The basics and some of the common mistakes made building a garden and or koi pond


addy1

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I saw the request and agree, we will start a thread about the above.

Everybody add what you might want in the list, I will add it to the top of the thread. So people don't need to read the entire thread to find the information.

Keep the information to the point, for a easy read.

Feel free to expound in the reply I will pull out the point being made and add it to post #2
 
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addy1

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* Add a shallow edge to your pond, put rocks on it to hide the liner.

rock edge.JPG


* When building a waterfall, make sure the level of the water in the falls will be low enough to prevent leakage over the sides.

* Invest in a top quality liner (if you are using one) and good underlayment (whether commercial or used carpet).

* Build it bigger and deeper than you think you will need.

* Save extra liner around the edges, don't cut any more than needed as you may need to do some readjusting down the road.

* if you think you have a leak, check the waterfall and the pump connections. Turn off the pond/waterfall and see if the level drops.

* Don't use chemicals to combat algae.

* Do it naturally with lots of plants.

* Too many fish have been killed by using algaecides.

* It's counterproductive to regularly empty and scrub out your pond.

* One of the biggest misconceptions is the term "koi pond".
Society has created this generalization when it comes to garden ponds, not realizing that koi require lots of space and extreme filtration.

* Strive to keep things as natural as possible.
The results will be less maintanance and a more enjoyable experience.

* factor in where you are going to view from, a deck, patio or window and have a nice comfy seat for viewing after all your hard work

* keep the pump off the bottom

* 60% shade/coverage of the surface is ideal

* to help control the fish population, do not feed during and just after spawning behavior is detected.

* With any filter, the outlet should be TWICE the volume of the inlet, to prevent spillage/loss of water

* At 39F, the warm water will be at the pond bottom and not at the top.

* Cold water holds more oxygen than warm

* plants give off O2 during the day but take it in at night
* use a water timer to prevent accidental overfills

* use a float valve to prevent accidental pond emptying

* UV will not kill string algae

* UV needs a slow flow past to work effectively.

* UV will kill beneficial organisms right along with the free floating algae cells

* Use plants instead of UV

* use fast, low growing plants in a bog for quicker nutrient uptake and ease of thinning

* if the water level in your bog starts to rise, keep an eye on the bog plants and thin as needed

* use unions whenever/wherever you can re pond plumbing; you'll thank us later!

* a bog is mainly used for bio-filtration; using it for mechanical purposes can and probably will lead to clogging issues

* a bog's primary function is to provide a large area for denitrifying bacteria to colonize.

* You will need to keep an eye on your bog sides for water getting pushed over the sides as plants fill in, hopefully you left extra liner tucked in there. As was mentioned most shoot for around 6” of height between Return to pond and bog sides.

* plants in a bog are there to take up the nitrates converted by the denitrifying bacteria

* a skimmer is a filter only in the sense it takes out large debris

* a waterfall should be built such that ALL the water that MIGHT leak sideways is contained and returned to the pond.

* koi, as they grow, put out an exponential amount of waste (@addy1 ; can you locate Lisa's chart showing this and at least make a sticky for it? It would be a good point of reference when communicating this fact to newbie koi owners)

* You do not need a bottom drain to have a successful pond.

* Raise the aerator (if used) in the winter to within 12" of the surface; do not leave it deep.

* Ways to keep a hole open in the ice; trough heater, deicer, pond breather, pump aimed toward the surface, aerator.

* NEVER pound on the ice to make a hole in the winter; set a pot of boiling water flat on the ice instead.

* Aeration does NOT occur in any appreciable measure from the bubbles rising through the water column; it happens by way of surface agitation.

* The iron in well water will not harm the fish nor the plants.

* It is not necessary nor desirable to add salt to the pond. A separate salt bath IS beneficial for various fish illnesses.

* The only sure way GPF members have found to protect their fish from predation by birds is by using a net, at least 12" above the water surface.

* If you have a pond and are near bears, moose, cougars, minks, or otters, good luck!

