Swede's Dock

Fisherman's Revolutionary

Top Pond Expansion

We have a line of 6 evergreens along a property line that got a disease of some sort last summer and most died.

Top 1

As properties here are quite close, the evergreens had provided a measure of privacy that was now lost. We decided to replace them by expanding the Top Pond (which feeds the waterfall) along the fence another 17' to replace the trees. This view shows how close the neighbor's patio (well used in warm weather) is to our fence. Iris grows exuburantly in the top pond (quickly reaching 4-5' high) and should make a "friendly" fence while restoring privacy. Top 2

Top 3

This overview shows the original setup and how the filter (stainless steel box and chute in the left center. Notice the drainpipe from the cottage drains into the filter chute which replenishes the pond with fresh water during rains) feeds into the Top Pond (7' x 7' x 11" deep filled with 6" of gravel planted with iris), which then feeds the waterfall. (It's March and the iris has long since died back).

Top 4a
This is the gravel being shoveled out of the top pond.
Notice the Stainless Steel Upflow Filter in the background. It measures 3' long x 2' wide and 2' deep and has at least 6 cubic feet of lava rock in it. In the lower right corner see the 1.5" black ABS tubing from the pond pump feeding into it. A 6' white pool hose can be seen coming from the bottom in the opposite corner. When the pump is running, the white hose is hooked to the top of the fence. When the filter needs cleaning (seldom), all that needs to be done is the hose dropped down (like it is now) and the lava rock flushed from the top with a garden hose. About as simple as it can get.

Top 3 Some iris roots after removal from the top pond waiting to be transplanted in the new section. Notice the brown reed on the left. That's a reed that mixed in with the iris. It grows 6-8' tall but hasn't sprouted yet this year. (About 2 weeks after this picture the reeds began sprouting too.)

Top 8 The top pond with the old liner removed and before Kevin has started constructing the extension. Notice the notch cut in the 2x6 leading into the waterfall. That (sort of) concentrates the flow to the center of the falls at the top.
Top 9 The waterfall partially deconstructed. We were lucky to have a section of boardwalk (displaced from an earlier project) that would stretch across the pond that would hold the stones. Saved A LOT of lifting and buggy-lugging! Later the boardwalk would be put down along side the extension. (Note the blue canvas covers the GFI outlets from rain. Works great but could look better {sigh})

Top 23

See how the liner flows over the top and down to lay on top of the rocks in the middle of the waterfall. The 2x6 piece you see laying there (actually several cut ends spanning the width of the fall) will be placed behind the liner on about the same angle (45degrees) to prevent a "pocket" being formed when the rest of the rocks are set on top. Having the top liner come down halfway and then laid on top of the rocks causes any water flowing down behind the rocks at the top to be diverted to the front of the falls at least halfway down. All in all, a pretty neat idea and another reason to order plenty extra liner.

Note the main pond liner already extended up behind the rocks. The same effect (above) could have been created by overlapping pieces of liner (like shingles) but trust me, having one piece from the top down to overlap the piece coming up from the main pond is much better easier faster for a DIY'er.

Top 14 This shot shows how the water that falls down behind the rocks at the top is redirected out out the middle to the front of the fall by the liner technique Kevin used above. Note how much more is coming out from the middle of the fall than from the top.

Top 10 A "Before" picture.

Top 31 A closeup showing the construction technique. The standing 4x4's are in holes 2-3' deep with a gravel base and are on about 4' centers (I wouldn't recco any wider as the farther end one is 5' and the bottom rail appeared to bow just a little when we filled it with water so we added a brace.)

A lengthways (make SURE it's level ) 2x6 is through bolted (3/8" carriage) to each 4x4 on the inside.

Next 2x6 "floor" boards are cut to the width (in our case about 42") and laid crossways on the bolted 2x6's and nailed to the lengthwise 2x6's.

Next (2) 2x6 sides are run lengthwise sitting on top of the floorboards and nailed to the 4x4's.

(Make SURE SURE SURE they are level, especially the top one, and at the exact same height as the ends and opposite sides. You must BE FUSSY FUSSY FUSSY here.)

The cap is 5/4x6 "mahogany" decking (called "meranti" by the local lumber yard) and is really beautifully close grained. All the other lumber is treated pine.

The liner was pulled tight over the top 2x6 after the pond was filled and then the cap was screwed down on top of it. The excess liner was only then trimmed.

Top 11
The liner going in.
Top 12

Top 13 Brian (Kevin's friend who helped with the liner) and Kevin plotting the next move. Notice how much EXTRA liner there is. The width of the extension is less than 4' and the widest part of the original top pond is only 7' and I ordered a 15' wide piece. What the excess width did was allow a GREAT deal more flexibility installing. Lot less worry about fitting corners, etc.

(Not to worry, after all generous trimming there was a piece 22' x 8' left that Kevin is going to use to replace a flower bed with a water garden along his sidewalk.)

Top 15 The far end of the extension is tapered in to 2' wide as you can see how close the house is to the fence. Note this is the 5' section between 4x4 centers I mentioned above.

Top 17 The grates for the undergravel filter. 4 1" PVC pipes are laid down running the length of top pond (24' now). The pipes have several 3 and 4 way tees as joiners in each length to draw water from under the grates. At each end is an elbow up to a tee where the water will be drawn to.

Then egg crate (flourescent lighting grates) are laid on top.

