Double-Pool Water Garden
Two circular pools with a fountain urn as the focal point provide a wonderful water feature for this sloped back yard.
E-mail This Page to Your Friendsx
A link to %this page% was e-mailed
In this project, a large urn transformed into a fountain serves as the focal point of a two-tiered cobblestone water feature. Water cascades from the upper pool into the lower pool, the design taking advantage of the natural slope of the yard. The upper pool measures six feet in diameter; the lower pool is eight feet across. With the help of two or three friends, you can complete this project in two weekends. If you do it yourself, expect to spend about $3,500. If you hire it out professionally, it will cost about $6,000.
The smaller pool on the high ground will be connected to the larger, lower pool (figure A) with a stone slab.
To mark out the circle for the upper pool, place a tape measure over a stake, which is set in what will be the center of the pool. Walk in a circle three feet from the stake, using landscaping paint to mark the circumference.
Next, repeat the process for the lower pool. Measure from the center of the upper pool to find the center for the lower pool. Walk in a four-foot circle around the second stake to form the circumference of the second pool.
Dig out the lower pool basin 24 inches. (Caution: two weeks before you plan to dig, call your local utilities and request they check for buried cables.)
With the lower pool dug, use a shovel to tamp down the soil on the edge of the pool. A hard edge will give you a good surface so you can check for level. Use a line level tied to a shovel handle to check for level and determine the true edge of the pool, removing or adding soil as needed.
Dig the upper pool 12 inches deep. By tying the line level to the shovel at a height of 12 inches, mark the exact height needed all the way around the pool. The cobblestones that will line the pool will sit flush with the yard, so dig the shelf surrounding the pool deep enough for the stones to sit in.
To create the spillway between the pools, find the center point of the wall and measure six inches on either side. Make the marks with landscaper's paint. Remove the soil, leaving a 12-inch wide opening that will become the spillway for the waterfall.
Using a pond kit simplifies building a water feature. A skimmer cleans the water and also serves as housing for the pump. To begin work on the skimmer, follow the directions that come with the kit. Using spray paint, outline the skimmer and where the plumbing will go.
Dig out the area for the skimmer. Then begin digging the trench for the pipe that will connect the skimmer and pump to the urn in the upper pool.
Set the skimmer in place and check it for level. Set the assembled pump in the skimmer. Glue an elbow-shaped piece of pipe to allow the pipe to turn the corner and travel to the top pool. Place the piping in the trench and attach it to the elbow with glue. Finally, attach the collar to the plumbing in the upper pond that the urn will connect to. The pipe leading from this collar will fill the urn with water. Fill in the trench, holding the plumbing line.
Line the floor and walls of both pools with under-liner, and lay it over the top edge of the pool. If you have a lot of excess, you can trim some away; just make sure to allow enough for the cobbles to cover, plus a little extra. When the under-liner is in place, repeat the process with the liner. We start at the bottom pool and work our way uphill. Unfold the liner at one end of the pool and spread it over the bottom and up the sides (figure B), making folds to compensate for the curves.
A faceplate provides a watertight seal between the liner and the skimmer box, which allows the water to flow to the pump to be re-circulated to the upper pool. To attach the skimmer to the liner, hold the faceplate against the liner and mark the outline of the opening. Using a sharp knife, cut out the outline. Insert the faceplate through the opening and attach the faceplate and liner to the box. Use a screwdriver instead of a power drill because you don't want to take a chance of over-tightening the screws and driving them through the plastic faceplate.
The rock is a granite stone that's been cut to look like cobblestone. Build the wall, mortaring in the stone (figure C). Continue on the wall until it is seven courses, or layers, high. Set larger stones around the pools for the edging. These will be mortared in when the wall is finished.
Starting with the bottom pool, lay the mortar and set each cobblestone. Make sure to check that it's level. To create the spillway, lay a generous amount of mortar and then place the piece of slate. (A stone center can cut any flat stone for you.) Make sure it is level from side to side, but not front to back. The front end should be slightly lower to allow the water to spill over. Finally, mortar and place the stones around the edge of the top pool (figure D). If you don't want to do the mortar work yourself, you can hire someone to do this part for you.
Cover the bottom of the pools with pebbles. Mexican beach pebbles are decorative and give sediment a place to settle which helps keep the water clear. If you want to use something that's less expensive, use pea gravel. Rake the pebbles away from the plumbing opening and remove the tape.
Attach the supply line for the urn or fountain to the plumbing (figure E). The homeowners want the fountain to sit higher so we're using an inexpensive concrete container turned upside down as the fountain's base. Slide the base over the supply line and check for level. Next, slide the urn over the pipe and check again for level. Then fill the pools with water.
Before we began planting, we trimmed the excess liner and backfilled around the water feature.
Plants are an integral part of the water garden. They provide shade that helps control algae growth, and they balance the water, making the pond easier to maintain. They also help provide oxygen and provide places for fish to hide as well as to spawn.
There are several categories of water plants: free-floating plants, completely submerged plants and emergent plants that have roots below water but send their shoots above the water. Water lilies and lotuses get submerged two to three feet, sometimes four, and send their shoots and blooms above the water. There are also marginal or bog plants, which like to live next to the pond; they include plants such as irises, rushes and reeds. They prefer their feet touching the water but not submerged in it.
In keeping this design simple, we limited the number of species--a Japanese maple, a great choice because it won't overwhelm the space; a creeping plum yew that will eventually cover the bank; and golden acorus, a grass that will add movement to the landscape.
A super-easy water fountain and pond -- complete with fish -- for a deck or patio.