Monday, March 29, 2010


Wikipedia has an article on reuse. It gives a pretty good definition:
Reuse is to use an item more than once. This includes conventional reuse where the item is used again for the same function, and new-life reuse where it is used for a new function. In contrast, recycling is the breaking down of the used item into raw materials which are used to make new items...
It then goes on to economic effects, business reuse, and programs for reusing materials. This is all well and good on a global scale, but is not particularly useful for a personal or household level. For our purpose reuse will be discussed at that lower level. Reusing demolition leftovers, old yard stuff, and household items can save a lot of money, while keeping the garbage man a little less busy.

 Here are some smaller items I reused for my garden and landscape in 2009:

Can you find the reused items in these photos(some are hidden and not visible, but are still there):

Without going into detail, there is a lot of items in those photos that were onced used elsewhere. Items you can not see include the old wood from my swimming pool frame(that is now being used for the pond frame and other structural places), old PVC pipe, and homemade compost that was at one time paper plates, food, sawdust from board cuttings, and many other things(which is now in the soil and planters).

Here is a list of things I commonly "reuse":
  • ALL wood or anything made of wood
  • old tree and shrub branches(for firewood)
  • screws, nuts, bolts, and any hardware that is still in good shape
  • plastic containers(when I have too many, I will recycle them)
  • old garbage pales/cans/baskets and most containers
  • plastic bags(If not contaminated with food or chemicals)
  • styro-foam(For insulation or to lighten garden soil)
  • Anything else that might have a use
Basically, the only thing that end up in my garbage is unusable plastic, such as dirty plastic baggies.

For composting I use anything that was at one time part of a plant or tree. The only animal items I put into my compost are egg shells and hair(from myself or my dogs).

Here is a list of common items I use for compost:
  • ALL food scraps that are not meat or contain grease/fat
  • paper plates
  • yard trimmings(except branches, which I use for firewood)
  • dryer lint
  • newspapers(not too much, I recycle most of them)
  • cardboard and non-plastic packaging
Between my normal purchasing, reuse and recycle practices, I will have about one or two plastic shopping bags of trash, every three weeks. When I take my trash can out for pickup, there is usually only one bag in it. I know people who acquire that much trash in a day or two.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Pond Location

Have you ever wanted to see where your imagination can take you? This is your opportunity. It is like an artist starting a new painting. Except this is real art, art you can sit in, walk through, and "repaint" anytime you want. Your imagination is the key to your beautiful pond.

When I started looking at ponds for ideas on how I wanted mine to look, I was disappointed, for the most part, as most ponds where very unimaginative and looked like they were factory built. That is not saying that there were not any beautiful ponds or that all of them were unimaginative. I think the problem is that most people hire a contractor to do the work. Contractors are going to stick to the basic ideas they have been using all along. Most of the time, they are not going to build you anything that they have never built before. This is why I urge you to DIY or find a contractor that is an artist as well. The type of pond I found to be, IMO, boring and very unimaginative was the pond surrounded by grey stones, placed in mortar around the pond edge. I don't know how many ponds are of this sort, but it seems(or seemed) to be a very popular choice, for some reason. Come on, if you are going to build something from scratch, why make it as boring as possible? Why not have some fun with this?


Anywhere you want would be my first answer, but since this blog is mainly about converting a swimming pool to a pond, you will likely be limited as to where your pond can be located. It will be wherever your pool is or was. Not many options in this case.

If you are not converting a swimming pool, then as long as you keep it a few feet from the neighbor's property, in your yard, and away from anything structural that will be undermined by digging a hole near it(unless you want to do some expensive restructuring) you can put it anywhere you want.

A few things to keep away from:
  • Large trees that will drop leaves, needles, flowers, and such into the pond should be avoided, if possible.
  • Poisonous or messy plants.
  • Steep slopes that will dump rain water or dirt into your pond.
  • Locations where your pet defecates. Nothing is worse than stepping in a big pile when you are trying to relax. Plus the smell and insects will take any pleasantry away from the area. If you have to, retrain your animal to go somewhere else. I had to retrain my dog, and it was not easy. I eventually had to build small border rails to show the dog the new boundaries. She eventually got it, and I just took down the rails yesterday.

A couple of things to try and accommodate:
  • Keep the pond very visible from inside your house. Try to keep large bushes and trees to the opposite side of your pond and remove anything that will block the view.
  • Keep it close and easily accessible.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How To Build a Pond Frame Part 2 - Instructions

These instructions have to be very general as noone will have the same needs when it comes to shape, size, and scale. Therefore I will give no dimensions and will not give exact amounts on materials. First I will show how to build a mounted wall(a wall of the frame that will be mounted into the ground with 4x4 posts) and a basic side wall. Then I will show how to put it together and then give the pond some internal shape.

Materials Needed:
  • 4x4 posts
  • 2x4's
  • 5/8" Plywood
  • Wood Protectant(This isn't needed if you buy pretreated wood)
  • Galvanized Lag Screws w/ Washers
  • Galvanized Wood Screws or Galvanized 8d Nails
  • Cement

STEP 1: Construct a Mount Wall

Before you start, treat your wood with some good wood protector. Thoroughly cover all sides of all the wood. Cut your plywood to size and screw onto posts. Screw in 2x4's at the top and bottom as shown below. Keep at least 18" of post below the plywood.

STEP 2: Construct walls

Side walls are very simple to make. Cut your plywood to size then attach 2x4's to the top and bottom. If you need to make a longer wall you can connect two walls together and attach a 2x4 at the seam. The walls don't have to be very strong as there will be packed dirt on one side and the water on the inside will not provide enough pressure to collapse anything.


Dig holes for your posts then set your mount wall into the holes. Connect the sides with a couple of screws and make sure the mount wall is plumb and level. Fill the holes with cement then check plumb and level a final time. Let dry for at least 24 hours, 48 hours preferably.


Secure all walls with lag screws and wood screws(or nails) as shown below.


Fill the outside of the frame with dirt, rock, and/or concrete blocks. Pack the dirt firmly and leave no air pockets. Add mud to the corners and along the bottom of the INSIDE of the frame. Make sure there are no areas where the liner might get pinched. Form the inside shape of the pond with mud and dirt, then cover with a couple of inches of sand.

You are now ready to put in your pond liner.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How To Build a Pond Frame Part 1 - Overview and Examples

For instructions go to part 2 HERE.

A frame is not necessary unless you have the need for it. It will help keep the dirt out of your pond area during DIY pool removal, as well as giving your pond sturdy sides. It will also help if you want a straight drop or perfectly sloped side.

Here are some examples of how a frame can be utilized.

Here is a 3-sided frame integrated into the sides of the old swimming pool.
Notice how I used it primarily to keep the dirt from entering the pond area.
The frame has angled sides to give the pond some slope on the left side.
It is important to add dirt to the inside corners and the bottom edge to keep the liner from being pinched.
You do not want sharp angles or gaps anywhere on your frame.

Once you have filled the areas with dirt, you want to secure padding to the wood,
then cover the entire area with a layer of fine sand.
Everything should be smooth to accommodate the pond liner.

This 3-sided frame was used mainly for a sloped side and a sturdy bog area.
I used some carpet instead of padding for the underlayment.

Here is the pond right before I added the liner.
The frame makes a perfect and permanent slope that will never get lumpy or collapse.

Here you can see an example of how a pond frame might look when used for a bog or other shallow type pond area.

Here is another angle showing an example of the same frame.
Notice how the frame is not complete, but it uses the pool wall is one of its sides. 

For instructions go HERE