Top 21 The top of the tee is just at, or slightly under, water level. An airstone will be dropped down the open tee and as the bubbles rise they will draw water through the gravel (via the 3 and 4 way tee connectors mentioned above) filtering it as it goes.

Top 25 * Closeup of the two different gravels. The white is a landscape stone from Home Depot. The brown (it really is white but has a lot of dirt and/or floc accumulated over the last 10-12 years mixed in) is the gravel that was in the original top pond. I have it separated by egg crate as I plan to try to keep fish in the new section and the grates will prevent them from going over the falls.

Top 26 The World Famous Kevin, without whom my (pond) world would stop. He does ALL of the work (and most of the thinking). Note he's also single ladies. {grin} (I hope he doesn't read this.)

Top 27 Just a neat piece of sandstone. It's been in the top pond forever but not seen much as the iris usually overgrew it. From now on I hope to keep the iris to the extension and just have reeds in this section.

Top 28
An overview from the roof.


  • Lumber (from local lumber yard) for this job was in the $500 area. Don't know exactly because we got extra for a few other small jobs as well. And easily 1/3 of that cost was for the mahogany cap which is $2.60 a running foot. (Kevin recapped the main pond railing as well.)

  • The liner (JustLiners.com), 15' x 35', was $300 (including $90 delivery charge). Probably could have saved a few bucks there by closer measuring but it's just so much easier having extra, even $100 less wouldn't have been worth it.

  • Undergravel filter - Eggcrates (13 @ $10 each at Home Depot)and PVC piping came to about $150. The gravel was about $100 (27 bags @ $3+ at Home Depot). Actually, now the project is done, I wish I had used a smaller grit gravel than we did. More like the gravel in the original top pond. It would have been easier to plant stuff. Oh well, not a biggy but ...

    (note it's a few weeks later and today (April 30, 2007) I planted some anacharis, grasses and 3 or 4 other aquarium plants (from local PetSmart) and am REALLY wishing I used used much finer gravel like I had used in the original top pond. Planting these in the coarse landscape stone was not ideal at all. It looks really nice but not so hot for planting

    When the weather warms I will put in a half dozen or tropical lilies. For them I will use pond planting pots and cover with fine gravel so they won't be a problem. (The planting pots make it a snap to fertilize and retrieve the lilies to bring inside in the fall when the weather cools.)

  • The air pumps (2 Tetra Tec Deep Water Air Pump DW-96-2) run around $150 total (with airstones, associated air valves, etc). They are really very efficient (use less than 8 watts each). I've been using one to power the two airlift in the corners of the main pond for over a year. Quiet and do a good job.

  • Labor - say 3 man days worth. No charge when you have a son like Kevin. He's a super worker, very knowledgable and experienced with tools (a middle school shop teacher when he's not doing ponding projects for me.) (And remember he's still single ladies {grin})

  • Overall the extension adds about 400g to the existing 2,000g pond.

  • It's 45" from the top of the cap to the ground (or boardwalk in this case). That's a nice height for an average sized adult to just lean on and contemplate the world.

  • The plan now is to keep the iris to outer 1-2' (by trimming every spring) and have a series of tropical lilies along the inside 2'. They do very well in full sun here (zone 6) from June through September. Anyway that's the plan but with all this extra planting space I'll probably go overbard and overload it with everything I've always wanted to try {sigh}.

Comments received with update

Hello Gosta,
Just was wondering; it looks like you installed some sort of hooks near top of 4x4 posts at new top pond, what are they for? bird netting to keep out pests?

When the iris get over 3' high (say) they can blow over so what I did (in the old top pond) was run a line around from the fence to hold them upright during high winds. That's what I put the hooks in for.

As for pests, I'm particularly worried about herons with fish in the top pond. So easy for them to stand in the shallow water. I haven't really decided what I want to do yet. Got a few ideas running around in my mind. Probably gonna float netting on top with holes for the lilies to poke through. I don't really think I want a floating alligator head (which seems to work really well). Kinds creepy in this situation I think.

Pretty much going to have to have fish of some kind up there (am thinking gold fish and golden orfes right now) as there is no real water flow due to the nature of the ug filter and standing water will encourage mosquitoes. I know there's not going to be any induced flow because I temporarily have a 1,000gph pump going from the pond into the far end of the extension (you may have noted the white garden hose in a few pics) and there's no noticeable flow 6 or 8' from the discharge or at the near end of the extension. The water from the hose must be returning through the ug (which runs the whole length of the top pond).

Haven't gotten the air pumps yet (just ordered them) and what I might do is try setting up a few bubblers along the extension and see how that works. Might be with the bubblers the herons will be deterred as well (just thought of that. Thanks for the stimulus {grin}).

(Note I'm still updating the with_pics_page if you want to take another look.)

Thanks to you, Kevin and all for the continued great work and for sharing it with others!

I have to say I'm a little excited with the project too. I *think* the idea of using a watergarden as a privacy fence is pretty neat and I'm unaware of it being done before. At least up off the ground like this. And the top liner redirection to the middle of the waterfall is working great too. Almost too good as the fall is significantly noisier now with ALL the water is spilling off the rocks. I had no idea how much was going down behind before. All in all, it's worked out really well.

I've always liked the raised top pond since we originally did the first (the 7'x7'). Just so nice to have it raised and easy to reach/plant. Now with 17' more space, ....

Architect, Builder and Sometimes frustrated ponder

End Top Pond Construction

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