Spring pond tour

I’ve neglected the ponds long enough. For weeks it’s been nothing but flowers and more flowers. Finally, Saturday was sunny and warm, so the raft was brought out of storage (actually it spent the Winter tucked under  the Silver Cloud redbud) and launched into the swimming pond for a couple hours of peaceful floating. The waterfall is loud enough that neighbors’ mowers are barely audible. The water was a bit chilly to start, but not enough to keep me awake.P1011484

There are six ponds in my one acre plus garden, one dirt bottomed and five with rubber liner, recirculating pumps, and waterfalls. That is, perhaps, an oversimplification because there are nearly a hundred tons of stone and boulders, and an assortment of filters and other components. The ponds range from just over 100 square feet to more than 1,400 square feet in the swimming pond.P1011539

I built them myself. My son, the lead pond builder for Meadows Farms, assisted in moving the 500 pound fifty by fifty foot rubber liner into the swimming pond, but otherwise I shoveled every scoop of dirt, lifted every boulder, sweated the sweat, and suffered the aches and pains of someone too old to be messing with this foolishness. Each pond was more than a labor of love, more an obsession.

Far too many times I get an idea that I’m hung up on, tomorrow the materials are planned, then ordered, the next day the digging begins. One day there’s a nice stretch of lawn, the next a pond big enough to swim laps in. I’m certain that everyone else is just like this, aren’t they?

There is a practical side. As the head of Meadows Farms landscape department I want to experience building and maintaining different features to understand as a builder and end user.P1011607

There are plants and materials that I’ve experimented with in my garden and discarded as unworthy, or as too pricey. I’ve redone the oldest pond, which dates almost twenty years, at least five times as I discovered new methods and technologies. I think that it’s pretty settled in now. A large weeping maple threatens annually to hide this small pond forever, but a little pruning here and there opens it up.P1011600

One time each year most of the ponds get a thorough cleanup, emptying the water, cleaning debris that has dropped to the bottom, cutting old foliage off the pond plants, and cleaning the filters. The swimming pond has never been cleaned. I’ve no intention of ever pumping 25,000 gallons of water out and refilling it, and fortunately, the gravel bog upflow filter keeps the pond clear year round.P1011601

When the weather warms in a couple weeks you’ll find me afternoons and weekends lazily floating with the koi, daydreaming and watching the birds romp in the waterfall, dragonflies whizzing about.P1011571

On occasion through the year, I’ll update the changes in the ponds as iris, waterlilies, and lotus bloom, and as the cannas and elephant ears grow to monstrous proportions. Today the ponds are fairly spartan, the plants in and around the pond not fully developed this early. In another month they’ll be lush with growth, and the character will change.P1011569

The yellowflag iris are past peak bloom now, and the first of the waterlilies blooming. The buds of the Japanese iris are a few days from opening. The koi are ravenous, the frogs are sunning themselves on warm granite boulders at the pond’s edge.

When I’m not working, this is where you’ll find me.

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4 thoughts on “Spring pond tour

  1. your ponds are exceptional best i’ve seen on the web! I do some myself. Hiding the liner is an art! Got any tips for hiding liner with rocks on small ponds?

    • Hiding the liner has to start below the water level. I like to have rocks half submerged sitting on a shelf just below the pond’s edge, then a second level of rocks above the water line. The space between is filled with river washed gravel, and as many plants as possible to soften the look of too many rocks. Outside the pond I try to plant so that they overhang the edge. The idea is to divert the eye from the rock edge, not draw attention to it, as the eye is drawn to the rock, exposing any flaws.

  2. I came across your site by googling how to cover pond liner..do you have any pictures of how to cover it?? I have the pond installed but I still have liner just waiting to be covered or something 🙂 It looks so easy but I am really having a hard time with it..I think I may have trimmed my liner too much because when I completely fill my pond I have water coming out over the liner that is not covered..and yes I have an overflow pipe installed..this is my first lined pond..any help would be great..your ponds are beautiful!

    • All of my ponds have a gravel bottom, for aesthetic and practical purposes. The river washed gravel (rounded gravel one to three inches) naturalizes the apearance and helps keep the water clear as it hosts bacteria that break down fish and other organic waste that would otherwise feed algae growth.

      The sides of the pond are covered with eight to ten inch diameter rounded rock. Stones this size can be stacked up to about eighteen inches and remain sufficiently stable. I fill the small gaps between rocks with small gravel. The eight to ten inch rocks are stacked up to the water level, or slightly above if there is a grade change. The disadvantage in adding this to an existing pond is that it will make the surface area of the pond a foot or more smaller.

      In your situation, the rocks will help disguise the liner showing resulting from it being cut short. You will see rocks above the water line (preferably rocks that are half submerged), rather than liner. If you want to raise the liner in this area so that the overflow pipe is the low point, then you will need to add soil to make the pond smaller in that area. As the width of the pond decreases the liner will be raised. I don’t claim that this is an easy fix, but it can be done.

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