Today’s successful water garden is usually designed as an ecosystem that uses a balance between fish, plants and bacteria to keep the water clear. The type of pond I’m talking about is self-contained (not fed by a spring or stream) and is between 100 and 900 square feet; A low maintenance backyard water garden that will enhance your lifestyle and property. 20 years ago, the typical do-it-yourself water garden was a dirt-filled cesspool just waiting to emerge, while the successful koi pond required deep water and unattractive pond filtration equipment. With a better understanding of the pond ecosystem and some equipment ideas from the pool equipment industry, anyone with the skills to dig, level things, and move rocks and debris can create a beautiful living water garden using proven equipment and methods.
But none of the other pond construction
Now I admit that there are other ways that can work; But none of the other pond construction methods have the track record that I have seen in pond installations using this system.
The basic elements for this system are pad, liner, rocks and gravel, skimmer, fill valve, pump, plumbing, biological filtration, plants, fish and bacteria.
The skimmer draws water
Here’s a simplified explanation of how this works as an ecosystem. Fish eat insects and plants, and then the fish waste disperses throughout the system. The skimmer draws water from the top layer of the pond, helping with circulation and aeration while trapping floating debris in a net. The pump is located under the net in the skimmer and pumps up to a biofilter. The biofilter is often designed to be built into a waterfall. The water enters the biofilter and rises through filter media colonized by bacteria. The bacteria convert the waste into forms that are less harmful to the fish and less conducive to excessive algae growth. The waterfall or stream adds more aeration than the bacteria and fish need. The plants take up more nitrogen and some oxygenate the water. The stones and gravel provide more space for bacteria and protect the liner from UV rays.
My goodness ! Every time I set out to simply explain a pond ecosystem, it still takes 10 sentences. Suffice it to say, all the parts work together to make your pond maintenance easier!
Compared to the work and reconstruction
I’m just using the word as a relative term. Compared to the work and rebuild you can experience with other methods, this is the easiest way I know of. But there is still a lot to do in pond construction. Obviously you need to dig and shape a hole in the ground and move some heavy objects around. A well-trained crew with everything needed on site can install a pond in a day. It can take a few Garden Construction weekends for a homeowner to do the job themselves, depending on their skills, time, and conditions.
Some key points:
Size: It is best to have it at least 6 feet wide. bigger is better 16 x 11 is a good medium size. Generally, when people finish their first one, they regret not making the pond bigger.
Location: There is a tendency to place ponds where water already collects in the garden. That’s not always the best idea. Groundwater flowing into the pond can cause problems. If possible, bring it right near the patio where you can enjoy the fish and the running water every day .
Electrical and plumbing
Don’t overlook the need for a GFI outlet close to the pump and a water source to keep the pond filled. Most kits don’t include a fill valve for some reason, but it’s really important as a pond can easily lose an inch of water on a windy day. Left unattended, this can result in the pump in the skimmer running dry for long periods of time and possible damage. Of course, the pond level does not fall below the skimmer opening.
Let ‘s go through the basic steps to installing this type of pond system.
Determine the size of the pond and order a kit with all the necessary components. Shape the shape of the pond with something like a garden hose. Leave it outside for a while, move it around, think about where the waterfalls and the different plants will be. When you create a stream, you also create the layout for it. Level ground isn’t a problem as you’ll be digging up enough soil to collect around your waterfall filter. Paint an outline with orange marker spray.
Take precautions to preserve the variety of rocks and gravel you will be using.
Position your skimmer and BioFilter . The skimmer should be on the opposite side of the falls or stream to create circulation. Then place the flexible PVC or kink-free pipe between the skimmer and the waterfall filter. This allows it to be covered during excavation instead of burying it.
Establish a firm, compacted and level base for the waterfall filter, perhaps slightly tilted forward depending on the design . If you have help, they can work on digging the pond while you do it properly, or vice versa.
Connect the piping to the filter and refill around it. It’s a good idea to have someone stand in the filter while it’s being backfilled to prevent them from shifting on the base.
The pond relative to the water level
Study every slope of the land and determine where the water level will be; usually a few inches below level. Finish digging the pond relative to the water level. A rotating laser is the ultimate tool for this, although it is expensive to rent. Patiently checking string levels in all directions can also get the job done. Add shelves for border plants and keep the sides and shelves level. The deep part of the pond should be about 2 feet or slightly less. All deeper and most municipal swimming pool codes come into effect with fencing requirements. Unless you intend to keep a lot of koi , this is deep enough for your fish. Plant bags for water lilies can now also be dug. These pockets create a plantable indentation in your liner for later. You can either plant directly in these pockets or hide your planters inside and cover with gravel to create a more natural looking pond.
Dig out the position for the skimmer so it will stand on a firm, level base that will put it in the correct position relative to the water level. Check everything again. All dimensions and levels. Make sure the pond is free of sharp objects and unfold the pad in it. Start at the deep end and slide the pad into all the shelves and pockets. The EPDM rubber liner is then installed in the same manner, making sure it extends well above the waterline (scale will occur) and beyond the openings on your skimmer, filter, creek etc.
Stones can help with a clean install
Add stone and gravel. Pre-washing the stones can help with a clean installation, or you can splash them into the pond while you pump out the dirty water. Use larger bricks at the base of each wall that forms a shelf and build up with smaller bricks. Cover flat areas with 1″-2″ gravel…no more than that. If you have extra gravel , don’t be tempted to just use more on the bottom of your pond. I won’t go into that now for biological reasons. The rock should now have your liner pulled into place fairly well so you can make final adjustments to your skimmer and attach the liner to it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Dry stack stones like in a wall on the front
Start filling the pond. Now the fun of building the waterfall and stream. Make sure you have enough clearance to the case opening before attaching and making cuts. Also, be careful to avoid wrinkles in the liner when turning downstream. Wrinkles in the stream liner are a common source of leaks and why a very wide liner is recommended for a stream. Stack dry stones like in a wall in front of the waterfall filter. Use waterfall black foam or another type of expanding foam to seal the space between the rocks. This allows the water to flow over the rocks instead of disappearing into the cracks between them. Black waterfall foam goes well with the rocks. The creek plan should have been created using excavated soil from the pond, but it may be necessary to dig various catch basins and you may need to construct another berm at the falls. Swing on the sides of the creek and cover the bottom with gravel like in the pond. Use the waterfall foam to seal rocks wherever a cascading effect is desired, using flat rock to form the lip of waterfalls and seal underneath.
When the water level is high enough and all the waterfall foam is dry
Install the pump, install the overflow line and fill valve in the skimmer. When the water level is high enough and all of the waterfall foam is dry (you can assume your hands are covered in the stuff, but try to avoid it as it’s very difficult to clean!), try the pump. You then have to refill the pond as it takes a large amount of water to fill the plumbing, waterfalls and creek. When you are satisfied that everything is as it should be, trim away the excess liner. Leave a few inches of liner for settling and possible adjustments.
There are many more nuances to building a pond, but this should give you a good sense of what a water garden project entails. The kits we sell come with decent installation instructions and I am happy to answer any questions as do many other pond enthusiasts.