The Great Pond Renovation of 2008, Day One, Parts One and Two

The Before Picture ... in which I reveal to you just how bad the current pond looks and ask that you not think too poorly of me ... (and in my own defense, I did remove some of the moss rocks covering the edge when I needed them in another spot)
This pond was installed in 2000 or 2001 (I can't remember which and the invoice doesn't show the date ... this is why keeping a garden journal is a good idea!). Since it was my first foray into ponding, I was hesitant to commit too much time, energy and money to a "real" pond. So I bought a pond kit from Wal-Mart and had it installed by my then favorite landscaper. (He'd still be my favorite if he hadn't moved halfway to Dallas and semi-retired.) Over the years, the gumbo clay soil has shifted and settled numerous times. As a result the pond liner had heaved and was no longer level. The last couple of years I've been very unhappy with how it looked. I knew I wasn't up to doing the renovation myself, though, and other projects/problems took higher priority over the pond ... little things like replacing air conditioners, fixing leaky pipes in the attic, making car repairs, sending our eldest to college. Yeah, no biggie.

Now, though, number one son has graduated from college and is gainfully employed. Essence Man, as my superhero spouse has been known since his youth, changed jobs recently and was handsomely rewarded for doing so. It was clear to me (maybe not quite as much to EM) that the time had come to undertake the pond project. I called upon the experience and talent of Justin Bristol, formerly of Nelson Water Gardens in Katy, and now the owner of his own small business, Pond Pros of Houston. He paid a visit to MCOK to take a look at the existing pond and go over my ideas for the renovation. He came up with some great ideas of his own, including installing a bog filter and rock spillways. A few days later, he e-mailed a very professional and detailed proposal to me; I called to accept; and he put me on his schedule for this week.

Today is Day One of The Great Pond Renovation. Justin arrived just before 9 and got right down to business. After emptying the pond and moving the plants (of which there are a pitiful paucity: one water lily and some hornwort) to a holding tank, he pulled up the old liner and wrestled it out the gate. He called me over for a consultation on the size and layout, agreed to my request that we make it just a little bigger, and then started digging. He's hoping he'll be able to get the entire pond dug and the liner installed today. Normally he wouldn't attempt to get that much done in one day, but the projected arrival tomorrow of a tropical storm/hurricane in the greater Houston area changes things a bit. Forecasters predict 100% chance of rain although that doesn't necessarily mean it will rain here on my corner of Katy. I offer as evidence the failure of even one drop of rain to fall here during Hurricane Rita's visit. Not one, people. Zero zip zilch nada rien niente. Not that I'm bitter about that or anything.

Progress! The hole is dug and what a beautiful hole it is. Those concrete blocks on the back side are the retaining wall for the bog filter. We decided after some discussion to stack the concrete blocks two deep, making the wall a bit higher. That means I'll probably have to lift some of the plants in the area behind the wall and raise the level of that bed a bit. That's a good project for fall. The bog filter will help keep the pond clean and also give me an area for planting some moisture loving plants. I have Louisiana Iris galore that I dug up a couple of months ago when I decided I was over my LI obsession. Some of those might go in the bog . More likely, I'll take the opportunity to add some new plants to the garden!Justin's gone to Nelson's and Lowe's to pick up a liner and other supplies. With rain being forecast for tomorrow, he's not going to mortar the blocks or stone in yet. Stay tuned for Day One, Part Two, in which we celebrate the installation of the liner!

2:45 PM, August 4, 2008

It's beginning to look like a pond, don't y'all agree? This is the main view, what most people will see as they stroll along the garden path.Below is the view from the east side. The bog filter will be on the west side of the pond, just to the left of the tree trunk. If anyone has ideas or suggestions regarding a way to camouflage the electrical box, I'd love to hear them. I'm thinking maybe ornamental grasses. It needs to be something that won't scratch, itch, or otherwise maim me!
This concludes today's episode of AS THE POND FILLS. Our hardworking hero Justin has departed MCOK. We'll have to wait till tomorrow's episode to learn whether he'll return to continue his efforts to build the pond of our heroine's dreams, or will be thwarted by the tempestuous and temperamental Eduardo.


