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My humble water garden

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

A few years ago I thought that I wanted a large koi pond. Well, after some research I realized how impractical that would be for my current yard. Last fall hubby and I finished digging the hole for a small pre-formed pond (270 gallons). A few months ago I found a perfect little granite millstone at a local water garden store. Two weekends ago we found a solar powered cattail sculpture to place next to the pond. Last weekend my hubby potted up three cannas and sunk them into the pond. This past weekend we went to a materials supplies store and got an amazing deal on 1,350 pounds of stone. When the pond store gets water hyacinth in stock, I plan on buying a few pieces as well as a small water lily.

Here are a few pictures of the pond this past weekend, after we put the stones in place. We even had enough stones left over to lay a path through my large hosta bed. We added a few feeder goldfish as well this weekend, to keep the mosquitos in check!

Elizabeth

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Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

Close-up picture of my little granite owl, which I bought last year, sitting near the millstone.

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Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

The owl, millstone and solar cattails. Now I need to landscape the border of the pond and get a few things growing! All three of the cannas are growing, though slowly.

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Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Elizabeth, I was just thinking about your posts last year and keeping fish indoors in your basement. I wondered if you ever dug your pond and I see you have. It may be humble to you but it looks great to me. Wait until the frogs and birds find it . . . Not herons but "nice" birds. They will play in and around your pond and give you a lot of joy. Post pictures as it develops over the summer.

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

The koi in the basement was a catestrophic failure! I did learn a lot from those little fish, primarily that keeping koi in a basement and overfeeding them are a bad combination.

I still have the basin I used for the "baby koi pond" can use it for a pondless waterfall if hubby and I ever have the energy to dig the hole! One of hubby's friends helped us last year or we never would have got that whole dug, there was a lot more clay than we planned for.

The local birds already found the pond, we have cardinals and others stop for a drink all the time. It is near the sidewalk in front of the house and many people remarked how much they like it. After we put the stones in this weekend, I saw a few people do a "double take" and walk back to the pond. We live on a busy street and get positive comments all the time. It is very nice for my ego :)

It is only 18" deep which is fine with me. Unlikely that a drunk college student walking home can drown in there!

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Drunk college student . . . I had to look at our location and had the "ah-ha" moment. Yeah, I knew that tank in the basement would be hard to keep. Remember me telling you how hard it was for me to keep my hospital tank running and the fish healthy? It's 120 gallons and I have nearly 3 times the filtration necessary but I still have to do frequent water changes - at least every other day or every day for optimum health. My koi are in there right now and have been for about 8 days. I had my pond cleaned out (power-washed) and bought some more fish and am treating them all for parasites and other nastiest that they may have gotten over the winter. All the fish are healthy-no major issues like two years ago. I do have a leakage problem in my waterfalls that I am trying to figure out how to fix it. The weather has been too chilly to treat the fish the past few days but there they sit and I have to clean that tank out . . .
All and all ponding is a very time consuming and expensive hobby (my husband calls it a drug habit . . .LOL!). The house may be a mess but the koi hospital is clean . . .

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Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

How cool that it's in the front, where everybody can see! So often we staid stuff out at the road, and tuck all the goodies away in back for ourselves. I bet you're inspire all sorts of garden creativity.

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

Well, now I kind of wish that I hadn't put the pond in the front.

My little owl was stolen a few weeks ago when my husband and I were out of town for three days. It was right at the end of the semester and could have been a drunk college student. It could have also been someone who knew we were out of town. Nothing else was taken, which is a small miracle since I had a number of new hostas potted but not yet planted about fifty feet from the pond.

I spoke with a neighbor last week who had an iron fence put around her yard, I'm going to have the same guy build a fence for the front of our house. It is sad, but we are on a busy street and I cringe every night going to bed knowing that around 2:30 a.m. there will be a bunch of drunks walking back from the bars. Better than them driving but that doesn't mean my yard needs to be their through-way.

Wow, how old do I sound? LOL...I swear I'm not yet 30!

Deer Park, IL(Zone 5b)

Yeah, it would be annoying. Remember if you have children to speak to them about respecting other peoples property. I have a 10 and an 8 year old (boys) and we talk to them all the time about stuff like that. When I speak to their friends about respecting other peoples property they look at me blankly. Little things like, don't jump on my couch or invade my food sources without asking me . . . LOL! A pond in the front yard . . . never would cross their mind.

