Introduction: How I Made a Raised Pond and Rockery (2006)
I have always wanted a wildlife water feature in my back garden. I eventually got around to making one. It is slightly larger than I expected but none the less a welcome addition to the house.
This instructable shows how I got round to making it. This mainly consists of a series of diagrams combined with a few actual photos.
I hope you may find this useful.
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Step 1: Prepare the Ground
Pick your area for the pond and clear it of rocks and plants.
Step 2: Flatten Required Area
It will make things a lot easier if you try and flatten the area you plan to use. This means that you'll not end up with shallow water in your deep end and water overflowing the shallow end.
Step 3: Create Shuttering for Concrete Base
I was advised by a good friend that it would be useful to create a concrete base on which to place the pond wall. As the concrete ring is relatively level it should be easy to make sure the pond wall is of a similar depth all around.
To make the ring I simply dug out a small channel in the ground, for the required shape, and placed small pieces of 4mm plywood (I had some scrap from a previous project) to create some shuttering. To get the sides of the pond level I used a long builders level. If a piece of plywood was too high I hit it with a large hammer/mallet until it was in the right place.
Step 4: Remove Concrete Shuttering
Once the concrete has been allowed to go off for a a day or so, take out the plywood shuttering.
It's not a good idea to leave it in as the wood could splinter and then puncture the pond liner.
Let the concrete go off for a few more days. Take a day off, go kayaking, partying etc.
Step 5: Make the Pond Deeper.
Most ponds in the UK need to be at least 3 feet deep to make sure that any wildlife in it can survive the whole year.
As I didn't want to build the pond too high I needed to dig down a bit. Unfortunately due to the nature of the subsoil I couldn't get down too far anyway.
I took out all of the larger or sharper rocks from the bottom of the pond. Even though I was going to put in a protective layer this is necessary to prevent any chance of the actual pond liner getting punctured.
When creating the profile I needed to make sure that there were different levels to accommodate the different sorts of plants that I would eventually plant up.
Step 6: Provide Protection for the Liner
To help protect the waterproof liner of the pond I needed to place at least 1 layer of protection on to the bare earth.
The initial layer was just some sharp building sand, to help reduce dips and ridges in the soil, and cover any stones I had missed. On top of the sand I put down a layer of pond felt which I bought from a pond centre. This was made from re-cycled plastic bottles. The roll of felt wasn't wide enough to cover the whole pond in one go, but this didn't matter as it overlaps ok. When overlapping I made sure that there was plenty of it to make sure I didn't miss any bits.
Some people suggested that I could have used an old carpet to save money. I didn't go with this though, as the backing on some carpets are not good for the garden.
Step 7: Put in the Liner
I bought a pond liner which had a long life, as I didn't want to do this again for a very long time. It was also plenty big enough to cover the entire pond and then some. I didn't want to risk getting one slightly too small, as trying to bond this stuff together in the garden successfully was too risky.
I waited until there was a warm sunny day before trying to put the liner in. This meant that the liner was warmed up and much more supple, thereby reducing the risk of splitting or stretching too far.
I managed to get somebody to help me with this bit as they can be quite heavy, these liners.
Step 8: Protective Layer on Top of the Pond Liner
Not only did I have to protect the liner from the earth below, but also the rocks I planned to put in the pond itself.
This was the same stuff as I used under the pond liner. I completely covered the pond liner with at least 2 layers of the protection felt, to make sure I didn't puncture it if I needed to get in at any point.
Note : Quite useful to use up any large pieces you have left, in the bottom for extra protection.
Step 9: Add Water !
Even though the pond is nowhere near complete, I needed to add water at this point. This is so that the liner gets stretched into the very bottom of the pond before too much weight is added to the side pieces.
If you wait until the pond is completely finished to add water, you'll find that the liner will get stretched too much and eventually puncture.
Step 10: Build Supporting Wall
As I wanted the water level of the pond to be higher than the grass I needed to build a supporting wall.
