~~ A Flea Market Gardening ‘My Big Garden Project’~~
Step by step, follow the progress as this avid gardener designs and builds a cascading pond that she’d always dreamed about.
Planning and building a dream waterfall pond
“I’ve always wanted a waterfall.” Theresa Jones says, “ Who doesn’t? The area on the other side of our big maple has always been a depression in the ground.” Theresa figured this was the place to begin.
“Our yard is a steep slope to the lake in back of our home. We added fill dirt to make a level area, most up by the lake front and none was needed near the tree. It always looked like a good place for a waterfall to look natural.”
Theresa’s dream began in 2013! This is the spot where she imagined the pond to go.
Before: Starting to dig the pond
Now, see how she accomplished this!
The experimental stage
“First, Ron set up a pre-formed pond liner on top and we bought cheap plastic sheeting so we could experiment with level, the fall and looks.” They began collecting stones and branches for a natural look
Believe it or not, this is the ‘dry’ run in building the pond. The setting is very beautiful here next to Ford Lake in Michigan. Theresa says, ” I’m glad we did this experiment because I discovered design mistakes. We needed low ledges for plants and getting in and out without falling was difficult!”
We lived in this stage until September when I found an affordable liner. I didn’t like the rectangle pavers topping cinder blocks. On the new one I have boulders.
Getting to work
Theresa says, “We learned a lot from our inexpensive experiment, so that Fall I bit the bullet and ordered a real pond liner.” Concrete blocks were used to level and prop the pre-formed upper pond and create levels in the lower, luckily they were free! “I had cinder blocks that were free from a friend so I used those to create the shape,” Theresa tells us.
“We created ‘shelves’ all the way around so you don’t fall in when moving rocks and plants. It was also easier to disguise the liner sides with marginal plants*.”
* Marginal plants are simply the aquatic plants found growing around the edges, or margins, of your water garden.
“I got the liner from ‘Wholesale Pond Supply,’ an eBay seller and was blown away with the quality for what I paid. 20 mil 15×15 plus the underlayment for $157.”
Here’s a comparable liner combo: Anjon 15′ x 15′ 20 mil PVC Pond Liner & Underlayment Combo
This company has smaller and larger pond liner combos from $112. to $7000. for a 200’ x 200’ size!
This underlayment was included with the liner and I made it extra padded on the corners. It took almost two weeks to get it shaped right and filled every nook and cranny with dirt.
The area at the bottom of the picture is a hair lower so any overflow will go into the bog plant area. At this point, I just have cat tails because this part of the project wasn’t finished until the end of September of that year.”
Theresa does her own labor as much as possible. She says, “I mostly do everything myself. My husband, Ron, and I work different shifts and he works six days a week, so I reserve him for the real tough labor.”
Filling the pond. “I remember how the water pressed the liner into voids causing areas of possible leaking. ”
“Here we’re waiting for the water to clear so I could place some gravel and rocks on the shelves. I wanted a natural non-uniform look.
“In particular I am glad I made a bog area to the left side. I have cardinal flower, a fern and cat tail so far. I dug up the cat tail from an irrigation ditch nearby and bought the cardinal flower. I also relocated a couple ferns from my dads swamp.”
“The fishies were eager to go back to the “big” pond” Theresa says, “ and were monitoring my progress. They’d swim to the edge and I learned another important thing. A couple fishies tried Niagara in a barrel. A sad ending. Now my hose that runs the fall is outside the lip of the upper pond. Water doesn’t actually spill from the top to bottom. ”
Theresa says, “Normally I like to hide the hose at the top of the waterfall in pictures. But a closeup is probably handy for people to understand what I meant about the top water line not actually being part of the waterfall.”
“Our dog, Cody and his fishie buddies. I live in the country, have not lost any fish yet to animal predators. Our neighbors trap and relocate raccoons and we’ve had a skunk but it never bothered the ponds. There are no cats in my area the pond is quite deep so it would be hard for animals to snag a fish without going for a swim themselves!”
Live and learn!
“I committed a big No No.” Theresa confides. “I placed the pond under the big maple. It’s a real fight keeping the seeds and leaves out so I took bird netting and stretched it across last fall. It basically worked but I’m hoping to come up with a better solution for this fall.”
Note: At this point, Theresa needed MUCH patience as winter came and she had to postpone the finish of her project until the next year. Anticipation,…a gardener’s joy. Now see the beautiful result!
The finished waterfall pond…
The lattice shown here is part of the deck above where Theresa and Ron can look down on their pretty pond. The tree and the shade it gives lends a woodsy look to the pond and waterfall.
“Planted around the pond I have various flag iris and a water lily I overwinter in the ground. I managed to keep a corkscrew rush alive one year that way. Each year I buy water hyacinths and water lettuce and hope they will bloom for me. Too shady perhaps?
Every year I buy a new Red Stemmed Parrot Feather and Mare’s Tail. I dug Arrow Arum from my lake for one pocket. This is my first time planting variegated water celery. The regular water celery keeps coming back from the smallest sprig so I have faith it will too.”
A natural stump and a red Japanese maple create a woodland feel to the pond. Rocks and pebbles hide the liner in a natural way.
Theresa found just the perfect stone bench as a finishing touch. Now you can see the orientation of the pond next to the house and deck. What a beautiful sight to look down upon and to stroll by.! Now, this area is a destination of its own where Theresa can check how the plants are filling in and sit, watch the fish and relax a bit…..dream fulfilled!
Have you created an oasis in your garden,…or accomplished a big project? We hope you’ll share with us! Many thanks, to Theresa and Ron for sharing their perfect pond project.