The stream

One of the main features of the patio area of my garden -- the part closest to the house -- has been the stream. I built it in 2006 and the almost constantly running water has been a source of tranquility for me and one of the things I most enjoy about the garden.

It's also been a source of much frustration, as being the first (and so far only) running water feature I've designed and built, I made some mistakes. The biggest problems are the small reservoir (18 gallon) and the complexity of the edge closest to the stairs. That edge has been the source of many leaks over the years and makes topping off the stream something I've had to constantly deal with.


Last fall I decided to do something about this, and unplugged the pump for the winter (it was pretty much worn out from a failed debris filter and running "dry" too many times). My goal was to rebuild the stream in late winter and solve the leak problem once and for all.

I never found the time or motivation to tackle that problem this year, and decided a week or so ago to get the stream going again for the summer. It has been sitting dry and silent since the fall, and I really missed its contribution to the garden.

As you can see from these photos, it's not in good shape. Overgrown by vinca, mint, and stringy stonecrop, with several rocks out of position exposing the liner -- it's just not a pretty sight.

The reservoir bucket was a tranquil pool of horrible black water:

To clean it I bailed much of it out, but it's impossible to get the lowest few inches where all of the nasty black anaerobic sludge was, so I added a siphon hose:

I added new water to stir up the sludge, which got dumped onto the patio:

I kept bailing too, and eventually the rotten egg-smelling blackish water was replaced by clear liquid and the smell subsided.

As I tried feeding the cord from the new pump through the buried conduit tube, I found its way blocked by an ant nest:

flushing some water down this pipe from the top did the trick:

Then it was just a matter of adjusting a few rocks to get rid of obvious leaks over the edge, and plugging in the pump:

Oh, there was some trimming of plants and weeding too.

Now the stream is running again, and everything is good again! No more disconcerting silence -- after six years I've grown used to the sound of this water, and having it back again is wonderful!

I still plan on rebuilding this -- I'll probably start it once the hottest part of summer has passed, but I'm glad to have it going again!

Note: In the 9 days since I've had this running, I've discovered that there must be a more serious leak somewhere in the system. The stream is losing roughly an inch (25mm) of water every hour and I can't see where. So I've had to refill it a couple of times a day and unplug it every night or when I'll be gone for the day. Still worth having it running though!


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Lisa  – (July 4, 2013 at 11:20 PM)  

Ah! Happy to see the stream again! The stream was what brought me to your blog in the first place when we were planning our pond build. Good luck finding your leak - the less glamorous part of water gardening!

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