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

MM, I don't have kids and don't plan on having them, not at this point in my life anyway. These are "adult" kids who are damaging my property. There are very few young kids in my neighborhood, it is mainly a mix of college students, professionals who work for the college, and a few older/retired people.

I put up signs around the neighborhood and have actually met a lot of neighbors I didn't know who came up to me to ask me about the owl. One guy who walks his dog regularly in front of my house stopped by to talk when walking with his two young boys, probably a few years younger than your boys. His older boy read the sign, looked me in the eye and said "I'm going to look everywhere for that owl!" The younger boy agreed and their dad said "If its in Iowa City, they will find it." That kind of enthusiasm really makes me hopeful for the future. With all the bad parenting out there, there are still plenty of people who do raise their children to be respectful contributing members of society - not hedonistic truants.

The vast majority of people that walk/job/bike by my house are very pleasant and I receive compliments all the time from complete strangers. I wouldn't trade that for a hundred owls, but if I can help I won't choose a future house on such a busy route.

My husband is returning to school this fall to pursue a PhD in business so I assume we'll be moving when he is done in five years. We thought hard about whether we want to incur the expense of a permanent fence, especially a hand made historically accurate fence, for our property. We came to the conclusion that it is worth it, five years is a long time to live somewhere and deal with almost constant trespassing/destruction from drunk people and dog owners who think the world is their dog's toilet (and they don't need to clean it up). We've actually never had a problem with young children, there are just so few in the neighborhood and those that I've met have all been respectful and well raised.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

lol - Not yet 30, and already the whole town knows you as the owl lady...

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

put a pic of your owl in the newspaper and on craigslist as stolen, maybe someone will call with some info on where it is. Are you sure a dog or something didn't knock it off in to the pond?

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

I lived on a busy street with lots of foot traffic.. while I know most people are honest there are a few who spoil it for the rest.. I learned the hard way..I lost a chair plant stand I had painted I had in a flower bed.. someone just picked it up and took it one day.. Now I make sure what ever I put out is either securely in place where they have to work to get it or that if it goes missing Im not real upset....Sad it has to be like this but it is..

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

Frilly, I searched the whole pond, my first thought was that someone kicked in in there or something along those lines. I'm not convinced that someone took it very far, it was around 30-40 pounds and there is a good chance it is in someone's bushes, and may be found in winter when things die back.

I won't put anything valuable in sight of the front again. I had an expensive bronze sundial with a metal stand that hubby gave me for my birthday a few years ago. They didn't take that, even though it was only two feet from the owl. Had that been stolen, I would have been very sad. The owl I just picked up at a local garden center, thankfully it was not a gift or anything sentimental. My sundial is now in the house!

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

Here are a few newer pictures. Just this week I replaced the granite bubbler with a granite jumping fish (kind of looks like a koi but not quite) that weighs 150+ pounds. Hubby specifically said after we bought it "Wait until I get home before you try to get it out of the truck and put it in the pond." Of course I didn't listen to him. I liked the bubbler but really wanted something with a more vertical element, this stinker is about 20" out of the water.

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Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

One more, slightly more expanded view so you can see how the area is developing a little. In a few years when stuff grows in, this will be amazing! I bought a 'Chromatella' water lily and it bloomed wonderfully, which I didn't expect for its first year. I will probably add one more water lily next year, some kind of pink, peach or red. Our fish are doing really well, we bought feeder fish this year and it turns out at least two of them are actually koi - one grew from one inch to well over six inches throughout the summer. I only fed them 2-3 times a week and they are all getting tame. In a few weeks I will set up a heater in the pond and turn off the pump. Amazing what fun and joy such a small water garden (270 gallons) brought to my husband and myself.

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Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

you might need to let the pump run if you want to keep your fish healthier over the winter.. even with with the heater they could die from lack of oxygen in the water..when in OH I didnt use a heater cause my pond was about 40ins deep but I usually would let mine bubble enough to keep the water moving and create an open space....with the freezing temps the bubbler will make really cool ice sculptures that can change almost on a daily basis
good luck !

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

I would like to leave the spitter going, but my fear is that it would get clogged with ice and the pump would break. Is that a realistic fear, with a heater going? I'm going to get a 1500 watt stock tank heater that automatically turns on when the water temperatures are below 40 degrees. I live in zone 5a, and we do get cold snaps where it will stay below zero for a week, with lows in the negative teens or even twenties overnight.

