Thoughts on a 2nd pond in a shade area, downhill from the house


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There's a section of my back yard that's in full shade, and I have a really hard time getting grass to grow. I have rhododendron in the area that's doing well, though, so I'm thinking to mulch all the way up until I have grass, and just make myself a 9th garden area :-O This one would be about 50' wide and 20' deep, and most of the sun would be dappled through pine and oak trees. It would be on a slight slope that leads away from my house.

If I do, I'll mostly fill it up with rhododendron, mountain laurel, hydrangeas, hostas, and coral bells; in large part because I already have a ton of that and can easily split it up.

The question, though... can I do a nice water feature here, too?

It's relatively close to my current pond that's in part sun, so I would need it to match the look and feel. But I could also go bigger.

Being on a slope, though, presents an aesthetic challenge. I would either have to build it up a lot in the back to make a waterfall, or have the waterfall at the FRONT of the pond. I'm having a hard time imagining a waterfall in the front, though.

Being in full shade beneath trees gives some obstacles, too; leaves, shade-loving water plants, fish?

What do you guys and gals think? If you've done a shady pond like that, I'd love to see some pics!
 
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Mmathis

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WOW, your yard sounds wonderful! I know you’ll get some good answers. I recall that there have been questions in the past about building on a slope, so it can be done.

Can to post some pics of your current pond as well as the area you are talking about? Since you say the areas are close together, a pic of the whole area would be helpful. Also, if you go to something like Google maps, you can snap a screenshot from above. That won’t show the land contours, but will give an idea of what you have to work with.
 
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What if it weren't a pond but a pondless feature like a waterfall? I think that would be beautiful in a shaded area.

I agree - share some photos and we'll chime in!
 

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I would say a really nice water feature for a highly sloped area would be a waterfall type stream, that flows into and underground or very small basin, so you can have planting areas all around and have a narrow and steep stream with lots of waterfall dropoffs, and that may look nicer apposed to trying to make a full on pond with that area :)
 
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My pictures uploaded in reverse order of how I took them (which makes sense, I guess), so forgive me that this story is going backwards...

These first 4 pics are the shady area that I'm thinking about changing:

From the far right (East) side of the yard, you can see my 2 rhododendron that do well and bloom every year. I can split them up in to at least 2 more.

20200710_152936_resized.jpg


Slightly farther to the right (East) of the first pic, I have a small full sun flower garden. That's a plum tree sapling planted in the middle, given to me by my Dad in March.

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Another view of the shaded area.

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From the middle of the yard, left (West) side of the shady area. You can see that I currently have a rock border that follows along the fence, my thought is to bring it forward from about where I'm standing, curve downward to follow where the grass stops, then end on the right side of where the wooden bench is. There's some grass in that area that I can transplant to fill in weaker areas that I'll keep grassy.

20200710_153021_resized.jpg



I have a pergola area that's full sun, and just a little in front of the shaded area. I used heavy weed cloth when I set it up, so I don't have anything really planted in the ground here, it's all containers. Devil's trumpet, Angel's trumpet, peppers, and then mostly sprouts and saplings that I'm growing before permanently planting.

20200710_152927_resized.jpg


Another view of the shady area, from in front of the pergola.

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The rest of these are walking West, away from the pergola towards the pond garden. I'm going to mow today, so please overlook the high weeds! LOL

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Looks like you have a ton of room back there to make another pond. I like the idea of making a bigger one in that back corner. You'll have less pond plant options due to the shade, but there's always hostas for the shade (which you already own and can divide).

I'd worry about pine trees though. Needles in a pond would be a nightmare I think. Bad enough to skim leaves that float out, but pine needles would sink. Maybe someone that has a pond near pines can speak on that issue. We've been systematically removing all the pines we can from my partner's property because we are sick of the needles everywhere. We're replacing them with birch trees (because the house is on Birch Lane and so obviously it needs more birches).

You could do a bog in the foreground gently feeding into the pond in the background instead of a waterfall. If the pond is going to be that large, you won't need to worry about not being able to see the pond around the bog plants, it will just be a foreground feature (a pretty one, with plants/flowers). That would be a good use of your natural slope.

Oh and if you want to sell that wrought iron bench you have back there rotting away, I might know a buyer. ;)
 
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In my dream world, I'd take down ALL of those pine trees!! The pine needles are a pain, and they're making the soil WAY too acidic. Worse, pine trees are shallow rooted, so I'm always afraid that a big storm is going to knock it down and hit my house!

