2014 – 15000 gal pond

4.16.2014  thinking about the new pond here’s the site for this year’s project. We’re thinking about a pond and some kind of pergola. The fire pit will have to move and the two single stem oak trees will be taken down in about two weeks. 


We’ve scheduled a tree company to take down two tall oak trees in the backyard. Since we will be digging near the roots and they do drop a lot of leaves…it’s best to remove them. In about three weeks a crane will be placed in our front yard to safely take out the top halves of these trees. Still too early to dig in the yard. We can only dream about the next pond. While we wait for the April snow to disappear, we can think about the possibility of a two tier pond.   image

5.6.2014  Tree removal

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about the new pond since poor weather and traveling have kept us away from the 2014 pond work. Today we finally had the tree removers arrive and they took out the two tall oaks in the backyard. They also took out a large spruce in the front yard. Very exciting!
4.19.2014 the digger can’t wait to start the pond… image


Trying to determine what the pond should like when you have a lot of space is difficult…Tony is renting some digging equipment this weekend. I’m leaning towards a large, irregular shaped shallow pond that is generally 3 feet deep. There will be a deeper portion for the koi to swim to should an animal try to catch one. Our goal is to be able to see the koi from an oversized window we just put into our bedroom this winter. Researching waterfalls…image

5.20.2014  bobcat fun

beautiful weekend weather so we rented a bobcat and dug a giant hole in the backyard. We’re still weeks away until the koi come in…we’re estimating the pond might hold 10,000 gallonsimageimageimage


Tony has been hard at work on the new pond. We have shelves cut in, the giant dirt mound has been shaped into a more natural looking feature, the underliner and liner are here – it’s exciting! The use of the bobcat and the walk behind bobcat really made the work easier.  We also had some help which is always nice.  Racing a potential thunderstorm to dig and trench where the bottom drains will go. pond dig 1 pond dig 2 pond dig 3 pond dig 4


The weather terrorists were predicting thunderstorms over night so the big push today was getting the liner down. We decided to have bottom drains and had to do a little scrambling for some 3″ flexible PVC piping. Thank goodness for wonderful friends who happen to have this type of stuff and will share on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The members of the Upper Midwest Koi Club were also helpful, giving us some great advice. Koi pond bottom drains  We kept hearing little rumbles and the skies became a little more overcast. I was definitely wondering how the two of us were going to manhandle the 600 pounds of liner by ourselves. Good thing Tony is very strong. The liner is 40 x 50 feet and we first rolled it out with the 40 feet going the length of the pond (that’s how the roll has been placed the other day). Too short, sad face. So we had to turn the liner. It was exhausting work. As we finished our work we felt a few little sprinkles. Weather holding, tomorrow will be another day of playing with the liner and underliner. Pond linerimage


It’s a rainy day today, in fact it’s supposed to be rainy all weekend. Weather is not a deterrent for my faithful pond digger. image image image       6.7.2014 Not much work going on due to the weather but our biofilter pit is lined and the rocks to fill the res-cubes need to be washed. We filled the pond with water to help the liner settle into place and to figure out which edges need to be built up or taken down. filling the pond


My pond digger has been very busy. The biofilter is complete and has been filled with a layer of stones. We plan to have it look like a little pond above the waterfall. We have been filling up the pond to see where the water level will be and fixing the sides.  The new pond is measuring 16.5′ wide and 29′ long. IMG_8650IMG_8480


the first day of summer and it’s a beautiful day! Tony worked on the skimmers today and put in the aerator. He will be putting the pipes to the bio filter into the ground and for all practical purposes, we’ll have a working pond. It is a bit dusty but we plan to move the large koi into the pond tomorrow afternoon. There is still a great deal more to do, but being able to split the koi is a good thing! image image image

6.22.2014  Koi move in

It’s the big day! My pond digger is tireless…lowered and re-leveled skimmers, dug out the channel from the bio filter to the top of the falls, filled the place with water and voila! a working pond! After running the waterfall for an hour we started putting in some of the larger koi.  Tito was our canary. All conventional koi larger than 10″ were brought to the new pond (catching them was quite an operation…) The pond is looking murky with all the dirt getting washed off the sides but it should be clear tomorrow morning.  I can’t wait! 
      my hard workiing pond diggerIMG_3402

6.28.2014  the green pond clears up

We left for a little trip after the pond was opened. The pond was quite murky and pea green. I took a photo of the site from the roof of the house to start planning the new landscape: new koi pond We came back two days later to a very clear pond. We added some more water lily plants and Tony went in to re-secure the top of the bottom drain. The koi scattered when the 6′-3″ thing entered the pond: IMG_8868 Eager to start work again we had clear skies this morning to pick up 1600 pounds of black dirt, 700 pounds of river jacks and 32 rolls of sod. My pond digger has become Mr. Landscaper and through a few thunderstorms we put down some sod and replanted the peonies. I have been busy ordering some new pines to put in – a japanese red pine and some blue dwarf japanese stone pine. I’m wishing we will have some sunnier skies soon! IMG_8874

