Reconstructing/revamping shelves 17 year old pond + plants? (newbie)


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So you can choose to rock the walls in your pond OR You can leave them bare - mostly personal preference. You have a narrow pond to work with - I think I'd go with no rocks on the side to allow for more water volume.

You do NOT want large rocks in the bottom of the pond - they can trap debris and cause problems down the road. But a shallow gravel bottom will give bacteria more surface area to colonize. It's another one of those "love it or hate it" concepts in pond building - your choice really.

As for the edging - all of those are fine. The ONLY thing you need to worry about is keeping the liner above water level. They don't do the best job of illustrating that - you want several inches of liner above the water level - too close to level and you're risking wicking or plants breeching the edge and pushing down the liner. (Keep reading to find out how I know that!) I'm not a fan of cementing anything in place. First because I have no idea how to do it, but secondly because you'll find you want to move things around or make a few changes here and there. Once you've cemented rocks in place you're kind of stuck. (haha!) Now if you're looking for a formal pond then the capping and cement makes sense.

The one thing they don't illustrate is that you want to fold the excess liner (and you DO want excess) down behind the rocks on the land side. Keeping that excess liner available could be a life saver later. Ponds settle, rocks settle, dirt settles... and then you find yourself with a liner that's too short. We just had 2/3 of our ten year old pond re-edged to get the liner back up where it needed to be. No additional liner needed - they just unfolded what we had concealed behind the rocks. You then push and pack soil up behind the liner to hold it in place, plant or mulch up to the rock and you'll never know the liner is there. The Ponddigger illustrates that concept very well in his video on various edging approaches.
Thanks for all the thorough responses. Think I need to now sit and do some envisioning.
 
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There are some great detailed drawing there. However it would have been nice if they had included a rating scale. Some of those deatils are much easier to maintain and keep from having water leak over the sides or whick water up and over. i myself love the top two on the right but not with all of the pond it will look best with a combination or edging
 
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There are some great detailed drawing there. However it would have been nice if they had included a rating scale. Some of those deatils are much easier to maintain and keep from having water leak over the sides or whick water up and over. i myself love the top two on the right but not with all of the pond it will look best with a combination or edging
Definitely like those setups also with top right maybe more so. Thanks for all the help and encouragement y’all.
 
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Loose all the round rocks, keep the skimmer and put a pump in it. Buy some flat rocks and cover the edge of the liner and the top of the shelves. Refill the pond and call it a day.
 
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Ugh! I’m feeling design paralysis while being adventurous.

Need design help not just ideas but sizing!

I was hoping for a 3x3x9 slanted’ish sides mound (paver inside structure for stability) but could be not feasible.

I want a waterfall feature of some type. Basically one of those “what’s the largest I can fit in this space?” questions.
Along w height was thinking 14” weir with two 12” round stones on side but 3’ wide is too much I think.
Not using biofalls and planned to try making own spillway and waterfall foam.
Not using stones I can’t man handle or slow roll (18-24”).

We look at it our dining room window all day, figured front as river and backside as mound with the water feature.
Don’t care what backside of mound - on the side towards fence/path looks like as much.

1) What would you do to make this interesting with a waterfall / snaking rapids in this small area?
Need structural ideas!
Give ideas of measurements as I’m the analytical type lol - size of stones on side,
Width of weir, depth of it, fall distance.

2) how do I “cover” where the waterfall
starts/tubing water exiting. - like how do I make the start of the spillway without biofalls waterfall apparatus.
My mind I can see it shooting into a raised pool of water which has a falls, but also unnatural. Just having it tumble down rocks and no falls seems depressing. (Attraction for sound and visual)

3) I would like plants on the mound/falls feature and how to arrange this structurally.

I watched a bunch of videos but they’re either with biofalls being installed or just kinda skip over the “how” process for more “diy” spillway types.

I’m still feeling reallly stumped and defeated about how to build this to look good.

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Lots of questions, and not sure I understand all of them, but I can address the one about covering/starting the waterfall. I think a good way to do it is to sink a water matrix block into the ground inside your liner at the start of your falls and cover in gravel and plant around it. Have water enter at bottom of block and rise up to fill the stream/falls. Makes it look like the falls is fed by a natural spring.
 
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brokensword

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Ugh! I’m feeling design paralysis while being adventurous.