So that I could support the liner and protective layers properly I built the wall on top of the liners, which were in turn on top of the concrete base built earlier. Having the concrete base meant that the wall would be relatively level. It didn't need to be perfectly level, as I wasn't going any higher than one layer of breeze blocks.
Step 11: Even More Protection
I added even more protection inside the pond.
Step 12: Bring Liner and Layers Over
To keep the water in the pond at the required level, I needed to bring the liner and protection layers over the front wall.
Don't worry if it doesn't look neat at this stage as it will be covered by the rockery later on. Just make sure that any large folds are free of rocks, stones, cement etc which could puncture the layers later.
Step 13: Add Trough for Stream
I had decided that there should be a shallow area at the far end of the pond away from the pumps and reservoir. To feed this from the reservoir I would effectively need a stream.
To create this I decided to construct a trough out of lengths of cast concrete. I won't go into the process of making these in this instructable as I might do this in another one if required.
Needless to say I had a series of troughs which I laid out on top of back wall. So that the water wouldn't just run into the first gap between the lengths of trough, I laid a narrow piece of liner along the whole length.
Step 14: Start Laying Ther Rockery
As I had a large number of rocks in the garden I had decided to use them to form the exterior surface of the pond.
It was at this step I started laying rocks about the breeze blocks.
On the front wall, the rocks were stacked loosely so that they could easily be planted up later. Because they were loose, the base ended up quite wide to hold up the height of rocks above it.
Quite by accident this has also made it quite safe for the kids as they can't get too close to the top of the wall without supporting themselves, as they lean against it.
I also included a few well placed flat rocks in the top wall so that it's possible for people to sit for a while.
The back wall was cemented in below the waterline, to reduce the size of the footings, so that they don't take up too much space in the pond. Above the waterline it is still just placed one rock on top of the other. This makes it look a lot more natural.
Step 15: Install Reservoir at Head of the Pond
I decided to use a half barrel as a header tank. The pump would be plumbed into this, and then the stream would be supplied at a constant rate.
The barrel needed to be supported above the pond. This was done by using more rocks from the garden.
The barrel needed to have holes cut into it to allow the water in/out. I settled on 1 in and three out. The outlets were made using small white plastic 90Â° bends normally used for kitchen plumbing which I had lying around the place.
Step 16: Install Pond Pump and Supply Pipes
The pond pump was placed at the bottom of the pond.
The pump outlet was connected to the reservoir using a length of standard 1inch pipe bought from the local garden centre. The power supply needs to be either low voltage or connected via an RCD socket and fuse.
IMPORTANT NOTE : Don't mess about with water and electricity. If you're not competent get a trained electrician in. Better safe than sorry.
It would be a good idea to test the pond pump at this point before hiding the pipes and supply cord. Now would be a good time to check the flow rate into the reservoir and down the stream. You wouldn't want to have to take it all apart again if it doesn't do what you want.
To hide the outlet pipe and power cord I placed them behind the rocks of the back wall.
Step 17: Hide the Stream Trough and Fill Up the Pond
To make the stream look a lot more natural I added some more of the plentiful rocks on top of it.
Covering it up also helps to reduce the amount of evaporation from the flowing water.
I placed a few of the rocks on the bottom of the trough as well as over the top, to cause some sections to over flow down the back wall. You can see the effect in the photo.
Once the rocks are all in position, fill up the pond from whatever supply you feel is appropriate. I filled my from the tap as it was before I had my water towers.
Step 18: Tweak at Will
From this point on it's a case of tweaking here and there, by planting up the rockery and/or the pond floor itself.
Of course you should sit back and enjoy as much as possible.
I haven't put any frogs in the pond as I'd like them to find it themselves. I have put some native sticklebacks in the pond to keep the mosquito larvae down though and they seem to be doing well.
I hope you find this instructable useful and/or informative.
Step 19: Update for 2020 - 14 Years Later
After 14 years, the pond is still watertight, and the water is still being held above ground level.
I recently had to clean it out after a long time without any maintenance. It will take some time for it to regain a natural balance as the oxygenating plants take hold again.