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lumpyfunk 07-30-2012 06:10 AM

first pond..need some advice
Hello all, my Wife has decided she wants a, in fact she is allready digging. I would have liked to have more time to read up more as I havent done anything with ponds, so I need a quick and dirty crash course. any advice iswonderful but please include pitfalls I need to be aware of.

She wants some plants in the actual pond in containers
She wants some fish, not sure what at this point but probabally Koi in the future

The dimensions will probabally be around 6 x 10
not sure of the depth, we are in MN do I have to go 36 inches to winter over fish?

she wants a waterfall/stream, I am espically intersted in the building of this, I havent found anything good on it yet

I am looking at a bog filter for this, should it be attached to the waterfall, incorperated into the pond, or a seperate feature

I will update more as we get going, thanks for all your input


finsNfur 07-31-2012 12:50 PM

Good for your wife, I dug my own pond, too. :) That size is good, and definitely go a minimum of 36". I've heard that winters in Mn. are particularly cold, and deeper is better, I just found a link that discusses Minn. ponds.


You'd be better off if you went to 4', in fact that's the minimum requirement for koi. They need deep water for swimming year-round. And koi need a mimimum of 1000 gallons. Calculating that size pond however, at 36" deep, it would not be large or deep enough for koi. There are numerous sites that help you calculate pond size and volume, like this one:

If she wants potted plants, she should dig shelves along the size of the pond, somewhere around a foot deep, that's what I did. The pots rest on the shelves. Of course that will lose some more water volume. And koi will knock the plants right off the shelves if they aren't weighted enough, koi are rough on plants. There is nothing wrong with goldfish though, in addition to comets there are sarassas and shubunkins which are colorful, with long, flowing tails. So if building a several thousand gallon-sized pond is a little daunting for her, goldfish would do great in a smaller one.

I'm not sure about the bog and filter aspects, I just have an underwater pump and filter in my pond. I've see numerous DIY threads on pond pumps etc. on Koko's goldfish forum, including pics, it is not difficult to do.

While googling Minns. ponds I came across the link below which describes pretty much all I was going to say. :)

mistergreen 07-31-2012 01:22 PM

First figure out how much you want to spend. Pond liner isn't cheap :) It'll determine how big your pond will be. And figure out what filtration you'd want. You can make your own to keep cost down.

lumpyfunk 07-31-2012 08:10 PM

FinsNfur, thanks for the great links!

I have looked at using a billboard tarp as a pond liner, they are way cheaper than traditional liners. Does anyone know about how well they work, so far I have not found any horror stories. Thanks again for the help.


Diana 08-01-2012 12:16 AM

My system is similar to what you are thinking about, though a bit shallower.

Main pond: about 6' x 10', shelved sides. The deepest is in the middle, perhaps 30".
I used 1" PVC to plumb the water fall. USE LARGER PIPE! Mine is about 20' long and about 3' above the pond.
The upper falls is red lava boulders with some colored concrete to make them look like all one rock and allow the pipe to stick out just a tiny bit. This water falls into a 45 gallon pre-formed pond that is pretty close to a rectangle in shape. (Easy to camouflage with rocks). There is no soil on one side, and it sags. This is fine, this is where the waterfall is. About a foot high.
This water falls into the top of a stream. The excavation is 8' x 20', a large rectangle. Line the whole thing with pond liner. Then fill the sides with peat moss. I used a mesh-like weed mat to keep the peat moss to the sides, and make a winding stream through the middle. Cobbles (rounded river rock up to 8" diameter, but mostly 4"-6") line the pond, and partially fill the floor of the pond. Smaller rounded rock (1"-2" diameter) fills between the cobbles so the weed mat is hidden.
The peat moss planters vary in width, as the stream wanders through the bog. I have all sorts of marginal plants in the peat moss. Japanese Iris, Canna Lily, Calla Lily, Sedge, and others. I have tried cranberries, but they did not live.
At the end of the stream I bunched up the pond liner to hold water in the bog, and create a very small pool above the waterfall. This makes the water level flow better across the rock and out over the main pond. This fall also is about a foot, or a bit more.
I have a concrete block in the water holding up this rock. The fish like to hide in the block. I have not noticed the water getting any harder from the concrete block. It has been in there for many years, now, so any chemical reaction has already happened.

I have Goldfish in there. I have some really large plants in there, too. The pond is pretty much covered with dwarf Myriophyllum, and there are taller plants that I change as often as they die (they live through the winter, here, and live for several years).

If you looked at a cut away of the side you would see:

1) Place for the rocks that make the water fall. This is lined so any water that does not fall free of the rocks will run into the upper pond. This part is pretty much at the soil surface, and in fact the soil is higher here. When we were digging out the bog area we built up the soil in some areas for raised planters. However, in building this we put some concrete blocks in the soil to hold up the boulders.

Dug out for the upper pond. Since this is just heavy duty plastic I was not sure if it would support the boulders that are just about sitting on the edge.

Dug out for the bog. It is about 18" deep. There is a bit of a swale, but not much. The bottom slopes toward the main pond.

Between the pond and the bog is a raised area so the pond liner of the bog and the pond liner of the pond are kept high enough to keep the water in the bog, except for the area of the waterfall.

