prowicz family pond
original pond building project c. 2002

In the spring of 2002, we had purchased our first home in Des Plaines, IL and quickly discovered some problems with the yard.

The first problem was that it was an overgrown mess that neither of us had any clue how to deal with.

The second problem was that we had a sump outlet that was very busy, due to our close proximity to the Des Plaines River (approximately 300 yards) and thus our property was in a flood plain and "low".

Because of storm water regulations with regard to the city sewers we were required to shut off the house's valve and piping system that had been set up in the 50's to send the sump water from our house into the city sewer. Once that was complete, we did what everyone else did, and just sumped the ground water from under our house out into the back yard.

Soon it became obvious that we had an indentation in the middle of our back yard, as water started to collect there. Michael had optimistically built a fire pit in that very spot and I think we used it once or twice, but meanwhile we had some landscapers come in to clear out the jungle in the yard (old overgrown shrubs, half dead trees, etc.) and he had directed the sump pipe into the fire pit in order to keep the yard dry while the clearing work was ongoing.

When the water started to pool in the fire pit we joked about it being a tiny pond and wasn't that a cute idea. The more we worked in the yard the more interested we got, finally deciding to type "backyard pond" into a search engine on the Internet and finding a whole new world we didn't even know existed.

What we found in fact is that backyard water gardening, or ponding, is a very popular hobby and indulged in by people in all types of living situations: apartment dwellers with little pots and electric fountains on their patios, homes in close quarters with simple water features right up to and including people in huge yards with acre-sized ponds stocked with fish.

We are ever thankful to the bottomless wealth of knowledge at the Gardenweb Forums, especially their Water Gardening section for giving us access to everything we needed to build our pond very successfully.

enough talking! show me the photos

We snapped some photos of the yard in Des Plaines IL from April 2002, to illustrate the initial inspiration for building a pond in the back yard.

april 2002 - before the pond

Finally I convinced Michael to dig a big hole where the pond would go, and provided neither 1. further instruction nor 2. assistance. We didn't get far. In June it was a really exciting "pond to be" - By the end of September it was just a "big ugly hole" in the yard.

june 2002 - first hesitant attempt

After a year of looking at the ugly hole in the yard in 2002, by february 2003 laura had the bright idea to call a pond professional to see if she could get a bargain as an "early bird" customer. She figured "gee what are pond builders doing in march? hanging around the house? bet they'd rather have a job to work on." And she was right. Joe Hoffman - Euroscapes

april 2003 - the pond progresses

Around about mid to end April, the pond was completed and we were able to start populating it with plants and get it ready for the season.

april 2003 - the pond is almost finished

the big unveil! - by July 2003, the pond looked outstanding.

july 2003 - the pond is finished

pond design

Some of the particulars about our pond:

  1. The pond is filled from the outlet of our sump pump - which is clean ground water.
  2. Because the pond is filled more when the sump is busy and less when the sump is not, we had to build an "overflow" area out of the pond.
  3. We decided where we wanted the pond to overflow to (area-wise), then built the pond sides to direct the water to that location when it became over-filled.
  4. We considered this overflow area a "bog garden" and planted the appropriate plants there. They did very well!
  5. We also decided that we didn't want a lot of extraneous equipment near the pond, so decided to use a "veggie filter" (a natural, non-mechanical filter; also called a "bio-filter")
  6. We built the "veggie filter" directly into the pond:
    • Sectioned off a part of the pond with liner and rocks (approx 5% of the volume)
    • Installed a 2" PVC pipe with lots of holes drilled into it along the bottom of that section
    • Plumbed the PVC pipe to the pump (in the skimmer) on one end, and to an outlet (directly into the pond) on the other
    • Covered the PVC pipe with about 2' of pea gravel
    • Planted the veggie filter with Yellow Flag iris, Arrowhead and Sweet Flag (native emergent plants)

{ back to the pond }

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