|Gary & Diana's Pond Rebuild
Gary and Diana had their pond installed in the summer
of 2006 by someone else, and were experiencing
nothing but problems. There were some warning signs
they realized in hind sight, which they shared with me.
First, the guy said he could come right out and install it
that weekend. They said, had they thought about it,
they would have realized that if a guy is that
"available", it's probably for a reason, like maybe he
doesn't do good work. The second warning sign was
that the guy bought all of his parts at Menard's, which
meant he didn't really know that much about ponds and
the demands that fish have on a filtration system.
The first mistake is quite obvious in this picture. To the left of the water lily pads, a marginal plant is attempting to break the
surface. Oops! No plant shelves - just sloped sides all the way to the bottom. Also, in this photo, you can see the rocks around
the perimeter of the pond are placed at an angle. The installer obviously hoped to defy gravity and hang the rocks off the
sloped sides, but instead they slid into the bottom of the pond.
It's difficult to see the the structural and mechanical
problems of their pond from the pictures, as the
reconstructed pond looks a lot the same in size and
shape, but I'll try to point out the common mistakes
inexperienced or part-time pond builders make and
how they were corrected.
The construction of the waterfall was a nightmare, and every time they turned the pump on, they lost water. The picture on
the right is from behind the waterfall itself. Here you can see the 5/8" hose running up behind the waterfall rocks to feed the
waterfall on the other side. Needless to say, feeding your waterfall with a 5/8" hose is like running your garden hose over the
waterfall rocks, so it doesn't produce a very impressive result, except it can drain your pond in a matter of hours.
Another common mistake this installer made was he used excavated
dirt to "build up" behind the waterfall, again presumably hoping that
gravity, settling, and compaction wouldn't occur in his perfect
universe. In the real world, however, these things DO occur, and all
of that dirt had shifted and settled back onto the wooden fence,
pushing it out of alignment and rotting the wood.
This settling also redirected the water over the waterfall, causing the
pond to leak when the pump was running.
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Another problem that was making Gary & Diana's ponding experience
a living hell was their filtration system (above). Purchased at
Menard's, this tiny canister filter needed to be cleaned so frequently
that Diana had to come home on her lunch hour just to clean the
filter! Also, their inadequate pump sat on the bottom of the pond,
and continually stopped up, having to be removed and cleaned. Even
with all this cleaning, the pond water was a constant swampy mess.
Once the liner was removed, the waterfall problem was obvious.
Bricks and landscape blocks had been stacked in an attempt to hold
the waterfall rocks in place and the excavated dirt behind them was
compacting forward, pushing them out of place. ALL of this had to
be removed and the entire perimeter of the pond was leveled down
to grade, and in case you're wondering, yes, that is all beautiful,
rich, black, Illinois soil.
With the entire perimeter leveled down to grade, we could then
proceed with installing the plant shelves and digging the pond down
to it's 3' depth. Because liner comes in 5' increments, we were also
able to expand the pond to fill the space. A small Aquafalls filter
box was installed, and locking landscape blocks were used to build a
wall between the filter box and the fence. Because of the confined
space, we were limited as to the raised flower beds we usually
install behind and around the filter box, but the landscape blocks
gave us the structure we needed to build some planting pockets.
A bottom drain, mini
skimmer, and 2200 gph
pump were installed, as
well as aeration and
lighting, to complete this
As I mentioned earlier, it
may be difficult to see
the changes to this pond
right away, but it is now
deeper. The water is
clear and clean, and it is
free. Most importantly,
Gary and Diana can now
finally enjoy their pond
instead of spending all
their time maintaining it,
and they can see their