In the beginning, when all the leaves were raked away...

In the beginning, when all the leaves were raked away...

You may have been wondering about my absence here at the blog lately. It’s all the pond’s fault. I’ve been captive to this project for many months now, and it’s just such glorious fun creating this thing that I have a very hard time talking myself into coming indoors to eat, blog, cook, pay bills, whatever. Nothing seems quite as compelling to me as moving big stones around, slopping in muddy water, and wrestling with pond liner.

Although I’ve been picking away at it since last fall, we finally were able to afford a piece of pond liner, so that put me into a state of high gear pond construction these past few weeks.

Filling after the first dig. Hmmm, let's see what we've got here...

Filling after the first dig. Hmmm, let's see what we've got here...

The original owners of our house had created the pond and waterfall, which has been buried under leaves and soil runoff for at least a decade, and I suspect much longer. When I dug it out, I found cracked and buckled concrete, and unevenly sloped ground.

Lucky for me, the permaculture course Carter and I signed up for last spring had a two-day workshop on pond creation. Here’s a link to the creation of that pond, which is about four times the size of my little endeavor: http://tendrepress.com/archives/category/urban-farmstead. Working on that community pond gave me the courage to attempt recovery of what was left of the water feature in our yard.

I must tell you that it is far easier to create a pond from scratch—at least in my experience—than it is to reclaim one. But I’ve wanted a backyard pond all my life, so we broke out the old concrete, I dug the old pond deeper, then tried to level the ground around it somewhat.

I am no engineer. I do not understand flow dynamics, either. We won’t discuss how many days I spent trying to see if I could get an upper bog area (for filtration), a small connecting pond/stream for frogs and such, and a small fish pond all flowing in the right direction. I dug, I redug, I filled in, I played with yard sticks and levels and the hose.

Line the whole thing with old carpet, towels, and clothes...

Line the whole thing with old carpet, towels, and clothes...

What I ended up with is not at all what I envisioned, but it is taking on a life of its own, as any project will if given the room to do so. So far, it is all dug out, the liner is in, I reset all the stones and then some around the perimeter. Then, I hunted the woods and neighbor’s ponds for pond plant life. Yesterday, I put two bags of soil into what will be a small, triangular bog area for turtles, frogs, and whatever else would care to move in.

So far, despite all my experimental filling and refilling of the pond, I have not seen one frog so much as dip a toe into my creation. Then, yesterday afternoon, when I’d drained and mucked all the mud my “creating” had slopped into the pond bottom, I had my much anticipated visitor. Carrying out my sandwich to eat at the empty pond’s edge, I surprised a lovely, big, green frog, who launched himself square into the middle of the one meager cup of water left in the pond bottom. He’s living in a small rock cave at the side of the bog now. Needless to say, I am enraptured!

Wrestle with stones and hollow logs.

Wrestle with stones and hollow logs.

Tomorrow, the pea gravel goes in, and then I can start setting out my coveted little water plants. And set some more stones. And find some ferns for the pond edges, and fill up the big hollow log I dragged up from the creek with some soil, and plant it with whatever I can find. I need to make a small sign:

“Open for Occupancy.

All Are Welcome.

No Reservations Needed.”

I’ll keep filling you in with photos and stories of pond guests and new residents! By the way, does anyone know of a pond-type fish that doesn’t eat tadpoles??

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12 Responses to POND DREAMS

  1. Cindy says:

    When you are working on something that makes your heart sing, it’s easy to forget about everything else. Sounds like you were in the creative zone there! How satisfying it will be when you can sit back and enjoy your creation! About pond fish….all I know is pond fish won’t eat *toad* tadpoles, usually they’ll only eat frog tadpoles. That really doesn’t answer your question, but I’m sure some highly intelligent fish/pond/frog person will get you the right info soon….must “SAVE THE FROGS”! At night, I love how we can hear them singing near our home this time of year. Frog song is wonderful!

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Yes, Cindy—frog chorus is the very best! So far, I’m having no luck finding “frog-friendly” fish, and am trying to see if I can engineer a deeper bog, which might also be a good shallow tadpole pool. “Dammit Jim, I’m author, not an engineer!” (Old Star Trek reference for you who are, like me, nearly as old as dirt…)

  2. Cindy says:

    I love dirt! Hmmm….dirt as a spiritual path? If you’re nearly as old as dirt Susan….you must have been there at the beginning of it all! “Susan, Nearly Oldest Goddess Of Dirt”…..and ponds. I feel in good company!

    Older then dirt, yes…..but we’re still younger then the stars!!!

  3. Susan, your pond is lovely! I have a little one on my hillside, and the sound of the water flowing is always comforting. Oddly enough, after 18 years I just saw my first frog a few weeks ago. Maybe I should put up a sign, too! Enjoy your beautiful creation.

  4. D.B. says:

    Might I say Susan your pond has been blessed by the 1st earnest Frog! No worries the rest of this will now unfold perfectly.

    I am no longer in a house but in a Condo, still I have a contained pond…the energy and enjoyment is priceless! I have Tree Peepers, Hummers, Lady bugs and the every day fly overs by my Hawks & Eagles….Thel little engine that could or the Mustard seed…

    Hope you add some fish!


    • Susan McElroy says:

      Yes, D.B.—I just filled the entire set up with water yesterday afternoon, planted a few things in the bog, and am waiting for the pond to clear. LOTS of good hiding spaces in there! I think I’m going to look for mostly white goldfish with fan tails. The will look like shimmering ghosts in the enchanted pond…

  5. D.B. says:

    Go pond Go! I love the creation, but more than that the beasts & creatures come. Is it me or is it still a formidable miracle when they come?!

    Blessings to the Frogs, birds and the rest of those that draw near that pond.


    Did you by chance get the picture of my new grand-dog?

  6. Kerry says:

    Great project. I look forward to hearing the success stories (go frogs!) and seeing pictures of it maturing.

    • Susan McElroy says:

      Kerry, do you think if I put a few drops of one of those lovely flower essences you sent me, it would make the pond bugs happy?

  7. Kerry says:

    That’s a great idea. I’m sure it will help them settle out in their new home. That same company has an essence called Fireweed Combo. Fireweed is a beautiful stalky northern plant with deep pink flowers that is one of the first things to grow after a forest fire has swept through the land. The essence is used for times of transition, transformation and change. (They have a book called The Essence of Healing which does a great job describing the properties of all the essences.)

    Although the Combo is for us humans, I think it could also be a choice especially for all the transplanted plant and animal life in your pond. I’m dosing up my animals and I with it now for various reasons. Daisy is holding her own, but having good days and bad days, and I think will probably leave me before the end of this year. I’m hoping the essence helps her with her passing.

    Anyway, I think the essence drops you have will be very helpful, and do the trick. Anything else would just be the cherry on top.

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