300 gallons. I'll be adding an overflow pipe to irrigate an orchard in my back yard, and its possible I can integrate more microponds into the landscape in the future.

I hadn't thought about oxygenation problems in a narrow deep pond. After considering this, I added another tier to my bog-filter waterfall. I've attached an updated design. Also, I believe I will take your advice on the concrete pond. It would give me a sturdy foundation and the narrower walls will give me a few inches of precious space. I can sandwich concrete backboard between the pond and the house to allow for demolition if ever required.

Also, should I consider grading the bottom of the pond? I was considering a one-foot slope away from the water-fall to encourage water-flow to the pump and sediment settling. The deepest point would be 48".

Lastly, how deep is too deep? Currently, the pond is ~36" above grade, 30" wide (not including walls) and 20' long (including bog filters). Is a one-foot deep "trough" in the middle as a safe-guard from freezing a good idea?

I realize I am throwing a lot of information at you. I really appreciate you taking the time to understand and answer my questions.

Thanks again!
Sam
 

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Hey Marck,

Thanks for your quick reply!

As far as water catchment:

The total roof catchment area is 900 sq feet
Columbus, OH gets around 40 inches of rain a year.
Total catchment potential: ~22,000 gallons

The way the gutters are situated, about 25-50% of this will be diverted to this pond. The pond will hold ~1,300 gallons. I'll be adding an overflow pipe to irrigate an orchard in my back yard, and its possible I can integrate more microponds into the landscape in the future.

I hadn't thought about oxygenation problems in a narrow deep pond. After considering this, I added another tier to my bog-filter waterfall. I've attached an updated design. Also, I believe I will take your advice on the concrete pond. It would give me a sturdy foundation and the narrower walls will give me a few inches of precious space. I can sandwich concrete backboard between the pond and the house to allow for demolition if ever required.

Also, should I consider grading the bottom of the pond? I was considering a one-foot slope away from the water-fall to encourage water-flow to the pump and sediment settling. The deepest point would be 48".

Lastly, how deep is too deep? Currently, the pond is ~36" above grade, 30" wide (not including walls) and 20' long (including bog filters). Is a one-foot deep "trough" in the middle as a safe-guard from freezing a good idea?

I realize I am throwing a lot of information at you. I really appreciate you taking the time to understand and answer my questions.

Thanks again!
Sam
Marck has given you some good info. I'll see if I can do as well.

The thing with 'narrow' ponds is surface area. Oxygenation ONLY happens there. An aerator's bubbles gives nothing toward helping any fish/wildlife in the pond, so you can see that that more surface area, the more places for oxygenation to happen. That's why large natural ponds and lakes can survive without filtration (mechanical) or aeration; a huge amount of surface area. So, think wider if you can.

You want the pond to at least be below frost level to insure it won't freeze all the way down or plan on providing some water movement to keep ice from forming that deep (and to create a open hole for toxic gasses to bleed off during the winter. Most will say 24" is fine, I tend to think make it at least 3' deep. Beyond 4' is not giving you that much benefit. With your pond being above ground too, that means the winter is going to affect it more. If you plan on this, consider insulating the walls between the structure and facia. I'd go at least 4" foam all around. But that's me.

I'm always leery when I see designs where the pond is placed right next to the house, and would advise keeping at least a foot between, even if for just maintenance sake. You may want to get to that side sometime. When you say 'grade the bottom'; I'm assuming you're going to either make it all concrete (and study up on this as cement ponds tend to crack over time) or dig and put a liner. In both cases, you'd be grading anyhow. Read up on underlayment and EPDM or just using HDRPE.

And realize if you're going to use all rainwater, some conditioning is going to be mandated as rain water tends acidic and has low mineral content. Even if you use to top off, a lot will depend on your source water's params as to whether you need to condition that for the wildlife's sake.

WElcome to GPF!
 
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Hey Brokensword,

Thanks for contributing!

While I agree with all of your suggestions, I’m afraid that the constraints of my situation make many of them impossible to implement.

I agree that it’s risky to build against my house and I wish I could go wider, but I needed to leave a 36” path along my property line for wheelbarrow access. So it’s narrow or nothing. This also discourages me from padding the structure with insulation and leaving a gap between my house.

By grading I meant that I would have a slope on the bottom of the pond. Perhaps a transition from 3 foot on one end to 4 foot on the other. I was under the impression that it could aid water flow and collect sediment.

And I agree with your assessment on depth as a defense to freezing , but I’m not sure how I should prioritize it with the problem of oxygenation. Too deep means less oxygen. Too shallow means more likely to freeze. I wasn’t planning on using an aerator, but I can certainly add it to the setup if it’s necessary.

I hadn’t thought of rainwater’s acidic nature. I’ll be using limestone gravel so hopefully that adds a bit of a buffer.

Thanks again for taking the time to educate me!
 
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Hey Brokensword,

Thanks for contributing!

While I agree with all of your suggestions, I’m afraid that the constraints of my situation make many of them impossible to implement.

I agree that it’s risky to build against my house and I wish I could go wider, but I needed to leave a 36” path along my property line for wheelbarrow access. So it’s narrow or nothing. This also discourages me from padding the structure with insulation and leaving a gap between my house.

By grading I meant that I would have a slope on the bottom of the pond. Perhaps a transition from 3 foot on one end to 4 foot on the other. I was under the impression that it could aid water flow and collect sediment.

