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Sustainable Alternatives: Ponds

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spot8907
Ida, MI

March 22, 2007
9:28 AM

Post #3308070

Bonitin has got me going on a pond idea and would like some advice. First off what is the smallest size that would be viable for wildlife particularly frogs and toads? How big? How deep? Does it need to be filtered etc? Has anyone constructed one? What materials did you use? Clay? Rubber liners? Concrete? Any tips?

victorgardener

victorgardener
Lower Hudson Valley, NY
(Zone 6b)

March 22, 2007
9:40 AM

Post #3308103

I have a 2500 gallon pond that is 3 1/2 years old. I used an EPDM rubber liner, a must if you plan on having fish. It is 3 feet deep at the center, so the fish can survive the cold winter and have a better chance of avoiding predators.

It has a waterfall, skimmer, mechanical filter (sponge type) and biological filter. It has many plants and, until this winter, was home to 13 koi. Seems most, if not all, have died. Still trying to figure it out. I have a heater which keeps a hole open for gas exchange and they survived colder winters as younger fish. The pond is a wildlife magnet - especially when the waterfall is running. Moving water attracts lots of birds. I have frogs, snails and probably lots of other things. It is very relaxing and one of my favorite parts of the garden. Just wish it was bigger - it's about 12 - 15 feet in diameter.

Here's a photo from last May.

Thumbnail by victorgardener
Click the image for an enlarged view.

ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

March 22, 2007
9:56 AM

Post #3308148

You might try the water garden forum for advice too--lots and lots of people with ponds over there.
http://davesgarden.com/forums/f/water/all/
Lakegardener
Olympia, WA
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
10:10 AM

Post #3308204

Hi Spot, new member here, I am having fun on this site! Anyway, I have a very small pond, it is a 50 gallon pre-formed pond liner tucked into a little hill in my garden. Shortly after putting it in I noticed a huge frog sunning himself on one of my water lettuces. This was two years ago, now I have frogs of all sizes and types that visit my pond on a regular basis. On warmer spring afternoons and early in the evening during the summer I get to enjoy a chorus of frogs singing. I love it! I guess my point is you don't have to have a huge pond, for those who have smaller spaces , the pre-formed ponds are easy to maintain and don't take much space. I don't filter mine, but I do have a small pump to circulate the water. I have a picture I took of one frog, I'll try to upload it later. Good Luck.
bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
11:13 AM

Post #3308366

Beautiful, Victorgarden, your waterfall-pond!
and Ecrane has given the right direction for the expertise of many DG's.

Lakegardener, it is indeed amazing how quickly toads can spot a new water feature!
I had the same experience when I made a water feature with a bird bath-fountain for an art gallery. The water of it falls in a little pond with rubber lining and already the second day, at dusk when I was resting beside the little pond, there suddenly appeared a big fat toad, making himself comfortable on top of one of the stones that are lining the pond borders.
I've heard from someone that toads can actually smell water from a big distance. I don't know where it came from, because the neighbors had no ponds, so it might have traveled quite a distance to get there.

bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
11:49 AM

Post #3308493

The story of my pond has two chapters.

1. As the level of the ground water was so high up when I arrived in my present place, the only thing I had to do was digging and I had my pond.
In my case it was a very tough job (I explained that in another thread in this forum) but for any one that has 'normal' soil that should not be the case.
The soil that comes out can be used to up level certain area's in your garden , in this way one creates dynamism, and interesting different biotopes in the garden., like for plants that are picky about good drainage can be planted on the topside of the hill, the ones that love more moisture more down and at the foot of the hill.

2. I started to get problems with my pond about 4 years ago; The level of the water started to get lower and in the summertime it almost dried out.
Of course my trees were getting bigger and so were drinking more water, I'm doubting now if that was one of the causes because Gloria says they just do the opposite!

The main cause without doubt must have been a large buiding project (a justice palace) going on in front of my house, some 30 m away. I saw them pumping up ground water all the time for constructings the fundaments.

I didn't want to give up on having a pond, so with the help of my brother, we have put in a rubber liner.