Need design help not just ideas but sizing!

I was hoping for a 3x3x9 slanted’ish sides mound (paver inside structure for stability) but could be not feasible.

I want a waterfall feature of some type. Basically one of those “what’s the largest I can fit in this space?” questions.
Along w height was thinking 14” weir with two 12” round stones on side but 3’ wide is too much I think.
Not using biofalls and planned to try making own spillway and waterfall foam.
Not using stones I can’t man handle or slow roll (18-24”).

We look at it our dining room window all day, figured front as river and backside as mound with the water feature.
Don’t care what backside of mound - on the side towards fence/path looks like as much.

1) What would you do to make this interesting with a waterfall / snaking rapids in this small area?
Need structural ideas!
Give ideas of measurements as I’m the analytical type lol - size of stones on side,
Width of weir, depth of it, fall distance.

2) how do I “cover” where the waterfall
starts/tubing water exiting. - like how do I make the start of the spillway without biofalls waterfall apparatus.
My mind I can see it shooting into a raised pool of water which has a falls, but also unnatural. Just having it tumble down rocks and no falls seems depressing. (Attraction for sound and visual)

3) I would like plants on the mound/falls feature and how to arrange this structurally.

I watched a bunch of videos but they’re either with biofalls being installed or just kinda skip over the “how” process for more “diy” spillway types.

I’m still feeling reallly stumped and defeated about how to build this to look good.

View attachment 142988

View attachment 142989

View attachment 142990

View attachment 142991
my 2 cents;

this post is rambly and I can see why CW had questions as so do I. Much of waterfall design is in the eye of the beholder. My waterfall may do nothing for you but someone else may love it. Hence part of the problem. So, IF this were mine;

I'd NOT put much height for the waterfall as nothing I'm seeing in your pics makes me think it would look like it has always been there. You'd have to re-landscape to gain some berms and such to allow a 'hill' to be turned into a waterfall. So, that leaves a low waterfall scenario; I hope this is what you're aiming to achieve. For MY bog, I went with a raised box where the front/pond-side wall is made from stacked sandstone ledgerock. This gave me a 'wall' effect, much like what you're aiming for (I think). You could do the same and turn your waterfall into a bog as well, giving you even more filtration. I mean, you're going to pump water there anyhow, so why not let plants and bacteria help you out even more?

This wall of stone idea gave me many options re 'weir'. I ended up going with a top layer (one row higher than the bog water level) with gaps between. So in essence, I have multiple areas for the water to pour through and some shoots over the wall while most dribble/stream down the rock. You can then manipulate this top course of flat rock to put the water where you want it. One opening or many. You can even adjust your wall of stone to give you shelves for the water to either pool or drip off of.

To build the above, you'd make a box from ground-contact 4x4 (or 4x6), probably no higher than 12". You take your liner and wrap it up the front wall and over, then into your bog/waterfall, and then back up. The front of this liner should extend into your pond by 12" and the pond liner should come UP under the bog liner by the same or more. This eliminates wicking problems. Now, when you do this, you need a shelf able to support the stacked stone in front of the wood box with liner. I used 6" for 4" stone, but should have gone 8" for extra options. This stone lies ON the bog liner and stacks in front of it. At the top, you create a 'fold' that goes back toward the pond (I'll attach a pic of my bog/liner design) and then into the bog proper; this keeps the water from going BEHIND the rock and thus is forced down and over.

So the above is a bog design waterfall but you can go further if instead of a 'wall', you can use a tumble of round stone of various sizes to do the same, but you'd still need some sort of outer structure that is lined to contain all your waterfall water. Idea is the same but materials is different. You can use wood, concrete block, soil/berm, but whatever you use, the whole idea is all the water has to be contained. A bowl shape is used for most waterfalls (it's what I used on my 3 falls, but I also have berms to allow it to look more natural. I'll attach a pic of that too.

Re plantings; I wanted this look; rocks on the sides of falling water with plants on top and trailing down the sides. To get this, I put plants INSIDE my waterfall cavity, sitting on rocks/blocks and lifting out of the top to cover my waterfall 'top' rocks. For the plants trailing down, I set two pots of creeping jenny, one to either side of my 'tall' waterfall. Took about a year but now I have to actually trim it back. I'll see if I can also post a before and after pic to illustrate. It takes some time and patience but it's worth it. IF you can direct some of your water to go over your rocks, you could plant in the crevices of your waterfall rocks but since you won't have any soil, you'll probably lose anything during the winter/dormant months. I used pots of soil and they stay living.

