Thursday, May 17, 2007

Major Overhaul

About a year ago, we tried to merge our first plastic basin pond with a rubber liner pond I'd just put in. To this effect, I dug a trench for a stream, cut a channel in the plastic with my jigsaw, and bolted and caulked the two together.

The thing leaked like a sieve, and no amount of caulk, expanding foam, or overlapping liner would stop it. Figuring it had something to do with the expansion and contraction of the plastic pond under the heat of the sun, I ripped out the plastic pond, and replaced it with a rubber liner, and sealed it with some industrial glue and caulk. While there was less leaking, I was still losing over two inches a day, which over an 18'X5' pond is a pretty major deal.

This spring, we used a putty knife to strip the glue and caulk, and used seam tape as recommended, and when that failed, put a lining of reinforced cement underneath and over the liner (trimming the liner so that the cement bonded in the middle). This cement sandwich was treated with a birdbath-type finish we got at a statue shop up in Nisswa.

When this failed, Amanda suggested we just buy one large liner for both ponds. Which is probably what we should have done in the first place. On the upside, barring holes or tears, this almost gauruntees no leaks, and allowed me to do a bit more landscaping, adjusting the grade of the soil so that the liner will be easier to hide under boulders, and digging a much deeper stream. On the downside, it meant removing the 500 lbs of cement we'd spent a weekend pouring into the stream. This was achieved over two days with a shovel, a 20 lb sledge, and a 60 year old pry bar.

In all, this gained us around four inches of stream, to which I added another 6-7 inches, not only to give the fish more breathing room when swimming it and keep the water a bit cooler (preventing algae and evaporation) but also to even out the depth between the ponds, giving me a bit more leeway with the new liner.

So, on the downside, the pond is gong to need a major overhaul. On the upside, we've added a basin fountain/planter and another waterfall, this one built from a layer concrete reinforced with chicken wire we poured on top of a liner. We lined it with rocks from the property in Stillwater, and a pile of granite cobbles we picked up on sale at Menards, filling the rest out by shaping the drying cement to look like stones. We then sealed it with two layers birdbath sealer, and it appears to be holding quite well. The basin fountain was much simpler. Just a hole covered with two layers of liner and more cobblers strategically positioned to hold dirt. Bought a fountain with a 3/4" lotus-shaped sprinkler head, then used a diverter with a valve that spurts into the basin (built some rocks up around it to make a pleasant splashing noise), since most of the water's being shot through the valve, the remaining water sporadically "leaps" from the sprinkler head in a really interesting way.

So, as a weekly to-do list, I still have to do the following to get the yard in shape (in no particular order):

  • Add the new liner (this week)

  • Add submersible accent lights to the pond

  • Add a motion-sensitive light to the deck

  • Add accent lights to the deck

  • Landscape the front yard (6x6's and a short split-rail fence along the corner)

  • Finish the boardwalk around the backside of the pond

  • Add latticework along the boardwalk

  • Add lights to the boardwalk

  • Hook the lights and pumps up to switches and timers

  • Put latticework along the deck

  • Get the remaining chunks of the plastic basin pond basin out to the garbage
  • Mount the remaining peanut feeder
  • Mount the bat house

Currently in Bloom:

  • Columbine

  • Prairie Smoke

  • Rue Anemone

Birds Spotted in Garden:

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker

  • Nuthatch

  • Black-capped Chickadee

  • Eastern Bluebird (two expecting couples)

  • Goldfinches

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Signs of Spring

Nothing much in bloom yet with the exception of the Pasque Flowers (which are coming up in clusters), but the Columbine and the Prairie Smoke are both coming up in clumps.

Birds observed in garden in the past week:
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Goldfinch
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • House Finch
  • Mourning Dove
  • Nuthatch
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Song Sparrow