Long-awaited project, start digging!

For the last few years I've been thinking about what are probably the last three major projects in my back garden: a nice garden shed, a deck underneath the maple, and a small pond. None of these are one-day or weekend projects, so they tend to get pushed to the bottom of the list, and another year passes without them.


I decided late this summer that I don't want to go another spring without the sound of frog calls in my yard, so I resolved to get the pond created before the winter. I had the spot picked out already (shown above), and this week started digging.

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This won't be a very large pond (my yard doesn't have room for it), nor will it be located in full sun so I may be limited in the types of water plants I can grow there, but this was really the only place I could locate a body of water.

I started by marking its edges with my hose:

That's about an 11' (3.3 m) diameter area.

There are a few problems with putting a pond here. The first: plants. You can see that there are a few plants here right now, and that there is a bit of a mound as well -- not the ideal place to put a pond. The mound is what's left of the soil I removed when I dug my patio area in 2006. Over the years I've taken soil from this mound to use where needed, but there was still a bit of a mound.

There's also a switch grass, a banana, and a yucca growing here. The banana was just put there a month ago and will be easy to move, the switch grass is doing poorly here (not enough sunlight) and I'll try to find another spot for it or just compost it, and the yucca will be relocated. I've read that fall is the best time to move yuccas, so that worked out perfectly.


It was a little easier to dig out since it was growing in a mound of soil, but I still severed some of the "pups":


This is a tough plant though, and I expect it (and the "pups") will do just fine. It's quite large:


The banana can stay for a little while longer, but this is the area with the plants removed:



My second problem is that the ground here is quite uneven. I'm not sure if this image will show that clearly or not:


Also, my yard slopes down toward the back, so I'll have to compensate for that as well:


I'm not concerned though, as I'll have plenty of excavated soil to spread around to level things. So I just started digging:


After a little while I came upon the third problem, not unexpected: tree roots.


Actually, I'm surprised that I only hit two or three big roots here, and not very many smaller ones. With four trees in the immediate area, I thought it would be root after root after root -- maybe even so many that I'd have to abandon the pond project. I'm very pleased that roots have not been an issue.

So here's the pond after my first evening of digging:


Not much to look at yet, but I'm happy that I got this project started!

Here it is after another digging session:


That's probably the first hole that I've photographed that you can actually recognize as a hole instead of just a disturbance in the soil -- I guess the trick is to dig big holes if you're going to photograph them!

There's much more to do before this project is finished of course -- more digging, the pond liner installation, rocks, plants. I hope to get the digging finished and liner installed this weekend, but plants won't happen until the spring.

I'm excited though! I can almost hear the frogs already...

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Kathy G  – (November 4, 2011 at 7:59 AM)  

That's a pretty major tree root! How did you resolve the issue?

Steve Lau  – (November 4, 2011 at 8:06 AM)  

It looks like you'll end up making every square foot of your yard a part of the garden. I have probably utilized less than 10% with all my plants just because more garden area usually means more watering and weeding.

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening!  – (November 4, 2011 at 8:52 AM)  

Kathy: I just chopped it out with an axe. It was from one of the wild cherry trees, or one of the unidentified trees back there, so I'm not concerned about hurting the tree.

Chad B  – (November 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM)  

This will be a lot of fun to watch take shape. I hope you'll be able to keep us updated on your project.

I want to build a pond someday too, but I'm holding off until my daughter is old enough that I won't have to worry about her falling into it. In the meantime, I'll watch and learn from you.

Christine  – (November 4, 2011 at 4:24 PM)  

I do hope you show us the whole process. I bet this is going to become one fabulous pond, and I'm hoping to learn from you.

TheGardeningBlog  – (November 4, 2011 at 4:27 PM)  

I think you picked a really great spot - the hole in the last photo has a great 'background' to it, so even if plants take time getting established, it's going to look great from the beginning, because of it's location.

Lisa  – (November 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM)  

Yay! I was so hoping you would do a water feature! (Is that weird?) I loved reading about your creek bed project and always wish you would talk more about it. We are new to the whole water gardening world and love to see other people's projects. Can't wait!

Alan @ It's not work, It's gardening!  – (November 6, 2011 at 6:07 AM)  

Lisa: I'll probably be redoing the stream early next year too. I made a few mistakes when I created it originally, and it's a problem now.

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