In that same dream, I'd replace them with shorter pretty trees (dogwood, tulip trees, mimosa trees, or crape myrtles) and fruit trees.

But in practice, that means taking down the fence, and since some are close to the house I'd need to hire a bonded company to take them down. The last quote I got to take down a single tree was $1,000!!! He said they'd need to bring in a crane and a full crew. So... maybe that's just a dream :-(

I like the idea of putting a bog further upfront, though, maybe getting it in a part sun area so I'll have a better plant selection for it. And then the pond itself would mostly be for the background and sound. I'm going to think about that a little... I wouldn't hate taking down the pergola altogether, really, and then I would have more usable yard AND more garden...


Oh and if you want to sell that wrought iron bench you have back there rotting away, I might know a buyer.
Hahaha, I hear you ;-) My girlfriend has a goal of rebuilding it, though. In between the two rhododendron is a gravesite for my first dog (Pepper, a chihuahua; she was my baby), so I'm hoping to relocate the plants and put that bench and smaller plants around her grave. I used to decorate it with annuals every year (pic attached), but the rhododendron blew up kinda unexpectedly on me :-O
 

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In my dream world, I'd take down ALL of those pine trees!! The pine needles are a pain, and they're making the soil WAY too acidic. Worse, pine trees are shallow rooted, so I'm always afraid that a big storm is going to knock it down and hit my house!
In that same dream, I'd replace them with shorter pretty trees (dogwood, tulip trees, mimosa trees, or crape myrtles) and fruit trees.
But in practice, that means taking down the fence, and since some are close to the house I'd need to hire a bonded company to take them down. The last quote I got to take down a single tree was $1,000!!! He said they'd need to bring in a crane and a full crew. So... maybe that's just a dream :-(
I like the idea of putting a bog further upfront, though, maybe getting it in a part sun area so I'll have a better plant selection for it. And then the pond itself would mostly be for the background and sound. I'm going to think about that a little... I wouldn't hate taking down the pergola altogether, really, and then I would have more usable yard AND more garden...
Hahaha, I hear you ;-) My girlfriend has a goal of rebuilding it, though. In between the two rhododendron is a gravesite for my first dog (Pepper, a chihuahua; she was my baby), so I'm hoping to relocate the plants and put that bench and smaller plants around her grave. I used to decorate it with annuals every year (pic attached), but the rhododendron blew up kinda unexpectedly on me :-O

Wow, that's pricey! We got our bigger ones down three for $1000. Smaller ones they did for less (well, they did more trees for the same price), our big ones were massive, like 2-2.5' at the base. We've been taking down the smaller ones ourselves now, we're getting pretty good at it. But we have a lot of space to drop them since there's no fence and the neighbors are all like "just go ahead and drop that one this-a-way, it'll be easier!" We'd never have gotten them done at $1000 a tree! Yours aren't even that big! That's robbery! Nonsense about needing a crane. Our pines dropped straight down (the ones the pro climbed and topped), the guy just climbed up and dropped the top in sections and they fell right down within 20 feet of the trunk. Keep calling around, I think someone's trying to take advantage of you. Yeah, if it's a big name company, maybe, but surely there's some local guys around there in NC? Ask your neighbors, post a "seeking" ad at the local feed store, post on FB Marketplace seeking someone who'll do it for less. Ours were done with a 2 man "crew": just the guy that climbs and runs the chainsaw and the guy that runs the truck with the winch on it (which they use to pull the cut parts up into their trailer).

You can always just move the pergola. There's a front yard too, right? Or you could take it down temporarily and put it back next to the new pond (which you'll surely want to sit by when it's done), taking advantage of the shade back there on hot days.

The rhodies LOVE that acidic soil. They can tolerate massive cutting back and come back fine, so don't be afraid to take the saw to them if they are getting out of hand. You can also just rip pieces off, pulling them up from the base, and if there's any roots left on it at all, start a whole new Rhodie from the pieces.
Moss loves pine needles/acidic soil too, if you want a lawn alternative for the shade, just try moss. It's lovely to walk on barefoot. If I had it my way we'd have no grass, just moss, but it doesn't like sun, needs deep shade to thrive.
 
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No one in this area uses Facebook, but we have other local classifieds :) My handicap is that I'll only hire someone that's bonded, in case I have a problem. I've had plenty of local boys offer to cut them down, but if they make a mistake and it goes through my house or garage? I'm on my own. So... $$$

The back yard is totally fenced in, so I can put plants and fish there without worrying too much about wildlife coming in and damaging things. But it's also where I let my dogs go potty, and I can throw Frisbee with my Sheltie! If I put in the pond then I'll be cutting her running space a little... BUT! If I take down the pergola then I can throw that direction instead. It'll be a little more money and effort to clean it up and sow grass seed, but I could move the pergola to a different area pretty easily so it's not wasted. I'm kinda leaning this direction, the more I think about it...

