Last year, I really wanted to make my pond bigger, but I held off. What better time than now?
The original pond was quite small and not very deep, but it was fine enough for my goldfish friends who lived in there all year round for 13 years...until last summer, when a new fish was introduced and all of the fish died. I was really pissed, since these fish were all acquired from the county fair, from that game where you throw a ping pong ball into the little glass bowls - I swear we spent $50 winning these damned fish and yes, I know I could have got them for $1 apiece from a store...but it was the thrill of the game and these were some tough as hell carnie fish to survive 12 Wisconsin winters! Anyhoo, since there were no fish to worry about, it made sense to take this project on now. Here's what it looked like before...
One where my water lily had a bloom - these bloom for one or two days, so if you aren't looking, you could miss it!
This is my favorite, I love the froggies that come to visit, and I caught them like this one day. I did not pose them like this, they did this entirely on their own, and I thought it was hilarious:
I considered doing a raised pond so I wouldn't have to dig, but I abandoned that idea when I determined the cost of the materials would be more than I was willing to spend. So, digging was it. Fortunately, I have a super duper neighbor (Ryan) who likes to help me do things...like dig holes in the ground!
Last weekend, we (and I use "we" very loosely because I did not do the digging) dug a larger pond, starting with the existing hole and expanding it to about 7 foot by 5 foot. There is a "deep end" which is 2 feet deep (much deeper than my original hole), and then it tapers up so that I can put some bog plants in the shallow end. Or so I can wade into the water should the mood strike me.
Hole dug, a trip to Lowe's for some underlayment and we were in business. I picked up some of that green indoor/outdoor carpet to use as underlayment and I had a liner waiting in the wings. I knew I was going to be making a waterfall, so I also had a waterfall filter, in pond skimmer, pond pump and flexible tubing ready to go.
The first phase was largely the digging. There was a lot of dirt, and I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it - it's not good for planting (it's clay and full of rocks), so we just piled it up on the driveway. While Ryan dug, I attempted to sift out the rocks and rinse them. There were many different methods I tried (including drilling holes into the bottom of my brand new bucket) and finally I just gave up and laid them out on the driveway, hoping that the clay would dry out and I'd be able to more easily get the rocks. It sort of worked. Not really. Just sort of.
This weekend I set out to finish the pond. Since the liner was in, I just needed to build the waterfall and set the skimmer, pump and stones where I wanted them. I got to the house and realized that the stone I wanted to use as the base of the waterfall was too heavy for me to shimmy it into place. So, a quick text to my favorite neighbor Ryan and he came over and moved the stone into place and also held back the liner while I dug out a little shelf for the skimmer to sit on.
The rest of the day was setting the stones, one by one. I'd set a stone, step back and look at it, move it, look at it, switch it with another stone, look at it...you get the idea. When I first built the pond, I had wanted a waterfall but really didn't know how to do it properly and didn't account for things like water and gravity. This time, I did a lot of research and made sure that I was paying attention to where the water would go, whether it would fall behind stones, whether there was enough of the liner, and where I needed to use some of that displaced dirt to build up barriers behind the liner to direct the water back into the pond.
Success! Got it on the first try. No leaks and no misbehaving water!
Then I decided to dump all that rock I had set aside into the pond...without rinsing it (come on, I was getting lazy and I still had to shovel all that dirt from the driveway into the back of my truck). So, the water is pretty murky. I'm hoping it will settle, but if not, I'll pump it out and start over.
So now I have a truck bed full of dirt, because having a pile of dirt on my driveway was bothering me...and what good is owning a pickup truck if you don't use it sometimes? I plan to find a generous friend who will lovingly accept this rocky clay dirt in some nether region of their property!
Once I get the pond cycled and ready for fish, I'll add in my water lilies (that have survived thus far in a whiskey barrel during the house construction), get my bog plants and sit on my front porch and chill to the soothing sounds of my awesome new waterfall!
In case you're interested, here are the items I used for the circulation system, all from Amazon:
Tetra Waterfall Filter
Tetra In-Pond Skimmer
Tetra 1000 GPH submersible pump
Tetra Flexible tubing (1" diameter)