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View Full Version : If it's August, it's time to build the new pond...



Jim Becker
08-07-2005, 4:46 PM
Last July, some of you may recall that Dr. SWMBO and I turned the old well head in front of our house into a nice fountain/pond (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t=10361&highlight=Pond), complete with a few fish and our friend Froggles. We've been pleased with the results and learned a lot from it...including making the mistake of trimming down the liner a bit too far. But even if that were not an issue, we had said from the beginning that we'd love to put in a larger one in the back of the house where it would be easier to enjoy away from the road noise and big enough that we could over-winter the fish safely without bringing them indoors as we did last winter. (Picture a 150 gallon stock tank in the basement...)

So, this weekend we got started on the new pond, clearing the area and digging a big hole. (With power tools, of course... ;) ) Our four goldfish, 3 shebunkins, baby fish of indeterminate parentage and, of course, Froggles will soon have a new home! :)

There is a great area just behind the stone patio that was taken largely by plantings and a small Chinese Dogwood that has been doing very poorly since we moved in over five years ago. It is the perfect spot for viewing this new pond and is situated such that our planned future home addition will not require relocating it. This pond will be about 8' x 8' (irregular shaped) and about 24" down in the deepest area. Unlike the small pond/fountain, this one will use a commercial filter/skimmer and "falls" rather than the home-grown bio-filter that Dr. SWMBO constructed previously.

Unfortunately, I forgot to shoot a "before" picture of the area...my bad! :rolleyes:

Pics:

1) Pulling out shrubs is not an easy task by hand...so we didn't do it by hand...
2) Digging deep holes is not an easy task by hand...so we didn't do it by hand...(I think there is a pattern going on here!)
3) Unfortunately, the rest of the work does need to be done by hand, but the soil is wonderful, especially after being broken up by the 'hoe. This is the starting point
4) Level lines were placed to insure that the perimeter of the pond will be even and to measure depths accurately. The first work with a shovel was to establish the rim of the pond and make a level ledge that will allow for stones to anchor the liner. A combination of tape measure and long level was used during this process
5) Once the rim was established, the deeper areas were defined and cleaned out. Material ejected from the hole was spread into the garden areas as well as used to provide a swale that directs rainwater away from the pond area. You do not want runoff to be generally entering the pond.

Jim Becker
08-07-2005, 4:47 PM
One additional picture from the other angle that shows the contouring for directing runoff as well as the shape of the pond.

Dennis Peacock
08-07-2005, 5:23 PM
Congrats Jim...Looks like ya'll got a real nice start on the new pond there and I really like your "powertool" there to do the digging! ;) Maybe Froggles and the rest of the bunch will be a lot happier in their new home. :)

Rob Littleton
08-07-2005, 6:06 PM
Seems fishy to me

Jim Becker
08-07-2005, 8:06 PM
Seems fishy to me

Yup...that's the idea...

Tony Falotico
08-08-2005, 6:08 AM
Jim, being that is has been known to get somewhat COOL in the winter up there, is 24" deep enough to protect the fish and keep 'em warm ?? You might consider another 6 to 12" depth spot to hold some warmth during the freeze times.

I lost the algae eaters in my small pond (not much bigger than your stock tank) last winter, and it don't get near as cold down here. The koi did just fine.

Stu Ablett in Tokyo Japan
08-08-2005, 6:29 AM
Wow that looks great!

My Great Grandmother had a few ponds like that in her yard when I was a kid, they had fish in them too, as well as frogs and turtles. I spent many a summers day playing around those ponds.

I have to ask, are there any city etc rules about the pond?

I know that my grand father had to fill in the ponds at my Great Grandmother's place as the city rules changed, and the rules were going to be a real PITA, so he gave up and filled them in.

I just wonder if you have the same kind of rules, like the rules you have to have if you have a pool in your yard.

Post some pics when you are done!

Cheers!

John Hart
08-08-2005, 6:44 AM
Jim, being that is has been known to get somewhat COOL in the winter up there, is 24" deep enough to protect the fish and keep 'em warm ?? ....

I'm wondering the same thing... I live on lake erie and it freezes into a giant ice cube.:eek: What happens if you get a week or so of really cold weather?

Jim Becker
08-08-2005, 9:02 AM
Jim, being that is has been known to get somewhat COOL in the winter up there, is 24" deep enough to protect the fish and keep 'em warm ?? You might consider another 6 to 12" depth spot to hold some warmth during the freeze times.

Yes, 24" is fine for this climate area and even farther north. If we were doing Koi, we would need more depth "just because". Our pond out front had no more than about 3" of ice last winter and stayed open due to a small pump keeping the water moving. Froggie overwintered just fine and that was where the effective under-ground depth (because the waterline is actually above ground) was only about 18". This area actually remains relatively temperate during the winter...50 miles north of here, it starts to get nasty and 10-20 colder. Our average winter daytime temp is between 30-40, I believe. (Just a guess) Cold snaps generally are only for a few days and snowfall insignificant as compared to farther north and west.


