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Work in progress

We have built garden ponds in a number of houses, including Schellnhausen in Germany and Wantadilla in South Australia. One day I may write more details. But neither of those caused us as much trouble as the pond in our house in Dereel.

We built the pond in Schellnhausen with pond liner, but it was quite shallow, so in Wantadilla we had a big clay-lined pond which nevertheless gave us problems. So this time we decided on a deeper pond with liner. My choice of liner was sub-optimal, and it sprang a leak with only 10 cm of water in it. We spent over a year before coming up with a better solution.

This page, like the pond, is a work in progress. I'll update it as things go on. The rest of this page consists of diary extracts.

Monday, 14 June 2010

So now it looks as if Ron from Enfield Mini-diggers will come this time next week and excavate a pond for us in front of the verandah. It's not as if the area is empty now:


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The pond will take up the area to the left (where there's currently a rosemary bush) and straight ahead (which currently appears unplanted, but in fact it contains a number of bulbs and irises). So we need to do quite a bit of work to do before he comes. Where do we put things? Spent some time looking around without coming to much conclusion beyond that we would remove the Osteospermums round the bird bath to the right, and plant some things there.

Friday, 18 June 2010

There's a lot to think about before the pond gets dug, not the least how we're going to line it. My current thought is to put in a plastic liner, but all the books I have read tell me that the material is expensive and easy to damage. The alternative would be concrete, but that could also be expensive. And I need to know before I dig, because it'll make 10 cm difference.

Then there's the irrigation, which will be fun. When I laid it, the garden was pretty empty. Since then, things have changed a lot, and it'll take some time just to find the hoses. Fortunately, it looks as if the amount of change isn't that great.

Finally, where do we put the things that we take out of the pond area? That includes both plants (two rosemary bushes, one so big that it may not survive, a dwarf Callistemon, an Iberis sempervirens which had been swallowed up by Snapdragons, and various spring bulbs and irises). That's not to be seen in isolation: we also have a number of other plants in pots on the verandah, waiting for somewhere to be planted.

Removing all the Osteospermums was an obvious first step, so did that. The first photo is before removal, and is taken from a different place. It shows the bird bath behind the Cannas.

 
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Took the rest over to Chris' place, where she will replant it. She suggested throwing it into the lagoon; that would completely destroy the ecosystem, I fear.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

As planned, into town today to look for material for lining the pond. Bad idea. We've got so used to shops being open “all the time” that we didn't expect people to shut at midday on Saturday, and by the time we got to town, most of the shops that we wanted to visit were closed. Found some foil 4 metres wide at Bunnings for $35 per running metre. That's marginally cheaper than pre-formed ponds, but is it worth it? What about self-laid fibreglass as a liner? Fibreglass used to be a choice material for do-it-yourself projects, but it seems to be out of fashion nowadays.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Midland Irrigation doesn't do pond liners, but they sent me off to Bartlett's in Ring Road. Bartlett's are a manufacturer, and they can sell me what is hopefully superior liner for $16.10 per m². For the estimated 20 m² I'm going to need, that's over $300.

On the way home, stopped in at the fibreglass place on Glenelg Highway. Their biggest pond insert costs $400 and is less than a third of the size of the pond we want. But they also sell materials to lay the fibreglass myself, and confirm that it can be done. Price is $12 per m² of fibreglass mat, and materials for 20 m² would come to about $240, so we'd have about $500 if we chose that solution. But after some reflection, I think I'll go with the liner: it's literally more flexible. If we find that we've formed a pond with the wrong contours, there's not much we can do about it. And by comparison, the liner from Bunnings is beginning to look good.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Apart from that, Ron of Enfield Mini-Diggers was supposed to come today to dig the pond, but he got called off on something more urgent. I wasn't too unhappy: I still had plenty of preparations to make, and spent some time disconnecting irrigation pipes that went through where the pond or the path would now be. I had expected that to be quite a problem, but in fact it wasn't too bad.

Also potted the Veltheimia viridifolia, which proved to be root-bound. Maybe that's why it's looking less than completely happy. Chose a bigger pot as a result.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The weather is dryer now, but not dry enough for Ron of Enfield Mini-Diggers, so he put things off—again—until Monday. CJ showed up, however, and spent the whole day working on the new dog run for Nemo. It proved to take longer than expected, and by evening we still weren't done. Hopefully Tuesday now.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Finally the weather was right, and Ron of Enfield Mini-Diggers showed up to dig the pond. That was only a small part of the work, as it turned out: the soil there is so soft that he had difficulty getting in and out of the hole, and it looks as if it will be easier to dig it by hand. Still, we got a fair amount out.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Getting the pond foil was another matter. The cheapest was at Bunnings, not my favourite place. They sell it by the (4 m wide) metre for $34.88 per metre. I needed 5.5 m, so that would have set me back $191.84. Found some pre-packed foil that was much cheaper: 4.5 m, also 4 m wide, for $115.00; from the roll it would have been $156.96. Clearly worth investigating. It's too short, of course, but one end of the pond is only half the width, so I could cut some off one side and glue it on the end. But how?

