Digging for Buried Treasure

I’m outside this morning working on the pond. I decided to go ahead and cut the liner out so I could figure out what was underneath and know how to continue. As a reminder, I want to make a smaller pond just around the waterfall area, and then fill in the bigger part with dirt and put pavers on the top and create a little sanctuary to sit and read and meditate there under the trees.
Here’s the pond, empty, looking from the back fence toward the house. You can see my new tropical inspired flower bed in the foreground, with plants eagerly trying to grow and fill in the spaces. The pond is to the right side; a significant feature in the yard, with a bridge and waterfall. Counting the waterfall, it is nearly 20′ in length.

Here’s a view of the empty pond from the other end of it; to give you some perspective, you are looking at about 12 feet of pond length there, about 5′ wide at the widest point. Sorry for the lousy lighting, I hope you can see the rubber liner, the gunk on the bottom and the daunting task that lay ahead of me.

Here’s the currently dry waterfall feature: this is the part I’m going to keep, with a small pond at the foot for recirculation.

I’m envisioning a lovely outdoor lounge chair in the newly filled in large area, mosquito netting draped gracefully over the top, container plants flowering around, and beautiful rock pavers making the floor, all while reading a book in the fall and spring, watching the waterfall flow ahead of where I would be sitting and facing.

So in order to create that picture, I first had to cut away the old rubber liner in the big part of the pond. As I started cutting it away this morning, I discovered an amazing treasure! I assumed that the walls of the pond had been built by owners long ago using ugly cement cinderblocks for support, with only rocks on the top where it showed. (Even the pond people that I had come out to give estimates and consultations assumed that from how it looked).

As I cut away the liner, I discovered a GORGEOUS rock wall, about 18” high, all the way around the entire pond, including a rock floor! The original people who put in this pond really had something beautiful! It looks like a grotto pool. I’m shocked and excited and confused.

Here’s the progress picture: you can see the rubber liner and gunk at the bottom of the pond still; I need help removing that part, but it is stone underneath. The stone isn’t smooth like a patio, but rough like Barton Springs. You can also see the liner still adhering to the rock wall a bit along the top; I’ll have to clean all that out. (My apologies again for the lighting; it was a bad time of day for pictures, but oh well)…

Now I’m torn – what should I do? Obviously, it leaked so badly that they put rubber liner to cover it (in fact I found TWO layers of liner underneath, kinda like wallpaper removal, I guess). So I still want to proceed with making a small waterfall area and not use the entire pond for water, since it would leak everywhere and still be a problem.

However, I don’t want to take down or cover up those beautiful rock walls. If I make it into a patio down low in the ground, I guess I could build steps going down into it, but I would have to take down a part of it so it would drain and not hold standing water. Would that be odd to have a patio lower than the rest of my garden? The rest of my yard is quite flat. What else can I do besides that idea? I feel like I just uncovered buried treasure it my yard!

Here’s the new rock walls, closer:

So the big question is: obviously the rock pond leaked in the past. If I put a patio down low, at the bottom of it, do you think it will hold rainwater or will it drain quickly enough that it won’t be an issue? I’m no engineer, so I’m open to all suggestions!



3 thoughts on “Digging for Buried Treasure

  1. What a treasure! Isn’t it interesting to find the creations that others have left behind?!

    It really is, and this one was a complete surprise. I’ve gone as far as I can on my own today without big muscles to do some lifting. I sat by the area and tried to visualize…ideas are still forming.

  2. Wow! Unfortunately I can’t help you with advice, but this looks like it will amazing when it is done. I’ll look forward to seeing how it progresses.

    Me, too! Thanks, Robin

  3. Hi,
    Did you ever find a solution to your pond?
    I also have a reasure in mine, with a similar story. The place I dug, had a natural V in a rock which is perfect for a pond. I just need to find a way of adhering rubber liner to the rock? amy suggestions? Will send a photo if you have an email.

    Pond is working now just fine. As I mentioned in the more recent blogposts, I made the entire pond significantly smaller by rocking in one end of it near the waterfall, and draping the rubber liner over that. Basically to put in the liner, you have to drape it on top of the existing rocks, then mortor other rocks into place on top of that to hold it in. I strongly suggest visiting a local Pond Store for detailed info; as I said in the blog, I will never have a “homemade” pond again, the maintenance is ridiculous. My Pond Store locally was invaluable everytime I got stuck. Of course, I always bought something from them to fix the problem, too. Good luck!

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