Pond adjustment

The long months of winter make me forget each year how wonderful the pond is, how the garden would just not be the same without it. Once spring arrives and the plants start waking up, my focus returns to it, and I spend so much time just looking.

It's quite nice already, isn't it? It's got some problems though, which I hope I fixed this weekend.


First though, you have to love the Petasites japonicus in combination with the dogwood:

So pretty!

What's not so nice though is the front edge of the pond:

This was intended to be a "beach" area, where the land slopes down into the water. It was perfect for a month or two, but then much of the pebbles moved down into the water, exposing quite a bit of liner:

I suspect that the beach concept would have been fine and the stones would have stayed pretty much in place except maybe for over the winter, except for the raccoons and deer that visit the pond every night. When a deer steps on a pebbled slope, those pebbles get pushed downhill, making for an ugly pond edge.

The bees don't care how it looks -- they just love the access to moisture that the pebbles give them:

There are quite a number of bees here right now, a quiet but constant buzz adding to the attraction -- removing the pebbles was not an option, but I did want to get rid of the problematic slope.

I tried not to disturb them too much, but some inconvenience could not be avoided, as the first step was to reveal the edge of the liner, which moved a lot of pebbles:

The next step was to excavate underneath it, replacing the gradual slope with a larger flat shallows and a steeper edge:

It turns out that the best tools for this job were my hands:

After a slightly muddy few minutes I got it dug out to my liking:

A bit of soil fell into the water -- that couldn't be helped. You can see that there is actually an edge here now, right? There's about an extra 12" (30cm) of shallow water here now, possibly a bit more.

I spread some of the gravel back, as it was piled quite deeply downslope:

Not looking too pretty right now, is it?

Luckily I was done for the day, as the debris got to settle overnight giving me a much better look at the new "shallows" the next morning:

I haven't talked about tadpoles yet this year, but as you can see there is no shortage of them. They love the shallow water!

I could watch tadpoles for most of the morning, but I had flagstones to install!

Although I hate the "ring of rocks around the water" look, I can see now that it's really necessary for manmade ponds that involve a rubber liner. That boundary between the water and the surrounding ground is important. 

After laying out the first stone I realized that I needed to dig out a couple of inches of soil:

Then started arranging stones:

Once I got a combination I liked, I had to do a bit more digging to level them out:

Then buried the rocks as best I could:

There are pebbles in the cracks near the water to help hold in soil, and I added some plants to hopefully keep the rains from washing too much out:

I planted a little sweet flag at the water's edge, hoping it will take here and hide the exposed liner (which you can only really see from the back of the pond, but I still don't like seeing it).

With the "beach" problem taken care of, I'm feeling much better about the pond. I may add a few more larger pebbles (something for the raccoons to play with), but I think this project is finished!

We got quite a bit of rain last night, and I'm afraid to go out there to see how much of the soil was washed into the pond.


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Garden Fancy  – (April 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM)  

What a lot of work! (I empathize, as we have a small pond that we built ourselves too -- although mine is formal and has no plantings around the edge.) The edge is always the difficult part, especially when we're not using concrete to hold things in place. Your edge is looking better though, now that you have made a flatter pebble area. As far as the "ring of rocks" around the edge, have you thought about extending the stone pavers out more from the edge, like you have in the right side of the first photo? That might make the stones seem more natural looking, like they belong there, instead of being stacked in a sudden ring out of nowhere. Just a thought. Garden work -- it never ends.... :-)

Alan  – (April 28, 2014 at 9:10 AM)  

Fancy: There's really no way to extend the rocks on the other edges due to the slope of my yard, but I will probably add a couple more boulders here and there if I can find some.

Lisa  – (April 28, 2014 at 6:40 PM)  

Naturalizing a man-(or woman!) made pond is one of the biggest challenges in my view. I think you've done a beautiful job! All your plants in and around the rocks and pond help avoid the "pearl necklace" effect. You have the gardener's eye, so that comes naturally to you.

And holy tadpoles! We have lots of fish babies, but still no tadpoles!

Alan  – (April 29, 2014 at 7:29 AM)  

Thanks Lisa! It's pretty much my goal with everything out here to make it look at naturalistic as possible. It helps once the plants start coming in and hiding the pond edges. :)

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