Found a bloke there with a “we are the experts” emblem on his name badge, who professed not to have any idea. They did find a number of people who discussed the matter and thought of various possibilities, but found nothing that was clearly intended for this purpose. In the end left with a tube of swimming pool adhesive, which doesn't fill me with confidence.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Did some digging in the pond, hampered more by considerations of what it should look like than by the effort. The “soil” here is almost pure fine sand, and it's very easy to dig and to form. Also called up Bostik and confirmed that the adhesive I bought for the pond liner would work—I think: the person on the phone seemed to think that I was going to glue it to something else, and I had difficulty convincing her otherwise. The other possibility, she said, was “Multibond”, which I didn't investigate.

Monday, 2 August 2010

We're supposed to be in the middle of a decade-long drought, but I haven't seen that the rainfall in recent years has been significantly lower than historical values. The annual summary for 2009, the hottest year on record shows that Ballarat had 553 mm rain instead of the normal 693 mm (elsewhere they claim it's 690 mm), but many other places in the area, notably south and west of here, had much higher than usual rainfall. Port Fairy had 868 mm compared to the average of 664 mm, 30% more than usual. We don't have records for Dereel, but until the end of July this year Ballarat has been closer the historical average: 345 mm instead of 369. That was before the last weekend, where we had 42.2 mm in Ballarat and 33.7 mm here. So no work in the garden. The pond even has water in it, despite the porosity of the soil:

 
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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

I could have worked on the pond, except there's still water in it.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

More work in the garden, and again not much. I'm gradually getting the shape of the garden pond sorted out, but it's heavy work, and I'm beginning to feel my age. Still, if I continue like this it should be finished in a few days.

Friday, 1 October 2010

CJ over again today and got to digging the remainder of the pond. There are some practical advantages to having a crook leg. Two months ago, before I had my accident, I had got what I thought was nearly finished, but it turned out to be a far cry. Here's the status as I left it, and as CJ finished it:

 
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I'm going to fill the pond from the rainwater tank behind the greenhouse, and in the process discovered that, for some obscure reason, I had fitted a gate valve with a 2" thread, and I don't have matching fittings, so we couldn't fill the pond today. Started laying out the liner, which, as I suspected, wasn't that straightforward a matter. Left it half fitted to ponder how to make it look prettier:

 
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Sunday, 3 October 2010

More work on straightening the pond liner, with some success. We've come to the conclusion that we should straighten the bottom part, fill it with water, and then repeat for the other parts. So that can wait until I get the fittings for the pump.

Instead took a look at the irrigation system. There's plenty to be done, including new lines for the birches and the vegetable garden, and replacing some of the micro-sprinklers with drip line, but now that it's getting warm and dry, we need to do some irrigation. Fixed obvious problems that had sprung up in the winter and confirmed that it works. I can then restructure the system at my leisure.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Into town today to buy various things for the garden, in particular fittings for the pump so that we can fill up the pond. Also bought a shredder that will hopefully be better than the last one, and picked up Chris, who had left her car for service. Stopped off in Napoleons for yet another roadside plant purchase, and this time saw the owner of the house. It seems she hasn't sold after all; the “Sold” sign was on the corner of the main road and related to some house further down the road. Picked up a shrub marked “Greek Oregano”, which looks more perfumed than the stuff I bought out of the pots.

Back home and put the pump together—this stupid thing was delivered in two parts, the pump body and the regulator. There's a non-removable cable between the two, and the regulator needs to be screwed on top of the pump body. How do you do that? With great difficulty. Opened up the connector box to remove the cable, but the earth connector was crimped, so ended up twisting the cable not quite enough to have it come out straight after screwing in the regulator:

 
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Apart from that, though, things worked fine, and I filled in the bottom part of the pond as planned. We'll continue tomorrow. The effort was helped by some heavy rainfall in the evening—nearly 10 mm in a little over an hour. And that showed that we really do have some kind of leak in the roof of the front part of the house. As soon as Bryan is available, I'll get him to take a look.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Out this morning to see how full the pond was after yesterday's rain. I wasn't prepared for what I saw:

 
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On further examination discovered that a tiny stone had somehow slipped in between the liner and the sand, causing a surprisingly large tear:

 
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I knew that pond liners are sensitive, but that's completely out of proportion. Did some thinking and noted that we only need ¾ of the foil, and if I were to turn it around, I could put the tear in the part that I don't intend to use. But this happened when there were only about 20 cm of water in the foil, and I don't like my chances of it happening again, possibly months after we have filled the thing up. So I'm giving the foil approach up as a bad job, and I think we'll probably concrete it instead. But first I need to consider the alternatives.

Heavy rain in the afternoon, catching Yvonne in the forest with Nemo. One side effect was water in the pond again:

 
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It won't stay there, of course, but it's a good indication of how much rain we had.

Into town today to complete the things I meant to do last week. First to the post office to return the Telstra USB stick, then on to A & J fibreglass for a quote for lining the pond with fibreglass. They couldn't give it to me on the spot, and wanted to work it out and get back to me. But looking at some of their other custom prices, I fear it might be 10 times as much as I'm prepared to pay


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