7.6.2014  more rocks

What a productive weekend! Our holiday weekend was spent working on the pond. It was very hot and humid – but we got a lot done. The first task was to go pick up some more rocks to place around the pond and in the waterfall. So at the beginning of our weekend, our work site looked like so: IMG_3488 Tony finished portions of the pond edge, terraced the area near the waterfall, changed some of the rocks in the waterfall and we put down another truckload of sod:  After all of that work, my landscaper was pretty tired. Unfortunately, when you’re tired, it’s easy to get hurt. One little slip and we thought we had a potential broken wrist. Being stubborn, Tony declined getting the wrist x-rayed. So we took it a little easier the last day of the weekend and worked on some of the landscaping around the skimmers.  We’re psyched to see how much we have finished this weekend: IMG_1515 IMG_8964

7.21.2014 IMG_1647

We’re getting more areas finished little by little.  The waterfall seems to take a long time because we set some stones, then decide that it isn’t what we want and redo the arrangement. Tony thought we needed a really large stone and found one that weighs 350 pounds or more…good thing we had some extra hands on deck this weekend. IMG_1620IMG_1618 We’ve been thinking about different things to do with the lower shelf of the pond that is out  of the water but lower than the path. We decided to go with a little wooden platform of cedar boards. The boards will be stained/weather proofed to match the footbridge that will go above the waterfall. The pea gravel path continues to march around the pond. I also have a spot where I am trying to grow moss between the stones. Watering is becoming more of a pain in the neck….IMG_1642


work at the salt mine continues — we’ve added some more grassy area into the yard (primarily because we would rather mow than keep up with the weeding…), put up the bridge, extended the pea gravel path and a number of other details. The end is definitely in sight. I’m looking forward to the rock piles disappearing. Tony spent about an hour in the pond today, cleaning up the string algae.  It seems to grow a few inches in a matter of hours. I started another moss project near the bridge – excited to see how it will turn out. image 8.11.2014  getting the bottom drains to work The pond digger is now obsessed with water clarity (this is a good thing). We’ve had string algae taking over the pond, so we’re fighting it with some bacteria and the addition of super sized barley bales. Tony suspected the bottom drains were not working very efficiently so decide to put pumps on each bottom drain. This necessitated digging a few more holes, digging up the return pipe and moving around more plants. I am hopeful this will be a good investment of his time and labor.image imageMeanwhile, I have finally gotten back to the landscaping project. Since my little pond’s landscaping was getting a little overgrown. I took some plants from the far side of that pond, dug up ajuga which grows everywhere and some creeping jenny to plant a terraced garden on the hillside coming off of the large pond.  For the last four weekends we have been arranging and rearranging rocks and nothing looked right. So we went for the terraced look using my favorite mexican pebbles. The hillside was tested with some downpours last night and it held quite well. I’m hoping it fills in a little more before summer ends.


My sweet pond digger was very unhappy at the aesthetics of four skimmer box tops to landscape around…and he keeps looking for the better filtration system. So back to the drawing board with the help of some friends. Now we will be installing a larger container that will hold some biomedia, act as another filter and will also have a waste pump. All this requires a lot of digging. Pond digger came home from Home Depot this morning with a two-man auger. The operative word is two-MAN…not strong person and small,asian lady. Well we managed to put a dent into the ground and he completed digging a very deep hole (which I happened to fall into an hour later….another story). In between digging, a few thunderstorms rolled through creating a very, muddy digger. He’s exhausted tonight. I’m just hoping that we are not doing something else two weeks from now!



well there was a little hiccup with the system the other evening but the pond digger spent a few hours working in sweltering, humid heat and fixed the system. We now have a large platform to landscape around but it looks to be the perfect size for a hammock stand. Yes, I now have a hammock heading our way. Here’s our pond tonight: image

8.21.2014  new system with bio balls and bio tubes

the new filtration system (AKA a major landscaping challenge) was finally up and running about 8:00 pm tonight. Hopefully this will be the end of digging holes around this end of the pond for awhile. Pond digger is hopeful that this system will clear the pond water up better. Stay tuned… image

8.27.2014 bacti-twist PVC media

Will the pond digger never stop with the new filtration system??? I think the pond water has been looking pretty good since the new system has been in place. But the pond digger wants to push the clarity envelope. After many conversations with various pond gurus including Matt (Mr. Inventor of Kenzen Koi Food)…Tony orders something called bacti-twist PVC media. IMG_1759Apparently this might be a better option for our system (we’ve already tried bio balls and little bio tubes). Kent Wallace  of Living Water Solutions (www.livingwatersolutions.com) was really helpful. Our media came via FedEx in about two days. IMG_1758 I’m sure some people find all of this filter stuff fascinating but I like the end result. The water is so clear that I can see the stubborn clumps of string algae that need to be brushed out better. As I was brushing today, I found two little one-inch koi fry in the pond. Who knows what else I’ll find since I can see to the bottom of the pond now….

9.1.2014  95% complete

We’ve been doing this for about eighteen weeks now and this will be the last entry for the 2014 pond building column. A little more work left to do but mostly 6 to 7 weeks of enjoyment before the Minnesota weather turns cold.  Here’s some photos we took today: pond1 pond2 pond3 pond4 pond5 pond6 pond7 pond8