I have to ask, are there any city etc rules about the pond?

We are in the country, but in our township, over 24" deep would require a fence...and permit...and fees...since at that point, it's considered a "pool".

Richard Wolf
08-08-2005, 5:03 PM
Hey Jim, that tractor looks like fun!

Richard

Don Baer
08-08-2005, 5:55 PM
Jim,

I am glad to see that your mixing you Neander skill with your power tools.

:D

Jim Becker
08-08-2005, 6:06 PM
Don, I guess you can't get more Neander than digging in the dirt and throwing stones!

Richard, the tractor, despite being small, is something that Dr. SWMBO and I get a lot of use out of. The loader, alone, has paid for itself many times over in allowing us to do work that would normally require a lot of labor; ours or someone else's. I don't use the backhoe much, but when I do, it makes something happen that I wouldn't want to pick up a shovel to do. Our most recent addition to the "implement farm" is a real chipper/shreader (bought used on consignment, although it never actually was) that will take nearly 6" branches (if short...too long will stall the machine since it's only 23hp) and makes wonderful stuff for our garden walkways.

Mark Singer
08-08-2005, 8:02 PM
Jim,

You are all around....ponds, woodworking...high tech, dust, finishing , wine,.....great start!!!

Jim Becker
08-08-2005, 8:06 PM
...and with any luck, kids, if the US CIS ever gets our immigration approval back to us... ;)

I never dreamed I'd be buying rocks, but did just that at lunch today. Two hundred bucks worth. :eek: While I have a lot of old stone wall on the property, it would take weeks and weeks to find enough flat ones to do the pond boarders and other "wall" things for this project! Sheesh...

BTW, Mark...this excavation was a heck of a lot easier than your Balboa project!! (But the view isn't quite as good...)

Richard Wolf
08-08-2005, 8:59 PM
Actually, it's a good thing I don't have a tractor like that, I would be digging holes in the yard just for the heck of it.
Nice tread on the pond also, keep us posted.

Richard

Joe Mioux
08-08-2005, 9:25 PM
JIm:

This looks like a fun project. You are going to love the "falls" ' sound. It is totally different from a water fountain.

Water gardening has become my favorite gardening activity. Why? because there isn't much to do. throw some plants and fish in a hole, hook up the pump and enjoy.;)

Yes I know there is more to it than that but not much. Clean the filter and throw out the old plant material every now and that is about it.

The only time the fish get fed is when the kids want to feed them. The rest of the time they can live "off the water"...the fish that is.:rolleyes:

Joe

Lee DeRaud
08-08-2005, 9:51 PM
Our most recent addition to the "implement farm" is a real chipper/shreader (bought used on consignment, although it never actually was) that will take nearly 6" branches (if short...too long will stall the machine since it's only 23hp) and makes wonderful stuff for our garden walkways.Sounds like the perfect woodworking tool for me: I could go from rough logs to scrap wood without going through all that fussy measuring, cutting, gluing, and finishing labor.:eek: :cool:

Karl Laustrup
08-09-2005, 11:22 AM
Sounds like the perfect woodworking tool for me: I could go from rough logs to scrap wood without going through all that fussy measuring, cutting, gluing, and finishing labor.:eek: :cool:

LOL!!! Lee that's funny. I sometimes feel the same way. :D Maybe I should just get rid of all the power tools and just get a tractor [although it would have to be green & yellow] with a backhoe to get rid of the moles in the lawn, a chipper to handle all that wood and a bucket just to haul dirt and rocks around.

Jim, I was going to bring my fishin' pole for some catfish or bass but you gotta dig a little more first. Those little ones kinda look like future sushi.;) :eek: :D

Great start and keep the updates coming. A master of all you try. Good luck with the adoption[s].

Karl

Jim Becker
08-14-2005, 9:37 PM
Well, the folks from FedEX Ground dropped off (literally...into a patch of poison ivy :mad: ) a bunch of boxes on Thursday that contained the things we needed to get the pond project moving from being a big hole in the dirt to something that would hold water and look nice. (Hopefully... ;) ) It was not an ideal weekend to work on this kind of project as it was in the high nineties and about 105% humidity...perfect for playing on top with black plastic. Sheesh! :eek:

Here are some progress pictures from Saturday and Sunday. Remaining work includes landscaping and re-planting, trimming off the excess "foam sealant" on the waterfall and working on getting the water balanced and ready for fish and plants.