The pump for the spitter is 800 gph, so it is not a dribbling fountain by any means. I was thinking of adding a rock to one of the ledges so birds can drink from the pond in winter.

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

I lived in Oh well north of you, didnt use a heater and didnt have any issues with the pump freezing...so long as water is moving its hard for it to freeze.. however with the narrow spitter line Im not sure what would happen. I would think.with the heater you should be okay but if you are worried and still want to areate the water my suggestion is ( and you know we all have them...lol.).is to get a wider piece of tubing long enough to be just about a inch over the top of your water level and attach it to the pump and let it bubble.. your fountian sounds like it would work okay with that.. I usually go to Lowes and buy the clear plastic tubing in the plumbing dept and use it.. sometimes Ill buy a foot of each size to make adaptors for my pumps when I want a different size line..I start with what fits on the pump then will take the next size up or down cut a small piece and insert it either inside or over the outside the previous tube .. I do that till I get the size tubeing I need for what Im doing..

Iowa City, IA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Raven, I think I'll just leave the pump going and see what happens. The tubing in it now is pretty wide, something like 3/4", and the flow is strong. If I start to see ice buildup it is not hard to disconnect and with the heater, it sounds like it should be okay.

Someone dumped two small (really tiny, under two inches each) fish in our pond last week, one is solid white or pale yellow and the other is black and orange. With those two we have about 10 fish in the 270 gallons. They probably would appreciate the oxygenation all winter!

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

with that size tube you will be fine.. I was thinking you had like a 1/4 in tube for your spitter...

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I had a two inch pipe on mine, ran out of the pond and then dropped the water back in on the other side after being filtered. I thought as long as it was moving it wouldn't freeze. Woke up one morning and it had froze, emptied out all the water and the fish were frozen on the bottom of the dry pond. I quickly refilled it, the fish revived, the pump was fine, and I took it out. Just let it freeze over after that, but I only had about 9 small goldfish in a 400 gal pond, so probably ok to freeze it over for a few days at a time. This year I have a small de-icer I will use, someone gave me.
See how that works.

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

I lived in in Mi and Oh both which get colder than where you are and have run pumps thru the winter with sub zero temps at times with no problem ..my ponds were a lot bigger though, the smallest was 40 in deep and a 6 x 10 ft oval.. In ohio I had the same depth but a 10 x15 oval with a water fall.. the most likely reason your line froze was because it was out in the open.. exposed like that they will freeze even with moving water..It had to be one of those OMG!!! what have I done moments for you when you found it.. Glad the fishies made a full recovery

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I was SICK. Thought for sure they were dead. Of course I have had frozen fish revive before, but these were frozen DRY on the ground with NO water. I was so MAD at myself. The water did go out of the pond, but it was flowing pretty good, so I didn't think it would freeze. It must have been nearly 10 below, one of the times it gets the coldest here, doesn't usually do that. I was so upset, I thought well it will probably be bad on the liner to leave it 'dry' like that over the rest of the winter and I had so much mad energy to burn lol, that I went to the cellar and drug out the water hose and started filling it, in tears, telling myself how stupid I was. I went back an hour later to check on the water level and I could NOT believe they were MOVING! Out of like 10 or 12 fish I only lost one, and it was an older one that had had some problems anyway. I was really tickled.
I didn't run anything last year. I was thinking too about running something, that wouldn't it pull water out of the bottom, splash it around on top and then pull more continually out of the bottom. Ok in other words wouldn't running the pump keep the top water circulating to the bottom to that it would make the bottom of the pond even colder? Or would it not be enough to matter?

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

I dont think its the water temp you have to worry about to keep your fish alive.. its getting enough oxygen into the water for the fish to survive.. if it freezes over gasses from decomposing stuff build up creating ammonia gases and kill the fish.. so having an open area of water and moving water will prevent that..

as far as water temps go.. in the winter the pond usually will not freeze solid if its deep enough.. the deeper you make the pond the warmer the water at the bottom is so pulling the water up from the bottom to the top warms it.. for example.. its like having a basement, its warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer because its insulated by the earth around it ..same goes for the pond

most people dont go deep enough when they dig a water garden .. they get concerned about overall size and not so much about depth.. but while it does take longer to dig it deep youre better off in the long run..it stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer..

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