And I agree with your assessment on depth as a defense to freezing , but I’m not sure how I should prioritize it with the problem of oxygenation. Too deep means less oxygen. Too shallow means more likely to freeze. I wasn’t planning on using an aerator, but I can certainly add it to the setup if it’s necessary.

I hadn’t thought of rainwater’s acidic nature. I’ll be using limestone gravel so hopefully that adds a bit of a buffer.

Thanks again for taking the time to educate me!

any way to make two ponds, with your 36" between path? You could link with a river and have your path a bridge over top...just spit ballin'.

Yes to grade; you can have the water push debris to a low point that way, most ponds with bottom drains operate like that. Helps if you need to vacuum stuff out/push toward a pump.

It's not depth that oxygenation depends on and you'd have to go magnitudes deeper to get into stratification issues, so that's not a concern for you. It's surface area that's important. Narrow just means less of that. Still can be done, you just need a lot of water surface agitation/movement. And esp if not full sun, the water temp won't work against you, esp not in Ohio. Florida? Yeah, maybe.

You might get more issues with a shallower pond but it can be done. A lot depends on how well you can resist overstocking and overfeeding AND if you can include a bog filter to help with some of that.
 
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Welcome to our forum!

Great advice up above!
 
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any way to make two ponds, with your 36" between path? You could link with a river and have your path a bridge over top...just spit ballin'.

Yes to grade; you can have the water push debris to a low point that way, most ponds with bottom drains operate like that. Helps if you need to vacuum stuff out/push toward a pump.

It's not depth that oxygenation depends on and you'd have to go magnitudes deeper to get into stratification issues, so that's not a concern for you. It's surface area that's important. Narrow just means less of that. Still can be done, you just need a lot of water surface agitation/movement. And esp if not full sun, the water temp won't work against you, esp not in Ohio. Florida? Yeah, maybe.

You might get more issues with a shallower pond but it can be done. A lot depends on how well you can resist overstocking and overfeeding AND if you can include a bog filter to help with some of that.
That would be ideal. Unfortunately, the path ends at my property line. It’s an urban lot in Columbus, OH and the property is only 1/6 of an acre. The house and (future) garage cover a significant portion of that.

I think for the time being, I’m going to study concrete pool construction and assume the build will utilize several aerators. I’m going to try to situate the air pumps in the basement of my home and integrate them into the plumbing.

Thanks for all of your support and knowledge. I bet there will be some time before the project begins, but once it does, I’ll make sure to log the progress here.

Thanks again,
Sam
 
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Hello everyone,

First time poster here. This website seems to have a lot of good information. I'm a DIY homebuilder who is designing a pond against the brick on the southern side of the house and I wanted to run my plan by all of you and see your thoughts. I've attached some sketches of the situation to help you visualize my plans. I thank you in advance for your time and experience.

The idea:

The point of the pond is for rainwater catchment, protein/fertilizer production, and to add significant thermal mass to the southern side of my house. Ohio has some brutal summers AND winters and I'm hoping I can temper them a little bit. I'm planning on building a pergola over the pond and using it as a trellis for grapes to give the pond a respite from the July sun. The pond will be powered with a solar-panel on the pergola and a submersible pump. A voided bog filter/waterfall will provide filtration and oxygenation to the pond. The pond will be lightly stocked with bluegill and minnows until it matures. Longterm I would like Koi.

Construction:

I'm torn on how to build the envelope and how much I should dig out the bottom. Currently I'm thinking of digging a concrete footer and building a concrete block wall on top of it. Then I would shape the walls with clay or sand and use a pond liner to make it water tight. I can dig the deep part of the pond as deep as I would like because my house has a basement and the house footer is about 6' deep. I haven't decided how deep I should make the dugout.

Questions:

What is the optimum depth for a long narrow pond? I'm worried about freezing and boiling my fish.

Do I need to construct a back wall for the pond, or can I rely on my existing brick wall? The house is old and sturdy and the brick is at least a foot thick. Also, I only have a three-foot width to work with including the thickness of the wall. Also, I haven't worked out how to "lip" the edge for the back wall and attach the liner.

Do I need to add pavers as a "splash-guard" for my brick? I'm not sure how much moisture is dangerous.

Should I consider building the pond completely out of concrete? I like the idea of block and liner because it could be removed in an emergency, but I'm open to ideas.

How deep should I make my "Bog Pond"? I will have basket full of gravel on top that is only 3" thick or so to house my plants. I will set this on top of milk crates. Is there a benefit to having a deeper void under the basket? Could I fill this void with plastic media or maybe grow clams or crustaceans underneath?


I'm really excited for the project. Thank you in advance for all your help!
three foot max in width including the brick wall that must be a minimum of 8" in my eyes i would simply have one course turned like you were laying block and the second course turned to a 9o degree and the next turned to like laying brick again , this way you have a strong wall. that will withstand kids and the weather. against the house i myself would prefer seeing a foam insulation as when you have a liner of any kind with water to one side and AIR ON THE OTHER you will get moisture condensation. and sitting on your brick with no where to go above grade it will grow algae or moss. Below grade it can leach water to the basement or mold. a COATING OF BASEMENT SEALER /TAR can help in this area. In the usa a brick home with the brick below grade all the way to the basement had to be a rookie or very old.

2 foot wide is less then ideal for koi as they can grow to 36"

splashing is a concern and a simple sheet of plexi could control that a bit

18 minimum 36 ideal

a homes 1 foot thick brick foundation should be more then ample
 
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