Tag Archive | grotto

My new waterfall and grotto

imageI had a vision for the new pond/waterfall. I penned a ton of inspirational photos onto Pinterest, and I also had it in my head. Definitely a natural look, softened by not having any rectangular shapes.

It’s really not a pond anymore, as much as it is a catch basin for a waterfall with great sound. After a few bumps in the road when attempting to hire the work done by someone else who didn’t understand my vision, Lori and I did the job ourselves.

First, we had to do a little hard work. And by “we”, I mean Lori.



Since I had so many problems with my previous pond leaking, we made sure we did it right. Once the area was excavated into the shape we wanted, we laid carpet over all the sharp edges and rocks. Lori decided to take a break at this point.



Next came the heavy duty liner on top of the carpet.



And then we created the falls with large rocks. This time the liner went completely under the falls, which is different than the last one was. That one was made before the era of youtube and the internet, meaning we had no idea what we were doing.


Next, we just started stacking rocks around the edges, cutting off extra liner, and doubling the liner underneath some rocks on the edge.


Of note in the photo below – see that top rock that is more white than the others, larger, and with a flattened top? That’s actually not a rock! I need something to cover the water spill tank, and I ordered this “faux rock” online. In person, it is so realistic that no one has ever suspected otherwise. You can see in the photo following that I stacked other rocks on top of it to blend it in.

imageIt was almost cathartic lifting and toting these huge limestone rocks and letting them shape themselves into a grotto like you might see it at Pedernales falls. (A beautiful natural formation in the aquifer basins of Central Texas). Just what I wanted!




In the background of these photos, notice the beautiful painted fence and what a great backdrop it creates for some of the structural plants and shrubs. I’m loving that change the most. The before and after of the fence painting and plantings are in this post.


The waterfall grotto is now connected to a raised bed behind it, where I put all of my favorite bearded Iris. The entire grouping now makes sense in the yard, instead of being a random island of plants disconnected from everything else.


I’m loving my backyard redo! I’m finally getting happy with my yard, something that’s hard for this malcontent to say!


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!