Pics:



Skimmer/Pump housing and Falls/Bio-filter physically installed in the ground
Cement blocks used to provide a reinforced wall area in front of the skimmer
Two layers of an underlayment material (resembles outdoor carpeting, but it black) are laid in the hole and contoured to "fit"
The liner goes in...man, this puppy was heavy and awkward. We almost had to call for help. But we bought "big" to insure that we had more than enough to do the job and have plenty to secure around the edges. Oh, by the way...it's darn hot in that hole. The EPDM liner really soaks up the sun's heat and points it right at you. Big time.
Moi contemplating cutting back the liner and underlayment...once it's cut...it's cut!

Jim Becker
08-14-2005, 9:44 PM
More pictures....


Making the cuts
Where we ended on Saturday night...'still a lot of work to do
Where we ended on Sunday night...major progress and we are pleased with the results. Once the landscaping is restored, this thing should hopefully look like it grew there. :p
A test of the pump and falls is successful! The falls will provide lots of nice aeration for the fishies and a pleasant sound for the humans. Please note that that purple/black looking stuff will be trimmed off and will virtually disappear. It's foam sealant designed for (supposedly...or maybe it's just insulation colored black ;) ) waterfalls to insure the water flows where you want it and that the rocks stay in place where you put them.

John Hart
08-14-2005, 9:44 PM
Gosh Jim...it looks like you're really having fun in that last picture!:D You need a cold one!!!

Jim Becker
08-14-2005, 9:49 PM
Gosh Jim...it looks like you're really having fun in that last picture! You need a cold one!!!

Yea, it was brutal. I was sucking down water and Gatoraid constantly and wearing a wet towel on my head. I think that Dr. SWMBO had the right idea "volunteering" for the wet-work. That 55 degree water coming up out of the well was "refreshing", as she put it.

John Hart
08-14-2005, 9:53 PM
Well...It certainly looks worth it my friend. You've made something that you'll never get tired of looking at.

Joe Mioux
08-14-2005, 10:04 PM
JIm:

Looks really good. If it helps, today, I looked the same as you in your pics. I can attest to the steamy weather today as I was trimming bushes and cutting out unwanted plants from the various plantings aroung the yard.

Great progress on the pond!

Joe

Martin Shupe
08-15-2005, 7:59 AM
Really cool Jim,

I'd better not show these pics to my wife, or she will want one. Looks like you did a good job. Will you still keep the one in front?, or close it down and transfer the fish to the back?

Robert Tarr
08-15-2005, 9:30 AM
Jim,

That is a lot of progress on such a nasty weekend.

You should have given me a ring, I drove by your house twice that day, to and from a long mountain bike ride. I was dirty and sweaty and would have fit in nicely for the heavy lifting, sweating and cussing involved. Instead, I came home to find the condensate drain for the A/C backed up and spent the afternoon in the attic (dark slate roof) probably 125+ degrees, using a turkey baster to empty the catch pan of 6 gallons of water....after that, dug and installed new pvc lines to prevent this from happening again. Sounds like fun huh?

Looks like a great project. Can't wait to see if all finished up.

RT

Jeff Sudmeier
08-15-2005, 9:38 AM
Jim, that sure does look great! The LOML and I have often thought about putting a pond in our back yard, but it gets so cold here that we would either have to run a heater or store the fish inside during the winter. Neither is a very good option in my eyes. My uncle is trying the heater this year, so we will see how that goes :)

Bruce Page
08-19-2005, 12:07 AM
Wow Jim, you do stay busy! My daughter & SIL have a nice pond with several Koi large enough to feed a small family. They hound me every once in awhile to build one, and I do find it very relaxing, but Ill stick to my aquarium.

John Shuk
08-19-2005, 8:35 PM
Jim,
The pond looks great. I bet you could fill it with sweat from those pics. Have you ever bought from www.Thatfishplace.com ? They have a HUGE store in your neck of the woods and they are the best price around by a large margin. They do all kinds of pet supplies as well. I have used them for years and they are usually about 40% less than what I can get around here. Good luck with the pond. By the way one thing I love to do is catch some worms and find a frog just hanging out and toss it nearby for him to see (on land helps). They just go nuts for them and they get pretty fat quick from they nutrient boost. Froggy might like it.
John

Jim Becker
08-19-2005, 10:22 PM
No, John, I've never heard of that retailer...and they are two hours away. (They also seem to only carry the smaller pond stuff) We bought our new pond equipment as a package from a place in Ohio over the Internet and had it shipped. They were simliar money from the local pond store after shipping, but actually had everything in stock...we would have had to wait a couple weeks to get what we needed locally. I guess this is considered "end of season" or something.

Froggie hasn't expressed much interest in eating anything except insects...which apparently he/she is quite skilled at give he's quadrupled in size since we first discovered him last summer. I guess Green Frogs grow well around here! ;) I'll try the worm thing with him/her sometime if I can find a small enough one...we seem to be knee deep in big, far nightcrawlers due to the awesome soil in our gardens!

