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Building a Pond – 15 Steps towards successful pond construction | Learning Center

Perhaps you encountered your first water garden while on a local home and garden tour. Maybe your neighbor installed a koi pond, or your best friend put in one of those disappearing fountains. They’re everywhere and for good reason! Water Gardens bring so many benefits to your outdoor living space. If you are still deciding to build a pond or are ready to go, read below for general pond kit installation steps.

Step 1: Unpack Kit & Mark Area
Decide on the location of your pond and unpack the pond kit components. You will want to use a garden hose or rope to decide on a pond layout. Once you decide on a shape you like mark the shape with a can of marking paint. Be sure to make wide curves and make special note of the direction you would like your waterfall to face.

Step 2: Place Waterfall Filter & Flexible Pipe
Put your waterfall filter in place next to the pond edge. Next lay out your flexible pipe from the waterfall around the pond to the opposite end for the skimmer. Connect the flexible pipe with the included adaptors and cement.

Step 3: Excavation of Pond Area
Be sure to contact local authorities to check the area for hidden cables or pipes before digging. Dig out the pond area roughly 6-8” deep or whatever depth you would like to construct your plant shelf. Use the dirt from this area to build a retaining wall for your waterfall box. Once the area is excavated mark out an inner ring to create a deeper pond area. This can be any size or shape you like but keep in mind this area will be filled with rock so avoid tight curves. This area should be around 2ft deep. You will also need to determine where the water level will be in the pond and excavate an area the size of your skimmer box so that it will sit with the water level about an inch from the top of the skimmer opening.

Step 4: Install Skimmer & Pump
Tamp down the soil to pack it, and then place the skimmer. Push the flexible pipe through the grommet and into the skimmer. Connect an overflow pipe to the back of the skimmer. Assemble the check valve assembly on the pump and place in skimmer then connect to flexible pipe.

Step 5: Install Underlayment & Liner
First lay underlayment across the pond working the underlayment into all corners of the excavated area starting from the middle and working your way out. Be sure to leave underlayment loose to allow for movement and settling in the future. Next lay the liner over the underlayment, again working from the middle towards the outside and pushing into the corners.

Step 6: Attach Liner to Skimmer
Attach the liner to the front of the skimmer box using the skimmer faceplate. Hold the liner flat up against skimmer while the other person makes a hole through the liner with something sharp like an ice pick or nail then put a bolt through two of the holes. Temporarily remove the liner and place a large bead of silicone over the mounting holes. Next reattach the liner and faceplate and install the rest of the bolts and tighten. After everything is tight, you can trim the liner from the inside of the skimmer using a razor.

Step 7: Add Boulders & Rocks
Place larger boulders first for structural support starting with the pond’s vertical walls, then fill in with smaller boulders and rocks starting from the bottom and stacking on the inside of the pond. Be creative, you may need to rework the area a few times before you achieve the look you want.

Step 8: Attach Liner to Waterfall Box
Your waterfall box should be level side to side and tip slightly forward, about an inch, towards the pond. Hold the liner up to the front of the waterfall box and mark the top bolt on each side. Then remove liner and apply a bead of silicone over the mounting holes. Now line up the waterfall lip, liner and waterfall box and screw in first two bolts. Attach remaining bolts. After everything is tight, you can trim the liner using a razor.

Step 9: Add Gravel
Add gravel between boulders to fill in gaps and across the bottom of the pond to cover and protect the liner and make the pond look more natural. You will want to use gravel that is about 1” in diameter with smooth edges.

Step 10: Add Lights
If you are adding lights install them now by nestling them in between boulders. Be sure to wrap a foot of power cord around the light so you can extend the light out of the pond for maintenance. Place lights so they shine out away from the viewing area.

Step 11: Add Aquatic Plants & Fill Pond
Plant bog plants on the shallow plant shelf and lilies in the bottom of the pond. Don’t worry if they do not cover the pond’s surface yet they will grow quickly. At this point you will also want to backfill around the skimmer and pond for additional support.

Step 12: Apply Waterfall Foam
Waterfall foam is expanding foam made for use in ponds. Use waterfall foam to fill in gaps between rocks in the waterfall area for support and to keep water flow above the rock surface.

