Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Decorating the pond for the holidays

Have a great holiday, no matter which one you celebrate.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We are still in the 70's here in New Orleans, so we still have water lilies blooming. I stopped feeding a month ago. I hear from the weather forecasters that our summer is coming to an end at the end of the week. Ah well, it has been a month when no heat, nor air conditioning had to be turned on.

Monday, November 27, 2006

just pictures

Water lilies from a pond I built several years ago.

Victoria water lilies at Oxford University in England.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

water lily pics

I thought I would brighten your weekend with water lily pictures I have taken throughout the summer:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pond Letters

I have a plan for 2 ponds connected by a waterfall on the side of a steep
north facing slope. I have 2 different pond builders bidding on the job,
one uses strictly concrete and one a liner Aquascape system. While clearing
the site of grasses this weekend I noticed a gopher housing project going on
very close to pond site. Should I not even consider using a liner? Will
the rocks that completely cover the liner and weight of the water be enough?
Or could we line it with carpet or wire? I am learning a lot but didn't see
much about the darn rodents!


When I built our pond (3 yrs. ago-3,000 gal.) I put lots of chicken wire down
first, and then old carpet before I put the heavy duty liner inside. I
haven't had any problems with gophers or leaks :)

We have no gophers (that I know of) here in New Orleans, but the chicken
wire sounds good. Just a note of caution, though. The Aquascapes system does
not build the pond above grade and the rocks are a PITA when pond cleaning
time comes every year. Unless you are under a tree, you do not need a
skimmer and most probably don't need a biofilter either. Don't let them sell
you (for a great deal of $$) things you don't need. Concrete is most always
a bad idea because it isn't elastic, won't move with the ever moving ground
and will crack at some time, always sooner rather than later.

Gopher removal:

Unless you intend to tame the gophers, (burrowing North American RODENT according to definition in the dictionary) I think you should first check with Wildlife Commission to see if (1) you have rights to move them to a more suited environment, (2) if they are prone to mark their territory and return, (3) have the Animal Resque League (police) trap & move them to a m
Jore fitting area.

As far as construction of your pond, CONCRETE DOESN'T HOLD WATER! So, if this guy/gal doesn't tell you it will be painted with Elastomeric to wet seal, then two coats of Ramuc (black/blue/white) to fish proof..........RUN!

AquaScape Design doesn't work in Mississippi (differing opinion from manufacturers & some designers not in my area) without the addition of special blends of bacteria (8 or more strains targetting string algae). I also prefer UV lights (some like the natural approach/not me/too busy to mess with) to keep water crystal clear & as healthy as it can be. Add Magnitizer (RED one) to target string algae, with right formula of fish & plants. Also, N E V E R plant your vegetation in a rock bottom pond!!!

Weight of water and stones will not hold down liner if trouble comes.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

roofing material as pond liner

I had an inquiry about using roofing material as a pond liner. I looked it up online and found the following from a manufacturer of roofing material. I guess we can't get a better answer than this:

There is a difference in Pond Liner EPDM and roof grade EPDM.

Most roof grade EPDM is chemically compounded to be specifically used in roofing installations. Part of the mixing and compounding process usually includes the use of additives such as anti bacterial and anti fungicide agents that will prevent mold, mildew, fungus and other such growths from happening on a roof top. These are additives that the pondkeeper would prefer NOT to have in their pond liner, particularly in order to maintain the health and proper balance of the pond life.

EPDM Pond liners are proven fish friendly, and is a membrane which has no anti bacterial or anti fungicide additives used in the manufacturing process. In addition EPDM Pond Liners are practically talc FREE. Thus providing an enhanced performance of the sheet as a 100% secure and healthy habitat for all of your pond life.

If you are a roofing contractor and use roofing EPDM, then buy Roof Grade EPDM with all of the additives. If you need Pond Liner EPDM and would like to maintain a healthy pond environment, then buy an EPDM Pond Liner!

