Build a Water Feature Pond
This attractive water feature pond, which combines a small pool and fountain, was constructed alongside a courtyard wall. It makes use of a small recess and has been rendered (plastered) and painted to match the existing wall. It measures less than one square meter (10 sq ft) in area, but the pool is 440 mm (nearly 18 in) deep and quite adequate for goldfish and floating plants. Not everybody will have a garden wall with alcoves, so materials specified for this project presume that you will be building against one which is straight. If these dimensions do not suit your site, it is quite simple to adapt the plan to make it larger. While it is not essential to include the wall-mounted fountain, this does add an element of movement to the feature and introduces soothing sounds to the area.
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For a 1.2m x 9OOmm (4ft x 3ft) pool:
80 kg (176 lb) cement
200 kg (2 cu yd) sand
95 kg (210 lb) stone – waterproofing additive (optional)
3-4 liters (½ – ¾ gal) rubberized bitumen sealer (depending on brand)
1 x M6 x 50 mm (2 in) Rawl bolt
1 x 800mm x 12mm (2 ft 8 in x ½ in) tubing
2 x 100 mm x 12 mm (4in x ½ in) tubing
2 x elbow connectors
1 x submersible pump, with 1.4 m (4 ft 6 in) water head
outdoor cable and conduit
Step 1. Peg out the proposed area with the two short sides of the rectangle at right angles to an existing wall.
Step 2. Remove any existing hard surface from the site (in this particular case, paving bricks were removed) or dig out approximately 100 mm (4 in) of soil to form a foundation trench.
Step 3. Now level the foundation trench and compact it thoroughly with a punner (Steel tamper/hand compactor).
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Step 4. Mix concrete in the ratio 1:2:2 (cement:sand:stone), with about 45 kg (100 lb) of the cement, taking care to add only enough water for a workable consistency. Place the mixture in the trench and distribute it evenly over the area with a spade. Here the concrete is spread so that it is level with the upper surface of the adjacent paving.
Step 5. Using a slight chopping motion, now compact the concrete with a short plank and then use a plasterer’s float or trowel to smooth the surface. Allow the foundation to set overnight.
Step 6. Using a 1:3 ratio of cement to sand (with about 16 kg or 35 lb of cement and 50 kg or 100 lb of sand), mix the mortar with water to the correct consistency. String a
builder’s line or use the adjacent paving as a guide and spread a sausage of the mixture on top of the edges of the foundation. Bed your first brick in the mortar and tap it firmly into place with a trowel. In some cases, you may have to deviate from a straightforward plan. Here, one wall of the pond extends from a step, so several paving a bricks have been removed, and one section of the wall built on the elevated concrete base of the step.
Step 7. Continue laying along the three open edges of your foundation. Use a spirit level to ensure that the brickwork is absolutely level and a builder’s square to check that all the corners are at 90°. Corner blocks and a line will also help you to keep the brickwork straight.
Step 8. In order for the construction to bond adequately, it will be necessary to cut some of the bricks. You can do this with a brick hammer or a chisel.
Step 9. As the wall progresses, you must continue to check both vertical and horizontal planes with a spirit level. If the pond is not square, level and plumb, it will look odd and your efforts will have been wasted.
Preparation for the fountain
Step 10. If you have decided to install a fountain, you can measure and mark its position as soon as the mortar used to construct the wall is dry. In this instance, the outlet is to be located at a central point in the recess, about 900 mm (3 ft) above the feature pond floor. The penciled ‘X’ indicates the position of the outlet. Remember that the height of the gargoyle or other fixture must be compatible with the water head of the pump used.
Step 11. Referring to the mark you have made as a guide, chase a channel into the wall. Do this by cutting two parallel grooves down the length of the wall with an angle grinder, and then chipping out the render between them with a cold chisel. Make sure that the channel is deep enough to accommodate the pipework and render which will conceal it. For the 12 mm (½ in) tubing used here, you will need to create a course at least 20 mm (¾ in) deep.
Step 12. Measure the distance between the outlet and the hook on the back of your gargoyle or panel, and mark this point on the wall above the outlet. Using a masonry drill bit, bore a 6 mm (¼ in)diameter hole long enough to accommodate your 50 mm- (2 in-) long Rawl bolt. Slot it into the hole and tighten the nut.
Step 13. This feature pond, constructed in a courtyard, is not sited against a boundary wall, therefore the cable from the submersible pump can be routed through the garden wall and channeled into the house. Alternatively, you can direct it through the side wall of the pond, or run the cable over the edge of the structure. If you are drilling through the wall, use a masonry drill bit long enough to penetrate the thickness of the structure. Also make sure that the size of the hole is just large enough for the cable. If it is too big, you will more than likely have a problem sealing around it.
Step 14. Run the cable to an outside weatherproof box connected to your electricity supply.
Step 15. Before you start the plasterwork, attach an elbow connector to each end of the 800 mm (3 ft 8 in) length of tubing.
Plaster or render
Step 16. Now render the pond using the remainder of the cement and sand mixture, plus a waterproofing agent (waterproofing additive) if you wish. Mix these materials with water. Start by first covering the tubing into the channel in the back wall. Once it is in place, only a section of each elbow connector will be visible.
Step 17. Taking care not to dislodge the pipework, trowel the render onto the foundation floor and both internal and external walls of the pond, ensuring the finished covering is about 15 mm (just over ½ in) thick. Try not to get any of the render mixture in the hole you have drilled for the electricity cable.
Step 18. Once the walls and floor are well covered with render, use a wooden float to smooth the surface. Then neaten the edges of the pond with a corner trowel.
Installing the fountain
Step 19. After making sure that the render is completely dry, carefully push the two small pieces of tubing onto the exposed ends of the elbow connectors. One end of the tubing will be connected to the pump outlet and the other will slot through the mouth of your chosen fountain feature.
Step 20. Now mark the height of your proposed water level and paint the bare render above it. Do not paint the inside of the pond.
Step 21. When the paint is dry, slide the gargoyle (or, in this case, fish panel) into position so that the tubing fits through the mouth and the panel hangs securely on the bolt. Trim any protruding tubing with a sharp utility knife.
Here are three fountain faces to choose from. The stand alone wall fountains are not easy to find but here we have tracked down three for you:
Step 22. Unless you are running the power cable over the edge of the pond, you will have to remove the plug so that you can insert the cord through the hole previously drilled in the wall. Position the pump below the gargoyle to ensure you have enough cable in the pond and then use a suitable silicone product to seal the points where it enters and exits the wall.
Step 23. Finally paint on several coats of rubberized bitumen or an alternative waterproof sealant up to the proposed water level, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Operating the fountain
Step 24. Once you have filled the pond with water you will be able to plug in the pump, switch on the electricity and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Plants in pots will enhance the area if placed symmetrically. Use only one type of plant to complement the formal style of this feature pond.
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