* In any type of fish/pond keeping the only things that happen fast are bad things, PATIENCE is your friend in developing a healthy mature pond/eco system and probably the most important part of keeping aquatic life.

* Think twice about building a concrete pond. If you plan to hire help maintaining a concrete pond, make sure local companies will work on them.



BUILDING THOUGHT LIST

* Check with your local code office for what they require some require little until you go over a certain size and depth.

* Placement of the pond is critical to it's enjoyment. If it is to just be a reflecting pond and far away to give reflections from the water then that's fine. But for most garden ponds the closer it is to the actual living space /patio . The more enjoyment you and your friends and family will enjoy it.

* Placing the pond in a depression in the yard makes for other challenges. This area is probably the wettest are of the yard and placing liner on these areas can create what we call a Hippo . This is when water or air gets under the liner and what looks like a hippos back coming up to the surface of the pond is the result. Can this be fixed or avoided yes but that's a more entailed topic .

* Along with the low spot in the yard is when it rains. Run off from the yard can pickup fertilizers and introducing these to the pond is a guarantee of algae.

* Is this going to be a pond ?

* Is this going to be a disappearing waterfall (pond less)

* Will there be a stream

* Will there be fish ? or no fish ? building your pond to accommodate fish could save thousands down the road. building to an adequate depth now, minimum should be 18", hotter climates should be 36" or more.

* It is easier to keep water parameters stable in larger ponds. but on the reverse side if the pond should need to be treated for parasites it can get costly with a larger pond. Energy consumption can add up as well.

* Will your pond have Bead filter, Sand filter, Skippy filter, Shower, Nexus, a dyi Sock micron filter, or a Bog filter

* Will you have a skimmer, Intake bay, Negative edge,

* Will there be a waterfall spillway . or will this be where your bog is.

* 45 mil Epdm or Hdrpe are the most excepted liners . Or is your design to be concrete. You get what you pay for beware with substitutes

* Will your pond have rock in it or will it be rock less. Either way but more so without rock a Natural pond is very slick, using EPDM is not as slick using hdrpe. Rock also boosts your Nitrifying bacteria surface load.

* The average pond owner has three ponds in there life time each bigger then the last. If You build the pond is there room to expend your current plan to place the pond or is it better off shifted a little for that expansion down the road.

* submersible or external pumps.

* Water in motion what will happen when your power goes out for an hour ? Can your pond/ set up handle the water draining out from the stream or water fall ?

*What happens after a day with no power? air will be need for the pond and the fish.

* In the winter if you shut down will your pipes freeze ? how will you keep an opening in the ice for your fish so gases can escape. A pond breather/ heater? or an air stone? maybe even a cover or tent over the pond as some members do .

* Is there to be a rain capture system to your pond.

* More complex designs require possibly additional circulation

* Will there be lights

Digging the pond / per @GBBUDD

When you begin digging your pond you want to keep a few things in mind.

What type of soil do you have is it competent, or is the soil loose? Can it be dug out and hold it's shape of a vertical wall?
is there small round rocks or is there sharp weak rocks that splinter.
Sandy soils can be a challenge if vertical walls are desired but it can be done. basicly by placing the fabric and liner and folding it back to where you can get to the soils and back filling . if the soils are even to weak for that then you may have to add your stone and back fill to that.
Round river rocks or rocks in general may require a heavy duty fabric in order to protect the liner and they should be removed or pushed into the soil. Or maybe the easiest answer is to add a couple inches of sand to where you have a smooth surface for the fabric to sit on.
By Fabric I am referring to NON woven needle punch landscape fabric . If you have a soil with lots of roots and rocks I recommend at least 8 oz fabric. Some people like to use old carpet . To me it is not worth the few hundred dollars to risk a pin in the carpet or a thumb tack or a shard of glass from a broken glass or plate. Roots should be cut back so they are not poking at the fabric

Going deep or wide with a pond will start to create issues with reach weather by hand or using equipment if building a larger pond or you have limited access you may want to only dig half of the pond or what ever you can reach and actually finish That area with the fabric, liner, fabric and stone to a particular point. then fold the liner back over the new build and start the next section.

