Instructables

CREATE A SMALL SOLAR POWERED POND & GARDEN FOR AROUND $100

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Moving to a new home with nothing but grass in the back yard, (having left our carefully cultivated, well-tended, critter-friendly garden behind), was disconcerting - especially with no budget for gardening.   But  after the first few weekends of having nothing but grass, fence and rooftops to gaze upon at the end of the work day, we decided to forego our upcoming anniversary "dinner and a movie", and spend the money on a small gardening project instead.

Our total cost was around $125.00 (including taxes and shipping charges where applicable), but it could have been done for less.

Solar pump with fountain $32.95
35 gallon plastic pond $32.75
(Both of these items were purchased via web stores)
Japanese willow tree 32.05
Annuals (48) $10.00
Mulch (5 bags) $15.00

The entire project took around 5 hours to complete - and we now have a small, bird and frog friendly habitat in our backyard!

The two up-close fountain photos were taken Jan 4, 2013.
 
 
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Step 1: Choose the right Spot

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We chose the corner nearest our brick patio. Corners provide more protection from winds, this corner receives the most sun, and it is closest to the community birdhouse.  (Make sure you don't have any underground lines you could disturb while digging!)

Step 2: Plant a Tree

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Of course you don't have to plant a tree. A suitably large shrub would also provide some degree of shade and critter-cover.

We chose to plant a Dappled Willow tree http://www.midwestgardentips.com/hakuro-nishiki_dappled_willow.html, as we'd done in our garden back home.  In our experience this is a hardy, beautiful tree, providing great color and cover in season, and a lovely silhouette in the winter. And they're the right size in both height and width (something you need to seriously consider when planting near structures). You will want to keep them trimmed up, or they'll get that 'Albert Einsten hair' look about them.

barbsdesk (author) 1 year ago
Almost a year later and the pond and fountain are still going strong! And the birds still love having a fresh drink.
Do you mind sharing what type of solar pump you purchased? Thank you!
barbsdesk (author)  srobinson3611 months ago
It is an Instapark® 5 Head Solar Pump Garden Fountain Pond Water Feature - bought for < $25 at Amazon April 2012. Seriously the only time it quits running is if the water level gets too low, the pond freezes (rarely here in Memphis) or its heavily overcast/raining. Also, we have only changed the batteries twice since we began using it. Real little gem.
great idea thank you for sharing.
mmelvin2 years ago
but how to prevent it to flood
barbsdesk (author)  mmelvin2 years ago
Hi Melvin!
It's a 32 gallon capacity - holding much less than this given the displacement for stones and blocks within and it not being filled to the top.

Having said that - as with our once HUGE inground pool, with a few days of steady rain it threatened to flood - so we turned on the pump and ran out the excess. With the pond, we could either remove some of the blocks and/or bail out excess water.
gunnergrady2 years ago
Nice ible, but just be aware a 'solar pond' actually means something other than what you have built there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_pond
barbsdesk (author)  gunnergrady2 years ago
I should have said "solar-powered garden pond". Thanks!
buirv2 years ago
Barb - Nice feature. I thought I'd share my experiences with you so you may learn from them... I have the same pond and did things a little differently. I tried a solar pump, however it never gave enough action to circulate the water. Who's solar pump did you use?
Ponds are great!!! The sound of the water trickling and the birds come by for water. Only problem are mosquitoes. So I stocked mine with feeder Gold fish. You can buy them for 5 or 10 cents at a pet store and they'll grow to nearly a foot long (BTW - Gold fish are part of the Koi family).
I had to put a cage around my pond. I live in Southern California near a green belt that has lots of wild life in it (deer, skunks, bobcats, opossums, rats, rattle snakes and so on...) One night at about 2AM a family of racoons came over for a fresh Sushi dinner. They ate very hearty and all of my fish (about 3 of them that were 10") tore up all the potted plants in it.
So I built a cage around it before I restocked it with fish. Got two Dogs for 24x7 guards. Critter problem solved...
If you go for turtles and Frogs, (which sounds really cool) you may want to have something to protect them...
I have a Bull Toad in mine now, but it's still a tadpole. When it's full grown, it'll hop out and be quick enough to out with the critters (I hope) and live off of eating insects (such as tarantulas, scorpions) and snails that wonder out of the greenbelt.
barbsdesk (author)  buirv2 years ago
Buirv

Instapark® 5 Head Solar Pump Garden Fountain Pond Water Feature is the fountain we are using. And yes it is very small, but this is a budget project. We will upgrade to something a bit grander as we can.

Oh my you have a lot of critters where you are! We had a lot in Maryland where we too lived on a greenway. Now we are on the Mississippi River at Mud Island (Harbortown) in Memphis, a planned community only two decades old. We have few critters within the community - and with a 6 foot fence around the back yard, they'd have a hard time getting in. We have three cats who love the yard and can roam safely - and they are too old to care about chasing frogs or birds so all but the occasional grasshopper is safe.

diy_bloke2 years ago
a tiny corner of paradise. birds and critters will love you for it
I just adore this. Very clever and informative. I think I will try this one in MY backyard!
barbsdesk (author)  werewolflove2 years ago
Thanks werewolf! Having a backyard water feature is good for one's soul - and the critters love it!