Anatomy of a Water Feature -- Follow-up

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Anatomy of a Water Feature -- Follow-up
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 9:05 PM

Hi,

I posted this under the "Subscribers' Extra" Column of the same name, but I am reposting it here:

Dear Nancy,

We have been puzzling over getting power to our little pond for years (Somewhere in the forum posts Tom Trigg and I had a running discussion on the issue. I dropped it at the time to address other challenges.). When you say "no extension cords," do you mean to none from the pump's plug to the outlet or that the pump needs to be hard wired to the outlet? Also, I am assuming the outlet itself should be a professional job if not already installed, or is this something that could be attempted as a DIY project?

We do successfully keep guppies and water hyacinth, but a pump would really open up what we could keep as we are in the tropics. With our liner probably leaking, it may be a good time to tackle this project if we can work out the power issue.

Thanks in advance!

Eric

P.S. If I could've added one thing to your article, it would've been mosquito control. Either add fish (guppies or Gambusia sp. (aka mosquito fish), a killer, or drain it. Otherwise, your neighbors will hate you!

As ever, thank you for a thought-inspiring article.  The Triple O has matured to the point we may actually tackle this project!

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Posted by Rene Schweitzer on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 8:41 AM

Hi Eric,

 

Thanks for your note. I've emailed Nancy, pointing her to this letter so she can comment.

Rene

Rene Schweitzer

Classic Toy Trains/Garden Railways/Model Railroader

nan
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Posted by nan on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 9:54 AM

Hi Eric,

Regarding 110-volt power, the pump plug should either be plugged directly into a GFCI outlet or hardwired (cut off the plug and wire it inside the electrical box to code). The electrical outlet/box needs to be routed 18" underground until the conduit is fastened 90 degrees up to a post. 'No extension cord' means direct plug in so that water does not get in any extension cord connection, a hazard. I have been experimenting with DC marine sump pumps powered through a transformer/inverter from AC at the house. Currently my water feature is not running because the pump failed. The inverter still makes a sound so it must be okay. I had run that pump over a year constantly so it's time for another from West Marine store. Where 110-volt assemblies are concerned, for insurance reasons, you need a licensed electrician to either do the work or check your work.      

Regarding mosquitos, we have a pondless water feature so that no standing water exists for bugs to breed/lay eggs. I have used mosquito-killing pellets when I had another one with a pond. Mosquito-eating fish always get scooped up by critters, mostly raccoons, in my neighborhood. Elsewhere, I have a bowl-enclosed water feature that runs 24/7. Running water prevents mosquitos from breeding there. Have fun with your project and let us know how it goes! NN                                                                   

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 10:12 PM

Nancy,

Thank you for your prompt and thorough reply!  We are fortunate in having an outdoor outlet, so it looks like the go / no-go for us in the immediate future, given your advice, is the length of the power cords on available pumps.  We have been discussing another outdoor outlet for trains, bug zappers, and "party lights," so this gives us food for thought, if the budget permits.  I'll get to the hardware store and do some investigating...

Aloha,

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:18 AM

Hi Nancy,

 

I wanted to provide a follow-up.  Pumps available locally have too short of a cord to make use of our existing outlet.  That would mean a new outlet, so we are going to have to do a big "think" about where that should be and what the budget will support.

 

This is a pretty small pond, and we are able to use "nature's water purifier" (water hyacinth) to keep the water clear and cool.  Please see recent pictures below:

 

 

Guppies are our mosquito killers.  As I mentioned, the leak has sparked interest in relooking the project, and we are investigating both liners and pre-formed pools.  There are pros and cons to both.

 

I wish I could tell you we were going to "pour on steam," but, given the variables here and the work involved, I think we need to take our time on Lake Inferior 2.0!

 

Aloha,

Eric

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Posted by chocho willy on Sunday, September 15, 2019 10:50 AM

fallspondEric, I had a pond that was 8'x15'x3' for about 5 years and I used a sump pump for power because i had one and the smaller pumps around wouldn't lift the amount of water i needed for the waterfall and the 35' river. to keep it clean i used a leaf screen or a pool and water lettuce to keep it clear, i had some water hyacinth at first but found them too invasive and couldn't see the pond after about about a week. The water lettuce kept the water clear and was easy to remove with the pook screen and stored in a kiddy pool till the meet was over. There weren't many pool liners back then but I stumbled upon a liner for a land fill and it worked great, the sound of running water just does something for a layout, besides you have to have a place for the pirate ship, ARGGG, Bill

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, September 16, 2019 9:11 PM

Bill,

Thanks.  I have to crack the power code.  We need a bigger pond to accomodate more interesting fish and "wet foot" plants.  Our little thing is abut 6-8" deep at its deepest, which really limits both fish and plants because of the heat issue.