The rhodies LOVE that acidic soil. They can tolerate massive cutting back and come back fine, so don't be afraid to take the saw to them if they are getting out of hand. You can also just rip pieces off, pulling them up from the base, and if there's any roots left on it at all, start a whole new Rhodie from the pieces.
True, I've cut mine to create 2 more :) I've been a bit more cautious about it, though; I trim off some bark on a bottom limb, bury it for a few years with a brick on it to let it root, then cut it off and dig up the new roots to transplant.

That was my plan for the new garden; create as many clones as I can, and then maybe dig up the mothers and move them if I can, toss them if I can't. The roots are probably pretty massive on them by now, so I'm not sure if relocation is possible at all.

If I had it my way we'd have no grass...
SAME!!! I see no actual value in having it, it's just something I have to constantly mow and try to manage :-( I bought my house 16 or 17 years ago, and since then I've probably turned about 50% of what used to be grass in to gardens.

I've never seen anyone use moss in my area, maybe it's too hot here? I'm going to do some research on that one. I've spread a lot of mondo grass out in areas that don't have foot traffic, though; it chokes out weeds, spreads fairly slowly by itself, grows to about 6-8" tall and stops, and stays green year round. I have a ton of it, so it's been a lifesaver :)
 
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The guys we got were insured. We would not have hired anyone who wasn't.

https://www.thespruce.com/create-low-maintenance-moss-lawn-2152704 has some guidance on moss types. I tried to do it around my pond but I have too much sun where it is. It might be too hot there. I don't recall ever seeing moss in our lawn when I lived in Tennessee. I'm going to seed my area with low groundcovers: creeping thyme, veronica, violas, and so forth, see what takes. I hate grass.

I foresee a swimming sheltie in your future! I used to have dogs a long time ago (lab/cattle dog/spaniel mutts). Man, they loved fetching in the water! I'm not sure you could keep them out of the pond even if you didn't throw that direction.
 
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I swear, you're reading my mind!! LOL For this shade area, I'm thinking about more of a lagoon look with no fish... not exactly a swimming pool, per se, but so that my dogs (one's a Sheltie, the other's a beagle mix rescue) could easily get in and out if they want. But I'm going to have to do some research on that before I go that direction.

As for ground cover, something that's worked out VERY well for me is what I THINK is Anne Marie English Ivy. In my pics, you can see that where it's taken over some of the trees, but it was here when I bought the house. It grows relatively slow so it's easy to keep in check, it's fairly soft, it looks good year round, my bulb flowers grow through it with no problem, and it seems to grow in deep shade just as good as full sun. I've been taking cuttings and putting them in areas that I have to mulch every year, in the hopes that it will look good and I won't have to mulch quite so much in the future.
 
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As for ground cover, something that's worked out VERY well for me is what I THINK is Anne Marie English Ivy. In my pics, you can see that where it's taken over some of the trees, but it was here when I bought the house. It grows relatively slow so it's easy to keep in check, it's fairly soft, it looks good year round, my bulb flowers grow through it with no problem, and it seems to grow in deep shade just as good as full sun. I've been taking cuttings and putting them in areas that I have to mulch every year, in the hopes that it will look good and I won't have to mulch quite so much in the future.

I should take a photo of the house down the road, the whole house is covered in ivy of some sort. It's really pretty, but I can't imagine it's good for the building material. I'm trying to stay away from vine type stuff because it gives me nightmares (long story, childhood trauma). It's proving really hard to find anything that will take the late day sun beating on the hill (and full shade all morning into afternoon).
 
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True, I have a brick foundation with wood siding and the ivy tends to climb the brick and try to insert itself under the wood. When I first bought the place it had pushed the wood out a little, so now I go through once or twice a year and just pull it down off of the brick.

I have a steep hill at the end of my driveway that's just weeds and totally unattractive. I can't do a lot because there's a power pole there, and they'll destroy pretty much anything near it. I ALMOST did ice plant, then considered ajuga, but eventually ended up just throwing a bunch of excess mondo grass there and let it root wherever it wanted. I'm pretty sure they could spray that stuff with Round Up and it'll just laugh at them :ROFLMAO:
 

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