Few garden focal points are as hard-working as a pond. The sounds masks neighborhood noise, the water invites wildlife, and the sight draws all eyes.
When we moved into our home, the backyard was pretty much a blank slate with lots of overgrown, volunteer trees. And one maple that was deliberately sited but dead all through the center. After removing them, the landscape needed something special to make it inviting.
That maple turned out to be the ideal spot for a focal point and as Narvas dug out the stump, it became clear that a pond would be a perfect solution.
If you’re going to have to work that hard and dig that deep, why not make something wonderful out of it?
The pile of dirt from around the stump will form the base of a waterfall.
After removing the stump and shaping the hole for the pond, Narvas carved out steps for the waterfall and inserted a spillway that holds the filters and creates the cascade with a 2-foot-wide weir.
At the opposite end of the pond, a skimmer holds the pump. In a trench dug around the right side of the pond we buried both the tubing that carries the water from the pump to the waterfall and an electrical line inside a PVC pipe to the grounded electrical outlet at the rear of the waterfall.
Plastic liner waterproofed the steps of the waterfall. A series of flat stones provided definition to the design. With that complete, the pond took shape with a shelf that runs around both sides. A long plank of wood helped us ensure the overall construction is level. See how this works in more detail.
While the pond was being shaped, it was time to blend the waterfall berm into the landscape. We added some soil amendments and a few large rocks scattered here and there on the mound to tie it to the waterfall.
Nestling a new structure into a garden takes time, so we opted for plants that fill in quickly like petunias and liriope, along with a few evergreen boxwoods for all-season interest, and variegated plants to brighten shady spots.
While I was planting, Narvas took a well-earned rest before installing the final pond components.
Adding the rubber liner and outlining the waterfall with large rocks was hard work so Hannah took a breather with her faithful companion nearby.
Filling the pond with water helped to settle the liner in place. Water plants and stones anchor the liner on the shelves that encircle the pond.
With all the components in place, it was time to test the waterfall. We adjusted the placement of the flat stones to change the pattern of the water flow. A nice long drop from the last stone to the surface of the pond makes the splash of the waterfall louder.
The final design element was a patio of Pennsylvania bluestone and river rock around the pond.
Laid on a bed of leveled sand, the stones and rocks were fixed in place with concrete and an outline of pavers.
A mixture of submerged plants, marginal potted plants on the shelves, and free-floating water plants provide oxygen and filter the water.
When chlorine is removed from the water, it becomes a haven for a few fish while we allowed the pond to settle into a balanced ecosystem.
Low-watt lighting turns the pond into an evening focal point as well.
The pond was finished and quickly established itself as the main feature of the backyard. The floating plants have a tendency to take over so they have to be thinned out from time to time.
We moved and added plants throughout the season to get a low-maintenance garden around the waterfall that would give us a lush look from year to year without a lot of fuss.
In the next post, you’ll see how the pond progressed in its second season. I think you’ll be surprised!
© Caruth Studio