Contractor's Corner

Contractor’s Corner | Gotta Have More Pond!

Tips for expanding your customer’s existing pond

Digging of the 2nd expansion.

In my 46 years of building water features and ponds, I have never been told that I’ve built one that was too big. On the contrary, I have been tasked to expand quite a few ponds — some I didn’t build, and many I did.

It all began back in 1975 when my father, the head engineer at Winter Haven Hospital, hired a company to install a rubber membrane on the new roof on the hospital’s cafeteria. As it was being installed and seamed together, I was tasked to watch, observe and learn how it was being done so that we could consider this product in our water-feature building. I worked closely alongside the company installing it and learned how to seam the lining through a very unique process of chemically melting the rubber seams together and using a steam press to bond them together. This method had to be done on a flat surface, though — not in a rubber-lined pond, unless we totally rebuilt them.

All hands on deck when you’re doing a 20′ seam in place.

In the early ‘80s, we learned how to fuse the liner together using an adhesive akin to glue used to repair inner tubes. The glue was quite aggressive in seaming the EPDM material we had started using with Firestone RubberGard material. As it turned out, using roofing material as a pond liner had no effect on a water garden. While the industry has adopted a very simple method of seaming with primer, seam tape or cover tape, I have learned that as you expand a pond, it is easier to seam the liner on the expansions rather than rebuilding the whole thing with a bigger piece of liner.

For example, I expanded a pond for a great customer-turned-friend named Sissy, whom I first met in 2010. Her pond had been built by another company, and I asked her if I could build it bigger. At that time, the pond to the left of her front porch was approximately 1,000 gallons. Out came the sidewalk, and a 4-by-6-foot steel frame wood bridge was installed in its place. We expanded the pond to the right side of her porch to create a 2,500-gallon waterscape. Fast-forward to 2014, and she called again with another need for “more pond.” This led us to expand 10 feet in width and 15 feet in length, while in the process installing a catwalk bridge that crossed the whole pond and led to her front door. The pond was now 9,000 gallons. In 2017, the fever hit her again — she wanted “more pond!” So, more pond she got. Although her septic tank was in the way, we persevered until we were completely landlocked. The final expansion of Sissy’s pond included a 12-inch elevation to allow a 5-foot weir to drop into the existing pond, bringing it up to 15-by-20 feet and totaling more than 16,000 gallons, with five waterfalls, two skimmers and a pump vault tucked away on the side of the lower pond. Six pumps provided circulation for 30,000 gallons of water.

The view across the 1st expansion. Across to the 2nd expansion and the waterfalls doing from the porch.

Another case in point, we built a pond for Harold and Lise Wysock in Lake Wales, Florida, which started off as a pondless waterfall in their front yard, right outside the kitchen nook window. As the shovel was meeting the ground in July 2019, they decided they wanted it turned into a pond, so I sourced the materials needed to build a 1,400-gallon, 8-by-12-foot pond. By late October, the call came in. “I need more pond!” This time, they wanted it across the front of their home, making the expansion 20 by 35 feet and adding 10,000 more gallons. We removed the sidewalk and built a 6-foot-wide bridge into the home. In January 2020, we were at it again, adding another 20-by-25-foot expansion and 7,500 gallons (to what we now call “Lake Wysock”).

A ground view of the 1st expansion towards the bridge that enters the front door of the home.

With the pond now around 19,000 gallons, we just got the call again. Our plan is to integrate another 20-by-25-foot expansion that will bring the volume to 26,000 gallons with nine waterfall filters, four skimmers and six pumps moving 50,000 gallons per hour. We also plan to install a 10-by-24-foot culvert tube for a land bridge to connect the pond together, allowing the Wysocks to watch the fish swim completely around the pond and disappear under a cave, only to reappear in the other pond.

I love what I do, and it’s always a pleasure to share my knowledge with my fellow pond contractors. If I can ever help with something, please give me the joy of doing so. Call me anytime — I will always be living, loving, laughing and “Living the Pond Life.”

Lloyd Lightsey,
The Pond Monster
Started building ponds and water features in 1973 still to date, I have a love for life, God, Country and of coarse my lovely wife Karrie, always “Living” the Pond Life
Www.Thepondmonster.com

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