Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Pond Rebuild

I have two ponds in the backyard. This is the big one - the one with electricity and a gorgeous waterfall. You can't really see the waterfall in these pics because it comes down the hill behind the pond and it's covered with foliage. I like my pond to have lots of green plants in it and like to hear the waterfall - and what's better is that from my chair on the patio, I can still see the waterfall.

So the pond started leaking a few years ago and the first year it leaked, I just turned the waterfall off. The next year I had someone come and look at it and they decided the water was leaking out on the way from the skimmer (where the pump
lives to the top of the waterfall. They dug everything up and put an inflexible pvc line in and covered it with rocks. That did not fix the leak. The next year, someone else came and said the liner had sunk and the water was going over it and they moved a bunch of rocks and redid the liner. That worked for a little while and then it started again. The next year, same thing - fixed for half the summer then the leaking started. This summer, same thing but this time I decided not to turn the pond off.

So I raked back all the pine straw (there was way too much anyway) and looked at the dirt. You
can see in both the first and the second picture where the dirt is darker. That is where the dirt is not dry and hard so that has to be where the water is going. It makes sense if that's where the water is going, it's coming from somewhere behind the moist area so we decided to move all the rocks and look at the liner. (I should say here that there IS a reason for the really tall rock wall - this was a turtle pond and the wall was necessary to keep our pet safe. The raccoons make keeping turtles impossible but there's no place to put all the rocks so they stay where they are.)

So, we started by pulling all the rocks off the wall
down to the liner. The liner is actual
ly wrapped around the first two layers of rock - goes under them and then they are laid down and then it goes back over them. That was done to keep the turtles from digging out of the pond. There were a LOT of rocks to move, some where large and very heavy and a lot were leaning into the pond so that meant I had to get IN the pond to keep things from falling in.

The wet you see on the liner in this shot was actually from me stepping on it with wet feet. We actually found the spot where the liner had sunk too low in the ground right between the lantana
bush next to the pond and the post that holds the electric outlet. There was a fold and the liner was too low and the water was seeping out the fold.

Another big problem was the roots from the burning bushes behind the pond. They were only 2 feet tall when we put them in, but now they are about 20 feet tall and their had sent their roots over the liner into the pond for a nice little drink. I really think that those roots were pushing the liner down and causing more leakage and they must have been drinking quite a bit lately because it's been so hot and dry. In the root pictures, you can't see the roots that are muddy,
just the ones that were clean and living under the rocks, actually IN the pond. Those two ends on the rock in the first picture are more than 1/4" in diameter and they were not the only big ones in the rocks and pond.

So, on the skimmer side (the skimmer is under the really big gray piece of shale) we lifted the liner up and put two more courses of rocks under it. You can kinda see how high we tried to leave the liner in the next picture with the wet on the liner. We cut as many roots back as we could and then pushed the rest way back. We fixed the
liner so it comes up out of the dirt by several inches (at least 6" right now, but the weight of the rocks will push that back down some) to make it more difficult for those roots to climb over it again. We washed the dirt off to make it less inviting.

Then we had the onerous task of putting back all the rocks. The rock walls really don't need to be so tall anymore and the extra height keeps this end of the pond from getting every last little bit of sunlight that it can, but there really isn't anywhere to put that many rocks. So we put most of them back, but we did stash at least one
complete layer on the hillside behind the back side of the pond. I deliberately left the front wall the lowest in the hopes of getting a few more minutes of sun to the couple of lilies that are trying to grow in the pond.

There are seriously a lot of rocks around that pond and they are seriously heavy rocks. It was a lot of backbreaking work to move 7 feet of rock wall out, fix the liner and then move it all back. Surprisingly enough, it only took about 2 hours to do the entire job because I had a really great helper - she expects to be paid a pretty high hourly wage for her time, but I guess that's fair.
It's all finished now and everything is put back the way it was before we started (well, sort of) and hopefully the pond will be happy and will keep running.

In the after picture, you can see Daddy's gnomes where the far end of the bridge used to be. I moved them down from the hillside so I could see them better. Some stupid raccoon knocked the little one in the pond and it floated there for a week or so - now it's really clean. I added four new fish yesterday because there was only one left from last year and I figured it was lonely. Now I'll probably have a million by fall. This year, the pond gets netted to prevent those stupid bradford pears from dropping everything they have into it and making nasty soup.

After we were all done, my help made us some lovely refreshments - her own apple mint in ice water.

And, for your viewing pleasure, another picture of the Carolina Red hibiscus and a picture of the Perry's Baby Pink waterlily.


Pond Leak said...

I always love the water falls and ponds with the electricity decorations.

dmr said...

I think it was way to hot and humid to do all that work. So glad someone made you a nice cold drink for afterward. Better thee than me.