Pond and Waterfall Project - In the beginning...

The day before Mothers' Day in May of 2002, Michael asked me what I would like for my special day. I told him that what I really wanted was to clear out the overgrowth in the front yard and begin a waterfall and pond project which we'd planned for years. Hence, it began -

Collage of three photgraphs combined to show the view from our front doorstep before the clearing began.

The above picture is actually three photographs stuck together. That is why it looks a little "odd". However, it still does a good job showing the view from our front door before the clearing out of bushes and trees started.

The overgrowth as viewed from our living room window.

A picture from another angle. This one was taken from our living room window before the clearing took place.

Michael starts work clearing the jungle.

This is taken looking toward the house after Michael had already begun cutting. It's still nearly impossible to see the house, but a little sunlight is already showing through.

Chainsaw Massacre

The growing pile of yard debris is visible in the foreground of this picture.


Look at all of those juniper bushes (off to the right) that we were going to have to tackle.

Approaching the halfway point

Michael used the chainsaw to take out a lot of the branches and trunks. The kids and I helped by dragging branches out of the way.

I bet he wishes I would put down the camera and go help him.

This photograph shows the progress that was being made. Here he was about halfway through the trees and bushes, working his way toward the dreaded juniper bushes.

J.J. tries to avoid cutting off all of his fingers and toes with the machete.

J.J. used a machete to hack away at the juniper bushes which ran all the way from across the front of the house into the sideyard. Behind J.J. the huge pile of yard debris is visible. Michael finally went ahead and took a chainsaw to the mess of junipers, but the stumps and tangled branches made the going painstakingly slow.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to dig, I go.

Once we pulled out all of the bushes, we realized that we were going to need to put in a retaining wall in order to provide a pathway to the backyard and prevent erosion problems along the sideyard. Wow. A few minutes of observation resulted in a whole additional new weekend-long project - Wall building!

The ledge has to be almost perfectly level.  The water will not be forgiving.

Here Michael digs out the main pond area and adds a ledge where basalt rocks and flagstone will eventually rest.

Michael and his beloved pickaxe...

This particular round of pictures was taken on June 16th.

The whole thing was dug out with a shovel.

Michael had to wear a back brace through some of the work due to the stress on hs already bad back.

Just another photograph of the work.

We hadn't backfilled the dirt along the retaining wall yet, because trenches still needed to be dug out in order to run all of the piping from the pond to the pump and filter (to be placed at the side of the yard), then back to the top of the waterfall. Here we are still working on getting the main pond area dug out.

If I put the camera down, I'll have to go help.  I'm not stupid.

If the pond project fails, we'll have an ideal gravesite...

We added a lot of additional rocks and flagstone to help level off areas where we wanted plateaus. This is only the beginning of the rock and flagstone placement duties. Wait until we get to the actual pond designing phase.

Full frontal nudity - our exposed front yard.

I'm running out of angles from which to shoot pictures.

The excess dirt was originally dumped up in the backyard in an effort to level out some bumpy spots. Man, was there ever a lot of dirt to move!

Time Warp - It's now August 11th.

Fast forward almost two months - The trenches have all been dug and most of the plumbing is in. We used three inch Schedule 40 PVC for optimal water flow. This shot shows the trench to the waterfall head still open. We ran out of the pipe needed to finish up this section. Though not very visible, there are two three inch pipes in there, one running from the filter and one from the pump.

Here the PVC pipe running to the base of the pond is visible. Michael had a deep trench running from the bottom of the pond all the way up along the retaining wall to the sideyard, where the pump and filter are placed. The dark mud is where we filled in the trench with mud just the day before.

The bulk of the plumbing is completed.

Try to picture a waterfall, stream and pond flowing here.

Someday that pile of dirt immediately in front of and to the left of the rhododendron (above) will be where the waterfall begins to run down the "stream" into the pond.

Our neighbors probably wonder when we're going to finish and get this mess tidied up.

Still looks like a construction zone, doesn't it? The neighborhood kids have been adding petroglyphs to the rocks with sidewalk chalk.

Facing somewhat east -

One has to use one's imagination to picture the koi fish and pond plants that will someday grace this area of our yard. The water garden will be complimented by a swinging bench and pathway lighting.

Facing somewhat west -

This photo is taken from the opposite side as the one to the left. The "bog garden" area is visible in the upper right hand corner. This is where I will run the liner behind the rocks and add a couple of small pvc overflow pipes, then backfill with soil and plant water loving plants.

Looking toward the side yard where the pathway will run.

Eventually there will be a flagstone bridge running over the stream portion of the pond and flagstone steps winding up where the sloped area by the retaining wall is currently visible. For now we are keeping it sloped for wheelbarrow access.

Photo from the porch.

Another view from the front porch.

Looking out to the culdesac from the sideyard.

Now that the trenches have been dug, the pipes run, and some of the trench filling started, we are working on backfilling to the retaining wall for what will eventually be a nice, level walkway area.

The electrical work is done!  Now Michael can listen to his little radio while working.

The electrical work Michael did makes it possible for us to operate some features of the pond and lighting from inside the house.

Filter, pump and pipes visible to the right.

Michael ran out of the three-inch piping and was short an elbow, so the pipes to the pump and filter are not all connected up here. In fact, one of the temporary pipes which just looks like it is headed off to nowhere isn't actually installed. It's just placed there to keep dirt and water from entering the system.

The pump will produce a flow of over 3600 gallons an hour at a 1.7 amp draw.  The 55 gallon drum will filter 1000 gallons an hour.

The pump is a high efficiency unit specifically for use in ponds and water gardens. It will pump over 3600 gallons an hour at 1.7 (that's one point seven) amps. Pretty impressive. About a thousand gallons an hour will be siphoned off at the 'T' and run into the filter. Both the filter and the pump feed into the waterfall. The filter will gravity feed the water to the waterfall while the pump will send it out at low pressure.

Flower Bed

Flower bed photograph.

Overall view as of August 11, 2002.

A work in progress...

The next page shows a continuation of the pond building process.