Build an Inexpensive Pond
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Water features are expensive. Very expensive. Rubber liner goes for a buck a square foot. A pump will cost you about $200.00, at least. And rocks? Yikes. If you have to buy rocks, and here in New Orleans, we have to, they will run you up to 35 cents a pound and you will need at least one ton or 2000 pounds. And we have not even talked about plants, waterfalls, assorted tubing, underlayment and more. If you have seen my web site at pondlady.com and clicked on virtual portfolio, you will not see one that cost less than $5,000.00.
So, how can you have a water feature and not need a second mortgage on your house? Let’s talk about some pretty easy ways to have a great looking pond without spending lots of money.
You will see preformed ponds in the big box stores, often offered as a kit. Do not buy one of these. The material is poor quality and your preformed pond will crack in short order and you will find yourself starting over or quitting in disgust.
Here’s a secret: Go to a horse or large animal equipment store. Horse troughs for horses to drink from are made by Rubbermaid, tough as nails, will last forever and are rarely more than $50.00, if that. You can have a round one, an oval one and most likely lots of other shapes. If you wish another look, you can make it look different with planting beds around the preformed pond. If you use a horse trough, here’s a hint.
Dig the hole, level it the best you can. And believe me, you can not get it completely level ever and if you do, it will not stay that way. Leave about 4” of the horse trough above the ground. You will camouflage it later.
Pick up some kiddy play sand and use it as back fill along the sides hosing water in the sand to pack it in.
Here’s another important hint: Fill the horse trough with water before you start adding sand. If you don’t the sand will push the trough up and you will fill up the hole you just dug.
Go ahead, ask me how I know this?
OK, you have the trough in a hole and about 4” of ugly rubber are sticking up. You can use rocks to cover that if you like. Use soil (Maybe what you dug out?) to back fill up to the top of the trough and then place rocks on top so they stick over the water a bit. I know the water is dirty, but don’t worry, you will pump it out soon. If you have soft soil, I would put bricks, just regular 2” x 4” x 8” bricks under the lip of the trough to keep it steady. You don’t need a solid line of them, just one every few inches. Now cover them up with soil and flat rocks.
You can stop here if you like and just have water bubbling up from the pump and have no waterfall at all.
What About a Waterfall?
If you want a waterfall, use a piece of rubber liner or swimming pool liner or even really thick visqueen to cover a slightly higher spot where you want your waterfall. Let it hang over. You are doing this so the water will reenter the pond and not run off the side of the waterfall. Place a large flat rock on it at an angle. Throw your pump in the water and plug it in.
You have already put a long piece of tubing on the pump where the water comes out. Test your rock to be sure all the water is going over the rock and back into the pond. Now pile up rocks so you like the way they look. Put your hose in place, cover it up with another rock and you have a waterfall.
Now pump out your dirty water, fill your pond up, add dechlorinator and start balancing ecologically and landscaping around your new pond.
It will be as beautiful as those $5000.00 ones you saw on my web site.
Use Lumber for a Pond
The easiest pond of all, besides just a kiddy pool with plants in it (And I have seen that done successfully.) is built using 2” x 12” lumber.
The hardest part of this job will be deciding where you want your pond. Find the most level spot in your yard you can find. If it is not level, you may want to add some sand at the low end to get the ground level. Make sure you have enough room to walk around your pond. That makes it easier to feed water lilies and prune other plants. Also you will want to plant around it, so you will see plant material instead of lumber when you look at your pond.
Pick your lengths of lumber based on the size you chose. Use 2” x 12” treated lumber, 4’ wide or whatever you have chosen, for the short ends. Get 8’, 10’ or 12’, long for the long sides. Pick up 8 corner brackets, 2 for each corner for holding them together, some stout nails, as many 1” x 4”s as you need to cover the top of all your linear feet added together, a pond liner big enough to cover the bottom, go up the sides, over the corners and overlap about 2” on top,
Get galvanized finishing nails to attach the 1” x 4” lumber to the top of your pond and paint if you want to paint it, only enough for the 1” x 4”, not the rest of your lumber, a pump if you want one and you are ready to build. Oh, while you are at the store, get some stakes to pound in at the middle of the long sides. They can bow from the weight of the water. Don’t worry what they look like. They will be hidden by plant material.
We are talking about a rectangular pond here, but yours can be shaped whatever your skill level allows you to build.
Put a long board and a short one together, use the long nails to pound them together at a 90 degree angle. Put the next short board in, pound again. Now put the final long board in and pound some more. You now have a box. Put the liner in the box. Smooth it the best you can. Start filling with water. Let the water do the work of doing the final smoothing. Pleat the corners. Now is a good time to pound those stakes in so the long sides won’t bow.
After the pond is filled with water, line the 1” x 4”s on top so they hang over the inside of your pond. Paint if you wish. If you get paint in the water, don’t worry, you can pump it out again. If you decide not to paint, you now have a finished pond. Put dechlor in the water and you are ready to put plants and fish in the pond and plants either in the ground or in pots around the pond. If you want a pump, put it in, let it bubble up wherever you wish.
You can do the same thing with landscape timbers. Make a box or any shape you wish, pound them together, drop a liner in and follow the same directions as above. You will not need stabilizing stakes and you can make your pond as deep as you like. You can use 1” x 4” boards to finish the top or more landscape timbers. If you wish, you can put a waterfall in the corner or even in the middle.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
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