The DIrt: Give a man a pond …

I have had a lily pond for many years. It’s a modest thing, 5 feet by 7 feet, with a preformed liner surrounded by rock on one side and a deck on the other. The water flowed happily through a simple little gargoyle fountain. But this year, my son and husband decided it needed a waterfall.

Ginger Hogan’s modest koi pond is in the process of being transformed by her husband and son.Special to the Coastal Point • Ginger Hogan
Ginger Hogan’s modest koi pond is in the process of being transformed by her husband and son.
For weeks they kicked around ideas on how it should be built, each of them with a different opinion of the best approach. Dear Son (DS) wanted to form a concrete basin for the water to spill from, while Dear Husband (DH) wanted to go with a rubber-lined bowl. Each had a different preference for size and shape. Needless to say, much butting of heads ensued.

Eventually, DS formed his concrete basin, which wound up having leak issues, and DH got to line it with his rubber liner. Next came the placement of rocks. I thought this would be the easy part, but apparently they didn’t.

Every morning, DH would go out and start laying out the rocks that would form the alcove around the waterfall’s pool. DS, always a late riser, would wander out a few hours later and go, “No, no, no!” and the promptly start disassembling what DH had just done. It was a good time to have a job to escape to.

After a few weeks of construction, deconstruction and reconstruction, they finally created a rock formation that satisfied them both. Now it was time to plumb it.

Here again, DH and DS had differing ideas, but this time they managed to arrive at a compromise after only about a week of squabbling. Suddenly, I had a functioning waterfall! However, functioning does not necessarily mean finished. DS spent the next couple of weeks tweaking the flow of water between these rocks, or adjusting the position of that rock, before finally declaring it done.

And it is beautiful! It has a rock alcove surrounding the pool that spills past a larger rock with creeping sedum growing on it, down between smaller rocks on the lip and into the original pond, creating a lovely sound of falling water. I thought that this would be the end of the project, until I mentioned in passing to DS that I kind of missed my gargoyle.

Well, I came home a few days later and there was my gargoyle, happily ensconced on a new perch and spraying merrily into the pond. I thought, “This is great, a new waterfall and my old pal. Can’t ask for more than that.” But I was wrong again.

Apparently, two water features in the pond were just not enough for DS. After a couple more weeks, I came home one day to find he had created another waterfall in another corner of the pond. This one is very simple, with small stacked rocks rising from the pond ledge to the level of the deck, with water trickling down from under the deck. It’s simple and understated and quite pretty in its own way. I thought, “Wow, now I’ve got it all!” Wrong again.

Last week, I came home to find half the rocks on the waterfall side pulled out and a fourth water feature under way. This one involves a sunken tub that sits slightly above the pond level. The gargoyle now spits into the tub, which in turn spills into the pond. It was another case of “Mom, we need more rocks!”

There is a house not far from me that has been under construction for nearly 30 years. It no longer even vaguely resembles the original farmhouse it used to be, and I’m beginning to wonder if that is going to be my pond’s fate, too.

Last night, DS was pointing out which of my plants are going to have to move so he can complete this next stage. And I know he’s going to want more rocks.

Ginger Hogan is a Delaware Certified Nursery Professional. Do you have questions you’d like to have answered in a future column? Send them to Ginger at