Building medium to large pond?? suggestions?

Discussion in 'Water Features' started by fishcube, Jul 10, 2006.

  1. fishcube

    fishcube LawnSite Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 5

    I moved my original posting here... and added new info...

    We are thinking of building a koi pond in the back of our home (Iowa). We have a natural grade and low area that we would like to place one.

    Any recommendations..websites with info?

    We plan on building it ourselves.

    Pics of the back yard.
    in the pic above, we are thinking of placing pond between the weeping willow and deck/basement area... the tree in pic is much larger now, its been 2 years since we planted it. We think it will look great with the pond.
    this pic shows what it looks like when we have major rain...and the run-off. Our property line is about 20 feet behind the willow. Where you see the water runoff (brown area behind willow). Most of the water runnoff goes to the back where you see it behind the willow tree. The part in the yard is when we have extreme rain which is about once a year at most and that is just excess rain that the ground wouldn't absorb fast enough. None of the neighbors water run off from their yards will drain into the area where we want the pond. Just what comes from our drains from house/yard, and even then most of it goes the the area behind the tree.
    this pic shows what that area looks like from deck.

    So, any suggestions?

    We live on the edge of a small town with farmland on 3 sides.

    any info would be helpful. thx

    Here is my updated info:
    I've added pics of area etc. -

    I really want to find out pricing for everything before we get close to next spring. so I know how much to spend. I've got tons of pond catalogs, so I can look up pricing for products, but what about rocks etc? cost of dirt moving? who do I call and what machinery do I need to ask about? cost of moving large rocks? things like that. I have my father and brother that are going to help me build it. They have experience with building their own ponds also.

    I'm reading all I can about ponds to get me ready. But, it really helps getting info from those who own and build them.
  2. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    There's no way I can do you any justice with my keyboard. If you'd like to call me and talk about koi ponds, PM me and I'll send you my number.

  3. me1223

    me1223 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Sounds like a big project, just wondering exactly how big it is going to be when finished 20'X20', 30'X30'? Depth?
  4. fishcube

    fishcube LawnSite Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 5

    At this point I'm just looking for info online, I do better through posts, e-mail in explaining and showing what we want/need. I have a hard time visualizing what size would look good in backyard, plus make sure the cost doesn't get to crazy. I'm saving for this pond myself. I plan on putting a couple large garden hoses out in that area and try to get an idea of what size we want and where.

    Thinking no smaller then 12x18. I don't want to go too wide. Kidney shaped with a narrower area in middle where I want a simple flat bridge that is right above water (to provide shade). But, not sure about anything larger then 20x30 and that seems a little too large? Want it to look nice in the yard, but not be too big to do maintainance etc.

    As for depth I'm thinking 4'. We are in NE Iowa and will be wintering the fish outside in the pond. I'd prefer not to go too deep, for safety and I want to be able to see the fish. We do live miles from natural marsh areas, so may get herons and such, I'm hoping they tend to migrate to the larger marsh areas. We get wild geese in backyard and adjoining farmland at times also. My dad says to put in a shelf, but I've been reading that one shouldn't. But, will they really feed from a 12" shelf? I also want to have one edge be shallower where once can see a rock bottom area. I also am not sure I want straight sides...

    Anyone know of pictures of a similiar sized ponds, and surrounding area? Kinda open no trees and some sloping land?

    Sharon & Steve
  5. zim bob the landscaper

    zim bob the landscaper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,706

    you are going to have to be careful because if you fertilize or put anything on your lawn when it rains it will end up in the pond. also you have allot more to think about then the size what about filtration system pump waterfall or fountain shade and shelter for the fish. I'm not trying to scare you but before you start get all the materials also take lots of pics i can wait to see them!!!
  6. Rockriverfish

    Rockriverfish LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Looks like a nice space for a pond, I wish I had that much room and privacy. Looks like you have good access to the site and plenty of elbow room so anything is possible. For starters the dimensions you list will result in a pond of about 5,000 gallons which is quite an undertaking. Probably need a backhoe for digging out the pond and various plumbing/electric trenches. Plus somewhere to dispose of soil. Might be a good idea to think about future landscaping projects (planting beds, retaining walls, etc) before hauling all that dirt away.

    Here are some general things to think about, even though you mentioned some of your preferences already.

    Will this be a koi only pond or do you want plants also? Koi can be pretty rough on plants, so you may want avoid one or the other. Goldfish can be a nice alternative if you want alot of plants.

