Re-Building the Middle Pond

The "L" shaped pond with the bog on the right.

The “L” shaped pond with the bog on the right just after it was built in 2007.

My middle pond is kind of “L” shaped with the a bog on the inner side of the “L”. I had long viewed that bog as a source of irritation and was forever cussing out the guy that built it. As that guy happened to be me, all of the cussing and badmouthing in the world was going to have very little affect.

When I first built the pond, it seemed like a good idea to include a small bog. It never worked very well as there was not a sufficient flow of water to do anything more than to create at best, a marginal bog for those plants that like to have wet feet.

Needless to say, those plants which included Arum lilies, Lizards tail and a  few Rushes quickly grew out of their pots and sort of took over that part of the pond. Another thing that made me want to dig it out was that the Heron, in one of his many visits, uses the bog as his personal fishing spot, even with the electrified wires that I have stretched to prevent him (or her).

In a fit of madness, I dug out all of the plants and pots and cleared out all of the pea gravel that was chock full of roots and cleaned the whole thing down to the liner. It was at the very least, a dirty and smelly job but I persevered and got it done including removing all of the decorative rocks. Its funny but when I put the rocks down several years ago, they were not as half as heavy as they were this time around. Pretty sad how growing old is also a weakening factor. I looked at the resulting area and decided that I didn’t need the bog anymore and instead, would make the pond bigger by including the bog area.


View of the steps behind the tree leading to the new skimmer on the right.

In between working on the bog, I did a couple of fish rescues. At one of them, the owner wanted her goldfish removed as she didn’t want to care for them anymore but was still going to keep the pond. That was a straightforward job and I ended up with nine small goldfish that I placed in the middle pond. The second rescue was much more complicated as the lady in this one, wanted to fill in her pond and re-landscape the area. She not only wanted me to take the fish and plants but also to remove the skimmer and waterfall along with the pump. I could not pass up a chance like that and was more than willing to accommodate her. End result was 41 small Koi of assorted colors ranging from fingerlings to a couple at 6 inches and the aforementioned hardware and pond plants. She had one Umbrella plant which was the biggest I had ever seen and I really wanted it. Upon close examination, the plant had quite literally grown through the liner as it had expanded. I didn’t relish the work involved in rescuing the plant and left it behind.

As I surveyed the middle pond which now had close to sixty small fish in it, I envisioned installing the skimmer and the waterfall box and the difference it would make to that pond. The pond did not have a skimmer as it was originally a part of a two pond system and the skimmer was installed on the other pond. The problem I was facing was how to dig out enough dirt to make the pond bigger and deeper and still keep the fish alive and happy with about a couple of thousand gallons of water in it.

I thought about it for a while and then hit on the idea that I could roll the existing liner back enough for me to work on small sections at a time and still keep the water in the pond. I pumped the pond down to about 12 inches of water and I devised a way with 2 x 4’s of propping up the liner while I excavated underneath which I very carefully did, bit by bit. When I finished one section, I moved along and propped up more liner and on and on until eventually I had all of one side of the liner propped up. It was not done without incident as a couple of times, the 2 x 4’s slipped and I lost some water into the excavation which sent me scrambling to get the props back into place. It was not such a bad thing as it softened up the dirt a little. It was tough going anyway and any little bit helped. I gotta tell you that water is heavy stuff especially when it is contained in something as flexible as liner material.

I eventually finished the excavation to my satisfaction and then had the problem of lowering the liner back down into place. Needless to say, it did not go well and although it might have been possible with more help, I could not get a couple of the folds out of the liner as once I laid it flat with water on it, I could no longer move it. I couldn’t even pick it up anymore as I had done the first time around.

I had excavated a hole in one corner to install the skimmer and I must have measured ten times to make sure I had it at the correct elevation. There is an old carpenters saying of “measure twice and cut once” and I certainly followed the rule this time.. I finished off installing the skimmer as the last thing I had to do was to cut a hole in the liner and then screw the face-plate into place to hold it all together. Satisfied with my work, I back-filled around the skimmer box to keep it from moving and then re-arranged the rocks the way I wanted them.

Waterfall box from the back

Waterfall box from the back

The next part of the project was to install the waterfall box. This box was a big one, probably bigger than I needed but as I had it, I was going to install it. I had previously knocked down the existing waterfall that I had installed when I first built the pond. This composed of a small waterfall box surrounded by rocks that I cemented together. I forgot to mention that another reason for doing away with the bog and rebuilding the waterfall was because I had a slow leak and had narrowed it down to either of those areas. I didn’t find anything when I dug the old bog out but did notice a hole in the liner that was behind the old waterfall probably caused by rats which like to make their home in between the rocks that surround the ponds.

After installing the waterfall box, I was then faced with the task of re-working the plumbing to the different units. I was still going to include the 100 gallon Skippy Filter that was already installed and thought that it might be possible to pump directly into the Skippy and then let the water flow from it into the waterfall. It turns out that after I had hooked everything up, the 2 inch pipe from the Skippy to the waterfall box which was gravity fed, was not big enough to take the flow of water coming into the box. It didn’t matter how much I throttled it back, it was still too much water. So, back to the drawing board.

This time, I plumbed the skimmer/pump directly to the waterfall box and ran a detour pipe from that line into the Skippy. I then changed the Skippy outlet to a 4 inch pipe and ran it directly to the waterfall box. By using a couple of valves that I also installed on each line, I was able to control the flows to both the Skippy and the waterfall to where they are both working very comfortably. I also had to go down on the pump size from a 3500 gph to a 1200 gph which fixed the problem of too much force of water.

I re-arranged the rocks around the pond and the waterfall to my satisfaction and considered the main work done and refilled the pond. I finished the whole thing off with some plants around the Skippy tank and re-arranged the plants in the pond. I now have a very nice little pond that is so clear, you could drink it. The fish are getting to know me and are rushing over to the side when I walk up. That is not a good thing as they will probably do the same thing for any wayward heron that pays a visit. Having a lot of really big Koi that are more the 24 inches is nice but there is something to be said for the very small ones as at least they are active and rush around all over the place showing off their beautiful colors…

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