This page is now sixteen years old – how the time flies! We have since moved to a new home and created a new pond…see a step-by-step photo journal of construction by downloading the free Ebook here.
The following gives an overview of the installation of our first pond and waterfalls. Each site will be unique and require site specific techniques, but this page will illustrate that having a beautiful, satisfying water garden is certainly in the realm of possibility for the do it yourself homeowner. A modest investment (about half the cost of a hot tub) and some vigorous aerobic exercise are all that’s required to enjoy your own backyard oasis.
We have a six foot “hill” near the back deck that was created when we excavated for the root cellar. Though not directly facing the deck or house, it provided a good site for a series of waterfalls into a pond below. On a flat site, building up the watefalls to this height may look artificial. The abundance of large boulders at our home has caused us plenty of extra work in the past. Now we’re able to use many of them!
I dug out a spot for the BioFalls® near the top of the hill…after standing back and taking a long look, we decided to lower it so the falls would seem to come directly out of the hill. This extra work – and time spent just looking – was well worth it.
Here we’ve dug out the first shelf and have begun digging out the second shelf. The best way to move the soil uphill around the BioFalls® turned out to be with 5 gal. buckets!
The soil from the pond is placed around three sides of the BioFalls® and compacted well to avoid future settling.
We borrowed a transit to check the level of the edge of the pond and to verify the level of the skimmer. The black flexible PVC lines both go to the back of the skimmer – one is from the pump in the skimmer, the other is an overflow which drains into a gravel filled trench.
We’ve completed two levels of excavation and have marked the lower level, which will reach the pond’s maximum depth of two feet. It’s at this level that we usually run into the really large boulders.
Sure enough, this monster had to be coaxed out of the pond and up the hill…I was fortunate to have a come-along, a strong pine in the right place, and a willing young helper!
Excavation is complete! Plant pockets were also dug at each end of the second level…soil will be added to these (over the liner), and they will be home to water lilies – this avoids growing them in pots.
This is the excavation for the waterfalls…it’s a good exercise in visualiztion to try to determine the course of the water. The narrow, level spots will support the flat waterfall stones.
Large rock is placed against the vertical walls, with gravel to follow on the level areas. All this rock came from our property, saving us much material and delivery cost.
Building the waterfalls took plenty of patience… just the right stone in just the right place! The waterfall liner is 10 feet wide to allow for plenty of splashing and for the turns in the course of the three falls. Note that the pond liner extends well up the course of the falls, with a generous overlap from the waterfall liner.
Though we washed the rock and gravel several times, and pumped out the dirty water, the first filling of the pond was quite dirty. After one week, it is much clearer…two to six weeks are required to establish a healthy ecosystem with relatively clear water. Landscaping around the pond began shortly after we filled it.
Our Pond at Clearwater Landscapes
About Dan Eskelson
Dan has had his hands in the soil for most of his adult life as a gardener, landscaping contractor, golf course superintendent and landscape designer. When the ground freezes, he builds websites, produces video and plays the hammered dulcimer. Full bio here.