Eric's Backyard and Koi Pond Plans

Backyard at Night
This is our Backyard at Night

Our friends keep asking "You've got to have us over so we can see what you've been doing with your backyard." I say "No we don't — You can look at our backyard on the Web."

My thoughts in the design of the backyard were first to keep all the neighbors' eyes out of our yard and windows. All the houses in this area are two story and pretty close together. You can see the windows of about five houses from our backyard. What's worse, if you look out our master bedroom or master bath window, you see right into the bedroom and bath of our neighbors to the south. So I had Barbara stand at our bedroom window while I stood at our south fence with a tape measure. I had her yell when the top of the tape measure aligned with the top of the neighbor's window — 16 feet. Giant Bird of Paradise grow 14 - 16 feet tall, and I figured I'd put 'em in a planter to give 'em a boost. So that's the theme — Put tall plants around the perimeter for privacy. A patio umbrella will allow for privacy, but I was thinking of a tall living tropical wall.

I wanted a tropical look and a Koi pond sounded peaceful, so a big pond goes in the middle. The plants and trees near the pond were chosen to be clean, so as not to deposit leaves into the pond. Of course if you have a pond, you need a bridge. If you have a bridge, you need a path. A path has to go somewhere so I lead it to a small plateaued second patio in the extreme rear of the property. The last seven feet of the yard slope upward four feet high so two retaining walls will make for tiny patio, accessed through an arbor, and not providing a well-defined boundary at the back wall of the yard.

The other design consideration was no rear lawn to mow. I didn't want a tiny patch of grass so it's all brick, plants, or water.

The construction started March, 1997 and the "It's finally done" party was July, 2002. We absolutely love our backayard, and continue to use it to this day. It is beautiful and deeply relaxing.

Backyard Plan
This was the plan for our backyard.  It was ambitious but turned out great.

Side Arbor and Patio Cover
These pictures were taken from Sunset Magazine and are the basis of the proposed side arbor and the patio cover. The arbor will be located along the south-west side of the house. It will be covered with white climbing roses and grape ivy. The path below it will be made from manufactured-used brick.
The patio will attach to the house, with three large 15-inch diameter stuccoed pillars. The two-level wall beneath the pillars will be reversed from this picture; with the lower seating area on the far side, and the higher brick area will house a natural gas barbecue.
When you consider that there's another planter along the north-east fence, this patio could become a lake in strong rains. A drainage trough with a teak grate will collect rainwater.


The Blank Canvas
Click for larger Image
Here's the backyard when we moved in.  A lot of dirt, a few weeds, too many neighbor's windows, and an air conditioner that has to be moved closer to the house.
This is the footing for the patio wall.  The wall separates the patio from the Koi pond and will include a barbecue and a seating area.
The Patio Wall Going Up
Click for larger Image

Stanley London Solid Brass Medium Pocket Compass $17
Stanley London Solid Brass Medium Pocket Compass $20

North Planter
North Planter
Walkway to Bridge
Walkway to Bridge
Cement Mixer and Pumper
Cement Mixer
and Pumper
Pouring the Walkway and Wall Footing
Pouring the Walkway
and Wall Footing
Pouring the Footing for the North Planter
Pouring the Footing
for the North Planter
Patio Wall First Coursed
Patio Wall
First Coursed
Seating Area in Patio Wall
Seating Area
in Patio Wall
North Planter and Patio Wall
North Planter
and Patio Wall
Footing for Patio Post
Footing for
Patio Post
More Blocks
More Blocks

Patio Roof going up
Here's the patio roof going up in February, 2000.  It's a very heavy design with 6 x 6 posts and double 2 x 12 beams.

The Blank Canvas
Click for larger Image
The patio in August, 2000 with the patio roof done and the slab poured.  The air conditioner was moved three feet closer to the house to give more room on the patio and the pad was just poured.  The foam columns still need to go around the 6x6 posts.

Patio and surroundings
This is a circa August, 2000 picture of the patio and the general day-to-day construction mess.  A compass rose was inlayed with brick where the four brick walkways meet.

The Blank Canvas
Click for larger Image
Here's an August, 2000 view of the brick walkway along the side of the house.  A long arbor will be placed over the walkway later (see above plans).


Here's an September, 2000 view of the foam pillars being installed over the 6 by 6 inch posts.  A reinforcing compound and mesh is applied, and then brown-coated and eventually stuccoed.
The Pillars
Click for larger Image


Patio with Barbecue
Click for larger Image
This is a December, 2000 view of the patio showing completed stucco and barbecue installed.


