Building Liner PondsWritten by Brett Fogle
Surprisingly enough, it is usually in mid-summer that many gardeners begin to think about installing a small pond or water garden. Ponds don't need to be weeded or watered, and they can supply exuberant color in form of water lilies and bog plants. The sound of a splashing fountain or waterfall is more appealing than weeding a flower bed or mowing that section of lawn. Best of all, no matter how hot or wet it gets, pond just keeps on blooming! At this point you may start to think about expense and labor of installing a concrete pond, and our 95 degree days are just about enough to stop this pond daydream in its tracks. However, with advent of newer pond liners and pre-formed pools, misery associated with concrete mixing and finishing is a thing of past. Heavy duty pool liners with 10 year guarantees are now common, and can sell for as little as $1.00 a square foot. Preformed ponds in many different shapes and sizes are also an alternative method to create a quick pond at less cost than using concrete. Using these materials, average gardener can install a decent size pond in less than one day, and have it stocked with plants, fish and fountain by following morning. The simplest kind of pond to build is an above-the-ground pond. Since no digging is required, it usually takes much longer to fill this pond with water than it does to build it! There are many variations on this theme, but as an example, one can use treated lumber planks which are at least 2 inches thick by 12 inches wide, nail them together to form a rectangular shape of desired dimensions, and place form where pond is desired. This bottomless "box" can be placed directly on grass, concrete, a deck, etc., and then bottom is covered with some kind of padding or cushioning material. Most books say to use sand, but I think perfect material is roofing felt. It is cheap, convenient, lies flat, makes a barrier to weeds, and provides a good cushion for pool liner. Once roofing felt is in place, pool liner can be dropped into form and you begin filling pond with water. A few staples on outside of pond form may be needed to keep liner from blowing into pond, but be sure to use just a few, and place them at edge of liner. As pond fills, weight of water will do a good job in smoothing out wrinkles, but if you are a perfectionist, you can help smooth them out by hand before there is more than one inch of water in bottom of pond. While pond is beginning to fill, you can check level of form, and if it needs to be raised a little on one or two sides, this can be done by carefully inserting some shims to raise forms where needed. If you prefer pond to overflow on a certain side (like, into flower bed, rather than onto deck!) then you may want to leave overflow side a quarter inch lower than rest of pond. You should wait until pond is completely filled before cutting any excess liner or doing any permanent stapling. This will give water pressure enough time to pull liner into every nook and cranny where it needs to go; some of those few holding staples which you used to hold liner in place may actually tear loose as pond fills, but if you stapled liner on outside of form, near edges, then no harm is done... you will be trimming some of that excess liner off, anyway. It really does take longer to fill this kind of pond than it does to build it. I once built a twenty-by-thirty foot pond in two hours but it took all night for it to fill with water. I think an ideal depth for an above ground pond is about 14 inches, but it can be deeper or more shallow than that, depending on what materials you are using for form. Railroad ties, landscape timbers, concrete blocks, etc. are all possible materials for pond building.
Fish Health in Hot Summer HeatWritten by Brett Fogle
Summer is over, but for many of us - heat remains. Here a couple of things to do to keep your fish healthy and your pond clear going into winter. First, remember to keep your pond well aerated. This is very important to your fish because pond water actually holds less oxygen at higher pond temperatures. So if it's still hot in your part of country, keep those waterfalls and fountains running! This will keep your pond water full of oxygen, and reduce stress on your fish. If you see your goldfish or KOI gasping at surface, it's a good sign that you don't have enough dissolved oxygen in water, and this can be dangerous. Especially if you have a lot of green water algae in pond. This algae can absorb much of oxygen in pond water at night and cause very low dissolved oxygen levels during day - which can be deadly to fish!