Advice with rocks, please

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Please help. I have a problem pond, which I'm rebuilding (for the third time).

1) Tiny little pond, about 70 gallons, with two smaller cascade ponds. All were preform, lined with Colorado Red flag, had goldfish and a pretty little water lily. I loved it, but it was too small.

2) In 2008 we rebuilt it using a flex liner for the larger pond. Got it up to about 150 gallons, and reused the flag. It went too close to the window, which posed a problem getting to window and both plants and drip system. I also never liked the way it looked.

3) Rebuilding this year, using sandstone to line it rather than the flag. This was pretty hard to do because this whole area is a 4-foot slope, going diagonally (my house is at a slant on the downside of a hill), the wrong direction. I had to build it up on one side and could not get it raised high enough, so it's 2-3 inches lower. That leaves about 4 inches of exposed liner on two sides when the pond is full.

I also do NOT like the way the rocks look on the small cascade ponds. One thing I have said all along is that I do NOT want "a pile of rocks," and unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to prevent that, with either the flag or the sandstone.

The first two images show the top cascade pool, which is the part I dislike the most. The second two images show the main pool with the exposed liner. Please ignore the pile of rocks in the larger pool--they're only there to help hold the liner in place while I work on this.

Please help. The only solution we've been able to come up with is to plant evergreen things around the top cascade pool, to hide the rocks there. I haven't reached a solution about the exposed liner at all. I'm open to suggestions.

Thumbnail by pbtxlady Thumbnail by pbtxlady Thumbnail by pbtxlady Thumbnail by pbtxlady
Athens, PA


Wondering what type of look are you going for? I do think there are a couple of thiings you can do - with your last photo - did you put a level on the top of that pool to see if it was level after it was put into place? If the pond is level, and this make take some digging, that problem should go away.

I am wondering if you took away the rocks, how would it look? Are the pools sitting on top of the earth with the rocks around them or have they been dug into the earth with the earth around them? I think you mentioned that one of the pools was an EPDM liner, which would suggest to me that that pool is dug into the ground.

You can remove the rocks and plant around your liner. You could also tuck some plants into the crevices of your rocks - there are some gorgeous plants out there, like a hens and chicks that really don't need a lot of water but will grow nicely between the rocks.

I would definitely add some plants around the ponds and I would put some pots of plants in and around your ponds as well.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Carolyn, all parts of the pond are dug into the ground. The big pool at the bottom is completely dug in and lined with EPDM. The two cascade pools are both preform and are dug in about halfway and set in sand. The sandstones sit on top of the liners.

No, the bottom pool isn't level. That's the problem. It's set on a hill, and I've already built up the lower side just about as much as I can. At the lowest point (where it begins to overflow), which is on the right in these pictures, it's still a good 2-3 inches lower than the higher side. I know it's the lower side causing the higher side to be unsightly, but I don't think I can do much more in the construction. I'm trying to figure out how I can hide the unsightly areas inside the pond itself.

I don't know what kind of rock. It needs to be at least 8 inches tall but as narrow width as possible. And of course I'd like for it to be something that will look reasonably well with the sandstone. Vertically-placed flag would fit well, but I don't think it would look very good???

As for landscaping, it's just not finished. Some version of this pond has been in this spot since 2005. The beds you see that are bare, are bare either because they're still dormant, or because I dug things up to rebuild and haven't replanted yet. Same with the beds around the path (which was rerouted), and also for the pond itself. Believe it or not, there are seven (!) water lilies in this little pond right now, along with 7-8 other marginals of varying heights. It's all just now poking out, though.

For the crevices, I have an evergreen carpet sedum planted in various spots which should fill any bare spots and cascade over the tops of the rocks. That should fill in by the end of June, wherever I can't stick a larger plant. The bed to the left has been a problem. The potted daylilies you see were growing there in the ground, but they obstructed access to the window, drip system, and waterfalls. So, I put in stepping stones, and some kind of planter box will go there eventually.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

I'm very envious of that beautiful rock. When I was in Texas this past Sept. I was in what they call hill country and it was rocks everywhere you looked. I wanted to bring a truckload home as its very expensive here in Fl.

