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Pond/stream/waterfall in planning stages (personal)

Discussion in 'Water Features' started by fmjnax, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. fmjnax

    fmjnax LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Hi all,

    We just moved to a new house and it's time to start planning the new pond. I've done small scale ponds before, but I want more this time. I'm wanting to do a waterfall with stream to a small pond. I've got a good mental idea of what I want to do, but I thought maybe I could get some professional opinions on placement and size. Naturally, all of this is contingent upon any markings the utility companies will make this week. I've attached some pictures of the yard (poor quality due to being from my camera phone).

    This image is the South side of the yard. Red lines indicate the drainage.

    This image shows the overall yard. From house to the stone retaining wall (which is about 3' at the lowest and 4' at the highest) is roughly 36' at the line. I believe it's 27' from the corner of the house. The black circle indicates the lowest point of the yard.

    And finally, here are the images of what I generally have planned out, from a few different perspectives. Green indicates the pond, blue indicates the stream, red indicates the source/waterfall, black indicates the flagstone pathway (complete with a walking bridge), and pink indicates seating areas.

    Unless there is need for change in plans, my biggest concern is how I can raise the source for the waterfall. Currently, my plan is to build a faux rock/stone/softscape hill using PT lumber or railroad ties as the core, a small bubbler barrel for the water source, and then build around it all with the materials as needed. This way I won't have to worry about building an actual substrate base (nothing but clay here).
    Also, if you notice in the retaining wall there are drainage pipes. I would need to come up with a way to route this through my structure, but that is still in planning depending on my final approach to the waterfall.

    And finally my saga ends for the day. What do you guys think? Remember, this is my first major pond project. I've done small bubblers and garden ponds, but nothing of this magnitude (and I'm sure it's small by most standards).
  2. fmjnax

    fmjnax LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    I guess I should also note that my proposed waterfall structure would only be 1' or maybe 2' tall, since I already have a natural slope from the corner down. Knowing this, would I be better of just using the backfill from the pond as the mound for the waterfall? This would probably make it look a bit more natural and be less of a burden on myself I suppose.

    For my stream, I will again make use of the natural slope and give it a smooth slope down to the pond. I will also dig in small shelf/steps along the way to give the water some tumbling action.

    The pond will likely be about 10'x10' in size, give or take. It will have your standard plant shelf and I don't think the deepest end would be any deeper than 2'.
  3. FNCPonds

    FNCPonds LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    Well consdering you have a natural slope you have many options. You should use the backfill and if the soil is the same as Frisco, TX you will be dealing with alot of clay but will be a good backfill to build up your waterfall more. If you any questions you my contact me at www.frisbysnaturalcreations.com we are only 30 mins away. good luck
  4. CJF

    CJF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    I just to suggest to you that if you want fish, you should consider going deeper than 2', at least in half the pond. It looks like you have a sunny backyard, and I know it gets hot in Texas. If you plan on having fish in the pond a 10 x10 -- pond only two foot deep will get mighty hot in the summer. Do you plan on having Koi? If so, 10 x 10 is kinda small for a koi pond...Koi love to swim and require a bigger pond, an adequate filter system and a bottom drain.

  5. n2h20

    n2h20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 503

    agreed, koi like a minimum of a 3 foot depth. not only will a 2 foot pond get hot it will also get colder easier..... if you are in cold country.

    also if you put the pond where your arrows are. it looks like it will cut off the side portion of your yard??

    with the slope of your yard.. will there be a chance of run off into the pond??
    you dont want "yard water" going into the pond during heavy rains...
  6. CJF

    CJF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Can you get to the side of your house without stepping over the bridge?
    Keep in mind those cute little bridges can be slippery in wet weather. You need to consider a way to get to the left side without having to cross over the bridge. The stream may be a little long for the size of the pond. I think you can do much better with your design, your backyard is an open slate, go back to the drawing board on this design and think about the landscaping you want around your pond as well...
    Are you going to make your patio bigger? Think about having the pond come across the front of a larger patio on the left side. What kind of filter system are you planning?

  7. fmjnax

    fmjnax LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Thanks for the replies all. I will try and answer best I can:

    I think I see that this is going to be the best solution. I will have plenty of clay backfill. Luckily, the lot next to us is still vacant so I can dump my extra there (approved by Builder/HOA).

    Yes, it looks like our yard will be hot and sunny in the summer. We plan on planting shade cover in the area, but that will take a while to get established. No, we didn't plan on Koi. MAYBE smaller fancy goldfish. If nothing else, at least "mosquito fish" for that balance/control. However, I think I may dig deeper than 2' regardless. After looking it over and pondering, 2' isn't really all that deep. I'm also not entirely sure it will be 10x10. That is just an estimate I got from eye-balling the location. It may actually be closer to 15x10, I don't know. I will have to actually measure it when I start work. I don't really want to go bigger than what I have planned in my mind, though.

