Refurbishing a pond

Discussion in 'Water Gardening' started by Palustris, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. Palustris

    Palustris Young Pine

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    Refurbishing the pond.

    At the beginning of this year we realised that the wild life pond had less water in it than it should. There was also a decided lack of frog and toad spawn. From a distance it still looked good though. We realised there was a major problem when we watched one of the cats walk across it without getting his paws wet.
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    Close to, though, it was obvious that the marginal plants had grown so much that they were filling the pond. Worse still it was obvious that one of the grasses on the edge had punctured the liner.
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    We decided that we had to clear it all out and start again. The first job was to remove the plants from the borders around the edge of the pond.
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    As you can see there was little room for water and the level was well below the edge of the liner. With more of the marginal plants removed the water level dropped even more.
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    I set to and dug out the plants from the centre of the pond. The roots had to be cut with loppers and then sawn into pieces small enough to be lifted. Eventually the middle was cleared. I lost count of the number of wheelbarrows of roots which I took away.
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    The next task was to remove all the material from the margin. This sounds easy, but there was a lot of very tough rooted plants, all of which had to be chopped into lumps, small enough to be carried away.
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    Many wheelbarrow loads later the liner was visible, except for the small amount of water left in the centre.
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    The liner was then cleaned up so that we could see its condition.
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    I then made the sad discovery that there were many holes in the liner where the roots of a grass, commonly sold as a marginal, had gone under the liner and come up through it.
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    The grass in question we think was Phragmites australis. These are some of the roots which I pulled out from under the liner.
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    We could have removed the pond altogether, but that would have left a large hole which would have taken a lot of top soil to fill if we wanted to either make it into a grassed area or a bed. Another alternative would have been to leave it as a depression and fill it with moisture loving plants. Neither of these alternatives felt right, especially as we have a large number of frogs, toads and common newts in the garden. So we chose to rebuild the pond with a new liner.
    I replaced the old liner, after making sure there were no more roots underneath and making good the sand layer.
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    We were rather fortunate in that we managed to get thus far with no rain. However before the new liner arrived the heavens opened and despite the number of holes in the old liner quite an amount of water collected in the bottom of the pond. We scooped it out and filled every container we could find with this precious commodity.
    Eventually the new liner was delivered and placed over the old one.
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    We emptied the water back into the bottom of the liner. We could have waited for rain to fill the pond naturally, but since the forecast was for an extended period of drought, we reeled out the hosepipe and filled it from the tap. Probably a good thing we did as the next proper rain did not appear for another three months.
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    Once the pond was full I buried the spare liner round the edge and cut off the pieces which could not be hidden.
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    We decided that, as it was the marginal plants which had so badly outgrown their space, we would not put them back.
    All that was left now was to repair the damage done to the beds around the pond. To separate the beds from the pond and to hide the liner I put a row of house bricks along the edge.
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    At the top end where there was a gravel path and small alpine growing area I covered the liner with some of the many stones which are to be found in this garden.
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    At the opposite end where the water is shallow I used smaller stones to make a sloping beach to give easy access to the water for any small creatures that may want to drink from the pond. I used some pieces of paving slab to make a stable platform for human observers to stand and watch the pond life.
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    I transferred some water lilies and irises from the Lily pond in another part of the garden and replanted the beds and the rebuild was almost complete. When I have collected enough of the field stones I will replace the house bricks to make the pond look more natural. Even before it was finished we found, frogs, newts, water beetles and this lovely chap visiting.
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    Frank, carolyn, lukeypukey and 8 others like this.
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  3. TheBip

    TheBip Young Pine

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    Nice job! Sounds like too much work for me! Wanna come do a pond at my place? ;)
     
  4. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    What a sterling job you've done to your wildlife pond Eric. Those roots certainly look strong enough to do lots of damage so I'm glad you got rid of them before they spread any more. I'm sure the amphibians and insects all enjoy having their home back in tip top condition and to have a Scarce Chaser dragonfly appear is an added bonus. :-D
     
  5. Palustris

    Palustris Young Pine

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    Thanks for the ID. It sat on a leaf for ages and I asked it to wait until I came in and got the camera. Believe it or not, it was still in the same place when I got back. It continued to visit every day for a few weeks too.
    We also had a turquoise one visit, sadly no photo and it only came the once. This was the most iridescent turquoise I have ever seen too. Nothing like it in any of my books.
     



