The Garden Pond
Two ponds line my front walkway going up to my front door. Late in the nineties I built my first and second pond. The first was a 55 gallon drum. It was supposed to be a rain barrel and it was positioned under a gutter downspout, but I got two small koi, and a little pump, and they grew up in there. For the second pond I used the hard plastic liners, linked two together by a copper pipe. I put a pump in the lower pond and piped it up to the top of a rock structure off of which it fell back into the top pond. I put small koi in the top pond and left the lower one for a filter pond. In 2002 as the backs of the koi were beginning to stick out of the water I completed the third pond.
The third pond is deeper and steeper than the second, and lined with a flexible 45 mil. EPDM liner. With the help of friends we laid in the 270 pound liner, plumbed the pond with a submersible pump, and piped the water out and up into top of the 55 gal plastic drum (the original first pond sans the koi), and down to the bottom beneath 3 filters laying upon 3 upended blocks inside the drum. The water falls out of a stainless piece of channel set above the filters onto rocks stacked beneath it in the pond. Two other pipes come out elsewhere in the pond through volcanic rock boulders (it is easy to drill holes in those rocks) to help move the water and aerate the pond. In the shallower parts of the pond I have put pots of aquatic plants which help to use the fish wastes, and provide some snacking for the koi fish. The downspout from one of my rooftop gutters feeds directly into the pond, and when it rains it gushes in there. The fish love it. The system works pretty well. I partially sunk the filter drum in the ground nearby, and built a bamboo top for it.
My reasons for pond building were about catching rain water, wanting to hear falling water, and wanting some water plants and koi fish. It turns out though that I created an ecosystem. That area around the pond grows the best begonias. Even rex begonias grow for me there in the middle of our S.Florida summers. Maiden Hair ferns and orchids grow huge on pond water, and in the winter it is the last place to get frost on a cold nite. The ponds keeps their area both cooler and warmer. It fixes the soil near it and supplies many kinds of wildlife with bath and drinking water. It is a favorite place for milkweed to come up, and many a Monarch butterfly has emerged from chrysalii spun on plants growing around the ponds. When I remove the filters from the drum to hose out the pond mud they collect I put them in plastic chairs and wash them over fallow sections of my vegetable garden allowing the muddy water to fall there.
It sounds like a fairy tale, and yet it is all so easy, and has so little to do with anything I do or did except for setting it all in motion. I just built a viable pond. The rest happened. Now I read about permaculture, and realize there is a name for what has happened here, and it makes me feel worthwhile to have started such a thing. I think if you have always wanted some kind of water feature around your property, you can justify the effort and the initial expense because it will help to balance the ecosystems of your yard.