The shelves of the pond Are easier to finish when you know how big the rocks for the walls will be and how tall. The shelves should be primarily level so that the rocks have a good flat area to sit on. Some times creating a shallow pocket or trench in the shelve before the fabric i installed can be used to help lock the bottom course of rocks in place by being in that little depression. I have used water fall foam to fill in between these vertical rock walls locking the rock in place and after a year and a half not one rock has moved or fallen. Mortar is a more final solution by far. placing gravel in these voids removes the issue of getting stuck . I have built stone walls in the past and staggering the joints is key to a more stable wall. just remember at some time someone will end up in the pond may it be to clean plant or chase a fish. So keep in mind if the rocks are not secure could they fall over and pin someone under water or can there hands or feet get stuck between the rocks again holding them under. If you have small rocks baseball size or hopefully larger you made need to have the wall pitched so the rocks lean toward the vertical wall and may even need to be twice as thick at the bottom and single stacked toward the top. Leaving these rocks a few inches above the shelf is ideal so your gravel can be held back and kept from making it's way to the bottom of the pond. The top shelf at the surface should be As @addy1 drew above with the shelf just below the water level so that the rocks look like they are coming up out of the water. This hides the liner and makes it look natural. making your shore line and the top shelf or even the lower shelves have jogs and height


POND EDGE

1629464060267.png
1629464075312.png
 
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One of the biggest misconceptions is the term "koi pond".

Society has created this generalization when it comes to garden ponds, not realizing that koi require lots of space and extreme filtration.
 
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factor in where you are going to view from, a deck, patio or window and have a nice comfy seat for viewing after all your hard work
 
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brokensword

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1. keep the pump off the bottom
2. 60% shade/coverage of the surface is ideal
3. to help control the fish population, do not feed during and just after spawning behavior is detected.
4. With any filter, the outlet should be TWICE the volume of the inlet, to prevent spillage/loss of water
5. At 39F, the warm water will be at the pond bottom and not at the top.
6. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm
7. plants give off O2 during the day but take it in at night
8. use a water timer to prevent accidental overfills
9. use a float valve to prevent accidental pond emptying
10. UV will not kill string algae
11. UV needs a slow flow past to work effectively.
12. UV will kill beneficial organisms right along with the free floating algae cells
13. Use plants instead of UV
14. use fast, low growing plants in a bog for quicker nutrient uptake and ease of thinning
15. if the water level in your bog starts to rise, keep an eye on the bog plants and thin as needed
16. use unions whenever/wherever you can re pond plumbing; you'll thank us later!
17. a bog is mainly used for bio-filtration; using it for mechanical purposes can and probably will lead to clogging issues
18. a bog's primary function is to provide a large area for denitrifying bacteria to colonize.
19. plants in a bog are there to take up the nitrates converted by the denitrifying bacteria
20. a skimmer is a filter only in the sense it takes out large debris
21. a waterfall should be built such that ALL the water that MIGHT leak sideways is contained and returned to the pond.
22. koi, as they grow, put out an exponential amount of waste (@addy1 ; can you locate Lisa's chart showing this and at least make a sticky for it? It would be a good point of reference when communicating this fact to newbie koi owners)
23. You do not need a bottom drain to have a successful pond.
24. Raise the aerator (if used) in the winter to within 12" of the surface; do not leave it deep.
25. Ways to keep a hole open in the ice; trough heater, deicer, pond breather, pump aimed toward the surface, aerator.
26. NEVER pound on the ice to make a hole in the winter; set a pot of boiling water flat on the ice instead.
27. Aeration does NOT occur in any appreciable measure from the bubbles rising through the water column; it happens by way of surface agitation.
28. The iron in well water will not harm the fish nor the plants.
29. It is not necessary nor desirable to add salt to the pond. A separate salt bath IS beneficial for various fish illnesses.
30. The only sure way GPF members have found to protect their fish from predation by birds is by using a net, at least 12" above the water surface.
31. If you have a pond and are near bears, moose, cougars, minks, or otters, good luck!
 