Okay, pics;

design


Bog box + liner cross section.jpg


before plantings; you can see the stacked sandstone and the gaps for water pour;

190609 - weeping wfall wall test.jpg


after plantings;


190619 - b2 3.jpg


initial expanded waterfall (from one to two pours, same source point); note only rocks on sides;

190805 - pond  - using polarizer 6 (1).jpg


after pots of creeping jenny placed on sides
200618 - pond, fish, wht water lily, clematis 4.jpg


the following summer;

2107198 - pond, daylilies, turtles, frog on duck, wLilies 7 (1).jpg


and currently;

210810 - patiocam.jpg


Screen Shot 2021-09-30 at 12.49.09 AM.jpg
 
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my 2 cents;

this post is rambly and I can see why CW had questions as so do I. Much of waterfall design is in the eye of the beholder. My waterfall may do nothing for you but someone else may love it. Hence part of the problem. So, IF this were mine;

I'd NOT put much height for the waterfall as nothing I'm seeing in your pics makes me think it would look like it has always been there. You'd have to re-landscape to gain some berms and such to allow a 'hill' to be turned into a waterfall. So, that leaves a low waterfall scenario; I hope this is what you're aiming to achieve. For MY bog, I went with a raised box where the front/pond-side wall is made from stacked sandstone ledgerock. This gave me a 'wall' effect, much like what you're aiming for (I think). You could do the same and turn your waterfall into a bog as well, giving you even more filtration. I mean, you're going to pump water there anyhow, so why not let plants and bacteria help you out even more?

This wall of stone idea gave me many options re 'weir'. I ended up going with a top layer (one row higher than the bog water level) with gaps between. So in essence, I have multiple areas for the water to pour through and some shoots over the wall while most dribble/stream down the rock. You can then manipulate this top course of flat rock to put the water where you want it. One opening or many. You can even adjust your wall of stone to give you shelves for the water to either pool or drip off of.

To build the above, you'd make a box from ground-contact 4x4 (or 4x6), probably no higher than 12". You take your liner and wrap it up the front wall and over, then into your bog/waterfall, and then back up. The front of this liner should extend into your pond by 12" and the pond liner should come UP under the bog liner by the same or more. This eliminates wicking problems. Now, when you do this, you need a shelf able to support the stacked stone in front of the wood box with liner. I used 6" for 4" stone, but should have gone 8" for extra options. This stone lies ON the bog liner and stacks in front of it. At the top, you create a 'fold' that goes back toward the pond (I'll attach a pic of my bog/liner design) and then into the bog proper; this keeps the water from going BEHIND the rock and thus is forced down and over.

So the above is a bog design waterfall but you can go further if instead of a 'wall', you can use a tumble of round stone of various sizes to do the same, but you'd still need some sort of outer structure that is lined to contain all your waterfall water. Idea is the same but materials is different. You can use wood, concrete block, soil/berm, but whatever you use, the whole idea is all the water has to be contained. A bowl shape is used for most waterfalls (it's what I used on my 3 falls, but I also have berms to allow it to look more natural. I'll attach a pic of that too.

Re plantings; I wanted this look; rocks on the sides of falling water with plants on top and trailing down the sides. To get this, I put plants INSIDE my waterfall cavity, sitting on rocks/blocks and lifting out of the top to cover my waterfall 'top' rocks. For the plants trailing down, I set two pots of creeping jenny, one to either side of my 'tall' waterfall. Took about a year but now I have to actually trim it back. I'll see if I can also post a before and after pic to illustrate. It takes some time and patience but it's worth it. IF you can direct some of your water to go over your rocks, you could plant in the crevices of your waterfall rocks but since you won't have any soil, you'll probably lose anything during the winter/dormant months. I used pots of soil and they stay living.

Okay, pics;

design


View attachment 142993

before plantings; you can see the stacked sandstone and the gaps for water pour;

View attachment 142994

after plantings;


View attachment 142995

initial expanded waterfall (from one to two pours, same source point); note only rocks on sides;

View attachment 142996

after pots of creeping jenny placed on sidesView attachment 142998

the following summer;

View attachment 142997

and currently;

View attachment 142999

View attachment 143000

Thanks for the info and pics.
Rambly typing on my cellphone at 10pm after writing 3 versions(more broad for random Facebook ideas) but scrapped and figured this was a safer ask ha.