Will Hughes
08-20-2005, 2:06 PM
Jim here is a link I thought you might be interested in. It's to the making of my father's fish pond in the yard of a Philadelphia row home. It looks alot better now as the last picture was taken in 2002. He recently made the finals of an area garden contest that I don't remember the name of, results do in september.

I'm also giving him the link to this thread, I know he would like to see it.

http://home.comcast.net/%7Ebilly_hughes/pondpics/fishpond.html

John Shuk
08-20-2005, 2:12 PM
Jim,
If you request the catalog they have a pretty extensive palate of supplies. They have been doing the mail order thing a long time. Before the whole interenet thing got so big.

Jim Becker
08-20-2005, 3:10 PM
Will, thanks! Nice pictures...I've also shared them with Dr. SWMBO.

John, 'will order a catalog. Thanks!

-------
Today, we'll be getting the plantings back in place around the pond. We're also in process of "goosing" the water and bio-filter to pre-condition it so that the necessary bacterial to convert amonias to nitrates are active and working before we start transfering fish.

Oh...a a small (1") Green Frog has already "moved in". Looks like Froggie is going to have a pond-mate...if he/she doesn't eat or otherwise chase away the "little bugger"!

Jim Becker
08-21-2005, 12:12 PM
Aside from a few more landscaping improvements, water conditioning and moving the creatures after the former is accomplished, this project is pretty much wrapped up. Here are a few pictures from different angles of the "completed" pond. Overall, I'm pleased with this project. I would have loved to have at least one edge "less defined", but the elevations wouldn't allow for it. Of course, on a positive thought, the rocks do provide lots of nooks and crannies for various flora and fauna. I'll post a few more pics once the fish are in and resurrect this thread again next summer with some pictures after the plantings are more complete and mature.

Mark Singer
08-21-2005, 2:26 PM
Jim,

That is incredible!!! You got a very natural, "its always been there" feeling which will only feel even more so with landscaping... Great design and placement...I can almost here the water...through my laptop;)

Jim Becker
08-21-2005, 3:17 PM
Thanks, Mark. It does have a nice feel to it and the sound of the waterfall is wonderful...helps cut down on the road noise coming from the front of the house, too. Even though we are back off the road about 150' or so, traffic is pretty brisk. This will also work well with the future addition plans we have discussed without alteration...this view is illustrative of that for positioning in a sense. (the building in this rendering shows an earlier version prior to the "connector bridge" necessary to maintain workable rooflines)

Ernie Nyvall
08-21-2005, 3:44 PM
I hear it too. That's just gorgeous Jim. Well done.
I like that back-hoe attachment as well. That came in handy.

Ernie

Joe Mioux
08-21-2005, 6:14 PM
JIm;

Cogratulations on a fine project completed. All that is needed is some Good cheese, some Good Bread and a Fine Wine.............relax and listen to the water.

Joe

Jim Becker
08-21-2005, 7:11 PM
All that is needed is some Good cheese, some Good Bread and a Fine Wine.............relax and listen to the water.

I happen to have all of those things handy!

Alan Turner
08-21-2005, 8:53 PM
Wonderful project, Jim. Thanks for sharing. Of course, I have not invited my bride to this disucssion or I would be tring to trade you something for some machine time.
the new shop is keeping me quite busy enough.

Jim Becker
08-21-2005, 9:05 PM
Alan, your backyard has the perfect place for a nice pond just off that nice wall in the back...hee hee...

Jim O'Dell
08-21-2005, 11:01 PM
Wow! Beautiful is the only word that comes to...my fingers. I'd love to have a water feature, but the dogs would either: a) splash all the water out, killing the fish; b) get the water sooooooo dirty that it would kill the fish; or c) get in the pond and eat the fish, thus killing the fish. The raccoons would probably get to them if in the front yard.
If I ever won one of the $100,000 back yard make overs, I'd incorporate a water fall at the back of the back yard that pulled water from the creek, and let it splash back down the 7' drop from the yard and return to the creek. I'd be able to hear it, but the dogs couldn't get IN it! I'd hang a swing from the huge old Oak tree .... Dreams are nice, but not as nice as the real thing. Enjoy yours! You worked hard for it. Jim

Vaughn McMillan
08-22-2005, 4:32 AM
Great job Jim, and the blow-by-blow account was fun to follow. I'd like to do some type of water feature, but haven't figured out where or how yet.

Enjoy the new fishin' hole -

- Vaughn

Jerry Clark
08-22-2005, 10:09 AM
Great project Jim, and thanks for the step-by-step pictures-- even the sweat showed up!:rolleyes: It really blends with the landscape.