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  6. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    You did an awesome job on your pond, it makes me want one now, which I have never really desired to have one before, even with all the posts on here about the water features in all the yards, they just look like too much maintenance for me. I love yours!
     
  7. Palustris

    Palustris Young Pine

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    They are probably the least maintained part f our garden. Once they are up and running they look after themselves. We do not have fish in this one as they would eat the tadpoles and baby newts. The pond is about a metre deep in the middle and in a normal year the water level stays reasonably high, so there is no need for a pump or filter. Most maintenance is at the end of the year when I dredge out as many fallen leaves as I can.
     
  8. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Wow! Another fantastic job! :sete_005:
     
  9. kathyd

    kathyd In Flower

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    TheBip said what I wanted to say...so I'll just say ditto to that!
     
  10. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

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    Great job Palustris, a lot of work but the results are fantastic. It is amazing how quickly the animals and insects 'rediscover' the water. I have had ponds in my back yard for 30 years and they are always a source of wonder, wildlife and entertainment. I did however, make mine from concrete, no leaks in 30 years.

    Jerry
     
  11. Droopy

    Droopy Slug Slaughterer Plants Contributor

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    I thought your pond was lovely when I saw the first photos, but it's even lovelier now after the refurbishment. Thanks for posting! :stew2:
     
  12. waretrop

    waretrop Strong Ash Plants Contributor

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    Very nice. What was a gigantic task. Now you will enjoy the growth of the pond again. That's always fun.

    Barb in Pa.
     
  13. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Very nice job on your pond project. Too bad that you ran into the "grass problem"...but it was a good idea to leavce the old liner inplace, and put the newe liner on top of it, I think.
    Well, the end product is just splendid. I sure to like garden projects.
     
  14. FountainMan

    FountainMan Seedling

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    Any plans on adding fountains or waterfalls? One way to keep a pond healthy is to have the water circulating and aerated. Looks like one heck of a project. I remember a similar project I did a few years ago. Aquatic weeds had taken over the pond and the pond it's self was surrounded by wild sunflowers. I had to remove those before I got to the pond and the pond it's self was a nightmare. I know what you went through. Even to this day it still gives me the willies. Good luck.
     
  15. Tooty2shoes

    Tooty2shoes Hardy Maple

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    Palustris WOW that was quite a undertaking. But it sure turned out to look fantastic. I would love a pond but fear I am to lazy to keep it up.
    You had mentioned about the Phragmite grass. Here in Wisconsin are battling to kill it off as it is over taking our natural marsh's and destroying wildlife habitat. It's some pretty invasive stuff.
    In our area the DNR is spraying it to kill it off. You sure did a great job. I love all the stone.
    :stew1:
     
  16. Palustris

    Palustris Young Pine

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    The trouble with water features like those, is the need for electricity and the pond is a long way from the house. Taking a cable down there would be prohibitively expensive. Also we have noticed that most people only run their fountains, waterfalls and suchlike when they have visitors. The original design from 16 years ago was that there was a stream running from another pond further up the garden. Optical illusion made it look as if the other pond was higher than the lower, but in fact they were the same level and so the steam did not actually flow. It did not work sadly so the stream became a wetter bed for Hostas etc. The top pond is now a bog garden full of Primula japonica.
    We are lucky in that all the rocks come from the immediate area, or in the garden itself. 100,000 years ago (give or take a week or two) this area was at the bottom of a huge lake.
     

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