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Make sure to account for the thickness of the underlayment, liner, and any potential overlayment when planning water levels for bogs and/or waterfalls. They add up, and don't always lay perfectly flat.
 

brokensword

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Make sure to account for the thickness of the underlayment, liner, and any potential overlayment when planning water levels for bogs and/or waterfalls. They add up, and don't always lay perfectly flat.
out of curiosity, how would such affect say, a bog? I mean, if you put underlayment down, the total volume is less but underlayment is usually flattened by the water weight, so is it even appreciable? Same for waterfalls; I just don't see your angle. If I put underlayment under my falls, it hardly affects anything, let alone height. I must be missing your point...sorry.
 
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out of curiosity, how would such affect say, a bog? I mean, if you put underlayment down, the total volume is less but underlayment is usually flattened by the water weight, so is it even appreciable? Same for waterfalls; I just don't see your angle. If I put underlayment under my falls, it hardly affects anything, let alone height. I must be missing your point...sorry.
I used a laser level on the height differential between my spillway and the walls of my bog before I put the liner or underlayment in. 2 inches seemed like plenty, but then after the underlayment and liner went in, it went down to like 1 inch in a few spots and water was backing up out of the bog just a bit until I widened the spillway.
 

brokensword

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ah, okay, I see; the 'norm' seems to be 6" higher than the pond, so I don't think such as underlayment would bother those numbers much, but if you're trying for exact, I get it now!
 
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out of curiosity, how would such affect say, a bog? I mean, if you put underlayment down, the total volume is less but underlayment is usually flattened by the water weight, so is it even appreciable? Same for waterfalls; I just don't see your angle. If I put underlayment under my falls, it hardly affects anything, let alone height. I must be missing your point...sorry.
When building such as a raised pond the folds of fabrics and liners and more fabrics i could see using up to 3" on one side alone if not careful with the placement. it's a bit over stated but i can see where depending on your design could take up space with folds and over laps
 

Jhn

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I used a laser level on the height differential between my spillway and the walls of my bog before I put the liner or underlayment in. 2 inches seemed like plenty, but then after the underlayment and liner went in, it went down to like 1 inch in a few spots and water was backing up out of the bog just a bit until I widened the spillway.
You will need to keep an eye on your bog sides for water getting pushed over the sides as plants fill in, hopefully you left extra liner tucked in there. As was mentioned most shoot for around 6” of height between Return to pond and bog sides.
 
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Building Thought List

1. Check with your local code office for what they require some require little until you go over a certain size and depth.

2. Placement of the pond is critical to it's enjoyment. If it is to just be a reflecting pond and far away to give reflections from the water then that's fine. But for most garden ponds the closer it is to the actual living space /patio . The more enjoyment you and your friends and family will enjoy it.

3. Placing the pond in a depression in the yard makes for other challenges. This area is probably the wettest are of the yard and placing liner on these areas can create what we call a Hippo . This is when water or air gets under the liner and what looks like a hippos back coming up to the surface of the pond is the result. Can this be fixed or avoided yes but that's a more entailed topic .

4. Along with the low spot in the yard is when it rains. Run off from the yard can pickup fertilizers and introducing these to the pond is a guarantee of algae.

5. Is this going to be a pond ?

6. Is this going to be a disappearing waterfall

7. Will there be a stream

8. Is this to have fish ? or no fish ? building your pond to accommodate fish could save thousands down the road. building to an adequate depth now minimum in my honest opinion is 18", hotter climates should be 36" or more.

9. It is easier to keep water parameters stable in larger ponds. but on the reverse side if the pond should need to be treated for parasites it can get costly with a larger pond. Energy consumption can add up as well.

10. Will your pond have Bead filter, Sand filter, Skippy filter, Shower, Nexus, a dyi Sock micron filter, or a Bog filter I myself love the bog filter.