Step 13: Add Biological Media
Add filter media to your waterfall box. Usually 1-2 layers of solid mat media, like Matala® Medium Density, and a media bag filled with additional media like, The Pond Guy® BioBalls™ on top. This will be used to colonize the bacteria that will filter your pond water.

Step 14: Add Finishing Touches
Trim liner and underlayment leaving 6-8”. Roll liner under and cover with gravel to secure and finish off the pond’s edges.

Step 15: Add Water Treatment & Review Owners Manual
Now that your pond is complete start the waterfall and add water treatments such as water conditioner and natural bacteria to get your pond ready for fish.

Now that you have the basics it’s time to get to work on your own backyard paradise. The most important thing to know about planning a pond is that you should have a great time doing it. You’ll enjoy this backyard feature for years, so do your research, think through these points, and spend time designing something that you’ll love!

Choosing The Right Pump – How to select the right pump for your pond or waterfall | Learning Center

Building a pond with a waterfall involves some planning and careful consideration, which include selecting a waterfall pump. Your choice is important because it’ll determine how high you can make your waterfall and how much water will flow down it.

Before you go pump shopping you will need to measure your landscape and determine the look you want to achieve:

  1. Head Pressure: How high will your waterfall be? This measurement is your head pressure, which is the total number of feet from the top of your waterfall to the top of your pond’s surface. If you’re building a 5-foot-high waterfall, for instance, your head pressure is 5 feet. Pro tip: If the tubing from your pump to the waterfall is longer than 10 feet, add 1 foot of head pressure for every 10 feet. So in the example above, if your tubing is 14 feet, the head pressure would be 6 feet.
  2. Flow Rate: How much water do you want pouring over the falls? This number is your flow rate. The average flow rate is 1,500 gallons per hour for every 1 foot of waterfall width. If your 5-foot-high waterfall is 1 foot wide, you should go with a pump that moves around 1,500 GPH; if it’s 3 feet wide, you should go with a pump that moves 4,500 GPH or so. Pro tip: If you prefer a lighter water flow, calculate 1,000 GPH for every 1 foot of waterfall width. For a heavier flow, use 2,000 GPH.

Going Shopping
With those numbers in hand, you should have a pretty good idea what kind of waterfall pump you’ll need to buy. To make this task easier for you, we recommend:

For lower-flow waterfalls: If you’re designing a smaller waterfall, check out The Pond Guy® MagFlo™ Pump and The Pond Guy® SolidFlo™ Pump. The MagFlo™ line includes 290, 460 and 590 GPH models with maximum head of 6½ to 7½ feet; the low-profile SolidFlo™ line includes 600, 1,200 and 1,600 GPH models with maximum head of 8 to 11½ feet.

For higher-volume waterfalls: If you’ve got a mini-Niagara Falls in the works, you’ll need a beefier pump, like The Pond Guy® RapidFlo™ Pump or the ShinMaywa® Norus® Pump. The RapidFlo™ comes in 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 GPH models with 20 to 32 feet of maximum head pressure. The Norus® line includes 3,300 to 11,000 GPH models with maximum head of 19 to 48 feet.

Stocking Your Pond – Creating a balanced fish population | Learning Center

Whether you’re stocking a new pond, replenishing an existing pond or adding to an already-established population, here’s what you need to know about when and how to best do it.

Create Fish Habitat
Provide shelter for your new fish by creating a habitat for the smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses, felled trees and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover, but a specially designed environment, like Porcupine® Fish Attractor or Fish Attractor Logs, can improve on what’s already there providing a habitat that won’t decompose and is an ideal space for fishing or fish spawning.

When to Stock Your Pond
Spring or fall is the ideal time to stock your pond with fish. Temperatures are mild and oxygen levels are high, so the stress factors affecting your fish will be at their lowest. Once acclimated to your pond, they’ll be primed to flourish. Fish can be added in the summer, but they’ll need a little more time to adjust.

Selecting Fish To Stock
Keeping a healthy underwater ecosystem means creating a balanced fish population. We advise sticking to a ratio of three prey fish (like sunfish, bluegill or perch) to one predator fish (like bass) when choosing species. Selecting fish of similar size will also help the population grow together. The number of fish you add to your population will ultimately depend on the surface area of your lake or pond. Below is an example for stocking a ¼ acre size pond.