The pond is about 4 m long and 2 m wide (sorry, I don't know the measures in feet) and 70 cm deep in the middle. I don't use water pomps nor filters.

A picture of my pond from last year in the summer time

Thumbnail by bonitin
Click the image for an enlarged view.

bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
12:00 PM

Post #3308534

The costs for the material was only around 125 .

A native waterlily growing in my pond:

Thumbnail by bonitin
Click the image for an enlarged view.

spot8907
Ida, MI

March 22, 2007
12:30 PM

Post #3308621

Thanks everyone! I am checking out the water garden forum but I don't want to spend a lot of cash and go into filtration and fish etc. In the summer I get very busy with my landscaping business and vegetable garden, plant trials, etc. etc. and I'm looking for something low maint. While I would love to have something like victor's its just not practical for me right now. I want something with less wow power but also less maint. Bonitin, I know a meter is about one of our yards how big is 70cm compared to a meter? About 2/3 of a meter or there abouts? While I don't want to get into filtration I think I would like a small pump for the sound of water.

Victor and Bonotin both of your ponds are gorgeous! But I think at least for right now bonitins is more what I'm looking for and he is obviosly very succesfull with toads! I always thought you had to go into filtration etc. and large size to be succesful with wildlife but obviously Lakegardener has proven that it doesn't have to be huge either.

Curse you bonitin! LOL Now another project I've gotten myself into! LOL ( SAys spot as she trudges out into rain to decide on a place for her pond, well actually I think I'm going to call it a swamp.) New concept, bio swamp gardening. LOL
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 22, 2007
12:43 PM

Post #3308646

Another question bonitin, what kind of maintenance is involved? Do you just plant it with plants and let it do its own thing? Is you pond in the shade? How much sun does it get?
bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
1:16 PM

Post #3308750

Sorry Spot :-)) !!

If I can give you a suggestion for the spot you're going to choose;

Don't put it close to plants like running bamboo, because its roots could perforate the lining, or too close by deciduous trees, to save you the trouble of fishing them out in the autumn. Choose the best quality of liner you can get. It is important for the water inhabitants to have an easy access in and out the pond. So the sides (or at least one side should have slanted borders. The depth is important for the clearness of the water, so 70 cm is a minimum. (1m = 100 cm, so 70 cm is around 3/4 of a meter)
(is one feet something like 30 cm ?)

When you have finished digging, you should check if there are no sharp stones that could damage your liner. The best is to put an under liner, they are sold here in Europe, don't know if they are available in the US.
t is like a thick fibrous cloth that is put first at the bottom before the actual rubber liner. It is not expensive over here! When you don't have that possibility than dig a bit deeper, about 8 cm) and put a layer of sand before you put the rubber liner.

Then very important buy the liner big enough. You have to count with royal fold-overs, but I'm sure that the people in the place where you buy it can tell you how much you need, when you give them the size of the pond you want.



bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 22, 2007
1:28 PM

Post #3308778

Our posts have crossed each other.

My pond is in the half shadow, I actually have no full sun in my place.
I have no maintenance worth speaking off. Only in spring there can be a temporally little problem with thread-algies, but these are easy to remove and their presence means that your water is of good quality.

About plants: very important are the underwater aquatic plants; they create oxygen in the water and keep the water clear and they are a necessity for toads, frogs and newts to attach their eggs on! Once they get growing they will multiply very quickly, as soon as the weather warms up in spring.
There are many, beautiful plants you could choose to grow in or around the borders of your pool. A visit to the department of aquatic plants in your nearest garden center will give a lot of inspiration and of cause in the forum of water gardens.
spot8907
Ida, MI

March 22, 2007
1:49 PM

Post #3308832

Oops, we crossed again, thanks you have been very helpfull!

