full sun gardening pond

Build a small pond… it’s easier than you think!

build a small backyard pond iwth a preformed liner

I’ve always wanted a pond or a pondless stream. Actually, I had one for a brief moment in time that an ex- built 15-years ago. It was small-to-medium in size with a waterfall of three huge flat flagstones. It wasn’t a preformed liner. We actually dug a 6x8x3 foot deep trench with two foot high shelves around the perimeter then lined the bottom and the waterfall mound with rubber liner. Then, we surrounded it with more flagstones and plants, It was nice for a short time. I did say “short time” …and that it was. Not exactly sure what happened but it wasn’t assembled correctly, water got behind the rubber into the mound of sand that held the falls, and the entire thing collapsed shortly after it was built. I don’t recall being involved in the pump/filter part of the construction, so that part was a huge mystery to me.

Well, I’m sure you’re thinking this story is a bait and switch. I started out telling you how easy it would be and so far you have only heard a tale of destruction. I actually thought that it was so tough to build a pond that I didn’t even attempt to create a new one until 15 years later. Even then, my daughter left a preformed liner on the property, and I barely gave it a thought for the past 5 years except that I really needed to get rid of it… but for some reason I didn’t. It was flipped upside down on the side of our barn just waiting for me to notice it and create the moment where it would actually bring me joy instead of angst. 😉

The catalyst was the creation of my moon garden. I needed a focal point to draw visitors down the curve in the path of my moon garden. Now that I installed my swing bench, I was so looking forward to hearing the peaceful babbling of a waterfall.

It seemed a bit overwhelming for me to construct this in the heat of August but I really wanted to give it a try. My son carried the pond over and it fit perfectly in another spot in the middle of the garden. But there, visitors would stop towards the front of the space and not advance forward around the curve in the path as I intended. Putting the pond at the apex of the curve was the perfect location!

The toughest part was digging the hole so that it conformed to the bottom of the rigid pond liner. On the bright side, this section of the yard is pure sugar sand and easy to dig out. I set the pond down and dug an outline of the shape around it. I previously had a shell walkway in this section so I had to get out my trusty landscape knife and cut through the professional grade fabric that sunk an inch or two below grade and was camouflaged with a layer of dirt and covered in weeds.

Did I tell you that our Florida sands eventually engulf stones and shells and other paths and sink them into the earth? I’ve had three river rock and lava rock paths just disappear over the years. It didn’t help that our horses used to roam free over everything so they definitely contributed to the phenomena. Back to the pond…

Once the hole was established and the pond was relatively level, I filled the sides with dirt and watered it in to assure there weren’t any air pockets. The rest came together quite magically. I ordered an inexpensive, easy to install filter that came with a spray fountain for a 200 gallon pond and ran an extension cord to it. The cost was somewhere around $45. I also purchased a small 14-inch spillway and some tubing to connect the pump to the waterfall and that was it! There are pond filters with lights but I suppose I didn’t get that version. I may add an underwater light at some point to experiment with it to see if it adds to the ambiance.what I probably won’t add is koi. Too many predators and I just don’t deal well with death. I also don’t want the extra responsibility if keeping it clean and setting water aside to fill the pond when the water level declines

The rest of the design was purely aesthetic. I managed to find one of the large flagstones that was part of the original waterfall and set that in the front. Much to my surprise, I located all the other stones around the property and placed them on the pond’s edge. I didn’t have to purchase a single rock! However, I may replace the flagstone over the spillway so they look and fit better. Currently, I am just hoping the plants cover up the mechanics of it all!

I surrounded the pond with better garden soil and looked for plants around the property I could relocate to this very afternoon sunny location. I came up with a baby crape myrtle, a turk’s cap, canna, a Pez scented night blooming jessamine I propagated from a cutting, and a few crinum lilies I grew from seed. On the moringa tree adjacent to the area, I also planted moonflower seedlings. Plants I purchased: a Chinese fan palm and some purple salvia. For inside the pond: horsetail and a small water lily with “moon” in the name.

Now that I know how easy it is to create a pond and the immense delight I receive from it, I have my sights set for a larger one in a bigger space. Happy ponding!

one year update

horsetail reed with water lily in small pond
Pond with horsetail and water lily

Well, the pond is a gorgeous focal point teeming with life. It has added an enticing audio component that titillates an extra sense. The lizards, frogs, butterflies, dragonflies, cats, dog and other wildlife seek it out.

The landscaping around the pond is really starting to fill in and expand. At first, I stated to use plants I found around the property… A baby crepe myrtle, Turk’s cap, an agave, jasmine, a crinum lily and lemongrass. Then I added purple salvia, canna, a Chinese fan palm that hates the bright sun yet thrives, and rudbeckia. I have since added another crepe myrtle, an oleander, a banana shrub, hibiscus and a firecracker plant.

pond with lily, horsetail reed, banana, hibiscus, agavve, salvia and more
pond with lily, horsetail reed, banana, hibiscus, agave, salvia, black-eyed susan, canna, lemongrass, turk’s cap, chinese fan palm and more.
Maui the swamp dog cooking his mach 5 jets
water lily
water lily
pond from side view
love the complements of purple salvia and yellow black-eyed susan

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