11. Will you have a skimmer, Intake bay, Negative edge,

12. Will there be a waterfall spillway . or will this be where your bog is.

13. .45 mil Epdm or Hdrpe are the most excepted liners . Or is your design to be concrete. You get what you pay for beware with substitutes

14. Will your pond have rock in it or will it be bald. Either way but more so without rock a Natural pond is very slick, as slick as ice with dress shoes on. Rock also boosts your Nitrifying bacteria surface load.

15. The average pond owner has three ponds in there life time each bigger then the last. If You build the pond is there room to expend your current plan to place the pond or is it better off shifted a little for that expansion down the road.

16. submersible or external pumps.

17. Water in motion what will happen when your power goes out for an hour ? Can your pond/ set up handle the water draining out from the stream or water fall ?
What happens after a day with no power? air will be need for the pond and the fish.

18. In the winter if you shut down will your pipes freeze ? how will you keep an opening in the ice for your fish so gases can escape. A pond breather/ heater? or an air stone? maybe even a cover or tent over the pond as some members do .

19. Is there to be a rain capture system to your pond.

20. More complex designs require possibly additional circulation

21. Will there be lights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxWa1w0iJbQ
 
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Digging the pond

When you begin digging your pond you want to keep a few things in mind.

What type of soil do you have is it
competent, or is the soil loose? Can it be dug out and hold it's shape of a vertical wall?
is there small round rocks or is there sharp weak rocks that splinter.
Sandy soils can be a challenge if vertical walls are desired but it can be done. basicly by placing the fabric and liner and folding it back to where you can get to the soils and back filling . if the soils are even to weak for that then you may have to add your stone and back fill to that.
Round river rocks or rocks in general may require a heavy duty fabric in order to protect the liner and they should be removed or pushed into the soil. Or maybe the easiest answer is to add a couple inches of sand to where you have a smooth surface for the fabric to sit on.
By Fabric I am referring to NON woven needle punch landscape fabric . If you have a soil with lots of roots and rocks I recommend at least 8 oz fabric. Some people like to use old carpet . To me it is not worth the few hundred dollars to risk a pin in the carpet or a thumb tack or a shard of glass from a broken glass or plate. Roots should be cut back so they are not poking at the fabric

Going deep or wide with a pond will start to create issues with reach weather by hand or using equipment if building a larger pond or you have limited access you may want to only dig half of the pond or what ever you can reach and actually finish That area with the fabric, liner, fabric and stone to a particular point. then fold the liner back over the new build and start the next section.

The shelves of the pond Are easier to finish when you know how big the rocks for the walls will be and how tall. The shelves should be primarily level so that the rocks have a good flat area to sit on. Some times creating a shallow pocket or trench in the shelve before the fabric i installed can be used to help lock the bottom course of rocks in place by being in that little depression. I have used water fall foam to fill in between these vertical rock walls locking the rock in place and after a year and a half not one rock has moved or fallen. Mortar is a more final solution by far. placing gravel in these voids removes the issue of getting stuck . I have built stone walls in the past and staggering the joints is key to a more stable wall. just remember at some time someone will end up in the pond may it be to clean plant or chase a fish. So keep in mind if the rocks are not secure could they fall over and pin someone under water or can there hands or feet get stuck between the rocks again holding them under. If you have small rocks baseball size or hopefully larger you made need to have the wall pitched so the rocks lean toward the vertical wall and may even need to be twice as thick at the bottom and single stacked toward the top. Leaving these rocks a few inches above the shelf is ideal so your gravel can be held back and kept from making it's way to the bottom of the pond. The top shelf at the surface should be As @addy1 drew above with the shelf just below the water level so that the rocks look like they are coming up out of the water. This hides the liner and makes it look natural. making your shore line and the top shelf or even the lower shelves have jogs and height in step make the pond again look far more natural mother nature doesn't use a excavator to dig a pond she did it over years with erosion . never straight or all at the same level or size.
 

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