Well, that turned out to be a different project than I anticipated. I drained the pond this afternoon and got ready to swap out the pump. As I was scrubbing algae from the sides, I noticed the old pond liner had a couple of spots where the sides and bottom apparently weren’t supported properly, so the liner — a rigid, molded plastic model — had folded onto itself, creating serious questions about the structural integrity of the liner.
Rather than wait around for the old one to spring a leak, at which point I would have to do an emergency replacement (a dubious proposition if said leak happened to show up in the middle of winter — pond liners are rather scarce in January), I decided it was time to buy a new one.
We couldn’t find a liner identical to the one we had, but Lowe’s had a kidney-shaped liner with an extra-large planting shelf that was just the right size to accommodate an azalea pot full of gravel.
“Why would you want an azalea pot full of gravel in your pond?” you might wonder.
Good question. The answer: filtration. Rock does a wonderful job of cleaning water. A container of rock positioned under the waterfall adds a layer of filtration. And an azalea pot has the dual advantage of being A.) cheap, and B.) equipped with a large drainage hole on the bottom, allowing the water to come in the top, percolate through the rocks, and come out the bottom clean and fresh.
Given our problems with algae, I expect the additional filtration will do wonders to increase the life of our pump. Shade would be even more helpful, but I can’t provide attractive shade in a single afternoon; that will have to wait for spring.
Modifying the existing pond to accommodate the new liner was hot work (last time I dug out that area, it was springtime, and we had a tree out there to provide shade and keep me cool), but I got two nice reminders of why I was working: A big green frog was hopping around in the space beneath the old liner when we removed it, and as I was digging to make way for the new liner, a little red toad about the size of my thumbnail went bouncing along the ground next to the hole. We tried to get a picture of the toad, but it didn’t come out. It was a cute little thing, though, and quite tame — it let me pick it up and carry it to a safer spot where I wouldn’t be likely to step on it while I worked. I hope I see it again. It was adorable.
I still need to finish installing the flagstone around the pond, but I put in mulch cloth and got the waterfall and filtration system working, which is good. The photo is a little blown-out (Ron’s camera does not like sunny afternoons), and the water looks a little murky (dust from the gravel; the filter pad should take care of that in short order), but you get the idea. I’ll try to take a nicer picture once the water settles and I finish arranging the flagstone and maybe planting a few chrysanthemums around the edges to make it pretty.
I hadn’t anticipated having to replace the liner, so it turned out to be a bigger project than I expected, but the waterfall was easier to put together than I’d anticipated, and I’m pretty happy with the end result. The pond isn’t perfectly level, but neither is our yard. I think I’m OK with that. Last time I put in a pond, I carefully leveled it, and then the sand underneath it settled, and it wound up sloping with the yard anyway, so I just eyeballed it this time and settled for “pretty good” instead of slaving over it for hours to get it temporarily perfect.
I’ll get some water hyacinths next spring and put them in the flowerpot with the gravel. The only thing better than filtering water through rock is filtering water through rock and plants.
I think the wasps are happy to have their water supply back. I saw two or three hovering uneasily around the area while I was working; one of them actually came over and started looking for a way to get to the water without falling in while I was installing the secondary filter. I need to figure out some kind of landing strip they can use to perch and drink and take off safely so they don’t drown.
Hope your Labor Day was as satisfying as mine.