Thank you all for my first pond

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This weekend was a big milestone as the pond finished filling up and the pump was turned on for the first time. I want to thank all of you that participate in this forum for all your kind advice, even if you do not like us lawyers;) I was one of those people that was lurking on this forum reading many threads before starting work on this build, I did not post anything, I am really not a social media person at all. In the beginning I was drawn to @bagsmom build thread and @addy1 bog building thread. It really started me on my journey. I was impressed by how all of you take the time to explain things, you are all very patient with even the most simple questions. You all contribute to making people's backyards beautiful in their own way and that is pretty special when you think strangers are reading your posts and getting ideas from you. You all should be proud of what you do and I know you do it because you love it and people seem to be genuinely thankful for the help but I really wanted to express my thanks and my family thanks you for the contribution of our new pond to our yard.

By coincidence, this journey started exactly a year ago this weekend when I started clearing the area. I had been thinking about a pond since that Spring because we had gone to a party for my daughter's hs tennis team and the house had a cute koi pond with very nice gardens, it was very small now looking back at it. But that planted the seed. Later on I told my wife I needed a project and boy did I get one, lol.

I am in Southeastern MA, between Boston and Providence. We have an old, simple New England farmhouse with an old barn, house and barn built around 1860. The farm had sold off the land a long time ago, now there is about an acre and half. We try to keep things that would fit with the old NE style.

I am going to post pictures in this thread of my build, I know some of you have been wanting to see these (cough, cough @GBBUDD ) lol. I do have a small kubota tractor that made this possible, no way I would have attempted this without it and have no idea how people do pond builds without that equipment, that is truly impressive if you can do that much digging yourself.

the basics of the pond: approximately 25' by 15' at widest and 10' at least, averages about 12' wide, 3.5' deep, irregular shape. I have a bog that is about 10' by 9' with the pipe manifold and just 3/8 gravel at approx 12" deep. I used a water meter when filling it up so the pond has 3,700 gallons, the bog over 300 gallons (a little harder with the bog because it had water in it already because of the rain). So going by @Lisak1 ratio of 1 koi for every gallon I will have 3700 koi;) But seriously will not have a lot of koi, will mix in other fish as you all mention. I like to garden so my priority is making the pond looking nice with plants and the fish are a second priority. I must say it is interesting how many people (friends and family) are fascinated with the idea of a koi pond, get so many questions about them. I think in this area people just do not build a lot ponds because of the winters, the most common question I get is what do the fish do in the winter. The fish will be next Spring, why torture them with a New England winter right off the bat.

Enjoy the pictures I will be posting and what I have learned along the way in case someone comes along and reads this thread at the beginning of their build like I did. I know everyone has different ideas of how ponds should look, we are very happy with how it came out and know that it is just beginning of the next phase as we do the planting and landscaping. Thanks again
 
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The area for the pond was basically a wild area of the yard, there used to be a pear tree and I had tried planting some trees in the area but it was basically wild and nothing really grew well there. As I started the clear out I realized why, lots and lots of stones. Which would be a continuing theme throughout the project. Last Fall was just to clear the area, I learned from others here not to dig before the winter.
Biggest tip I could give is to take your time in thinking about the area you want to build in. My very initial idea of the pond was very different from the final product. Having the winter to think about it and research was very helpful. Do not rush into this. By doing the research I ended up with a much larger pond then I initially thought it would be (and certainly much bigger than my wife thought it would be). Listening to all of you that said you want your pond as big as possible because when you are done you always wish it was bigger.

The boulders we dug out were ridiculous even with the kubota, one after another. Most likely they came from the area that the barn is when they dug out that foundation. Digging this you understand why NE farmers moved West.
 

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The real work on the pond started in April. Leveling the area was a challenge as I had read that it was extremely important to have the pond level. My daughter enjoyed riding the tractor and doing the leveling. Not that the area was really a hill but it did slope away.

I learned on here about making a water level, and that thing was so useful throughout the project. I had no clue about them before reading about them. For about $30 you can make your own rather than investing in a laser level and the learning curve of using that. The water level was used for the initial clearing then every step along the way to make sure I had the proper depths of each shelf and again checking that the pond was level. Was incredibly helpful for this project.

When I began the digging I realized all those youtube videos of building ponds while very helpful are usually digging into soil as pure as the driven snow lol. I knew in the back of my mind that it really was not that easy but you dont realize that they have three or four workers doing the digging or using a really big excavator. The kubota obviously was a big help but it does have its limits. The big thing I realized that it is a lot of work to move the dirt to another area out of the excavation area. I did not really consider that when thinking about how long this would take.

