I have always wanted a garden pond. Over the summer, I passed a house that was giving away a small preformed garden pond. I figured this was the perfect opportunity so I quickly grabbed it and brought it home. It was a small pond, circular and somewhere in the area of about 40 gallons. Even though it was small, I thought this would be a good start. My son and I started on our pond building adventure.
Prior to installation I had to make a decision. Did I want to filter the pond or not? I've had aquariums for year so I knew what was involved. I decided against filtering for the time being. I want this to be as simple as possible.
Now came to the installing part. We had 5 tasks to complete for the installation
- Select the installation site
- Prepare the site
- Dig the hole
- Insert the pond
- Fill pond and backfill
Preformed pond liner
- Chain saw (to prepare the site)
- Bow saw (to prepare the site)
- Grub Ho/Pick Axe
Steps to Install
The first thing we needed to do was select the site. We had a particular area of the yard that was pretty much unused. It got some sun, but not a full days worth. We decided that this was probably my best choice for now.
The site need a little cleanup. We took out a small tree in the back and trimmed some low lying branches overhead.
Mark for Digging
The next step was to determine exactly where we would be digging. We took the pond and placed it where we thought it looked best and marked it to know where we would be digging.
We wanted to dig and have to backfill as little as possible so we needed to match the slope of the preformed pond as much possible. The hole would have to be narrower at the bottom and wider at the top. The majority of the digging was done with shovels, but we did hit a layer of hardpan where we used the grub ho.
As we dug, we would occasionally place the pond in the hole to see how we were doing. We wanted to dig the hole 2 inches deeper and wider. This will be backfilled with sand to protect the pond lining.
Once we had the hole dug to the correct depth and width for the liner, we placed it into the hole. We looked for areas of the liner that were bulging in, which indicated we had to do a bit more digging. We found another 3 or 4 spots that needed to be dug out a bit further.
Installing the Preformed Pond Liner
When we were happy with how the hole was dug, we moved onto installing the pond liner. First we put a couple inches of sand at the bottom of the hold to cushion the bottom of the liner. We placed the liner on top of the sand. We checked to make sure the pond was level by putting a board across the pond and using a construction level. We were in good shape.
We started backfilling the sides with more sand. Once we had a couple inches of sand in the sides, we filled the pond with water so that it would start to settle. This would give us the opportunity to make adjustments prior to completely backfilling the hole. We checked it with a level again and found that it did not shift much if at all. We backfilled about 1/2 way, and then took a hose and watered in the sand to help compress it. We then filled the sides to within about 1" of the top with sand. The final 1" was backfilled with top soil so grass would fill in.
Now with the pond installed and filled came the final step, stocking the pond. My first thought was that I did not like the fact that I could look at the bottom of the pond and see black plastic. I decided that we would take some of the leftover sand and cover the bottom. We washed the sand as best we could and then added it to the pond. It solved the problem of seeing the plastic, as a matter of fact, we couldn't see anything. The sand got the water completely cloudy even though we had washed it. We stopped adding sand and hoped for the best.
Since I was not using any mechanical fitration, we were going to need to add plants to compensate. After some research, we decided to add Water Lettuce and Camboba. The Water Lettuce is a top floating plant that is known for its filtration capabilities and the Camboba helps oxygenate the water. Given that it was late in the year, we were able to purchase both from a local nursery for 50% off.
Finally we come to the fish. Given that there is no mechanical filtration, my fish load will need to be light. My only requirement for fish was that I wanted to use native fish. My son and I decided that we would initially stock the pond with three sunfish we would catch at a local river. We let the pond sit for a couple days so that the chlorine would dissapate and then went fishing. In a pretty short time we caught all three fish and added then to the pond.
The contruction phase was now complete.