The Anti-Pond of December, 2000.  Digging begun around perimeter of pond and waterfall.
The Anti-Pond
Click for larger Image


The Pond in Progress
Click for larger Image
Here is a picture of the pond under construction in March, 2001.  Steel-reinforced 6-inch concrete blocks form the perimeter of the pond, the sump for the prefilter brushes and pump cavity (front right), and the waterfall (front left).  The bottom of the waterfall will serve as a second biofilter.


View from the patio of the pond under construction.  A real wood bridge will eventually span the 12-feet between the brick walkways.  Reinforced concrete around the edge of the pond will support flagstone.
The Pond Under Construction
Click for larger Image

Decomposed Granite on Pond Bottom. Loose Waterfall Rocks to Left
Decomposed Granite on
Pond Bottom. Loose
Waterfall Rocks to Left
Loose Waterfall Rocks with Prefilter and Pump Housing to Left
Loose Waterfall Rocks
with Prefilter and
Pump Housing to Left
Waterfall Rocks Mortared and Rebar
Waterfall Rocks
Mortared and Rebar
Pond Bottom with Waterfall Rocks Fully Mortared
Pond Bottom with
Waterfall Rocks
Fully Mortared

Pond Schematic


Meet Paco, the newest Yorkie puppy on the block
¡Hola Paco! ¿Qué tal? Come meet Paco, the newest Yorkie puppy on the block.

The Day The Pond Liner Arrived
In June of 2001 the 20' x 30' 60-Mil EPDM pond liner arrived from Anjon Pond Liners. The bottom of the pond had been coated with 1 1/2 inches of decomposed granite, and the sides were steel reinforced cement block, so no padding was placed down before laying out the EPDM. Two bottom drains were installed and after waiting 40 minutes for the silicone to cure, the filling began. We used five garden hoses including one from the neighbors. The skimmer that was purchased at a pool supply store was installed in the side adjacent to the brush pre-filter cavity. Once the water reached the proper level, power was applied to the 4500 GPH pump and the waterfall came alive. Usually waterfalls require some tweaking but this one was nearly perfect the first try.
A few notes may reduce confusion for the careful reader: First, there are TWO biofilters. While the pond and patio were being built, the Koi lived in the top biofilter. No Koi were to be added to the pond until the water sat one week and the pond was drained and refilled. A dechlorinating agent was used on the final fill. Not shown in the Pond Schematic, there is a Wye fitting and a valve that diverts the output of the pump into the bottom of the waterfall. This valve was opened so the water circulated without the top biofilter.
In case you're wondering why there are two boifilters, it's because two 300 gallon biofilters work considerably better than one large 600+ gallon biofilter. In a stable pond, the biofilter actually uses several times more oxygen than the Koi consume, so providing oxygen-rich water to the biofilter is essential. Both the top and waterfall biofilters are upflow designs and both use homemade PVC ribbon media. The top biofilter provides oxygenation both before and after via two oxygenating towers. The waterfall oxygenates the water for the pond via the 18-inch drop.
Laying Out the 60-mil EPDM Pond Liner
Laying Out the 60-mil
EPDM Pond Liner
...And Around the Waterfall
...And Around
the Waterfall
Install Two Bottom Drains
Install Two
Bottom Drains
Both Drains Installed
Both Drains
Installed
Plastic Grate at the Bottom of the Waterfall
Plastic Grate at
the Bottom of
the Waterfall
First of Many Layers of PVC Ribbon
First of Many
Layers of PVC
Ribbon
PVC Ribbon with Plastic Lighting Grate on Top
PVC Ribbon with
Plastic Lighting
Grate on Top
Two Small Water Lillies on Top of Plastic Lighting Grate
Two Small Water
Lillies on Top of
Plastic Lighting Grate
1/4 HP Pump in Underground Pump Housing
1/4 HP Pump in
Underground Pump
Housing
Brush Prefilter and Custom Made Removable Stainless Steel Unit
Brush Prefilter
and Custom Made
Removable Stainless
Steel Unit
Starting to Fill the Pond
Starting to Fill
the Pond
Smoothing out the Wrinkles
Smoothing out
the Wrinkles
Skimmer Installed
Skimmer Installed
Pond Filled and Pump On
Pond Filled
and Pump On
Waterfall Worked First Time Without Leaks
Waterfall Worked First
Time Without Leaks
Taking a Dip Behind the Waterfall
Taking a Dip Behind
the Waterfall
Pond with Flagstone Installed and Partially Stocked with Goldfish and Koi
Pond with Flagstone
Installed and Partially
Stocked with Goldfish
and Koi
Pond with Alex Watching Fish
Pond with Alex
Watching Fish
Froth on Water from Koi Mating
Froth on Water
from Koi Mating
Koi Eggs on Water Hyacinth Roots
Koi Eggs on Water
Hyacinth Roots
Bridge Frame with Stainless Steel Angle Brackets
Bridge Frame with
Stainless Steel Angle
Brackets
Bridge Frame Ready for Staining
Bridge Frame
Ready for Staining
Completed Koi Pond Bridge
Completed Koi
Pond Bridge
Bridge is Curved Wider in Center
Bridge is Curved
Wider in Center
Bridge has Tongue-and-Groove Planks
Bridge has Tongue-
and-Groove Planks
River Rocks Bordering Waterfall
River Rocks
Bordering Waterfall
River Rocks Set On-End into Concrete Sealer
River Rocks Set On-End
into Concrete Sealer
Koi Cafe Automatic Feeder
Koi Cafe
Automatic Feeder
Wood Pulleys, Bronze Bushings, Entire Crane Rotates to Lower Feeder onto Pond Edge for Easy Refills
Wood Pulleys, Bronze
Bushings, Entire Crane
Rotates to Lower
Feeder onto Pond Edge
for Easy Refills
Arbor Framing on Side of House
Arbor Framing on
Side of House
Cannot Have Permanent Structure within 3 Feet of Property Line
Cannot Have Permanent
Structure within 3
Feet of Property Line
Arc Made From Staggered Spliced 1 x 12's
Arc Made From
Staggered Spliced
1 x 12's
Side Arbor with Lath
Side Arbor
with Lath
Side Arbor at Night
Side Arbor
at Night
Compass Rose at 4-Way Junction in Brick Paths
Compass Rose at 4-Way
Junction in Brick Paths
Brass Center of Compass Rose
Brass Center of
Compass Rose