    I think I agree. 3' is probably about what I want.

    Yes, this will essentially be cutting off the side of the yard. More on that later.

    And this is my biggest dilemma now. I'm trying to come up with a way to avoid this. A couple of nights ago we had massive thunderstorms rip through the area. It was a perfect time to see just how the yard drains. Well, it drains exactly how I diagrammed it out. There seems to be a low spot just to the right (if facing the back fence) of my proposed pond/stream. It took quite a few hours for the water to drain away from here. The flow of the drainage occurred right at the point where my pond and stream will connect. I may be able to create a French drain to divert the flow, but it may be more work than I really need to do. Any suggestions?

    Yes, we will be able to access without the bridge. I am planning to keep space free between the waterfall and the retaining wall. I am also planning on having a pathway via the sitting area by the house. Both will be small, but at least it will be extra access. I do appreciate you brining up that concern, though. We have two kids (6 and 4) and that corner of the house will be where the trampoline goes. Now I am on the lookout for slip resistant options for my bridge.

    I also appreciate you bringing up the option for an alternative site. My wife thinks I'm crazy for wanting to do this (she never has faith in my projects. Hehehe). As I mentioned above, the left side of the yard is for the trampoline. We will be putting a dog run down the entire opposite side fence, from rear to front gate. This essentially leaves me with the spot I planned out, the middle of the yard, and very little on the "dog side" of the yard. There are no current plants for extending the patio. We don't entertain much, and when we socialize with friends/neighbors/family, it is usually in the front yard (neighborhood is full of similar-aged kids, so we have "block party" style get-togethers and let all the kids play together). The stream seems much longer in the pictures than it will actually be. It will probably be around 1/2 the entire length. I figure my waterfall will take 3 or 4 feet. The pond is somewhere between 10 and 15 feet. That leaves roughly 8 feet, give or take, for the stream. That is all from memory, though, so I am probably wrong. I will try and take some physical measurements this weekend. I still like my idea, but you have definitely made me rethink it; especially in terms of the softscape. Also, I am from Idaho where there are tons of streams and not too many lakes. This is the ultimate look I am trying to get back. More water movement and less standing water. I would love to hear some alternate suggestions, though. In the meantime, I will Google hunt for some ideas.

    Finally, in regards to filters, it will all come down to the final size of my project. If it ends up being fairly small, I will go with a DIY media filter (I do have experience in this for the many aquariums I have installed/maintained). If it ends up being fairly large, I will end up going with a commercial filter and may even think of going with UV, since I'm sure the extra sunlight will rapidly increase the algae.

    So here are my pending problems/questions:
    1 - How can I divert the natural water draining that I have? This will be a question no matter where I choose my location.
    2 - What other possible suggestions might you have in terms of location and layout? I must have a waterfall, a stream, and a pond.

    Thanks again all!
  8. fmjnax

    fmjnax LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    It's time for some more [poor quality] pictures!

    I quickly laid out some garden hose generally how I am picturing things.
    - The pond ends up being 13x12 at the extremes. I estimate it around 3000 gallons, give or take. It is 3' from the corner of the house and 3' from the patio.
    - The stream ends up being 13 feet (about 11' linear).
    - The waterfall will be about 2' high. This will allow me some room to play with how far I actually want the water to fall (I live by an interstate, so I need the noise reduction).

    This image best shows, I think, the drainage (blue) through my plan. It also shows the best relative size of each component.

    The following two images are just from a different perspective. The last one makes the pond appear larger than it really is.
  9. CJF

    CJF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Much better What kind of filter system? You might want to leave enough room
    behind the waterfall for your filter system.

    I found when we were planning our pond I got a better visual by laying out the yard and house on graft paper (you can download graft paper from the internet)
    then drawing the different shapes for the pond.

    Think about plant shelves too. Our shelves are piled up to the top with flat rocks
    when we got to the top we used round rocks mixed in. Our shelf goes around the entire perimeter of the pond except for where our beach area is.

    Here is an example of what I mean...although the actual rocks on the shelves are flat.


    More food for thought, you must consider putting in a bottom drain.
  10. CJF

    CJF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    what the shelves really look like -- after the rocks are piled up to the top.

    this is from May 04 before the plants grow in.


    July 07, after the plants grow...this is the dog leg section of our pond it is approximately
    6 ft wide x 13 foot long ...we added this section on in 1999.
    Notice the plants are on the 'shelves' and there is no liner showing.
    Thus the rock necklace look is avoided.


    another May pond...
    see what I mean about the rock shelves? the rocks you see under the water are the rocks on the 'shelves' ...the pond floor is actually bare...the little dock houses the skimmer, which we only use in early spring and in the fall.


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