I kept digging up stones, just an incredible amount of stone of all sizes. The pictures are only a fraction of what was dug up, plus all the small stones. At one point we did dig into an area that was the old cesspool and outhouse, could tell by the way the rocks were together and we hit some wood framing. That was really frustrating and changed the design a little bit but actually in a good way.
 

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The pond basically has three levels, first level about 10 inches down, second level about 20 inches and then the bottom which is 3.5 feet down. The widths of the shelves varied. No shelves in the area that is at the point of where most of the viewing would be so you can see fish swim up to it, saw that tip on a few videos. Getting the shelves at the right depth was a challenge and level, no doubt. I might have been too cautious on making them exactly right, you get to a certain point where half an inch is not going to make a difference.
 

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Then it was time for the liner. This was about the end of May beginning of June. I bought two liners from justliners and two underlayments. For the pond area and the bog area. The pond liner was 25X35 and bog 20X25. For those of you new to this the rolls of liner are very heavy. The delivery truck will not necessarily have a lift gate, mine did not, justliners makes it clear about the delivery so you are warned. I have pallet forks for my tractor so I was able to get them off the truck ok, but it was very close to the limit for the tractor, I believe the delivery weighed about 450 pounds.

Another big tip for when you roll out the liner make sure you line up the correct side. I rolled it out completely and then realized I had pulled out the short side and not the long side. Liner is very heavy to move and a nightmare to re-position in the pond. Wife definitely was considering divorce at that time.

I was a little surprised how hard it was to smooth out the liner, lots of wrinkles, some of it was due to the pond being an irregular shape.
 

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Then of course the skies open up for rain, and more rain, and more. June, July and August were just ridiculous. July had 10 inches of rain. I know many of you were dealing with drought this summer and the heat but up here it was rain. And of course always happened to rain on the weekends which is the only time I could work on the pond. It is a real pain to pump out the pond each time. A few times not so bad, but to constantly do it is a real time waster. I just had a transfer pump, it got the job done but it was small.
So that slowed the project down to a crawl as we began rocking in the pond. We decided to embrace the fact we had so many stones. All the stones in the pond come from the area we dug up or other areas in the yard, there was an old foundation in the woods for a farm building and there was a foundation near the barn I could steal from. So it is pretty cool to tell people that all the stones come from the yard. I realize many here like the large boulders for their ponds, and they are beautiful, but it just would not look right for this yard and house. I also realize people may not use as many as I did but it also had to do with how much I could lift and carry into place. The tractor helped but for really large boulders it was tough.
You will see in the pictures we made a small fish cave, the level above that is a nice area kind of like a beach. That happened by accident because it was where the old cesspool was and I was determined not to dig any further and deal with all that stone. Happily it is one of the areas most people comment about when they see the pond.
 

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Always keeping track of where the water level would be was a challenge, I was just nervous about it because it is always a point of emphasis in reading and watching about building ponds. Again the water level was indispensable with that. I got a Helix skimmer, I though that would be more difficult to install then it was. I stressed over that for no reason, the face plate went on fine. Probably biggest challenge with that was just getting it level in the hole.

the other area that was a challenge was the waterfall area. We had an idea that a large boulder would be in the middle to create two waterfalls. However the boulder was just too big to move, I had gotten it out with the tractor but to move it into position almost became a disaster. We were able to strap it on the tractor but it had to go up a slight incline. That was enough to make the whole tractor move to the side almost tipping over, back wheel was completely off the ground. Luckily was able to back up and start over. We looked at a few stones and finally came to one that we could handle safely. Lesson learned dont push yourself too far, safety is most important.

the two boulders framing the waterfall are nice, not huge, the one on the left is a nice green color, a little hard to tell in the pictures. We did finally finish the rocking. It is nice the variety of rocks, again hard to tell in the pictures but there are pink, purple, green, pudding stone and variety of sizes. Before asking, it really will not end up being a pearl necklace, there are many areas for planting on the shelves, and specific areas for water lillies. It is hard to tell from the pictures but you have to trust me there will be a lot of plants to break it all up.
 

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The fish will be next Spring, why torture them with a New England winter right off the bat.

i WOULD TRY TO MAKE YOU RETHINK THAT A LITTLE IF THERE IS NO WASTE THERE IS NO BACTERIAL GROWTH. if you going to go with gold fish or what ever you may want to add a couple. even something like some native sun fish. The advantage to sun fish is you can generaly tell male from female . and you can avoid getting a spawn.

The biggest advantage to a few sunnies is one they will help cycle the pond and give you a boost for the spring. bacteria does not end in the winter it just slows down. does some die sure while others will come to life.