Anonymous said…
I see you're doing summer hardscaping. Or even better, having someone else do your summer hardscaping. A new pond sounds very exciting. I look forward to Phase 2. Meanwhile, fingers crossed for rain.
Looks good so far. How do you feel about those fake rocks that cover utility boxes? If you hate them, then I saw something in a magazine that might work. It was a wooden structure with a fancy birdhouse on top. The whole thing goes over the utility box. When you need access to the utility box, you just lift it off & set it aside.
Wow...seems like real progress...he's a fast worker...maybe the fear of rain helps! I like the idea of grass...something that doesn't block the view too much. I hope you get quick rain then the renovation can continue!
Carol Michel said…
I love when you can see progress from a day of work. So often we have to do stuff and then at the end of the day we think, now what did we really get done?

I think the grass idea is good to hide that box, or find something like MMD suggested to put over it.

I look foward to seeing tomorrow's episode of "As the Pond Fills"...

Caorl, May Dreams Gardens
Gail said…
Pam is right this is a good time to get in the hardscape! It's going to be beautiful! I just saw the fake rock that MMD is talking about not bad looking, really. Although, a nice bit of grass would be good looking...

Looking forward to seeing what the weather and/or Justin bring tomorrow!

I can't believe you are doing this in this heat--but good for you! It's going to look fantastic.
I have a surprise for you..visit my blog!
Anonymous said…
Goodness--this is all so fun. I enjoy seeing a project from beginning to end. I don't think the first pond looked so bad but the new one is grand. I guess I hope you get rain just not buckets. Good luck with part 3.
Anonymous said…
MCOK, I like the grass idea and MMD's idea. Both are lovely. I'm fond of some of the new grass available. Your pond is really shaping up.~~Dee
Cindy, MCOK said…
Pam, I enjoyed your post on hardscaping. Even as hot as it's been, I enjoy messing around with my rock borders, etc. I satisfy my urge to create with reworking those instead of planting. I know the rocks won't suffer as a result of my efforts!

MMD, I'm not big on the fake rocks. The birdhouse/cover-up sounds like something work checking on. I wonder what you'd call it, though, when searching for one?

Leslie, I'm in awe of Justin's accomplishments for the day. I am SO glad that he's doing the hard work for me!

Carol, I have way too many of those days when I look around and can't really put a finger on what I got done in the garden that day! It's nice to see evidence of what's been done, even if I'm only indirectly involved!

Gail, I'm going to have fun choosing plants for the bog area and deciding which water lilies I want. While I'm out at Nelson's doing that, maybe they'll have an idea for the electrical box.

Linda, what a delightful surprise! Thank you very much ... I'm honored. Now how do I get the tag on my blog????

Anna, I think one of the best things about the new pond is that those ugly black edges won't be visible! Justin's going to get creative with rock and it should end up looking very natural.

Dee, it was fun watching and documenting the building process yesterday. I'm looking forward to more of that tomorrow, weather permitting.

Thanks, all, for stopping by. I'm happy to report that it's raining steadily right now, but not so hard that it will run off. I'm hoping for a few hours of this, but I'd settle for just one!
Just right click on the award and save it to your pictures. Then add it on your side bar like you would other pictures.
Hope this helps! It took me a while to figure this out! : )
Annie in Austin said…
Thanks to the Austin Pond Tour I know what a bog filter is, Cindy - your pond is already looking good and I hope you can find just the right thing to disguise the power source....hollow statues? A tree stump with a cut-out underneath? Since the seating area is already part of the scene, maybe a small table to match your chairs, with something interesting set on top?

If you used something like grasses would they look good in winter or would they go dormant? We spend more time sitting outside in winter than in summer, so looking at dead grass wouldn't work for me.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose