Introduction: Concrete Pond

About: I only got one life, so why choose the same path as most people . I'd rather venture into many things. tinker with to discover more, really live life, bring changes to other people lives, give my time and reso…

The idea of building a pond never got through my mind because I thought much of space was needed (which is the case for bigger one but not small ones).  So when my parents decided that it was time for us to do renovation both in the house and the yard, I began exploring the internet, magazines and other sources for ideas on different kinds of things for indoors and outdoors to make our life simpler and to have more space.  This is where I found a website where a company who specialises in building water features had displayed their creation but also included pictures and videos on the progress when building them and this is where my idea came from.
this is the website which specialises in water features.

Step 1: Research and Plan

Depending on your budget, the place where you live, availability of materials, laws and any other things that might hinder the progress please make sure you plan everything FIRST then act because I was so overwhelm with all these beautiful ponds that I wanted one over night so I didn't pay attention to anything and grabbed everything that I could lay my hands on to just build one and made lots of mistakes.

Here are my mistakes and do learn from them instead of repeating them.

The first picture shows how my front yard was in such a mess which is why I choose this area in the first place.The rest of the pictures show my progress from cleaning the area to digging and finally making the pond (well sort of).

Step 2: Planning

Well after much time and research I found different useful information about the construction of the ponds but also the different materials that it can be build from. For my case, I live in Mauritius more precisely in the Indian Ocean below the Equator and just above the tropic of Capricorn for those who don't know.  The sun shines all year round even in winter, I live in Moka district more precisely located in the upper plateaus and next to a mountain but even there the temperature is between 20 to 27.

I really wanted to use the EPDM Liner because it's more easier to work with, unfortunately most the stores did not even know what it was even though I showed them pictures.  I went to places where they build pool mould and asked them for my pond but however it was too expensive which left me with the option of going for concrete (again many mistakes were made here).

Before improving the old pond an overview of the new pond was designed onto paper and a list of the materials required was also prepared.

Materials required to build the pond.
- Wood planks (to make the mould to retain the concrete)
- Pick (to help in digging)
- Rebar / metal bars(to add in the beams to reinforce the concrete)
- Mortar
- Bonding wire (to bond the rebars)
- Nails (to join the wood planks )
- Hammer (to fix the nails into the wood)
- Bucket (to remove soil, carry concrete, tools, debris etc...)
- Machette (to cut any roots found in the ground)
- Measuring Tape
- Hoe (to dig and other uses)
- Masonry level
- Saw (to cut the wood planks)
- Ruler or Straight piece of plank (we used that to put the masonry level on in order to get a good measurement)
- PVC Pipe (used to build the two beams as it saves times without the need to build a mould)
- Broom (to clean out debris)
- 2 pound hammer and chisel (used to break rock or concrete)
- Crowbar (help in digging, removing nails and dismantling mould)

Step 3: Preparing Site and Start Construction

In my case I had to remove all the things that constituted of the first pond such as the plastic sheet, bricks flower pots etc....
Then I started to dig again further more where I came into contacts with roots and rocks which thankfully were easily removed.  In the meantime in the corner additional soil rocks and root had to be removed in order to make way for the drain pipe by being careful not to damage the existing water line.

The first thing to do was to align the drain pipe correctly and inclining it about 5 degree angle towards the bottom of the ditch and securing the pipe temporarily with soil.  Then slowly adding the concrete in the centre of the hole and by moving little to the side and covering the front.  While the Concrete is Still fresh cut the PVC pipes to equal length and push them in them the mortar,at the same time cut two pieces of metal bar of the same length and use bonding wire to attach them together then put the rebars inside the PVC pipe in the centre by sticking them in the concrete and do the same for the next beam.Since the base would be filled just with concrete, I placed some rocks on the concrete base in order to save some concrete.Then the additional concreted is poured in order to fill everywhere and reach the satisfied level.

Step 4: Constructing the Side Walls Base Level

In order to be able to build the walls correctly additional soil had to be removed in order to get the desired space to pour the mortar in, then the mould had been built by leaving about the same distance on the sides and placed inside on the base.  In order to keep the mould more stable when the concrete is poured in,4 pieces of wood plank were placed in just behind the 4 corners of the mould and secured them with nails. Then poured the concrete in the 4 sides about half the size of the mould where metal bars were added to give additional strength and finally additional concrete were again poured in to fill.

Step 5: Adding 1st Level Outer Walls.

After the concrete dried, remove the mould by exposing the side walls.  Now the side walls need to built on top of the existing walls (Note: depending on your pond design you might not need to build additional walls on the existing one), Since I wanted to later add rocks and plants in the pond I had to leave distances about 5 inches or more on each side,  after leaving these distances I again inserted 4 pieces of wood as support for the new mould to be set-up in place. Concrete is then poured in the mould and left to dry.

Step 6: Adding the 2nd and Last Level Retaining Wall and Backfilling the Empty Space.

Once the concrete had dried, the mould was dissembled and the exit pipe was covered with soil.  However during that process it which was the last for that day I wanted things to go faster and tried to rush when a rock just rolled from the top onto the pipe and in the ditch creating a small crack where water was escaping.  I had to go to the hardware store and buy a fitting in order to fix that as I wouldn't be able to change the whole pipe where part was already in concrete.The exit part had to be cut with the crack and then again the crack alone had to be cut where the new fitting was reattached and glued to the exit pipe then refitted to the main pipe.

For the mould of the final retaining wall, the mould had to be secured from the inside of the pond with nails affixing the wood on the 2nd level retaining wall.  Since there were spaces left outside as well which were too large, another outer mould had to be built and just placed around without the need of fixing as it was flat on the ground and also as concrete would be poured in it would just stay in place.  Then concrete was poured in and left to dry for two days.

After two days the concrete dried and the last two moulds were removed and dissembled.  Soil was added around the pond to fill the gaps and level everywhere but about two inches were left around the retaining walls as later grass would be planted and also to avoid water from going in during heavy rain which would carry debris and dirts.

Problem 1 : After the backfilling with soil, it was time to clean all the debris and materials used.  When I was cleaning the plants leaves, pathway and watering the soil around the pond I noticed that water was entering inside showing signs of leaks specifically   coming where each level of retaining walls were built one onto the other.

Step 7: Patching the Cracks and Spaces With Mortar, Adding Walking Slabs and Fill Water to Test.

On this step first I applied concrete on the 4 sides of the wall structure where the cracks and holes were once found.  Then the concrete was left to dry and then water filled to nearly to the top and waited till the next day for the truth of whether water was still being retained or not.  

On next day however the water was being retained only at the base.  In the meantime I actually planted grass around the pond and added other decoration.  After two days when the concrete slabs were ready my mason added mortar on the downside of the slabs where it will be resting on the edge of the pond and on the pole. By using a hammer, measuring tape and masonry level the slabs were correctly aligned put into final resting area.

Event though the pond was not ready I wanted to decorate it and add water to see the effects and also testing it's retaining water level.  After that I actually removed all the rocks and clean the pond.

Step 8: Grinding Walls for Interior Masonry Wall Rendering, Painting With Eco Retaining Water Paint.

After about 5 days, I actually grind the interior wall to make it rougher so that the wall renderings could be made and also to allow the concrete to stick much better.  It was only after 4 months that were were able to complete the inner wall renderings and also we have very much of problems to do it because it was in winter and the concrete did not want to stick as humidity was very high.

We mixed a special powder to the concrete while preparation so that it would again strengthen further the concrete to be able to hold water, I have also included the product is the Super Sikalite which is a waterproofing agent for mortars.

After the rendering was complete I sealed the exit pipe by first adding rocks and finally adding concrete on top and letting it to dry.  After waiting about two weeks to let the concrete to settle, I also ordered a special eco-paint which is based on water and also friendly to the environment and not toxic to aquatic plants and animals again pictures have been included.

The pond was painted with 4 coatings of paint and letting it dry about 2 days in between.

Step 9: Decorating Pond and Adding Aquatic Plants and Animals.

After a week where the first paint coating was applied, I immediately started to add rocks and gravels which I obtained in a nearby river, however I didn't clean them and while filling with water the pond went instantly muddy and there was nothing that I could do.

Then I added some small fish, frogs and a plant where again I took all of them from the river.  At first everything seemed to go right but the problem was that the inhabitants died and only the plants remained alive.  It wasn't the water because it came from the river itself, as for the pump it would run only about 2 times a day for about an hour.

further investigation showed that these fishes could not adapt to such a place but the larger ones such as "tilapia or berry rouge" would definitely adapt. Well on  the time I publish this instructable which is on the 3rd december 2012 the pond is empty but by the end of the year I will try my best to introduce other fishes and plants and post pictures.

It took about a year, maybe less to do the pond, I did learn things from that and this is what I am sharing with all of you. Please comment about the right and wrongs of my doings which is much appreciated so that I can learn from my mistakes and also others can learn from that.thanks