Waterfall Pond: 1 Project Down; 99 More to Go

Garden Journal

Mary Beth: I finally finished the addition to my little waterfall pond. It was pretty easy and I’m pleased with the results. It sounds great — like a little babbling creek running through the garden. I took notes and pictures so I could show you how it was done.

Small Garden Pond with Waterfall

You’ll need:

  • Felt liner
  • Rubber liner
  • Water pump
  • River rocks
  • Pea gravel
  • Small pond kit

Home Depot sells the liners and pumps. They’ll cut the felt and the rubber to the size you need. They also sell pond kits.

  • Choose a site that will allow you to have one pond higher than the other.
  • Dig the holes for the upper and lower ponds to whatever shape and depth you like. If you’re adding water plants make sure you know the planting depth of each plant and dig the hole to the appropriate depth. And if you’re going to have fish, be sure you find out how deep they need the water to be to survive the winter.

  • Measure the dimensions of the holes so you’ll know how much felt and rubber liner you’ll need. Don’t forget to include the length and width of the waterfall. When I measured I added a little for wiggle room, about 3 feet extra of the rubber liner on all sides, just in case I measured wrong. (A common occurrence with me!) And it’s a good thing I did, because I had very little left over.
  • Next lay the felt liner in holes you’ve dug. Then put the rubber liner on top of that.

  • Cut pieces of felt and rubber to fit on the “waterfall” part and lay them down too. I should have added a few more inches up the sides of the waterfall because sometimes the rocks shift and water runs outside the liner which tends to drain the pond. You can use some of the rocks to hold things in place as you go.

  • Trim the extra rubber pond liner that extends beyond the rocks that surround the edges of the ponds.
  • Arrange the river rocks around the pond edges and up the sides of the waterfall.
  • Place the pump in the deepest part of the lower pond and snake the pump hose up to the top pond. Secure it in place it so it can fill up the top pond and not spray any water outside of it.
  • The water will up the small pond and flow over the edge and down to the waterfall into the lower pond, and then be pumped back up to the top pond again. The little top pond (it’s a plastic pond sold from a kit) is tipped slightly down towards the waterfall.

  • Place the stones for the waterfall in a kind of stair-step pattern. Getting the water flowing down the stones the way I wanted it to was the hardest part. You’ll have to play with it until it looks right. Of course it didn’t help that the raccoons would climb over the rocks during the night shifting them every which way!
  • Fill the ponds with water and check for leaks.
  • When I was sure that there were no leaks and I was happy the way the water was falling, I laid the rest of the river rocks around the edges and put the pea gravel in the pond and gaps of the waterfall. Important note! Make sure you rinse all of the rocks and pea gravel before you use them. I didn’t rinse them and all the dust from the stones covered everything in the pond. I had to drain the pond and clean it out.

Pond Maintenance:

Don’t forget to add water to your ponds periodically. You’ll lose some to evaporation and you’ll need to replace it so the pump won’t burn out from the water level falling too low.

You’ll also need to be sure that your pond doesn’t become a breeding place for mosquitos. I use Mosquito Dunks to eliminate mosquito larvae. I put them in the pond and then had a panic attack the next day because I hadn’t read the warnings to make sure they wouldn’t poison anything. Thankfully I found out they do not hurt bees or other insects drinking out of the pond. They are safe for fish and animals too.

Sometimes the water in your ponds can get cloudy. To prevent this I use  Barley Clear which I bought on Amazon.com. It’s a bit pricey, but you don’t need much so it should last for a while. For good measure I added a little EM-1.

The book I used for reference was Better Homes and Gardens New Complete Guide to Landscaping.

We love our little pond and so do the fox, raccoons, birds, bees, insects and other critters that visit during the night. Though the raccoons have been a pain in the ass — recently pulling the new water plants out — the novelty has worn off a bit for them and have been respectful of the pond lately.

Just a warning: animals will be drawn to the water, and therefore the rest of your garden, so you’ll have to take this into account. I’m diligent about spraying deer spray on all the garden plants and they have not so much as nibbled a plant. My biggest concern at this point is my tomatoes. When they start to ripen are the raccoons going to eat them?

Stayed tuned for the ongoing saga on those pesky masked demons!

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