This message was edited Mar 22, 2007 1:51 PM
bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 23, 2007
2:02 PM

Post #3312076

Another important issue, about making a pond, that crossed my mind today;

When using a liner, the edges of the liner on the borders of the pond should be sticking out a few centimeters, may not have direct contact with the neighbouring soil, otherwise you get a kind of capillary effect, where the surrounding soil sucks up the water from the pool. These sticking up edges can easily be camouflaged by stones, creeping borderplants...
threegardeners
North Augusta, ON

March 23, 2007
7:56 PM

Post #3313353

Hi all, don't mean to butt in, but 2 years ago we built a nice sized 5 foot by 3 foot pond and the cost was only 70 dollars for the pump. We found an old water bed liner, cut it in half and used it for the liner for the pond. A few truck loads of nice rocks from some fields and along a couple creeks,farmers are always happy for you to take their rocks. I'll post a picture...I couldn't believe the water bed liner would be so good until we did it. Any ways, if anybody is interested in a cheap way to build one it works. The only maintenance we have is to clean the pump filter every week or so, and we keep the fish in the basement where they go dormant over the winter. This pic is in the spring, we have hostas and some lillies around it, and we went to the creek and dug up some water plants for in it for shade for the fish.

Thumbnail by threegardeners
Click the image for an enlarged view.

CajuninKy
Biggs, KY
(Zone 6a)

March 23, 2007
10:17 PM

Post #3313859

Great idea. Did you cut it in half because you only had room for a smaller pond?
threegardeners
North Augusta, ON

March 23, 2007
10:19 PM

Post #3313866

I guess I should have clarified that, we cut it open...to make it bigger...down the seam ...in half like that...not in half, but open...
summerkid
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

March 24, 2007
3:59 PM

Post #3315855

When I lived in Chicago my townhouse was built in a U-shape, around a 20x24-ft atrium, with the fourth side being a tall wall that backed onto the next house's atrium. It had a Japanese feel with a small hill against the wall. That held a large volcanic rock through which a small stream flowed down the hill into the pond, which was cement.

The pond was about 3 feet wide & 7 feet long, curved around the stone & concrete base of a large juniper. I really preferred the cement & rock look to plastic.

A small cement pond isn't much of an undertaking.
bonitin
Gent
Belgium
(Zone 8a)

March 24, 2007
7:26 PM

Post #3316339

Summerkid, I sure agree with you that the slightest sight of the liner is very disturbing, but I can assure you that's very easy to make it completely invisible.
My brother is a landscape architect and one of his specialities is creating ponds, even in quite large dimensions, with rubber linings. I can assure you that one can not distinguish it with a natural pond.

To use concrete might be fine, but it can turn out to become very costly once you want a decent size of pond.


threegardeners
North Augusta, ON

March 24, 2007
9:12 PM

Post #3316831

Definitely, I hate the sight of the liner as well, the picture I took above was in the spring and shortly after we finished it. Since then we have covered every bit of visible lining with pieces of well placed driftwood and creeping plants...

victorgardener

victorgardener
Lower Hudson Valley, NY
(Zone 6b)

March 24, 2007
9:47 PM

Post #3316932

Yes, a liner sighting kills the effect. When my pond was done I took great pains to hide every square inch of it - using many rocks, plants, etc. However, my koi (all of which dies this past winter) knocked off virtually every stone! They are very aggressive and powerful. If I re-stock with fish, it will not be koi. They have pulled entire plants out of three gallon pots. So this Spring I will dutifully go back and cover all the liner again.
tetleytuna
Columbia, MO
(Zone 5b)

March 24, 2007
9:51 PM

Post #3316944

I have a couple of small ponds that I really enjoy. One is an aluminum pool that I purchased at an auction and is probably about 12 feet across (measured it once , but have since forgotten how big it is). The other started as a small hole and ended up as a small pond and is about 6 feet across with a flexible pond liner and an underlayment of old carpet to cushion it. They are both about 18 inches deep. For the first year I did not use a pump or filtration and the only problem I had was green water for a while. Last year I decided to connect the two with a stream and some waterfalls. The stream is about a foot deep and has the same liner with an underlayment and has sand and pumice type stone on the bottom to act as a biological filter. I did not have a heater going this winter and we did get quite a stretch of cold weather that froze the top of the pond for some time. The ice was thick enough to stand on. Once it thawed out I counted about two dozen goldfish that survived. Whatever you choose to do I am sure that you will enjoy any size pond, but be careful -- they are addictive!

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