  • 150 2-4″ Bluegill
  • 50 3-5″ Channel Catfish
  • 50 2-4″ Perch
  • 25 3-4″ Bass
  • 6 lbs. Fathead Minnows

Acclimating Fish
Acclimating fish to your pond is simple. Place the transportation bag in a shaded area of the pond and let float for 15-20 min. This allows your fish to slowly adjust to water temperatures in your pond. Next open the bag and let the fish swim out on their own. If you are adding fish to a pond where fish are already present, release minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and release the smaller fish at the opposite end so they have a chance to find shelter.

Providing Food
You will want to wait 24 hours before feeding your new fish so they have time to settle. A game fish food, like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food, is a great way to provide the fish with protein and nutrients, boost their immune systems, and grow healthy game fish. Plus, it’s a floating pellet—so you can enjoy watching them as they come to the surface and eat.

Aquatic Plants – The importance of aquatic plants in a pond eco-system | Learning Center

In a water feature, plants are absolutely vital in balancing the ecosystem, and they offer an aesthetic touch to your landscape. If you ever wonder what causes algae to grow or why your pond isn’t clear, evaluate the use of aquatic plants in your pond.

Why Plants Are Important

  • Fish Cover: Floating plants like water lilies and water lettuce provide your pond’s inhabitants cover from predators and bright sun. Your koi and goldfish will appreciate the safety and shade those leaves provide, particularly when a heron comes to visit!
  • All-Natural Water Filter: Aquatic plants are nicknamed “nature’s water filter” for a reason: They remove excess nutrients from the water while releasing oxygen during photosynthesis.
  • Habitable Habitat: Plants also create a perfect habitat for your aquatic life—both above and below the waterline—by providing food and shelter. Fish and snails hang out around the leaves and stems and frogs hunt for bugs or hide in the shade.
  • Aesthetics: Aquatic plants’ flowers and greenery also make for some nice scenery. Imagine water lilies and irises bursting with color, and curly corkscrew rush or lizard’s tail softening the outline around the pond. Not a bad view while enjoying a balmy spring evening!

Types of Aquatic Plants

  • Floating Plants: Floating plants such as water hyacinth & water lettuce are best used to absorb excess nutrients that cause excessive algae growth. They also provide shade and cover for the fish.
  • Submerged Plants: Submerged plants are fantastic oxygenators. They are also used to absorb nutrients, so there is no need to fertilize them.
  • Bog Plants: You can add a nice touch to your water feature using bog plants. Bog plants are planted around the edges of the pond in shallow water areas. They also act as a visual anchor to the surrounding feature. Bog plants are perennials, meaning that they will grow back every year based on your zone.
  • Water Lilies: Hardy water lilies are perennials. They will bloom all summer long on the water surface. Hardy water lilies have smooth waxy leaves that are rounded at the edge. Tropical water lilies have very fragrant blossoms and will have several blooms at a time. These lilies come in daytime and nighttime blooming varieties. Tropical water lilies will be jagged or pointed around the edge of the leaves.
  • Water Lotus: Hardy water lotus have very large blooms and leaves that can stand out of the water from two to five feet depending on the variety. A hardy water lotus may take up to two years to become fully established.

Selecting Plants For Your Pond

  • Plant Coverage: The recommendation for aquatic plant coverage is 60% of your overall water feature surface. This will provide enough absorption of nutrients to help combat algae before it has a chance to grow. To start aquatic plants in a pond up to 50 sq. ft. use 6-12 floating plants, 2 bog plants, 5 submerged plants and 1 water lily.
  • Know Your Hardiness Zone: The USDA publishes a hardiness zone map that shows in which areas of the country various types of plants can survive and grow. The majority of your pond plants should be from your hardiness zone because they are best able to tolerate the year-round conditions of your area.
  • Know Your Pond’s Depth: Some pond plants prefer deep water and some pond plants prefer shallow. Hardy water lilies prefer deep water, for example, while bog plants prefer shallow.
  • Know What Type of Sun Exposure Your Pond Receives: In addition to hardiness zones, plants are also categorized by the type of light they like to receive (full sun, partial sun, or shade). Marsh Marigolds yearn for sun, while Clyde Ikins Water Lily can tolerate the shade.
  • Know Your Pond’s Flow: This is a factor that water gardeners often overlook. Some pond plants love moving water while others prefer the water stand still. Dwarf cattails, for example, do well in streams because they enjoy moving water, but water lilies are not fans of being right underneath a waterfall.

