Nothing to do with me : Your pond build


Better late than never they say, so here’s my pond build saga for all to endure.

It all started back in February of ’07. My long-time landlady and friend Anne was sick of the two woofers (hers and mine) digging up the back garden and then coming back in the house with muddy paws, so she asked a friend to do a rough levelling out and then cover the lot with gravel. Fine I thought, nothing to do with me.

Somehow it ended up her wanting a two-tier garden with “some sort of wall, possibly made out of sleepers”, with the bottom half paved as a large patio. Fine I though, nothing to do with me.

Then one morning she said “can you give Simon a hand – he can’t figure out how to lay the patio slabs”. Uh oh I though, I’ve been roped in.

Anyway, to cut a very long story slightly shorter, I ended up laying a 30′ x 10′ patio, two 30 foot long paved steps, a large planter and a long wide path up to the garden sheds at the end of the garden. Finally the top tier of the garden was levelled and covered with gravel. The only real eyesore was the tiny little wildlife pond at the back.

It had to go.

“I would still like a pond” Anne said innocently. I foolishly remarked that if you’re going to have a pond then you might as well have a decent size one that’ll be good enough for koi carp, since she had recently become interested in the little critters. Me and my big mouth.

I did a design, and then changed it, and then tweaked it a bit, and then tweaked it a bit more. I was fairly happy by design revision #9.

Anne baulked at the estimated cost (which was way too low as it turned out), dithered for a couple of weeks, then decided to go ahead with it. The original plan was to build my own vortex chambers out of concrete and blocks, but Anne found some cheap second-hand ones on some koi forum or other (it might have been this one), so bought those instead. They would need modifying, but more on that later.


As you can see from the picture, I went for two airated bottom drains, each feeding their own vortex chamber and block-built filter system. This was later changed so that the first chamber of each bank is fed by the in-wall skimmer leaving just three block filters for each main filter sub-system. Having two independant main filter systems means I will be able to isolate and work on one whilst still maintaining reasonable pond filtration, should the need arise. It also distributes the weight across the filter housing/raised patio much better than a single system would have done.

The gap in the wall above the filter area indicates the level of the raised patio will be, with steps going up to it (not shown).

By this time it’s October, the weather is reasonable, so we decide to dig the hole with the hope of getting the base poured before winter sets in (fat chance!).


That’s me in the 2½ tonne digger. I’d never operated a JCB before, but they’re surprisingly easy to get the hang of, and they’re great fum once you do! I also managed to get it at some scary angles at times, as can be seen in the next pic.


Simon did a terrific job of driving the Bobcat, especially when he had to drive across the newly laid path between the enormous great hole I was creating and the large raised flower bed. The mud wall of the pond wall collapsed a little bit more every time he drove across the gap. I think the only thing that saved both Simon and the Bobcat from a horrible fate was the concrete footing below the left-hand side of the newly laid path. The brand new path wasn’t so lucky as nearly every one of the 30-odd slabs were broken by the constant running up and down of the Bobcat.

The 80-odd tonnes of mostly solid blue clay was shipped out by Simon and his Bobcat, down one neighbours driveway and front garden and dumped onto another neighbours drive (who was in the process of selling his house!) prior to removal by a grab lorry. What can I say except that without their co-operation the project would have been dead in the water before it even began since we have no direct access to a road.

This is Simon “doing his thang” in the Bobcat


The back garden is a total bl**dy mess by this time of course, except for the lower half where you can see where the wheelbarrow and shed have been temporarily parked. The wheelbarrow has since been moved. The shed is still there (02/06/2009).

Ok, I’ve blathered on for far too long for one post already. The next thrilling instalment will be mostly about “C-Day”, which didn’t actually happen until March the following year.

Last edited by Jayman on Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.