The Doc's Dream System -- A Construction Guide to Backyard Ponds

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That spot in the yard where a waterfall and pond would look the most natural is most often the worse location for the pond. It’s often a hill that spills down to an area around the deck. Perhaps it’s hard to grow grass on the hill and the hill is eroding. Instead of planting low-growing junipers like everyone else in the neighborhood is doing, you may want something more dramatic like a lively waterfall that splashes into a nice, big koi pond. After all, it would look natural spilling out from the line of trees on top of the hill.


Before digging the hole and throwing on a liner take some time and watch what happens when it rains. Soil erosion is actually a clue that the spot on which you want to build the pond is a rain runoff area. You might think that a pond would simply fill up from the rain and overflow — that it wouldn’t hurt a thing. That’s what a lot of folks think but they find problems later when the first major storm rolls in.


Downpours of rain cause more problems to ponds than any other common natural occurrence. Water seeps down behind the liner and it balloons up! Heavy amounts of soil are washed down into the pond and deteriorate the quality and clarity of the water. We hear complaints about UVs not doing the job of clearing the water only to find out that runoff is the culprit. What happens when your neighbor on the hill sprays his lawn for weeds and a heavy rain comes up that night? You wake up to a pond full of dead fish. You can’t blame your neighbor. You placed the pond in the path of their runoff.


Re-directing the path of runoff rain so that it doesn’t run into the pond should be an important part of the design of your pond. It may be as simple as moving mounds of soil and building a berm at the top of the waterfall where the runoff begins to guide the rainwater around the sides of the waterfall and pond. If that doesn’t do the trick install drains. It’s an inexpensive and easy project that can save you plenty of money, worry and time.


Have the runoff rainwater spill out onto the driveway or downhill from the area where the pond is located. Don’t allow it to accumulate or puddle anywhere in the yard. This breeds mosquitoes. If you’re in a subdivision be aware of how your runoff will affect your neighbor. Unless you particularly enjoy arguments with your neighbor I would advise you to guide your runoff where it can do no harm to his property.


If the perfect spot for the pond and waterfall is in the path of rain runoff don’t be afraid to place it there. Just plan to re-direct the runoff and you’ll avoid the headaches.

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