Now that you are equipped with a little more plant knowledge, take a step back and see how your pond compares. If you are fighting water quality issues chances are you may just need to add more plants!

Feeding Fish – 5 tips for making mealtime fun for you and your fish | Learning Center

One of the greatest joys of keeping koi or goldfish in a decorative pond is mealtime. When it’s time for the fish’s daily dose of food, they’ll swim right to shore and seem to beg for those tasty morsels! Of course you want to provide your fish with a diet that’s healthful, but choosing one can be a challenge. Here are 5 tips for making mealtime fun for you and your fish.

  1. Start Feeding Fish When the Weather Warms: Once your pond temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, fish feeding can begin. During the colder months, your fish are hibernating and live off of their stored body fat so they will be hungry when spring arrives.
  2. Train Your Fish: Fish need a schedule. Feed them in the same area at roughly the same time each day. Eventually, they will show you that they are ready for food by rushing to greet you at the edge of the pond with their mouths open.
  3. Feed Pond Fish Slowly: At first, add only one or two pellets to the pond. This causes a ripple on the pond surface that will get the fish’s attention. Once the fish begin coming up for food, you can increase the amount of food given.
  4. Don’t Over Feed Your Fish: New fish may only be able to eat a small amount. Once they become more alert and accustomed to being fed, they may start to eat a little more. Don’t offer any more food than what your fish can eat in about five minutes.
  5. Use the Right Food: This one depends on what kind of fish you have. Some of the most popular pond fish for backyard water gardens are Goldfish and Koi. We recommend feeding based on temperature and overall goals.
    • For cooler temperatures, wheat germ based diets, like The Pond Guy® Spring & Fall Fish Food are packed with easy-to-digest plant matter. This formula is key for transitioning koi and goldfish in to and out of cold weather. Feed this food when water temperatures are between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Once temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit, color-enhancing foods like The Pond Guy® Growth & Vibrance, bring out the color in your fish, making the reds more vibrant, the blacks deeper and the oranges richer. These unique protein and nutrient-filled diets can be fed throughout the summer months. These foods also include extra protein for growing fish quickly.
    • If you aren’t looking to grow your fish you’ll want to change your fish’s diet to one that’s formulated with a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. These fish foods, like The Pond Guy® Staple, contain protein, minerals and vitamins to help the fish develop muscle as it becomes more active during the summer months. These foods are especially important if you have young or growing fish.

Besides feeding your fish a healthful, balanced diet, you may wish to supplement it with some treats, like fresh watermelon or lettuce. Not only will your fish gobble them down, but you’ll also be developing a closer relationship with them, and ensure they’ll follow you around the pond at mealtime!

Water Testing – Why water testing can be beneficial and what you can learn from it | Learning Center

You may have heard other pond owners talk about testing pond water. This seems normal for pools or drinking water, but do you really need to test the water in your pond?

Why Test Your Water
Water tests are an additional tool you can use to create a profile of what is really happening in your pond or lake. Performing water tests will help pinpoint your pond problems so you can find the best solution or prevent large issues in the future. Though most large water bodies are stable, if you are experiencing extra weed or algae growth or are concerned about swimming, there are analysis tests that can be performed to put your mind at ease.

Water Tests You Can Undertake
With the help of a DIY Test kit most water quality parameters are easy to test on your own. To use these kits, simply collect a water sample and add an indicator dye or test strip to test the water. Results can then be compared with a color card.

  • pH: Ideally between 6.5 and 8.5. A reading outside this range may indicate an environmental factor such as too much limestone or high concentration of pine needles in the pond.
  • Temperature: Indicates when to start or stop fish feeding and application of chemicals or natural bacteria.
  • Nitrites, Nitrate & Phosphorous: Key elements in excessive algae growth, possibly stemming from the use of lawn fertilizers or excess muck accumulation.
  • Carbonate Hardness: May need to be done prior to treating with copper based algaecides and herbicides if you have sensitive fish like Trout, Koi or Goldfish.