 

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 9:31 PM
A friend is donating a pre-formed 200 gal pond liner. Looks like I may have to proceed with this project...
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Posted by chocho willy on Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:34 AM

Sounds like you have a touch of the Irish!

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:48 AM

I know nothing about garden railroads, or about yard water features, so please take it easy on me.

I do know that there are low-voltage water pumps available for small water features.  With the low voltage system, an outlet near the house could be connected to the pump with low voltage rated wire, and would not require expensive conduit, electrician costs, etc.  The low voltage wire is not even required to be buried.

I don't imagine the low voltage system would work with a larger water feature, but it might be an answer for a smaller one.

John  --  Saints Fan  

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, September 26, 2019 11:20 PM
Thanks, York1. Do you have a link to an example of what you mean?
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, October 4, 2019 2:34 AM
OK, it was a 75 gal tub, but the price was right! We'll get cracking after the Christmas season.
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, January 2, 2020 11:15 PM
OK, we ripped up the rails surrounding our old pond and started draining it today. The kids will net the guppies out tomorrow, and on Saturday we will put the new pond in place. This will still be without power for a filter and water fall, but we will leave room for the latter for some undefined future date. The extra depth of the new pond will expand what we can keep in it, and the smaller lip compared to the nylon liner means it should be easier to blend into the landscape. Of course, this will dictate some other changes here and there, but progress sometimes comes with a step backward! Happy New Year, All!
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, January 5, 2020 1:44 AM

Whoa...that was a lot of shoveling...

 

     We began a couple days ago by setting up a new home for the guppies:

 The pot contains a Cryptocryne sp. that failed to die.  The floating plants are water hyacinth, nature's sewer system, and a small air-driven spong filter provides life support.  This behind us, the crew commenced OPERATION GUPPY HUNT:

  

     The next day, I got out of work early, so we caught the last of the guppies and removed the liner, leaving this:

     Oldest Daugther and I then set-to placing and leveling the new pond.  Good thing GR just ran that article about surveying!  We used the concepts, if not the methods, to get the pond leveled.  Oldest Daugther noted the pond was slightly warped, so the shallow part inclines slightly downward.  Oh, well...It was free!

  

We had scraped all the gravel into buckets or on top of the old pond liner, and we used that to fill in as best we could around the pond.  Naturally, someone bumped the carefully leveled pond, so it was back to the shovels one last time!  We did get it all in, though, with enough stuff packed around it to hold it in place overnight.  You'll note we repurposed the half hollow tiles of the orginal pond to serve as dirt barriers between the slightly raised portion of the garden and the pond.

     The next day (today), it was all about finding fill material.  The entire center of the garden had settled about four inches since installation in 2014, and we used this project as an opportunity to again make the center of the garden level with the edges, both for visual reasons and to minimize the run-off into the new pond.  Oldest Son and I shoveled buckets of material from the Valley of Abandoned Gravel, Dirt and Concrete Bits that has waxed and waned in material since we began this adventure, but we still fell short.  He hit upon the idea to used that abandoned half hollow tile, and I suggested we use it to shore up some sagging areas of the mainline:

 This freed up some more fill and will hopefully improve operations.  

  Oldest Daughter had not been idle, and she, too raided the Valley for lavarocks to that would serve to help fill the hole and to tie in the rockwork elswhere to the section under improvement:

I should mention we had kept buckets of gravel in reserve to serve as ballast and weed barrier.  We opted to commit the area behind the pond to our buildings so we committed most of our gravel reserves there.  We decided to preserve the other area for plantings, so it was off to the garden center!

     Youngest Daughter, who had been watching Kid-zilla, Otto the Cattledog, and the rest of us loaded the Focus and headed to the local nursery, where we got the top soil and cinders we needed as well as some plant.   We chose a  creeping sedum to hopefully start filling in amongst the rocks, some false heather to maybe be trees, and some marigolds, becuase, well, they look nice!

At this point, we placed the remaining gravel, replaced our buildings, reconnected the tracks, polished the rails, stowed our tools, and stood back to admire our work:

While we lost some of our earlier vertical separation that had been the result of years of settling, I think we gained a more cohesive look, space for buildings, and, hopefully, a better environment for our oft-struggling plants (We've killed all three newly added species before, but I think we neglected them). 

     At long last, we returned the guppies to their new home, broke down and sanitized their holding tank, and posed in muddy triumph:

OK, so my aim was off when I set the timer...

     Tonight, only Diesel Dan, our PIKO "Clean Machine," was allowed to cruise the rails, looking for forgotten debris (found it!) and scouring away the dirt (done!).  I am sure we will spend much of the next several weeks isolating and correcting dirty rail joints around the Triple O.  At least we will do it next to an improved pond!

 

Aloha,

Eric

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, January 5, 2020 2:36 PM

I have never tried a water feature, even on the old railway, which was much larger. Perhaps I may consider for a future project...

Lots of lakes in Switzerland !!

Paul

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