Aquatic Garden Rework from 1992

Discussion in 'Lawn Care/Landscaping' started by Dunbar Plumbing, May 24, 2006.

  1. I built an aquatic garden for my mother soon after she was diagnosed with cancer in 91'. It took 4 years to build doing it off and on between work and weekends. I'm sure she was glad to see it running eventually. She passed away last year but she did get a chance to enjoy numerous years of this garden with all of its flowers and gradescape. I take credit for the stonework and design but this was a prototype. And prototypes have problems.

    You'd think as a plumber I could design something without any leaks. This didn't turn out to be the case along with electrical issues with super-sensitive GFCI outlets. You cannot eliminate those for the mere reason of children/animals and any guests/visitors at the house. What happened was the project was very involved and money was running thin at the end. This tripped up the final outlay of the aquatics which caused leaking. Leaking as pissing away 100 gallons of water a day and I know evaporation wasn't that much. First problem was water overflow over the rocks. Second was a $%*!ing chipmunk chewed through the feed line to the top drop. Third was water rolling back under a shelf rock and not entering into the plastic bottom pond.

    I can go on and on but the long story short? I tore it all out a month ago and figured even though my mother isn't around to enjoy it, I'm sure she knows the pride I put into that creation continues ever so and I know she has seen it. Something happened yesterday that is proof positive she had a part in the work.

    I cannot explain it but all I can tell those who read this is that I am no artist but what my hands created yesterday with concrete was pretty interesting. I've never done this type of concrete molding, just flatwork, a few walls and some exposed aggregate patios back in the day. Too painful to do this work every day now. My hands are numb from scrubbing the design out of this huge glob of concrete.

    Here's a few pictures of the work:

    I'll continue this thread as I start to reinstall all the face rocks that made up the last waterfall. Some of the plants/foilage took a beating yesterday; I'm hoping they come back in the next few weeks. No way I could of poured this without being around the edges. Rocks in specific places made all the difference. I used to watch my mom sit and move rocks while talking to me just to get different sound effects.

    Just to mention a couple things: copper-tinned lights are going around this, 2 underwater lights are going to be sat down inside the standing pond in the bottom so that the water movement over the rock ledges will create a ripple effect on the bottom of the leaves of the tree. The frog you see on the lily-pad has a 1/8" copper tube set up to shoot water into the pond on that built-in shelf I created.

    All I can say is I had to work pretty hard to sculp that concrete while it was setting up. I basically poured like a straight sloping slab with 6 drywall buckets tied together at the bottom so I didn't have to dig the base pond out without a backhoe being there. From there it was all creativity from that point; no design, absolutely nothing on paper or something in my head. It just came to me and thought of it as how my mother would of enjoyed it.

    Here are some other pictures. What is funny as hell is this little pad that was built is for my copper/brass/aluminum scrap barrels! Also a place to set water heaters before they go to the street for the junk man if I "happen" to do a water heater. :mad: The neighbor next door is a concrete man, offered to stamp it and add color, didn't cost me a dime. All I planned on doing was putting a rough finish on it and that's it. What I had before was flat solid concrete blocks buried in the ground on a serious slope which was dangerous and ugly. Not very fitting if you saw all of the property.

    When I get everything 100% around these 2 pours I will follow up on this thread with the results, you'll like it.

    Here's me. I was so tired and hot after working all day so I hopped on my moped and headed down to the KwikMart to get a big gulp soda. mmm

    If anyone has questions on how to build one of these, ask away. I used a thoroseal brush with water out of a bucket once I placed the design in concrete. The brush would close up the concrete and smooth out the finish. I plan on acid staining different colors into this concrete and use a dark brown cure-n-seal for the rest of it for sealing properties. I'll do a few far-away views to catch the other stonework I did when I started all this years ago. A little slice of heaven for those who view and nature comes to this everyday like birds squirrels and other little creatures to drink.
    Last edited: May 24, 2006
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    I done my share of concrete work over the years and what you have done is a lot of work. Nice job. I look forward to the finished pics. You also have a very nice neighbor to have done that for you.
  3. Here are some pictures with water running in it today. The water gets dirty quick if you don't put chemicals in it. We're just "testing the waters" literally.

    And here is a couple far away pictures of the garden before it was tore down (prototype)

    I have some older pictures that really do the setup justice. I'll have to scan them someday so I can make comparisons to the revamping I'm doing now.
  4. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Southern California
    Wow. Impressive.
    What I like rugged is that it doesnt look phony--it's not *trying too hard* to look like those ridiculous looking fake rocks from garden centers.

    Does it have any potential for aquatic life.....? Or is that not in the cards?
    It appears you really got a very natural granite color as well.

    The way you molded the crete gives it a look as if water aged it over time.
    Last edited: May 29, 2006
  5. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Columbus, OH
    I think its really good looking. Maybe you should go into the landscaping/waterscaping bussiness!

  6. brownizs

    brownizs In the Trades

    Springfield, IL
    I like it. I wanted to put in a pond where the pool sat last year (one of those with the inflatible tube around the top), but the wife scratched that idea. Maybe when we get a new house in a couple of years, I may end up going with something like your idea for a noise break from the neighbors.
  7. Gouranga

    Gouranga Software Engineer

    Gaston County, NC
    Sweet setup man. I am jealous. You really did a kick !@(8 job on that.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    RUGGED nothing personal but in my NSHO you need the gray. Those colors just don't do it justice.
  9. Fin

    This is the finished product until spring. I'm going to dry brush a real dark gray on the raised areas to complete the tie in to the aging mortar between the stones.

    I used a battleship gray and recovered that massacre of colors before and that will make it a third solid coat. While the gray was wet, I took that rust color and mixed/bled it right into the color to lose the plain gray look, darkened it in areas to mix it up. It's threatening to rain here any minute and I'm leaving it open and uncovered until I absolutely have to.

    For not being too good with colors this was the best I could do without taking a class.

    What I didn't mention on this thread is that 75% of that what you see is covered with stones. Have to have a good base (which I should of done in 92') in order to have a good finished product.

    It truly looks like what I had to begin with, plain concrete. :disgust: At least it is sealed now really well for winter, that's the most important.

    That front edge of the stone wall that serves as the front of the pond will have the greenest moss you've ever seen come spring. Just going to have to keep the kids from killing it.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2006
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