I figure I am/was trying to do some of the impossible/unnatural but was trying to stick w it. Just seems such a nice area for the start of pond but so blah and wanted to jazz it up.
In the end there is no berm/hill and was trying to find “natural” ways to make it less obvious I put it there just to create more than 3” of falls lol.

Thanks for the drawings pics and long replies.
I think I was struggling for the literal top of the waterfall. It appears most are just two rocks with a flagstone over the top of the center hole of water coming out?
(Struggle as it is/seems unnatural for two stones and flagstone to sit openly on the berm, was trying to think if I need to cover those rocks/flagstone top w soil also and plants to cover it)

My guess the waterfall box in the ground is as DIY as the weir?
I just have the black tubing feeding it, worried about sealing if I need to bottom fill.
The wife is 200% no on any digging, pipes, drains etc and will have dirt delivered and pond filled in before considering any further in ground changes.

I have visions as the beholder I think they’re just too lofty.
“What would you do” helps me narrow it. Give me a larger canvas/hill and I’d probably figure it out with some technical stuff, but I can’t get in a “tiny” mindset.

To phrase it another way - if you had your YouTube show of fixing broken ponds and had a bit of creativity - what would YOU do with this area?

I’m OK with a “low waterfall” scenario - but I think I’m saying “I’m too dumb to know what IS a low waterfall”

What IS small in this scenario (I’m pedantic and like dimensions)

What is the width of the weir? Can I go too big for this area?

How high do I plan the fall part? (6” to water? 12”? Yes it depends on me but depends on space too!)

How would falls/rapids face? (Parallel or perpendicular into this final pool)

Any tiers or just one falls into this smallish pond now sitting?

Just looking to jazz it up :(
 
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Nothing too spectacular but this is the view from one corner of the dining room. (Don’t mind the trampled and cut - making Reno room).
In my mind, there’s just so many possibilities to make that area more interesting than just the tiny tide pool entrance the prev owners had as a starter.

Opening the window, drinking coffee, nice morning, relaxing with a working beautiful planty pond= :love::love::love::love:
(As added historical the 1st owners also had a hot tub on this concrete slab along side the pond. Sounds wonderful)
89D3086B-DFFE-402E-AEE1-EFA31807EF70.jpeg
 
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All to often as mentioned whetn someone builds a waterfall they all to often build up a pile of rocks and work the water down the slope. This usually creates a volcano look.
There are several ways to remove this look build up the soils created berm around it or an even easier way about it is to plant some vegetation that growns taller so if you have a 4 foot falls plant a 3 foot tall bush/ plant etc or taller around the falls. So now you have more height along side the falls.
The issue then is controing the splash nd nt letting it etc outside thee liner
 
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so a berm which is more long flat on top as a hill vs slanting/volcano?

Either way What’s the max height you would make this thing?
 
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so a berm which is more long flat on top as a hill vs slanting/volcano?

Either way What’s the max height you would make this thing?

A natural looking berm will be 4-5x as wide as it is tall. So whatever amount of width you can give to your berm, divide that by 4 and that's about the max height you can achieve while still keeping it looking natural. If you want something higher, you can employ retaining walls at the rear of the berm. If you plant it up really well, it can blend in and look good.

Also, a good looking berm is usually steeper on one side than another. So the steep end would face your pond to create the falls and then fan out in the back.
 

brokensword

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Nothing too spectacular but this is the view from one corner of the dining room. (Don’t mind the trampled and cut - making Reno room).
In my mind, there’s just so many possibilities to make that area more interesting than just the tiny tide pool entrance the prev owners had as a starter.

Opening the window, drinking coffee, nice morning, relaxing with a working beautiful planty pond= :love::love::love::love:
(As added historical the 1st owners also had a hot tub on this concrete slab along side the pond. Sounds wonderful)
View attachment 143003
This pic and some further clarification really helps! I understand now, better, what you're trying to do. So, I'd definitely build up the back with a berm and I'd add some 4-6' shrubs/trees behind it; that'll dissipate what that fence is doing to your pond area, imo. Nothing wrong with having a tube of water erupt out of a jumble of rock and flow down to the pond. But most want the waterfall (definitely something I wanted for sure), its look and sound especially. A lot here has to do with your landscaping AFTER you build your falls, imo. You can take away the 'hill' look by adding large background rocks (give them 1/3-1/2 buried look) and plants that complement your other landscaping.