    Rubber liner or natural/clay bottom? For this size pond you are probably best going with a 45 mil EPDM liner. If this is going to be a liner pond, then you may want to adjust the sizes according to the most common sizes of liner available (15', 20', 25') rather than having to buy a larger liner just for an added foot of width.

    Rock bottom or bare liner? A rock bottom pond does look nice and much more natural than a bare liner, but rocks tend to trap alot of debris and can be a maintenance headache. There is alot of debate on this issue so I will leave it at that.

    Straight walls or sloped? All walls will tend to settle over time depending on soil types and construction methods, but straight walls usually provide more protection from the predators that you will have like raccoons and herons. However, straight walls usually need to be reinforced. Common ways of doing this are either block wall construction or at least installing a concrete collar around the pond to help stabilize the edges. The other advantage of straight walls is that they maximize water volume for a given circumference.

    Filtration? Filtration needs are based on water volume and fish load. If you are happy with just having a few fish, then you can get away with something rather simple like a skimmer and bio-falls, but if you want alot of big koi, then you may need to plan for something more substantial. There are alot of good DIY filter designs available. Also remember that you will need to get power out to the pond for pumps/lights/etc.

    Dealing with run-off water? With that location you will need to keep run-off out of the pond. This can be accomplished with proper berming or drainage. Another option is a raised edge pond. This is a more formal look, but saves on digging and will keep the floods out of the pond. Also helps in predator control.

    Not trying to scare you, but there is alot to think about. There are a number of good web sites out there to get information from, the trick is finding the one that fits your idea of what this pond should be. Everything from very high tech koi pond, to much more natural looking.

    Good Luck
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    My o2 I maintain a lot of homes with ponds from Small 300 gal to huge 80,000 gal.

    You can spend a ton of money on filtration systems but I have found nature works pretty well. Build a bog at the top put a grid of perforated pipe 1.5"-2" at the bottom of it put 10"-12" of lava rock, if you can get it, and pump 25% of your pond volume through that line per hour. Seed it with beneficial bacteria and plant it with beautiful oxygenating plants. I will try and get a picture of one I have done. It works great. I would still put in a skimmer and try and keep the water moving to pull the laves to the skimmer before they sink. The fish will also like the water movement.

    If you want plants and Koi design areas that you can screen off like small coves so that the fish can't entirely get into them only eat at the edges.

    You probably know this already but keep your Willow roots away from any concrete. Willows win every time.
  8. Waterscapes By Design

    Waterscapes By Design LawnSite Member
    Messages: 237

    only thing I see as a real concern was the standing water with the heavy rains. That really needs to be addressed and will probably be your biggest decision before building the pond. Even with the amount of standing water you had shown you could seriously get into trouble if you slack on the construction methods. You definately need a reinforced berm in my opinion, above all, if you plan on putting any weight on the surface surrounding that area, be it a waterfall or anything like that, you will need to put down a concrete footing before ya start stacking just to combat that standing water.
  9. manfromearth

    manfromearth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 68

    Make sure you have all your materials listed....liner (though, I wait until the hole is dug to by my liner, just in case I enlarge as I'm digging), underlayment, pump w/ tubing and couplings, rock, mortar, etc. A pond this large, I suppose you will be digging with some sort of excavator. If you do, don't do too much digging. I find that hand digging the final 10 to 15 percent makes for nice marginal shelves, sump areas, etc. Also, to protect against runoff pollution, be sure that your pond is slightly raised. You might also check into some of the skimmer/biofall set ups that, in my humble opinion, make maintenance easier. Finally, be creative. Don't think too much about where a rock goes...the pond will begin to look contrived. Don't use all the same size rock and try to let the use of rock "bleed" out into some of your yard. If you have access to large rock, use them as stones to sit on and view the pond. Make sure your falls aren't all similar....let them twist and turn and have varying heights.
  10. wahlturfcare

    wahlturfcare LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 549

    Fishcube, I am from the Des moines area and put them in alot. I would put the waterfall to the left of your deck that spills down to a small pond(about 4' across) and open up to a winding stream with a couple tiny falls in it(if you can) and end up in a 11'x 16' pond. You would want at least 3'4 shelf levels in the bigger pond and can also use that to make tunnels underneath rocks for the fish to hide.
    If you need anything else, let me know.

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