That said if I understand you correctly, you want to raise 2 sides of the lowest pond to level it up for proper flow. If you have enough rock to hide liner and have enough liner to pull up over next to the top course of rock couldn't you level it up that way. Then put 1 last layer of rock over top of liner to conceal it. Plants that drape over rock wall could be added it it's the rock you want to hide. I think the rocks are just beautiful. What I am saying is build up sides on top of dirt not down into it.
Hope this makes sence.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Bonnie, I'm glad you like the rock. I like it much better than I did the pink flagstone. The thing about it is, when you have small little pools like my two cascade pools, it tends to get stacked up pretty high, and to me it looks clunky in those spots. I may just be being too picky. I guess you have to have a "pile of rocks" to have a waterfall.

I don't have any rocks dug down into the dirt? All are on top of the ground. Well, except for the ones I used with sand to help build up the low sides. Those aren't visible in the pictures. But I couldn't get it built up enough to be level--it's just too unstable. The high side has been about three inches higher, which means that the liner is exposed for those three inches from the top of the water. Inside the pond. I never had that problem with the flagstone because it jutted out over the water, but it's very visible with the sandstone, and that's what I think is unsightly. I would really like for the liner to be completely invisible! Went back and worked on that low side some more today, and managed to get it built up another row, so I feel a little better about that part.

The bad news is that I discovered my liner is too short at one end, now that the pond is full, and the waterfall is leaking under the liner. I have to go back and move the waterfall. Sigh. Guess I should be glad I found it now.

The Hill Country is beautiful, isn't it? Wish I could get down there right about now to see the bluebonnets.

Athens, PA

I love bluebonnets!

You could position rock on the inside of the liner against the side that is showing.

If I am understanding correctly, the liner is too short to position rocks under the liner to build up the side that is short?

The do have some excellent seaming kits that you can buy, if you wanted to add liner to put in the kind of waterfall you are looking for.

I don't think everyone uses rocks to build waterfalls, but I do think most people use rocks. Bonnie's is really neat and she doesn't use rocks for her waterfalls. Bonnie - can you show us a picture of your waterfall? If done properly, you could use just about anything to serve the purpose of a waterfall - you could have the water flowing out of a large watering can, a tipped wishing well - anything as long as it is lined properly.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, no--I don't think I'm being very clear. Supposed you're standing facing one direction--you're at the fat end of my lowest pond, looking towards the waterfalls. You are standing on a hill that slopes down to towards 2:00. That slope caused the low point of my pond to be right at about 3:00, and it was about 3 inches lower than 9:00. Therefore, when I fill the pond to capacity at 3:00, the the top of the water at 9:00 was also 3 inches lower, which left a lot of ugly black liner showing.

I managed to build it up another couple of inches today, and that's all I'm going to be able to do without taking out the whole thing and paving it or something. There's only one spot left with too much liner showing, and I can't fix that, so I'm pretty satisfied.

The liner, on the other hand, was too short under the waterfall at 12:00, and water was slowly leaking down under the liner. Rather than trying to patch another piece of liner on there, I fixed that by shortening the pond a few inches so I could raise the liner.

So, now I have to move the two cascade ponds, but I ran out of sand. LOL! Always something. At least the leak is fixed.

Still don't know what I'm going to do about lining that top cascade pool. I just really don't like the clunky look of that rock. It may be a case of puzzling it out and then plants, plants, plants around it.

Sure do appreciate the suggestions! Bonnie, I'd LOVE to see a picture of your waterfall. I am getting ready to make a little water feature over at a friend's "secret garden" (on level ground, thanks heavens!), so I'm looking for ideas.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

pb check out my new pond in progress thread. Showed your pics to my husb. He said maybe if you used a waterfall form you could slide the liner down into lower pond and get the amount of liner you need to raise lowest portion up and rock it up so it would hide liner. Hope this is of some help.


Athens, PA

Great idea Bonnie. PB - let us know.

Short of redigging the pond that is not level and making it level, I am not sure what else would help. I have seen where people stack rocks inside the pond against the inside wall of the pond that would give a rock look to the inside wall instead of liner. Then have the plants growing around the outside of the pond and cascading into the pond. Vinca does well with this job.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks to both of you! I'll post some pictures when I get this thing finished. I have a RU to finish getting ready for this week, so might be a few days. Bonnie, I'll go take a look at your thread.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Hope your RU goes well. Mine was a lot of fun.


springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

I just lifted my liner up and packed clay soil and rock into it until it reached the same level as the other side. Then I pulled the liner up over that and secured with rocks around the edge. It does not matter if the bottom is level. All that matters is the top being level.

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