I know you want specifics re numbers but I think here, in this case, I REALLY think this would be good for you to just sort of wing it. Not totally but you'll learn a LOT about what type/look waterfall you really want. Pics of others helps and I'd find one you like and try to model it, but it builds character as YOU build your waterfall. There, now didn't I sound just like a dad??? But it's true, you'll build 'pond character' and what you end up with probably won't be the final version but it'll then spur you to tweak in the future to get exactly what you like. And realize, tweaking might indeed mean rebuilding, so, don't go making anything THAT permanent that it's a pita to unbuild. My waterfalls are just rocks laid overtop solid concrete slabs (4x8x16) laid on an extra piece of liner. What you do with the facia rocks then won't make or break your waterfall as the sub-structure will still be there. For a weir, I took a plastic file bin and cut a 'edge' out that I heat-gunned down into perpendicular position. The water enters the back near the bottom using bulkhead fittings. The top (of the file bin) I put back on and stacked my flat rocks on that. To help soften and hide this area, that's where the plants (hostas, creeping jenny) emerge from the back of the bowl and protrude out and over the top of my falls. This is easy to do and again, naturalizes.

Good Luck! Post pics as you go but don't get either too high or low until you finish and actually have it working for a month, just to see how it looks to you.

(looking at your pic again, even if you did nothing, I'd still opt for 4-6' trees/plants/shrubs to help out your coffee-moment view! Get something that flowers, stays manageable, and is not too aggressive re roots and such!) Taller plants like day lilies, iris, butterfly bush work great, too.
 
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Went to the quarry today to look at rocks. Appears I’ll be limited to ~18” stones. Atlas stoning 24” wasn’t really going to happen more than once so scrapping that. May call and ask them delivery price and maybe do some pvc rolling to the back.

Marked off some 12, 24, 36” markings and one 18/24”. Based on diameter and visualizing, think I’m not going higher than 2 feet and still makes me ponder. There is a slight mound of dirt on back side the 18/24 is in I need to flatten or account for height.
B1FCBC41-984A-4306-975A-F076E014A1EA.jpeg


Also spent a good while using the HACKSAW on all the iris mounds. That stuff was indestructible to shovel, trowel, putty knife, and edger. Still had to take it out in small chunks. Read about rhizomes tonight and realize I need to go waaaaaaaay lower if I want to kill them off.

They were also really unmaintained, the soil/roots overcame the liner. The blue line is where I found the liner, about 2-3” down, under the iris mounds growing In.
F0E2C463-5FA4-41D1-9677-F044F71F6E3F.jpeg
 
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For 18-24” rocks, a hand truck with inflatable tires works nicely. If you have hard/flat ground or plywood you can lay down, then one with the little hard wheels will work, too.
 
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It will look wonderful when you are done, it starts to come together and there is always tweaking!

My pond and bog are built on a berm, had to build up the downhill side and dig down the uphill side to make a flat spot. It now looks natural...............mostly lol.
A berm can make a great waterfall as said above, the main thing that helps is not just having a big mountain pop out of the land. Have rocks plants blend it out into the yard.
 
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For 18-24” rocks, a hand truck with inflatable tires works nicely. If you have hard/flat ground or plywood you can lay down, then one with the little hard wheels will work, too.
The diameter of the area is 35” so it eats tons of room is other problem.
Thought about putting 2-3 similar squareish rocks on the border of the river to make a wall, some dirt on top like a table, backside dirt and retain wall to make a level spot to start the falls.

After rocking I just couldn’t see how the big rock “wall” would look ok. 2nd idea was getting longer flatter stones with less girth to set like drywall with dirt/retainer behind and under for appearance as deeper into the “berm” but allow handling and space.

Think that vision may just look bad or very unnatural.
If I get any 24” I feel like I may just put them as accents in garden.
 
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I’m pretty sure I convinced myself to only do a berm of 2’ also with all the space considerations, so…there’s that lol
 
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