Monday, November 30, 2009

BIG fountains

I often get questions about huge fountains.  People try to put a fountain in a large pond, usually a natural bottom pond and find that the pump clogs up fast and the fountain stops working.

You will see fountains like the one in the photo at shopping centers and casinos.  This one is near a shopping mall near my house.  If you look closely, you can see that the fountain floats.  At no time can a huge fountain like this one be on the bottom of any pond or it will try to suck up debris and burn out quickly.

If you have a huge pond at home and want to use something like this, watch that the wind does not blow the water out and cause the level to drop to dangerous levels.  Sometimes you have to give in and install a float valve to keep the pond full of water.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turtles in the pond

Nuf said? No?  OK, turtles eat everything in the pond. They start with your most expensive plants, like tropical water lilies and eat their way through every last plant.  And they do it fast.

You can have turtles in a pond if you have nothing else in the pond. You have to feed the turtles and make a little island and/or ramp so they can get in and out. Turtles do not live underwater.

In the winter, they burrow in the leaf mold and under the rocks and stay there undisturbed until spring when they wake up with a voracious appetite for more water lilies.

Turtle on a turtle?  Yup, it is.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another kind of pondless waterfall

Most pondless waterfalls are holes in the ground filled with rocks or a box that makes the sound echo.  All nice and all with their own problems.  Yesterday I decided to make my own pondless waterfall in the front yard.

It could be a pond with fish and plants, but it is really small, so I now have my own mini pondless waterfall.

Here's how I did it:  I bought a 3' in diameter x 2' deep Rubbermaid horse watering trough at a feed and seed store.   It cost about 40 bucks.  I had a pump lying around from my active pond building days. It's a 700 gph Little Giant submersible.  I also had rocks in the yard, saved from my pre Katrina pond and moved to this house from the one that we had to bulldoze.

First was a hole in the ground. I did not bury the horse trough all the way, but left about 6" above the ground. It's easier to deal with that way, easier to keep level and doing it like that avoids any run off.  Also with our water table so high, digging a 2' deep hole would find me in the water before I got all the way down.

After you dig the hole, put in the horse trough and fill it with water.  If you don't it will rise like the phoenix while you are leveling it.  Add kiddie play sand around the edges to give a solid surface to hold the trough.  Use water to pack down the sand. As you doing that, get the trough as level as you can.  You will cantilever rocks over the top later, so you don't have to be perfect here.

Start piling up flat rocks to hide the sides of the trough that is above ground. Doing this will make the pond look natural.  Save a spot for the waterfall.

Attach flexible tubing to the pump and then T off with a hard plastic T fitting  like plumbers use.

Put the pump in the water.

Now build your waterfall on one edge of the trough.  Use a large flat rock for the bottom, put a few thicker rocks on top and add another rock on top of those.  That's about as high as you can get because you don't want water splashing out.

Place the two hoses on the top of the waterfall.  Maybe one hose on each level.  Whatever pleases you.  Put rocks the same thickness as the hoses on either side and a rock on top to keep them where you put them.

Now arrange the hoses so no water slides off the back or over the sides and out of the trough.

Hide the hoses in the back of the falls with rocks or plant material.

Use swimming pool chlorine to keep the water clear.

There, you have it and it only took a few hours.  This one took me about 5 hours yesterday.  I am moving a bit slow this morning.

To find more pond information, go to

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Water Lilies in Winter

Hardy water lilies will survive the worst winter you can imagine.  I have seen hardy water lilies in Rocky Mountain National Park at about 11,000 feet.

 Remember water lilies are only pretty weeds, invasive and obnoxious if left to their own devices.  If you have planted them on the bottom in the bottom of a natural pond, you will regret doing that because they will cover your pond in short order. BUT they will survive. And survive. And survive.
You can tell the difference between hardy water lilies and tropical ones easily. The tropicals have stems that raise the flower far out of the water. The hardy lily flowers sit very close to the water, sometimes even touching it.

All water lily flowers live for about three days and then die. Another opens and so on, so you have flowers throughout the spring and summer.

If you have tropical water lilies, you must protect them in the winter.  If you have a deep pond, you can lower them to the bottom and keep your fingers crossed.  Here in South Louisiana, that's what I do.  Our freezes are relatively short and rare, so our lilies are safe.

If you live where your pond may freeze solid, you can remove your tropical from the pond, remove its leaves, rinse the corms off and pack it in damp sand.  Put it in the garage or somewhere that does freeze. You have about a 50/50 chance of saving your tropical. In the spring, simply pot them up again and place them in the pond.

 Of course, the ideal way is to have a green house and store the lily in it.  You can cobble together an 8' long box made of 1' x 12' lumber, line it with butyl rubber, fill it with dechlorinated water and your lilies will love you for it.  You will have blooms early in the spring.

No matter where you live in the US, your lilies are dormant by now. They react to the length of daylight and dark as well as temperature changes.  Don't worry, you will see them again in the spring.

To find more pond information, go to

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Ponds, men and women

Have you noticed? I know I have.

When men build ponds they want technical, complicated things like automatic water levelers. Women just use a garden hose to top off the pond every couple or months.

Men will run PVC pipes from the house hose bib and put a faucet near the pond. Women: See above.

Men plumb a waterfall with that same PVC pipe, so if it needs repair, you need a saw, sandpaper, more PVC pipe, fittings and that blue glue. Women use flexible tubing. If it breaks, they get a new piece for a couple of bucks.

Men hard wire a pump into an electrical box, so when the pump burns out, an electrician is needed to install a new one. Oh, and hard wiring the pump voids the warranty. Women just plug in the pump. When it burns out, they just plug in a new one.

Men love concrete. They use it to cement down rocks around the pond and try to glue waterfall rocks together. Women simply balance the rocks properly, so no concrete is necessary. That way, if rocks need to be moved, they can be picked up and  moved.

Anyone else find this strange?  Or is it just me?