A ND THE BIGEST PLUS IS THE GOOD OLD FISHING HOOK IF YOU WANT TO REMOVE THEM THE GOOD OLD WORM ON A HOOK WILL TAKE THE PROBLEM AWAY

I LIKE HOW NOT ALL THE SHELVES ARE NOT THE SAME WIDTH. A bit of a pet peeve of mine with the pro's seeing the shelves all the same width and at the same heights going around the pond. Its realy hard to find in nature such a layout so why would we do so for money? for the easy way out?

extra wide shelves also give you an area for lilies and other plants.

Getting a bit off topic here congrats to you and your family getting the pond up and running. Now it's time for your words to be lived , Patience. Green water and string algae are not a matter of if but when. String algae can last a lot longer, then one day will just disappear.

what can i say I'm visual , surprise surprise typing sure isn't my strong point
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So on to the bog. That was not nearly as bad. The dirt there was much cleaner, no big rocks. Only issue was tree roots from a large maple next to it, but thankfully I had built up the area with the excavation because I wanted height for the stream back to the pond. Simple manifold pipe system, i have clean out pipes at the end. I did put a breather pipe in like ozponds. I originally going to have the supply pipe come in at the other end of the bog but decided it was easier to just go this side and try to hide the pipes with rocks and plantings. At that point was getting tired and did not really want to trench the pipe all the way back there.

The slits are facing down, cut about every three inches, one third through the pipe as you all said to do;) FYI for beginners cutting the slits makes a mess, and wash out the pipes as you dont want all that pvc pieces in the bog.

The stream is small about six or seven feet. Have a little pooling area at the top of it. The two liners overlap for the stream by a good two feet minimum so I dont think I will have an issues there. Took a lot of fiddling around with the stream. And thanks to @GBBUDD and @YShahar got some ideas for the sides of the stream.
 

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There is no sugar coating it adding gravel is a pain in the you know what. I had read all the posts about cleaning it but until you are faced with it my god what a pain. Did our best, would load the tractor front end bucket and hose them off with the water spilling out. We did not have a screen to handle the project. That part of the project took much longer than expected. Used 3/8 pea gravel in the bog, and 3/4 inch for the pond.
 

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Then it was on to the finishing touches. Took awhile to foam the walls, I wanted to shore them up and hide gaps etc. Walls are solid, passed the walking on them test. Also installed a couple of lights, and then had to get the wiring done as I had to install an outdoor outlet bringing a line from the barn.
 
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Waiting to see what you did with the tre stumps as much as i have a rock fetish i love tree stumps even more.

@Pablo YOU GOING TO DO A YEARS WORTH OF BUILD IN A POST IN A DAY?
 
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Which brought us to this past week. Filled the pond, took awhile as it was 200 gallons an hour. Turned on the pump yesterday and everything worked. I was in shock, lol. No leaks, all the fittings were fine. Waterfall was much better than I thought. As I have typed all this morning I have had the door open to hear the waterfall. Very nice to hear my oldest daughter come down this morning and comment how nice it was to hear the waterfall.

forgot to mention that the pump is a external PerformancePro Artesian 2 1/3 hp low rpm. Very pleased with it, I positioned the pump very close to the skimmer and below water level so I did not even have to fill up the priming pot, it filled itself from the skimmer. So the water moved immediately when I turned it on, which I was not quite prepared for. And it is very quiet, I thought for sure it would be much louder. the pump is probably stronger than I need but i guess better that way than the other way around. I have three true union valves, one before the inlet and two after the outlet, using a wye fitting to have two pipes supply bog. True union is the way to go, I know more expensive than ball valves, but I bought those ball valves and they were impossible to move, I know you can lubricate them but still I did not want to deal with them. Used 2 inch flex pvc for the piping.

One last tip, you dont have to buy everything early in the project. I got ahead of myself in having the supplies ready for the project but things do change and you end having stuff or more of some things than you need.
 
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There is no sugar coating it adding gravel is a pain in the you know what. I had read all the posts about cleaning it but until you are faced with it my god what a pain. Did our best, would load the tractor front end bucket and hose them off with the water spilling out. We did not have a screen to handle the project. That part of the project took much longer than expected. Used 3/8 pea gravel in the bog, and 3/4 inch for the pond.
FOR THOSE READING THIS IN THE FUTURE, if you can find gravel in "super sacks " this general has to be asked for and generally will be more expensive but as @Pablo JUST STATED CLEAN UP OF GRAVEL IS A NIGHTMARE!!!!!!!!!! SUPER SACS ARE JUST THAT GENERAL 1 YARD SACKS AROUND 2000 POUNDS YES THEY NEED EQUIPMENT TO MOVE BUT WELL WORTH THE EXTRA COSTS
 

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