Often times we build exactly what we think we want for a water garden…and then learn of something new. Or, it may just be time to upgrade. Either way, it’s not too late to add-on extra features like waterfalls, skimmers and bog filters to your pre-existing pond.(for more ideas go to My Pond Needs A Face Lift)
ADDING A WATERFALL
A waterfall is great way to increase filtration, circulation, aeration, sound and aesthetic pleasure to your pond. How can you go wrong with all those benefits? Prefabricated plastic reservoirs are made especially for this application. They are designed to easily hide within the landscape surrounding the pond, while offering sufficient space for biological filter media. These waterfall boxes are called Bio-Falls – like Atlantic Water Gardens FilterFalls.
If you already have enough filtration and just want to add more water flow, a FastFalls or Waterfall Diffuser is what you are looking for. They are smaller in stature but are still able to spread the water evenly across a weir or spillway, creating a natural look to the fall.
1.) Determine a location for your new waterfall, a place where you will reap the most benefits. Water flowing away from the house or patio will direct sights and sounds away as well. Ground on the outside may need to be raised to start the falling process. Build up a good foundation with block to create a stable, level area for your waterfall box. All of this can be hidden later.
2.) Remove the stone from inside the pond walls and top edges of the pond in the area you have chosen for your waterfall to come back into the pond. This is where the pond liner from the new waterfall will overlap into the pond. Before adding liner, be sure that the ground underneath is compact and will “funnel” the water back into the pond. Since water takes the path of least resistance, the liner will need to come up on the sides to contain water within.
3.) Pond underlayment should be put down first to prevent liner from stretching or sustaining puncture from the materials underneath. Pond liner can then be sealed to the front of your waterfall box, according to the manufacturer’s directions, and draped over the edge of the pond - where you cleared out the stone. Replace the stone inside the pond first and build your waterfall from the bottom up. It is good to add pond lighting as you build to make hiding the cords a bit easier.
ADDING A BOG FILTER
A bog filter is a saturated area where water-loving plants absorb nutrients out of the water that flows past or through its roots. In a water garden, we can add a raised basin at the edge of the pond - filled with gravel and pond plants. A pump at the bottom of the pond will draw ammonia rich water (fish waste) and pump it into the basin from beneath the gravel. The gravel, which provides extra surface area, will trap debris and fish waste (ammonia) and provide an attractive place for beneficial bacteria to grow. Aquatic plants, as well as other landscape plants who like to “get their toes wet,” will filter nutrients created by the good bacteria and return clear, clean water back into the pond from an overflow. This is a good opportunity to create another small waterfall coming out of the bog filter.
A bog basin can be built many ways, as long as there is a solid, stable, edge to hold up the liner and contain the gravel and water. We suggest using cinder block to create the outline. Be sure to double up your underlayment along any exposed edges of block, if that is what you use. Sharp concrete edges can cut the liner if it slides across them. Make your basin about 12” deep, run your hose from the bottom of the pond to a pipe manifold at the bottom of the lined basin.
A good way to draw from the bottom of the pond where all the waste settles, is to install a pump vault for the pond pump. It can be blended into the pond wall with stone and hide the pump from sight. The hose should be covered with stone leading to the bog filter.
Once the pipes are in place, pea gravel should be added within a few inches from the top. Chosen pond plants may then be taken out of the pots and set in the stone approximately, one plant per square foot depending on the variety. Cover the roots with pea gravel to hold the plants in place. Your bog filter is now ready to start filtering. (For more details on how to build a bog, go HERE or HERE.)
ADDING A POND SKIMMER
A pond skimmer is a mechanical filter, and pump house, that sits at the pond’s edge, to draw floating and suspended particles in the water through filter material via the flow action of the pond pump. A skimmer is buried outside of the pond and sealed to the pond liner so that the front opening is set at water level for good “skimming” action.
A pond skimmer will eliminate the need for your waterfall pump to be in the bottom of the pond, reducing the chances of clogging the intake and removing the unsightly hose running through the water; not to mention, the need to put on your waders just to do a little pump maintenance. The hose that attaches your pond pump to your waterfall will run underground around the outside of the pond, and accessing the pump and filters is as easy as lifting off the lid. A pond skimmer lid is easy to disguise along the ponds edge with real or fake stones.
The best time to add a skimmer, of course is during the initial build, but it is not too late to add one if you did not know about them in the beginning. As long as there are deeper pockets in the pond, the fish are usually able to stay in the pond during the add-on process. Water only needs to be drained to just below the level of where the bottom of the opening of the skimmer will fall. This will allow you room to work with the liner and get a good seal to the skimmer box.
HOW TO: Locate the spot for your skimmer. This should allow for the most water circulation, so pick a spot far away from where the water comes back into the pond from your stream or waterfall. Remove stones from inside the pond walls and the top edges of the pond. Be sure that the liner is flat in this area - folds and gathers of pond liner will not allow for a water-tight seal against the front of the skimmer box. Now you are ready to dig.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and guidelines for installing the specific skimmer you purchased. They come in many shapes and sizes, so be sure that the skimmer you chose is rated for the flow of your pump. Hoffman’s Water X Scapes can help you to determine that. Installing a pond skimmer correctly should make pond keeping easier.
Ponds are like snowflakes, there are no two exactly alike. With an addiction like water gardens, ponders are always looking for the next best thing. Now, with your new add-on or upgrade you can enjoy your “new” pond for several more seasons.
Visit Hoffman’s Water X Scapes for all of your pond supplies online or in-person at our Garden Center. We have a wide variety of water features, tools, accessories and of course pond supplies available year-round.