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DIY Diaries: Garden Pond – I

We have an exciting tutorial from an avid DIY-ing couple for you today. Would you believe if we told you that Bhumika and Denzil undertook the task of constructing and establishing a naturalised garden pond all by themselves? Truly, truly inspirational! So without further ado, let’s hear the couple’s description of the process.

We have divided the this into two parts – Part I here, deals with getting the pond established and Part II (coming up tomorrow) deals with the details of how the pond was naturalised.

Resource List: Things you’ll need for 6 X 3 [Max. Length X Max. Width] feet pond

A 9 X 9 Blue Plastic tarpaulin
A pick-axe for digging
A shovel for removing the soil
A few riverside boulders or spare granite blocks
Empty containers – dredge your kitchen or visit your garden store
Old rags/mats/sponge/plastic cover

Step1: Planning

1. Draw, on paper, the desired shape for the pond.
We chose a slight irregular shape to give our pond a natural look. Adding too many curves isn’t a great idea, as it’d be hard to cover the layout with the tarpaulin. Our’s was something like the picture below.
2. Plan the placement of the plants and boulders.
Plan to place the plants in garden pots. Bamboo grass or Crotons make the pond look natural.

3. Select an ideal spot for the pond.
To keep out the algae, selecting a semi-shady spot works well. Keep in mind that there is no major bush/tree overhang as that prevents accumulation of leaf debris in the pond(Leaf debris can change water chemistry in still water and be dangerous to the pond dwellers). Also keep the pond away from big trees or bushes as the roots tend to steer towards the water and might puncture the tarpaulin the future.

Step2: Doing

1. Start digging
First step would be to ensure that the soil is damp enough to dig with ease. Lay out a rope in the shape and size of the pond that you have drawn or mark the outline with a chalk. Dig along the outline to the desired depth. Sample depth and gradient is as indicated in the diagram.

While its not necessary to dig to the same depth as indicated, ensure that the depth is manageable for you to put your arms into for placing rocks and ensuring that the bottom-feeders feel secure Also, ensure there is a slight slope so that the water flows out in one direction in case of excessive rains.

Once the required depth and gradient is achieved, ensure that there are no sharp protrusions or roots jutting in. These might rip the tarpaulin that we’ll put in soon. You could also apply a thick layer of pond clay along the walls of the pond and allow it to dry out. This would be ideal!
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2. Leak proofing and laying out the tarpaulin. To water proof the pond we need three layers

Layer 1: Large and thick plastic bags cut out and laid along the walls. Use the bags that you get when you shop for clothes etc. This will create the first layer of defence from any roots that want to poke into your pond
Layer 2: Rags/old cotton foot mats laid along the walls to form a cushioning against rocks or sharp grit that might still remain
Layer 3: The tarpaulin laid out along the surface. Flatten the tarpaulin along the walls of the pond. At this point in time the surface will not hug the walls. We’ll solve this problem in the next step

3. Flattening the tarpaulin and filling the pond. Flatten the tarpaulin to the walls of the pond as much as you can. At this point in time, you can step into the empty pond wearing soft sole shoes or barefoot. Take care to ensure that you don’t stretch the tarp or rip it.
Start filling the pond with a hose OR gently pour water into the pond with a small vessel/mug. As the water fills in the cavity, you will notice the tarp flattening on its own into the shape of the pond (Ignore the creases as they make good hidey holes for the little fish). Fill the pond almost to the brim. Tuck the outside edges or the surplus tarp by rolling it with soil and burying the edges into the soil.

By this point you should begin to see your pond taking shape. Next up, making it look au-naturel!

A kind contribution from Bhumika Chawla and Denzil D’Souza for Housedelic!