Remember, American Wholesale Supply Company (AWSC) wants your business and we will show you the best products, services and pricing on the net!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cheap pumps

Lots of us want to buy cheap pumps from a big box store. While they usually perform as expected, they don't perform as long as more expensive ones. Worse than that, they cost much more per month to operate. The more expensive the pump, normally, the cheaper the operating costs.

Electric costs are easy to compute. I am often asked how much it costs to run a submersible pump and if there is a difference between brands. I will use the example of a 100 watt light bulb and a utility cost of $0.08 per KWH. A KWH is a kilowatt-hour or, 1,000 watts used for 1 hour. A 100 watt light - .1 kilowatt or .1 KWH = less that 1 cent per hour.

• Find the actual wattage used by the motor. (If the actual amp draw is not available, estimate by using the full load amps plate.)

• Watts = volts x amps for single phase motors. The light bulb has an amp draw of 8.7 x 115 volts = 100 watts.

• Compute your cost per month by multiplying the KWH x 24 (hours used per day) x 30 (days used per month) x cost in KWH (to find the actual cost look at your last power bill and divide the total power charges byt KWH used).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Liner questions

Question: Can I use a cheaper liner than EPDM?

Pondlady sez:

The biggest enemy for any liner is the sun. I have never found a liner that does not crack and break after a season or two except EPDM. Replacing a liner is harder than building the pond the first time.
I have seen ponds done with kiddie pools and yes, they work just fine untl they crack. The preformed ponds that you can buy at big box stores crack just as fast. If you must use a preformed pond, buy a horse drinking trough. Usually they are made by Rubbermaid and last forever. I had one buried in the ground when Katrina hit, left it there for a year. When I retrieved it, it was fine. I now have in my new front yard.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pond without rocks?

You can build a pond outdoors using no rocks at all. Use landscape timbers and stack them 18" high in any shape from a square to a rectangle to any other geometric shape. Use 16 penny nails to nail the timbers together. Line the inside with roofing felt as a cushion for you liner. Drop your 45 mil liner in, fill the pond with water. The liner is now sticking over the edge a few inches. Use a 1 x 4 to finish the top. You can use a 1 x 6 if you want to use it for a shelf for plants or rocks. If you want a waterfall, put one in one of the corners or build one in the middle. Looks great and is much cheaper than using rocks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Make a tabletop pond

Building a tabletop fountain or pond is easy. First find a pretty pot. I usually use a ceramic one. Make sure it has no holes in the bottom. The easiest way to get a bubbling noise is to put a tiny pump in the bottom, fill the pot with round pebbles and turn on the pump.

If you wish to be a bit more elaborate, you can omit the rocks, put a couple of indoor plants like spaths or pothos in there, find some pretty larger flat rocks to cover the tops of the pots in the water, and then put a pump in. Make it as elaborate or simple as you wish. Plants around the pot make a beautiful backdrop for your indoor pond. If you wish to put a goldfish in it, be sure to include aquarium filtration and feed your fish, but sparingly. You will need to exchange the water occasionally so don't make it so large that you cannot easily manage to carry it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Perennial of the year

Nepeta or catmint was just named perennial of the year. It's a member of the mint family and grows everywhere. There are lavender blue ones that are a great substitute for lavender plants that hate our summer heat and bad drainage. It has great grey green foliage and sprawls. Because of that sprawling habit, it's a great plant for next to the pond. It will drape over and look great.
It will also attract every cat within 10 miles. Use at your own risk.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Formal ponds

This is a huge formal pond in a courtyard of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans. I did not build it but took care of it for years. One of the particular problems with this pond was the lime leaching out of the concrete. It was improperly sealed and the pot at the top had so much lime in it, there were calcium deposits on it that had to be removed yearly. It looked like it had the chicken pox. Since the pond was always planted and in use for ceremonies, I could not have it emptied and sealed although that would have been the best way to deal with the problems. I hauled a gallon of vinegar with me and poured it in the water weekly. That kept the plants alive and looking great. Of course the courtyard always smelled like a Caesar Salad.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

planting the rest of the garden

After you have built your pond, you usually want to tie the rest of your garden into your new room. You can use the same rocks that you used in the pond to make paths to other rooms, or out the gate. Soon your entire garden is a park.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pond water layers in winter

In the cold of winter, you will notice your fish stay near the bottom of the pond. Why? Because the water is warmer and denser there. As temperatures fall, the water forms layers of water with the warmest layer at the bottom. With each temperature drop, a new colder layer is formed, but the bottom layer stays warmest.
The layering of the water helps the fish stay healthy, helps them absorb oxygen.
All of this assumes your pond is built below your frost line: That's the depth your soil or water freezes solid.