Main pond is the large part. It started off as a truck bed liner, but I could not keep it sealed, so I dug it out wider and deeper, and added shelves and used Xavan pond liner. It is not worth the extra cost. It is no more flexible than the 40 mil EPDM. Around the edges are flat rocks to hide the liner.

finsNfur 08-01-2012 12:35 PM

You have to be very careful about using a billboard liner. I have actually heard a few horror stories of them. Some come with tiny holes in them, some don't hold up for more than 5 years or so in brutally cold temps, shipping can be astronical, it doesn't "stretch" well when placing it into the pond, etc. I can tell you that just working with a regular pond liner is very hard work, it's extremely heavy. I've heard billboard liner is even heavier. On the other hand some people using billboard liners have had no issues. Whatever you choose, be sure to put an underlayment beneath the liner, as the weight of the water will press it into the ground, plus rocks/stones beneath will shift beneath the pond during winters and time. I shudder to imagine ever having to replace my pond liner, it is hard, time-consuming work, and looking for leaks can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, too.

Diana 08-01-2012 02:32 PM

I have replaced the pond liner in the main pond, and it is indeed a lot of work. Looking for leaks is not too hard, but patching them is. After the pond liner has been in use for a while it tends to stiffen up a bit, and conforms to the shape of the pond. Imaging handling something not as stiff as a truck bed liner, but sort of that idea. Anyway, the patching material needs to go over VERY well cleaned material, and it is hard to clean old pond liner that well. I found laying it over the hood of my truck in the sun helps to soften it so it is easier to work.

I use a razor knife to cut it. You may need several razors, they need to be absolutely sharp, and if you scrape against a stone that is the end of that razor. Pond liner is very easy to cut as long as the razor is new.

I put old carpet under mine, but when I install them professionally I use the proper material supplied by the manufacturer. It is sort of like a very thick felted weed mat. This material is harder to cut, but scissors work pretty well, and the sharp (new) razor knife will do the job.

lumpyfunk 08-01-2012 08:02 PM

I am about 20 miles away from the tarp wharehouse, so shipping isnt an issue. I have read about them not stretching, but for the cost I can buy a much larger liner so hopefully that wont be much of an issue, a 14' by 48' is around $50 from them.

I have lurked on several other forums and seen pretty good reviews with the Billboards, the negatives were holes around the edges like finsNfur mentioned.

I plan to use old carpet as a pre liner, I have a friend who owns a carpet showroom and he will have his guys drop off what I need. I am glad to hear that it works well.

saddletramp 08-01-2012 08:39 PM

Just remember that herons and raccoons love eating fish.....especially expensive koi. Coons will really tear up a pond. Remedy, an electric fence for the coons.

Ponds are fun. Goldfish and koi do not like to overwinter outside. For them it is a matter of surviving without eating for many months. You must keep a heater at some spot to keep the ice open. This allows for gaseous exchange. Without it, your fish will not survive.

PM me wth any questions. I have had an 8' x 16' pond for over 25 years with no problems. The best part are the water lilies.

Diana 08-02-2012 01:58 PM

Ditto the raccoon problem. I have a 2" x 4" welded wire mesh over my pond. Raccoons really tore it up one night. All the plants in the pond were shredded, 3/4 of the fish were eaten, and to add insult to injury the raccoon then paraded across my windshield with his muddy feet!

finsNfur 08-02-2012 05:54 PM

I've never had raccoons get into my pond, although we do have them. Lately they've been tearing our grill apart while we sleep, the little buggers. But a heron or hawk got into my pond twice, two days in a row. He left behind some feathers, and made quite a mess of the pond. I had seen a hawk sitting on the edge of the pond just the day before. Now I keep netting over the pond. It's not pretty, but I haven't lost any fish since. But our messages here all the same, be prepared for predators. I even lost a goldfish to a bullfrog once, he snagged the fish right in front of my very own eyes. It happened so fast that if the fish's tail were not hanging out of the frog's mouth I would not have believed it actually happened! So now whenever I get a big bull frog I catch him and release him in another pond miles away. Instead I have a dozen or so green frogs that are pretty much tame and never bother the fish.

mistergreen 08-11-2012 05:52 AM

You can get a motion sensor scarecrow. It works pretty well.

I made one myself that turned on lights and shoot ultrasonic. It worked while I had it up.

Meganne 09-07-2012 03:27 AM

a couple things to consider....
depth at your location, I would highly consider going below what ever the frost line is.
What ever your pond size ends up being, with koi you will want to turn the pond over at least once and hour through the filter sysytem.
koi need 1000 gallons base line and then at least 350 for each additional adult koi(high end koi keepers prefer 1000 per koi at minimum!).
adult koi and potted plants dont mix, koi very much enjoy rooting and shredding them.
some goldfish get quite large and are gentle on your plants.
if not a true bottom drain at the very least consider a clean out drain for much easier spring and fall cleanings of the garden

here is a list of DYI filters for you to browse
*foot note, no matter what you read all filters need weekly or biweekly cleaning, nothing is matainance free!

and I have heard this will even work up north!

afishpond 09-15-2012 02:25 AM

hey just wanted to tell about this place this place has all the info you need about a pond and what to do very helpful.I have 4 of them one of block and one liner and one mud and one made from a pool .The bog is a nice way to go but you will need to lcean it out once a year as plant's will take over if not looked after.

lumpyfunk 10-17-2012 05:58 AM

I will dig into the links, Thanks Meganne. It has been a while since I posted pics on this site, I will have to find out how and put up some of the progress pics. School has delayed the progress a bit though.

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