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Constructing the Edge of Your Garden Pond

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by Sabina Mendez
(Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)

Ideas and Practical Tips for Designing the Edge

The design of the margin is what lends a pool its distinctive air. Wood and stone offer many possibilities for achieving a harmonious transition from the pool to the garden.

A Wooden Dock Running Along the Pool’s Edge

Wooden boards arranged as for a bridge do not necessarily have to lead across the pool or jut out over the water to provide a dock for bathers. They can equally well run along the pool’s edge to provide a boardwalk instead of stepping stones of natural rock or concrete blocks.

You can buy suitable wood— boards and supporting timbers—at a lumber yard or a building supply center. You can even have the lumber cut to the desired size there (coat the cut surfaces with a wood preservative). Gravel, sand, and cinder blocks for the footing to rest on can also be purchased there.

This is how you proceed: Dig away the earth along the pool to a depth of about 10 inches (25 cm); the excavation should be long enough and wide enough to accommodate the boardwalk. Put down a layer of gravel about 4 or 6 inches (10-15 cm) deep. Test to see how far apart the supporting timbers should be.

For a walkway about 1 yard (1 m) wide, you need three timbers, with the outer ones placed along the outside in such a way that the edges of the boards protrude a couple of inches; the third supporting timber is centered between the other two. Lay the cinder blocks on the gravel for the supporting timbers to rest on. Fill the space between the cinder blocks with sand. Then put the supporting timbers in place and fasten the boards to them with rustproof nails or screws.

If you do not want to build the boardwalk yourself, you can buy ready-made parts and assemble them, but this is more expensive than building from scratch. Nail the pool liner to the supporting timbers facing the water, and cover the ends with a board.

Finishing the Edge Along a Steep Bank

If a steep bank of the pool is going to be walked on, it has to be reinforced. The following is one simple method to achieve this: Take so-called edging or curbing stones and set them on edge almost vertically in the earth along the bank. Pull the liner over them and weigh it down behind the edging stones with rocks, but make sure the end of the liner sticks upward. If you purchase pool bank or bank planting mats that include plant pockets you can even plant steep banks. To do this, fill the plant pockets with soil and anchor them in the ground behind the pool liner with special hooks. Flagstones orconcrete blocks are placed on top to form a path along the water’s edge.

A “Catproof” Pool Edge

It is easy for cats to catch fish from a steep bank. But a border of square flagstones or concrete blocks jutting out over the water about 8 inches (20 cm) will foil their attempts because fish like Kois and Goldfish will seek cover underneath the overhanging stones when they sense danger.

The bank can be reinforced with edging stones or with a loose-rock wall. To keep the protruding flag¬stones on top from tipping, they are laid in mortar.

A Walkway Combined with a Marsh Strip

Along a shallow shore you can simply pull the liner up on the bank, weigh it down with some rocks, and let the end stick up. The rocks will provide enough support for the flagstones on top.

A marshy strip filled with earth should be set off from the pool with rocks that are glued to the liner with silicone adhesive. If the marshy border consists of plants in containers, no rocks are needed to mark the border off from the open water.

Reinforcing the Shore with a Loose-Rock Wall

The steeper the bank, the more solid the reinforcement has to be, especially if you want to be able to walk along the pool’s edge. A loose-rock wall built of roughly hewn stones or of perforated bricks provides firm support. Build the wall before putting down the pool liner.

Dig enough earth away for the wall’s width (12-16 inches or 30-40 cm), and then build the wall a layer at a time, filling the spaces between the rocks with earth as you go along. Never build a solid, mortared wall. Place a protective pad between the wall and the pool liner, and pull liner and pad over the wall, making sure that the linerend sticks up. Place the stones for the walk¬way on top, making sure to add several thick gobs of silicone glue between the stones and theliner.

Wooden Pavement Along the Edge

If you want to pave the border of your pool, you can use stones or — and this is particularly attractive — disks of wood. Whether your fancy is wood or stone, you will need to lay the pavers in a bed of sand or gravel 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) deep. Dig out the entire area to this depth, add the sand or gravel, and then place the stones or wood disks as close together as possible.

Along the water’s edge you should proceed as follows: First pull theliner over some medium-sized stones, and then place the edge so that the ends stick up between the first and second row of wooden disks. To protect the liner against damage, pour a thin layer of sand on the liner underneath the pavers or use a protective pad.

After you finish laying the pavement, spread around enough sand with a broom to fill in all the cracks between the stones or wood.

Updated: November 8, 2012 — 5:53 pm

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