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In the persuit of attaining my desired water feature I was physically jarred, nearly blinded by a rock shard, humiliated, confused by profuse leaking, and even more confused as to just why water insists on going exactly where you don't want it to - despite how much sealant has been slap-happily applied. Oh and do not talk to me about re-directing the flow of water with a strategically placed zen stone! aaarrggghh! Between evaporation, profuse leaking and the initial postage-stamp sized nature of my pond  (it was emptying in a few hours) - it was not a very environmentally friendly domain for the future fish inhabitants I had in mind.

My water feature hated me! My water feature had developed a stubburn persona! My water feature was about to be hit very hard across its smiling rocky escarpment with a rather large blunt instrument.

Let me step back a little - I remember it starting with a sketch, a lot of enthusiasm and blind excitement - "I will have a water feature, I will have it now - and it will be great" I whispered under my breath in an ancient Roman accent?  My garden plan sketches revolved around this water feature after all - I pulled up my sleeves, made the obligatory, naive purchase of a tiny Home Depot pond (hey it was an organic shape), and started to dig a hole in rather stubburn (Lantana free) soil. As a side note it seems like the laws of phyics are bent in Home Depot when evaluating the size of a pond - they look enormous in the store, all empty and stacked - get one home, situate it and I guarantee it will have shrunk 75%!

My first incarnation water-feature fate at this point was sealed:   too small a pond .... an elaborate plan....evaporation.... leaking issues....overhead shedding Post Oak - you get the general picture.

My plan was to have a pond at ground level and to pump the water up to an overturned urn on the top of the hill  (I built this hill with the dirt dug out for the pond) - and let it bubble down in a somewhat "naturalistic manner". I have no access into my backyard so all the stone and gravel had to be wheel-barrowed in - a futile endeavour as in 3 years you cannot tell there is any gravel or paving there! - more on that futility later! The pic above right shows the yard in its primative, stark Bermuda glory and highlights my "irritating water feature" as a design "oasis" starting point. 

Look at the size of that pond! - it was about to fill up with leaves in a week under the Post Oak - good job I had no fish at this point- the tannic acid alone would have turned them rusty - and the oxygen deprevation? - It would have been like breeding fish on Mars! The small pond I realised simply had to go - and this is when it decided to attack me! 

I proceeded to dig out the old Home Depot pond (which later became an in-ground containered bog area) into a wider area for my new, 900 Gallon - above ground pond I had purchased and had delivered from a local hardware store. . . . but I had a problem. The "naturalistic" waterfall still flowed down to ground level - not up to the lip of the raised pond . . mmm . . . what to do now?  - I glanced at my sledge hammer. My wife said she could see sparks flying up from inside the house - and I remember strangely smelling burning just before a hot stone shard hit me below my eye - it was too hot to wear safety glasses, I did try, they just kept steaming up, filling with sweat (better than my first pond I noted). I lost my balance numerous times on the hillsides rocky, uneven surface - falling onto the Lava rocks a work collegue kindly had donated to me. I looked deranged.

I finally built up the rocks to the new height, sealed them and tried again - it still leaked - it became a dry creek bed! enough said.


I decided to go with a  galvanized steel Callahan's feeder tank with a Cyprio pump and UV filter system - I felt I was learning fast! (actually a friend of mine had had one installed) and I liked the sleek aesthetic.


Sketches to determine features, location and utilities for the new pond - I decided a
smaller feeder pool would be a good addition to the plan for the high evaporation 
months - supplying the main pond with an unclorinated water supply when needed.

Trench dug for underground electrics and water for the pond - rather 
wide for a couple of pipes you say? aha! I had another idea for this . . .
more on this later. You can see here I had started on my Bermuda 
eradication quest as well as putting a few plants in the ground.
You can see the feeder pond in the foreground.

Here it is in year 2 - still patchy grass on the ground, and yes my first 3 goldfish
(less maintenance than Koi).


4th year and an established eco-system.

Feeding time!

One thing I took away from all of this - is not to be afraid of continual change, if it dosn't work for whatever reason, hit it with a sledge hammer, dig it up and start again. This principal has carried over into how I approach everything in my yard, from hardscaping to planting - just because it is there dosn't make it right. This requires looking at things you may have looked at a thousand times with fresh eyes - I am glad I still have two! 

Stay tuned for:
 "My Shed moved!"

All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. 


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 2nd, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
Pam/Digging (http://www.penick.net/digging) says:

And then what happened, Philip? I'm eager for the details of the crazed water feature.
May. 2nd, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
blog format
Hi Pam,
I have finished my 2nd posting - curious, do you think my blog should have my first entry at the top - seems kind of strange to start at the bottom and read up?
May. 3rd, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Pam/Digging (http://www.penick.net/digging) says:

I see the end of the post now. Great story, and of course I adore stock-tank container ponds. Lucky you to have room for a really big one.

The newest post always shows up at the top on every blog I've ever read. It's the convention.
May. 5th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
I like your principle of gardening and it's one I have a tough time applying myself. I find it very difficult to take out something that's there, whether it's plant or hardscape. I know it has to be done but it's a hard lesson to learn.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens (http://www.zanthan.com/gardens/gardenlog/)
May. 5th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Hi Zanthan Gardens!
I have been to your Blog loads of times!, yours and Pams 'Digging' - great work. Thank you for replying to me about the starting again topic - my latest Blog entry on the "Trolls tunnel" - was the hardest "tear it out, even though it took years to get like that" thing I have yet encountered in my hardscaping to date. It was the right thing to do - it usually is if it niggles you.
Stay in touch,
Oct. 1st, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
Water Feature
Wow. That's a lot of struggle and agitation for a water feature! But, I must say, even though you ended up with something different than you originally envisioned, it is quite lovely. It looks like an oasis - you should be very proud! -- Diana @ Sharing Nature's Garden
Oct. 9th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Water Feature
Thanks Diana, the struggle was worth it in the end - and I learnt a lot in the process. I have had my stock tank now for quite a few years - I would highly recommend this type of water gardening.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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