Biofilter progress Here's a picture of the combination upflow biofilter / retaining wall prior to filling the cells with mortar, stuccoing, and sealing. It's made from steel-reinforced 6" concrete blocks. It currently holds 300 gallons of water and biofilter material. The top rim of the filter and adjacent retaining has been capped with used brick.

I originally planned to use plastic bio balls but they priced out at $1040 for the 200 gallons required. I thought about lava rock, but recently decided to machine my own PVC ribbon. Look at my Biofilter Page on details of the biofilter and making plastic media.

Biofilter with Stucco
This is the first and primary biofilter after being capped with bricks and after stucco was applied.  Before the pond was ready, the Koi lived here.

Natural Gas Pond Heater Being Installed
Natural Gas
Pond Heater
Being Installed
Rear Patio with Arbor. Note Bubble Wrap on Waterfall During Winter
Rear Patio with Arbor.
Note Bubble Wrap on
Waterfall During Winter
Same View at Night with Lighting On
Same View at Night
with Lighting On
Backyard at Night
Backyard at Night
Rear Right Arbor with Grape Ivy
Rear Right Arbor
with Grape Ivy
Rear Left Arbor with Passion Flower Vines
Rear Left Arbor with
Passion Flower Vines
First Passion Flower
First Passion Flower
Koi Feeding
Koi Feeding
Backyard is Finally Done Party, July, 2002
Backyard is Done Party
Backyard is Finally Done Party, July, 2002
Backyard is Done Party
Kathi Burg Band at Backyard is Finally Done Party
Kathi Burg Band
Magician at Backyard is Finally Done Party
Magician at Party
Backyard Hawaiian Luau, July, 2006
Backyard Hawaiian Luau
Hula Dancer at Backyard Hawaiian Luau, July, 2006
Hula Dancer at Luau
Hula Lessons at Backyard Hawaiian Luau, July, 2006
Hula Lessons at Luau
Live Music at Backyard Hawaiian Luau, July, 2006
Live Music at Luau
Koi Pond in Winter 2006
Koi Pond in Winter 2006
Path and Bridge in Winter 2006
Path and Bridge
Winter 2006
Bridge and Pond in Winter 2006
Bridge and Pond
Winter 2006
Patio at Dusk in Winter 2006
Patio at Dusk
Winter 2006
Pond at Dusk in Winter 2006
Pond at Dusk
Winter 2006
Bridge and Pond at Dusk in Winter 2006
Bridge and Pond at
Dusk in Winter 2006
Backyard at Dusk in Winter 2006
Backyard at Dusk
Winter 2006
Pond at Dusk in Winter 2006
Pond at Dusk
Winter 2006

Stanley London Brass Sextants
Stanley London Brass Sextants and Nautical Collectibles



visitors to my Cyber-Backyard.

The Antique Sextant at AntiqueSextant.com — Gifts for Guys
The Antique Sextant at AntiqueSextant.com — Gifts for Guys

Shooter's Yorkie Fun Page
Visit Shooter's Yorkie Fun Page

[ Eric's Koi Pond Biofilter Page | Eric's Homeowner’s Association Page | Eric's Half Barrel Pond Page | Eric's Page | Shooter's Page ]
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Eric Newman * Copyright © 1997 - 2012, Eric Newman *Revised 3/9/2012