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Install a Bottom Drain
Page 2 of 3
At this point, we are only "pre-setting" the liner, meaning it doesn't have to be folded and fitted into every nook and cranny.  It IS, however, vitally important that you pre-set the liner with care because you don't want to end up with not enough liner on one side of the pond once you have a hole cut in the bottom of the liner.  That would be a BIG problem! First, unroll your underlayment and set it in the pond.  Work your way from the bottom of the pond UP.  Standing in the bottom of the pond on the underlayment you will be able to make sure you have an adequate amount of underlayment to cover each plant shelf, up the vertical, and still have enough left over at the top edge around the boarder.
Next, unroll your liner next to the pond.  If your liner only fits one direction because your pond is longer than it is wide, now is the time to find that out.  Remember, liner looks bigger when it's laid out on a flat surface, so measure it to see which direction it goes before you put it in the pond.  Also, 45 mil rubber fish-safe pond liner has the PondGuard logo stamped on one side of the liner.  I always like to put this side down, as even though the writing isn't very obvious, I've never met a person who wants to look at it in their finished pond. 
Work the liner into the pond slowly, starting at the end farthest from the waterfall and pulling the liner along it's edge into the pond gradually, trying not to pull the underlayment in along with it.  (You'll really start appreciating those plant shelves right about now!)  When you get the liner pulled all the way across to the far side of the pond, go around all the edges, picking up each edge and moving any excess liner into the pond, leaving yourself a foot to a foot and a half of liner to work with later around the top edge of the pond.  You may end up with more, but for now, make sure you have enough on all sides. You will be working any excess liner from the bottom of the pond up as you did with the underlayment and any excess liner will be worked to the far side of the pond where the waterfall will be going.  Jump back into the bottom and smooth the liner out, starting at the bottom drain (which you have marked with the support tube).  When you get to the first vertical side, stand right next to the side on the liner and pull the liner up onto the plant shelf above.  Work your way around the pond this way, going up a level every time around.  Eventually, the water will hold the liner in place, but for now, the weight of you standing on the liner will be enough to work it up out of the pond and ensure that you have it set in there with enough to have extra along all the edges.
NOTE:  We want any excess liner to end up at the waterfall end of the pond to work up the waterfall when we get to that point.  I will explain this more in detail later, but for now, just trust me and do it.  (Click here if you're a jerk and didn't install a bottom drain and want to go back to Step 7:  Setting the Liner.)
Now you're ready to do the unthinkable.  Cut a hole in the bottom of your pond liner!!  EEEEK!  Take a deep breath and follow my lead.  Cut around the support tube and make a hole large enough to fit your hand through, but not large enough to expose any of the basin edge.  Slide your hand under the liner and cut away all the underlayment so that none of it touches the basin lip when the liner is pressed back into place.  If any of the underlayment laps over onto the edge of the bottom drain basin, you will not get a
water-tight seal on the basin and all the water will drain out of your pond.  Bummer.  Once you are sure no underlayment is touching the top rim of the bottom drain basin, reach your hand under there and clean the top of the basin edge with a wet paper towel and then dry it completely.  Add a thick, wiggly bead of silicone around the entire flat edge of the bottom drain basin, smooth it out with your finger, and press the liner in place, making sure there are no folds and the liner lays completely flat.  
You will now need your drill, Philips-head screw driver, a utility knife, and the large "O" ring and screws provided in the bottom drain box.
Hey, don't wimp out and stop now just because it's 120 degrees at the bottom of that black rubber pit!  We want to get this done before the silicone sets up!!
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Write me at:  pondgal@gridcom.net
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