Well – whilst we didn’t make our deadline of end of August, or even end of September, we have eventually got a full pond on 8th October 2014!
Here is a reminder of where we started from at the beginning of the year
And here is where we were after lots of digging. Nearly all the soil is removed and nearly ready for shaping.
As I’ve mentioned the delay was caused by the lovely dry weather we had this summer. Eventually we had a few thunderstorms which allowed me to remove some of the clay from the high spots and shape the bottom and ledges easily. Before the rain it was rock hard and even when I was able to remove the soil with a mattock, it just wouldn’t stick where I was putting it!
After the shaping came the removal of any stones that were sticking out and would have punctured the liner. This, luckily, only amounted to half a bucket of stones, with any that we could being pushed under the soil. Since the plan was to use an underlay anyway that preparation would be sufficient.
I had measured it at 24 ft by 17 ft, with an average depth of 18 inches – the deepest end measures 23 ins and then to nothing at the other end which will be a ‘beach’ area to allow any animals to get out, and the birds to use as a bath. The measures meant that it would take around 10 cu metres of water to fill.
When ordering the underlay and liner we also had to allow for an overhang for adjustments and some to be laid under paving or stones we intend to put at the edge. I ended up ordering a 0.85mm EPALYN liner 10 metres by 7 metres (32.8 ft x 22.9 ft) from Liners Online (we have used them before for our Koi pond and had no issues). EPALYN is as strong as Butyl, but cheaper and much lighter – having put in ponds before I know just how heavy the stuff can be!
We looked at the weather forecast and decided that we just had to get the liner in on Friday Oct 3rd. Our fine weather is disappearing for the winter and it looked like this would be the last lovely day before we started having thunderstorms and high winds – the weather forecast for the Saturday and following few days was not good.
So here we are ready to do the business!
The first challenge was to get the underlay laid out. It comes in 2 metre widths so has to be joined at least temporarily in order to be able to move the liner over it when laying that out. I used parcel tape which was not brilliant – it kept coming unstuck so I had to stick the tape across the joins at points but it worked ok. If I was doing it again I would probably use something better. The underlay was overlapped about 12 inches to allow for any movement when laying out the liner.
Next the liner. We had no idea how it was rolled up – lengthways? widthways? from one end? from both ends into the middle? Eventually we made the decision that it was rolled widthways at least so rolled down into the pond and laid it across the middle slightly towards the deeper end where we estimated we would need more length of liner to cover the steeper sides. We started to unroll it, but ended up just pulling it out roughly to where we wanted it. It was much easier to move when unrolled.
Then came the job of getting the bottom as flat as possible and putting folds into the sides in order to get them flat also. We have loads of spare block pavers left over from some other projects so they came in handy for holding the edges down as we worked. Thankfully the weather had held and we had sun and no wind all day so eventually we got to the stage where the water could be turned on.
My husband gave the honour to me!
We are on a water meter, and I’d cleared it with the company that we would take a reading before we started filling the pond and again when it was full, and then they would take that amount of water out of our sewerage bill since it was not being returned to the system – we still of course have to pay for the fresh water we are filling it with.
Having filled ponds before I know it takes a long time, but this pond took several days to get to the top – even with some heavy rain. Over the next few days I kept taking readings and adjusting the liner every so often to ensure the folds stayed in and it wasn’t being stretched too much.
Here you can see the ‘wall’ I’ve put in at the shallow end. The blocks are placed on a ledge we built and are there to prevent the cobbles, that we will be using to form the beach, from falling over the edge further into the pond.
If we find the blocks fall over the edge we can always put some rocks in front of them to support them.
I eventually stopped filling it yesterday evening. It had taken 28 hours and 10 cu metres to fill (28 hrs 2 mins and 9.666 cu metres to be exact!). The maximum depth I estimate at 22 inches which will be more than enough for the wildlife and the water lily we will reintroduce. This is currently sitting happily in our small pond (the one we put those newts in!)
The small pond also came in handy for growing the pond weed that I have already introduced. I do not like Elodea Crispa for ponds. I much prefer a native species called Ceratophyllum Demersum (Hornwort). We actually inherited this in our Koi pond when we moved here in 1996. It grows as rampantly as Elodea Crispa but looks much prettier having feathery stems. There is no need to plant it. I only put 3 lengths in the little pond earlier in the year and it is now full of it, so I’ve moved 5 quite big bunches into the Wildlife pond, plus two buckets of pond water to start it off with all the little creatures you can’t see.
We had some rain overnight which has brought it right to the top. We are really pleased with how level the water is, but the way we have built it, with a ledge all the way around the top to place the rocks or dry wall blocks with slabs on the top, means that when the water level drops you still will not see any liner as it will be behind the rocks or under the slabs.
There is one bit slightly higher just near where the old stream used to enter. This will be the entry for the new stream. The intention is to use a piece of slate across the stream and have the water fall into the pond a few inches above the water level – though the stream itself will be a project for next year!
The next task is to cut the liner to within about 9 inches of the edge and start putting the rocks and blocks in – this is my job but of course my husband will help with the really heavy ones. In order to progress though I first have to get myself a pair of waders – handling the rocks in the water will make them much lighter – I hope!
I intend to progress over the winter months so hopefully we will have a mild winter!