Designing a Pond

Lessons Learned

I love almost everything about my little pond (about 10′ x 7′) but I certainly didn’t build it perfectly. There’s probably a reason people make their living creating ponds for people who can’t do it themselves…

Pond July 27 2016

Pond July 27 2016–with a leaning bird feeder in the foreground 

Mosquitos

Latest lesson is about water movement. Guess what? The movement of 1000 G per hour at one end of the 10′ pond is not enough to prevent stagnation at the other end of the 10′ pond. My neighbour casually mentioned they’d noticed more mosquitos lately and “did I think they could be propagating in the pond?” I assured her that tho’ I’d seen some larvae a while back, I was pretty sure the agitation from the waterfall was enough to prevent still water–which is what mosquitos want for egg-laying. Wrong! I peered into the edges of the pond and waited to see movement. Not only did I see a few  2-3mm black “commas” (that I’d seen before), but the longer I looked the more I could see ZILLIONS (ok, maybe not quite that many) of much smaller moving bits. Next day I was out buying goldfish!

Here is an excellent short article on preventing a mosquito explosion in your pond.

When the first “scoop” of 18 fishies seemed to be effective (fewer larger larvae), I went and got another 15. So far the racoons have either not noticed the fish or figured they were too hard to get. There are LOTS of nooks and crannies and hiding places in the pond, including two caves that I built even tho’ I was sure I didn’t want fish. I’d had too much racoon activity over the years to encourage even more devastation. But really, choosing between a mosquito infestation and potential West Nile virus, and a few cute furry (big) rodents–no contest!

Stay tuned for more Lessons Learned.

 

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Evolution of the Pond

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This project started with last year’s chafer beetle damage. Initially I thought I’d take out the grass and plant a native/wildlife garden with three birch trees front-and-centre. For some heretofore unclear reasoning, I decided on a pond instead.

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This picture was taken about Dec 1 2014. Lots and LOTS of racoon damage.

So I waited for spring, and then started to rip out the grass. Literally “rip” it out; the grass was so damaged by the chafer beetles there was hardly any roots left to fight with.

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Thanks to my sisters for helping me clear the grass.

I wanted to use as much space for the pond as possible–apparently (or so I read over and over as I was researching this project) the main regret new pond owners have is that they didn’t go bigger. But as you can see, there isn’t that much room, and I need to be able to walk all around the pond without having to dig out shrubs and trees to do it.

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Outline of the future pond.

Now it looks like I’ll have a planting berm around the edges–the excavated soil has to go somewhere–which means I still have to find  space for a path… (In the end I was able to rake it all pretty level, using excess around the raised waterfall area.)

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Difficult to maintain nice vertical walls with this sandy soil, so using bricks to buttress the edges.

A lot of rocks in this ground. Over the years I’ve deposited quantities of rocks across the street in the gully, and this garden section is no different. Hence the need for the pickaxe!

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Beginning to dig a second “terrace” so there’s appropriate places for a variety of plants.

Some water plants prefer deeper water, like water lilies, others, like papyrus, prefer it more shallow, while still others just want their roots wet, but the crown of the plant above water. Thus the need for three different levels.

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Beginning the deepest section. It needs to be at least 24″ if I ever want to keep fish.

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Narrowly missed water and gas lines, neither of which were where they were supposed to be.

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Digging complete. Nine buckets of small stones, a good pile of mid-and large sized rocks, and no end of gravelly material salvaged from the pit.

I finished excavating and was ready to lay the IPDM membrane when Level 3 watering restrictions were announced. Which meant I couldn’t fill the pond. And if I lay the membrane and then it rained, I’d have standing water in the pond, being unable to fill and pump the water. So I started this project June 22 and finally lay the membrane Sept 28!

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Local watering restrictions have finally been lifted after a few deluges in recent days, so I can lay the membrane and line it with rocks.

Despite the gratuitous number of rocks I harvested from the site, there still weren’t enough large ones to line the walls. Never mind, I know where to find more–across the street in the gully!

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Larger rocks to serve as walls, smaller for the floors.

I don’t really want fish in my pond, because I don’t need to give the racoons even more reason to trash my garden. However, I may change my mind in the future, so just in case, I dug the pond deep enough to allow fish to overwinter successfully, and created little caves to give them hiding spots from the inevitable predators. I’ll also have floating plants to provide more hiding places.

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Two little caves created for potential hiding places–in case I decide to get fish in the future. Click to enlarge to see where one is just visible.

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And here’s the final product. I’ll do a little more planting in the spring, and there’s water lilies ready to go in now–as soon as I figure out how and where to plant them. Looks like I’ll need waders.

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Final product.

You’ve endured the saga, so here’s your reward. Enlarge for a better view. Hope you like it.

Gardens for Tiny Yards

Cleaning out the den the other day I found magazines that I hadn’t looked at in years. In the interest of clearing space for my drafting table, I quickly flipped through them all just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything I really HAD  to keep. And found a fun little article about gardening in a mini-micro front yard.

It came from an ancient edition of Gardening Life, a story of the transformation of a 25′ by 15′ front yard. (That’s barely bigger than my living room…)

And here’s the result (forgive the faded picture-of-a-picture):

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There’s no limit to the creativity you can invest in the smallest spaces.