Contractor’s Corner | Creative Recreation

By Ryan Bunting

Published on March 30, 2018

Labrador inspected and approved by Remi!

When I started my pond company in 2010, the economy wasn’t so welcoming to a new, luxury-based business. New pond installations were not thriving at the time, so I focused on maintenance and pond rebuilds. During that period, the number of rebuilds I completed outnumbered the number of new ponds at a rate of almost four to one. Rebuilding a pond is a completely different animal from installing a new pond in many ways.

A new installation allows you to create in any manner you like, using the materials you want to use. A rebuild typically involves a preexisting hole, rocks that are usually undesirable and old pond equipment that you need to replace, or at least utilize properly. You’ll want to reuse as much as possible to help with the overall budget, freeing up money to be spent on upgraded materials for the pond.

#1 day 1 and 2.. rock in out with Joey & Kyle.. don’t forget your fish caves!

Old pond liner and fabric can be reused under the new liner and under larger boulders to act as protection. Depending on the age and condition of the existing hardware, it sometimes can be reused in the new pond as originally intended. If these materials can’t be used in the pond, you can get creative.

Skimmer boxes, for example, make great shop trash cans, and I’ve found that large biofalls can be turned into compost containers. Older ponds often have typical stack stone around the edges. This can either be utilized on the interior of the pond or for rock walls in the landscape surrounding the pond.

The first step in the actual rebuilding process is to clean the old pond and rip it apart. I like to put old stone on pallets to easily stage the stone out of my way. This really helps when you’re working in a small area. Once you have removed the old rocks and hardware, you can start laying out the new pond area.

And then it’s game on!

This particular project presented its own challenges, including working around another contractor and coping with the lovely late-winter weather of the mid-Atlantic. Needless to say, the job site was constantly soaked from nor’easters that visited us every few days. We used our clean-out pumps to pump out water from around the site, and we constantly had to cover our work area so we weren’t working with mud. This strategy allowed us to work seven straight days and through two separate storms to create this work of art.

Day 7.. up and running despite all of the rain

The new pond measures approximately 12 by 18 feet with a 15-foot stream. There are four waterfalls powered by one 8,000-gph pump. This pond has two biofalls, one skimmer box, LED lighting and approximately 20 tons of rocks and boulders. This project came in under $15,000 and will be the focal point of this backyard renovation for years to come.

Every pond guy loves a blank canvas to create with, but you can find a special type of satisfaction in turning an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan! So, get out there and talk to your current customers about rebuilding your old work (or someone else’s) and bringing it up to date with your current capabilities.

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Designer: Big Boulder Pond Company

Installers:  Big Boulder Pond Company

Location: Bokeelia, Florida

Contact Info: Ryan Bunting, 302/841-4444

Size: 12 x 18 feet (2 feet deep); a 15-foot stream (approx. 3,500 gallons)


  • Two Aquascape biofalls
  • Skimmer,
  • Liner
  • LED lights,
  • Aquasurge 4,000 to 8,000 gph pump
  • Approx. 18 tons of Pennsylvania fieldstone boulders

Time to Complete: Seven days

Crew Size: Ryan Bunting, Joey Cherico and Kyle King

Project Price: Just under $15,000



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