Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Concrete and Clay

No not the 60s song by Unit Four Plus Two, but an update on our big dig project.

As some of you will know we started digging last summer to create a large Koi pond in a new section of garden, well after excavating something like 18 cubic meters of clay and chalk by hand we are now more or less ready for the concrete. We had hoped to have been fully dug out a couple of months back, but due to having to down tools over winter (far too wet, sticky and messy) we pushed the project back a little.

Many people building a large pond would use a mechanical digger, but due to very limited access this wasn't possible, so armed with spades, shovels and a pick axe we have systematically hand dug our pond. Our neighbours must think we are mad and have been keeping a close eye on all our endeavours.

We decided early on that we would recycle much of the spoil to landscape the area around the pond. This works well on several levels, firstly it will help the pond blend into the surroundings, it will also reduce our own physical exertion as if we had to wheel barrow the spoil round to the front of the house it would have taken a lot longer to remove, thirdly getting rid of so much soil would prove quite costly, and we would much rather spend the money saved on plants or towards the equipment needed in the pond.

The pond itself will be fairly formal in style, being a rectangular pond that is raised up out of the ground, giving at least 6 feet of water depth. We have constructed raised beds that flank a curving pathway to what will become a decked area in front of the pond.

The beds have been built from concrete blocks and topped off with a blue/gray sandstone. To tie in with the sandstone the walls have been rendered with an undulating finish mimicking the undulating nature of the stone. Although these will not be planted up fully until next year we have made some plantings already to get some key plants established.

So whats next?

Now the pond is dug the next phase is to construct the walls of the pond, the filter house, the decked area, and no doubt a dozen other things we will think of... Certainly plenty to do to, and there wont be any chance to get bored.



  1. Congrats,the hardest part is over:).And what a really hard job it has been...From now on it'll be just fun:)? The beds look fine already,I like that sandstone topping.

  2. Great post title! I love watching the progressions of your project, it's a lot easier than actually doing it of course.

  3. Such an achievement. It's going to be amazing. I can imagine when it's finished you'll need to show the progress photos to prove you didn't get a company in to construct it for you.

  4. very exciting! you must be keen to just get it finished!

  5. Six foot deep! You will be able to swim in that. (Or would the Koi object?) You must be very muscular gardeners! Your garden is getting to be so fantastic you will never be able to leave. Hope you never get the urge to move to . . . Cornwall or somewhere where sub-tropical plants find it easier to grow. It could be painful.


  6. I have been waiting and waiting for an update. i can't believe it is going to be six feet deep...thats like digging a swimming pool. Bet you boys are looking pretty buff with all that exercise!

  7. Can't wait to see the finished product. It is rewarding to dig such a project by hand, even though very hard. It is also a test in patience which you seem to be passing.

  8. Great blog. Looks like some hard work has been done on that pond.

  9. I wondered what happened to the fish pool. Great to see it in context with the jungle and the surroundings. I bet the net curtains have been twitching.

  10. Amazing job guys - I love the curved wall, though I don't buy the " rendered with an undulating finish mimicking the undulating nature of the stone" claim - come on, admit it, you are human after all and this is making a virtue out of necessity ;-)

    Am very impressed, can't wait to see fish swimming around in their new home, though I imagine there is loads still to do before that day arrives. Just don't decide to move house any time soon!

  11. I continue to be impressed by what you guys can do on your own. Amazing job, and worthy of being featured in a design magazine. I can't wait to see the finished product.

  12. Thanks Tiina, Loree, Donna. There's still loads to do and the hardest part isn't over yet. There's still the pond itself to construct. Just glad most of the digging has been done :)

    Thanks Clive, Missy! Loads of progress photos to come up in the next few months!

    Esther, Hazel, at least 6' deep it will be. It's mainly something to do with the water depth being more temperature stable and how the body of water affects the body shape of a Koi. I think we'll be in the property for quite a long time but who knows....:)

  13. Thanks Nellie, Nathan, hard work but we're getting there :)

    Janet, good to hear from you! Thanks for the compliment, I think we'll be in this property for a long time to get the most of the finished product, lol! The rough render is deliberate like what we did to our existing pond, which also meant Gaz can do it himself :)

    Thanks Gerhard, can't wait to see the finished product ourselves but it will be awhile yet. We only have the summer and early autumn to carry on with the work before we have to stop again for winter rest :)

  14. You still amaze and inspire me. I wish I could do 'jungle' all the way down the garden but it simply gets too cold at the bottom!

  15. I'm sure it can be done Libby, with lots of leafy and hardy plants :)


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