Note: It is important to take readings at the same time of day, usually in morning or late afternoon, due to normal fluctuations in water quality parameters.

Water Tests That Require Assistance
These tests cannot be completed with simple test strips and will require some assistance from an experienced water tester or your local health department.

  • Dissolved Oxygen: Measures your pond’s ability to sustain aquatic life. This test is done onsite but may require assistance due to the equipment required for testing.
  • E. Coli: A disease causing microorganism generally caused from waste water runoff or waste produced by visiting waterfowl. If this is a concern contact your local health department for instructions on collecting and submitting water samples for analysis. Generally results are available within 1-2 days.

While regular monitoring is encouraged, there is generally no need to test your pond water daily. Most waterbodies, if properly maintained, will fall within the correct parameters on their own.

Some of my rocks and stream shifted over the winter, and I think I may have a leak. What is the easiest way to fix it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Some of my rocks and stream shifted over the winter, and I think I may have a leak. What is the easiest way to fix it?

Q: Some of my rocks and stream shifted over the winter, and I think I may have a leak. What is the easiest way to fix it?

Pat – Cumberland, MD

A: Ice and snow can certainly do a number on a landscape – if you’ve ever seen how a glacier can carve through the earth, you know what we’re talking about! Around your pond, the same type of thing can occur, albeit on a smaller scale. Ice, snow and even heavy bouts of rain can shift rocks and soil, cause erosion and move or puncture your liner, resulting in leaks.

So what can be done? You’ll need to do some investigating to determine where the problem is and then get busy making repairs. Here’s what we suggest.

1. Rock Steady

Because the rocks shifted over the winter, the first thing to do is return them to their original position them and lock them into place. As you move the rocks back, check to see if they tore the liner or shifted it out of place. If so, patch the hole and tuck the liner back in. Use PondBuilder™ PondBuild ‘N Foam to fill in gaps between the rocks, support them and prevent them from moving again next winter.

2. Rule Out Evaporation

During the heat of summer, you can expect some evaporation – and it can cause your pond to lose up to an inch of water a day. If you have a long stream bed with a lot of surface area or a large pond with few floating plants, even more water could transform from liquid to vapor. To rule out evaporation, fill the pond back up and keep an eye on the water level. Any more than an inch or so of water loss could indicate a leak.

3. Check for Damp Spots

If more than an inch or so of water is disappearing daily, one clear clue that could lead to your leak is a damp area around the pond’s perimeter. That water has to go somewhere, and a low-lying patch of wet ground is a great place to start looking for its source. Walk around the pond and carefully inspect the soil for signs of unexplained moisture.

4. Rule Out the Liner

If you’ve ruled out evaporation and found no damp areas, there are two more possible leak culprits: your waterfall or your liner. Shut down waterfall pump and wait for several hours. If the pond’s water level stays the same, then you’ll know the leak is not in the liner itself. It’s likely in the waterfall or plumbing. Check your waterfall box and skimmer for cracks or if the liner isn’t attached, and inspect your plumbing for loose connections.

5. Track, Repair Liner Leak

At this point, the bad news is that you probably have a hole in your liner, and finding it won’t be easy. But the good news is that it is possible to track it down and repair it.

To find it, use Pond Logic® Pond Shade or some milk to visually track the leak. Simply add a few drops on the side and watch it as it finds its way to the leak. This will take some time, a few attempts — and patience. You can also let the water slowly go down. (Depending how low it goes, you may need to temporarily relocate your fish.) The water level should stabilize, which will allow you to visually inspect the first few inches of liner above the water surface for the hole.

Once you’ve found the hole, patch it up with an EPDM Liner Patch Kit or use some Gold Label Pond Sealer. The 6-inch liner patch is easy to use on small punctures: Just peel off the protective film and press onto the liner. The sealer can be used in wet or dry conditions and will seal completely in 48 hours.

Good luck tracking down that leak and repairing it!

Pond Talk: Tell us about your most mysterious pond leak. How did you find it and repair it?

Quickly Repair Winter Damage - Tite Seal™ EPDM Pond Liner Patch Kit

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