Once home to a nearly dead maple tree, our backyard pond enlivens the landscape and beckons visitors of various species.
Before the tree was removed, the landscaping was a little lackluster.
By the end of the season, though, the new pond had settled in and developed its own ecosystem. See how we built the pond here. Narvas also built a new pergola next to the rock patio where he’d removed an overgrown evergreen.
After the pond established itself, we added a variety of koi to bring movement and color to the water. We didn’t realize how friendly they’d become.
They rush to greet you at the side of the pond when you approach (mostly in hopes that you’re bringing food) and will take koi pellets directly from your hand. It’s bad luck to name them, though, so we had to restrain ourselves.
Since the pond gets lots of full sun from morning to mid-afternoon, we included floating and submerged foliage plants as well as marginals. They cover some of the water surface to keep water cooler and inhibit algae growth.
Moss grows on the waterfall rocks, helping the hardscaping blend in with the plants that surround the water feature.
Mohawk vibernum shrubs dominated the left side of the pond landscaping so we removed them to lighten things up.
In the spring, creeping phlox and irises bloom on either side of the waterfall.
By summer, the daylilies and annuals take over.
Nature always finds a way. Despite the fact that we filled in between rocks with concrete on the patio, last year’s potted petunias self-seeded in any cracks they could find.
And a bird dropped seed for a bushy catmint plant that blooms on the edge.
The large leaves of the submerged lotus dance above the water level and send up flower buds in midsummer.
The lotus flowers are enormous and dramatic. Even after the petals drop they continue to give—the seed pods are gorgeous in flower arrangements.
Cattails, grasses, lotus, water lilies, sweet flag, water lettuce, and water hyacinth fill the pond with texture, movement, shape, and color.
It didn’t take long for all the neighborhood amphibians to find their way to our yard.
A small green frog cozies up to his ceramic likeness.
Orbs abound in and near the pond. Gazing balls reflect surroundings and concrete spheres add lasting beauty. To make your own, follow these instructions.
What You’ll Need
- Concrete Molds in 8, 10, and 12 inch sizes (if you have some old plastic toy balls laying around, you can cut them in half and substitute for the molds)
- Concrete mix, Portland cement, or Quikrete
- 5 gallon bucket or wheelbarrow
- Small trowel or hoe for mixing
- Lubricant such as cooking spray
Prepare the mold with a lubricant so that the finished piece is easy to remove—it also helps extend the life of your mold.
Mix concrete according to package directions. You’ll want a consistency similar to a milkshake. Add a little water at a time to get it. Choose the product that gives you the qualities you’re looking for in a finished ornament: Portland cement will give you a smooth, lighter colored stone. Quikrete will set quickly and give you a more durable ornament. Concrete will result in a strong stone but it won’t be as smooth as the other two products.
Place your mold atop a bucket or brace it with blocks of wood or bricks. Pour a small amount of mix into the mold and tap to level out the mix and release any air bubbles. Repeat this process until the mold is filled.
If you have different sized half-ball molds you can pour the larger mold half full and place the smaller mold inside the larger one to push the concrete up around the sides. This will create a hollow piece and can be used as a planter or make into a full ball that is lighter in weight. The smaller mold can be removed from the larger one after a couple of hours.
Let the filled molds sit for at least 24 hours. Then, remove the concrete from the mold(s). Repeat to make a second half.
When both halves are complete, use mortar to attach both to form a sphere. Wipe the excess mortar from the outside when the pieces are put together.
What do you think of our design? Anything you’d have done differently?
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© Caruth Studio