If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I perhaps never got to finish our pond because of the brain eating amoeba. Alas, nearly as surprising, we added a fourth girl to our lives which sent us from busy to bedlam. (And if you haven’t read from the beginning, now’s probably the time to head there.)
Our blood, sweat, tears and arguments have resulted in a swimming pond that we love and our girls use about nine months of the year (more if they are brave enough).
All in, we spent about $10K from start to finish. This should have been considerably less, except for the (w)hole disaster!
Because our budget was non-existent, we reused, recycled and bought second hand whenever we could. Gumtree, Trading Post, and our local Facebook Buy/Swap/Sell were scoured for hours. Our pool, pool fence and pavers were all sourced this way and saved us an enormous amount of money.
Things we had to buy new were price checked. Prices can vary considerably between one landscape supplier and the next and delivery charges are just as volatile. Be organised and get as many of your supplies as you can delivered in one load. Most trucks have dividers in them so you can have a split load on one truck.
Source your water plants locally. They are already adapted to your climate and will do the best job at filtering your water. Our reeds die back in the dead of winter which while not impacting on filtration, changes the look of our landscaping dramatically. We go from 6 foot high jungle at the height of summer to some very dead looking leaves. We have under planted with several different types of low growing pond plants that various friends have given to us. We have also planted a few cana lilies and water irises that flower sporadically throughout the year.
Remember the great snake debate that dictated so much of this project? There has been one and it conveniently arrived the day after Christmas while we had a yard full of guests. No it didn’t have a swim and was removed the same day. There has also been one snake skin found in the reed bed that ended up as “show and tell” at school.
We also had a resident turtle for a while, that obviously liked the pond so much that it returned after we relocated it to the dam.
Our local finches and honey eaters often come to the reed bed for a drink and the kookaburras and kingfishers spend some of each day sitting on the pool fence.
We’ve had tadpoles and frogs in the pond and waterskimmers.
One of our free range chickens spent the night in the filter box (don’t ask us how she got in there) but lived to fight another day.
Remember that we live rurally so I cannot guarantee the same results in suburbia!
The Water Quality
So, this was always going to be the deal breaker and I’m very happy to report that it is crystal clear all the way to the bottom. You’ll have to trust me on this one. Despite multiple attempts at getting a photo to prove the point, I can only ever get a reflection of the sky.
The Worst Idea
While the pond was only half full and without a water feature or water movement, I was concerned that we would end up breeding mosquitoes and suggested that we buy a couple of goldfish to eat any developing larvae. BIG mistake.
Hubby decided that he liked them so much, that when the pond was fully operational they got do stay.
Couple of goldfish, 30,000 litres of water. What could go wrong?
Well, for a start, the couple of goldfish grew in number and included koi. Every time I turned around, hubby and the girls had been back to the pet shop and returned with a few more. If one was found floating, it had to be replaced. The kookaburras and kingfishers were accused of eating them, so more were bought.
I said “Don’t feed the fish”! Fish food was purchased and our swimming pond (now a fish pond) had fish food added to it.
Now what do gold fish and koi do a lot of? Poop!!!!!
Nice warm water, add some fish food, lots of fish poop and before too long you have the black lagoon (and yet again, a very cranky wife).
So, after yet more marital discord, because I want these pooing machines gone and he wants them to stay, I research products that won’t kill fish, but will clean the water up. If you ever end up in this very unlikely and unfortunate position, I can highly recommend Pond Care AlgaeFix and EcoFix.
Eventually however, I put my foot down and give an ultimatum that it’s me or the fish. Apparently, I’m slightly more useful than a goldfish, so I got to stay.
The girls are given a week to catch the goldfish for rehoming. This proves more difficult than I anticipated, and after a week they’ve managed to catch two.
We’re going away and I want the fish out and the water clean before we leave and I’m all out of Algaefix and Ecofix. Back to Google for a solution that won’t kill the reed bed (the fish have had their chance) but will clean the water. Are you paying attention, because this bit is important! Cheap household bleach. No lemon flavour, domestic goddess variety – the cheaper the better.
12 litres into 30,000 litres does a brilliant job. As a happy side result, the fish very quickly came to the surface. 39 of those poo creating things got collected. They now live here.
Aside from the fish disaster, the pond is really very low maintenance. We have a pool scoop to remove the leaves that fall in. We have also added a standard swimming pool pump that we use to occasionally vacuum the bottom of the pool. This is a personal preference and completely unnecessary, but should be considered if you want a totally debris free bottom.
We do have to add water (probably more than in a standard pool) because of evaporation through both heat and wind.
Aside from that, I give the reeds a serious haircut when they die back in winter.
And that’s it.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed the highs and lows of our swimming pond. We’ve got a backyard cabin now underway that’s about as equally fraught with issues. 🙂