So do not keep your pumps running during the winter. It can kill your fish.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

bamboo and bananas

Down here in the subtropics of New Orleans, we love to plant banana trees and we love to plant bamboo. There are red dwarf bananas, medium sized bananas and the huge ones that produce fruits you can pick and eat. Each and every one of them is invasive and you will soon have banana trees sprouting all over your yard and your neighbor's. If you plant bananas close enough to your pond, they will sprout up through your liner. I have seen them come up through 45 mil EPDM liner, so beware of bananas.

Bamboo comes in hundreds of different kinds and is beautiful. We love bamboo as much as we love banana trees. There are clumping and non clumping kinds of bamboo. Each is invasive. The difference is that the non clumping kinds will take a little longer to send a shoot up through your liner. And bamboo is much harder to get out of your yard, neighbors yard and for that matter, your neighborhood, than bananas. Bamboo is persistent and must be watched daily for new shoots and that's hard to do when the only way you can see a new shoot is when it has popped its little head through your brand new liner. The way to contain bamboo is to surround the plant with metal that is three feet deep and completely surrounds the root system. That's a mighty deep hole to dig.

So CAUTION! Do not plant either of these plants near your pond or you might be patching your liner.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Sacred Pond

This is the largest pond I ever built. It is on the grounds of American Aquatic Gardens in New Orleans and is now called "The Sacred Pond." It has changed over the 15 years it has been there. The planting is huge now and has changed the look of the watefall. The pond and most of the plants survived Katrina.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Baby Goldfish in Winter

Generally speaking, baby fish will survive a winter in the pond if they are an 1 1/2 inches long or longer. Most of the time they are still blackish, grayish, brown, so you can't find them if you are trying to catch them to bring inside. Next spring they will be orange and you will think they magically appeared during the winter.
Just make sure there is a hole in the ice so toxic gases can escape and oxygen can get in.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Building a rain garden

What on earth is a rain garden? It's a garden supported completely by rain. It can be nothing more than a garden of native plants in a shallow low spot in your garden, or it can be huge terraced areas in cities to catch and retain storm water rather than sending it straight down a storm drain to pollute our drinking water even more.
Use rain water to top off your pond after filtering it through gardens in the yard.

Oh, and a rain garden makes a great addition to the beauty of your garden.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Birds need a drink

Turtles sunning themselves in the Big Branch Wildlife Reserve in Lacombe, Louisiana.

Another great way to give birds a drink in the winter is to pound a nail in the bottom of a bucket or pail. Put a small rope or short piece of cotton in the hole to act as a wick. Fill the bucket up with water and hang it over a tree branch. You might want to hang the bucket up first before you fill it with water. Fill the bucket daily.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ponds, birds, butterflies

As soon as water is in your pond, you will start noticing birds, butterflies and dragonflies arriving to check out the new resort in the neighborhood. Dragonflies are usually first and will be buzzing your head as you build the waterfall. When you begin planting in and around your pond, the butterflies arrive. Give birds a special place to have a bath and a drink. Make one end of the pond very shallow, about 3 to 5" deep and turn it into a bog garden. You can put rocks there for bird perching and maybe some smaller pebbles for tiny bird feet to stand on while bathing or drinking. If you put plants in the pebbles, your bird resort and pond garden will also act as a filter for your pond. The birds will flock (pardon the pun) to your yard. If you put feed out in the winter, you will make your feathered guests even happier. Make sure the bog area does not freeze. You can do this by using a de-icer.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

swamp photos

The Buckeye butterflies were playing on the wild ageratum in the Big Branch Wildlife Preserve over the weekend.

A monarch attracted to the wild ageratum