Filling Your Pond

Filling Your Pond
When the time comes to fill--or to refill--your pond, it’s tempting simply to grab the hose, turn it on, and let the water flow. But there’s going to come a time when you’ll want to know how much water your pond holds. That’s especially true for fish ponds, in which you'll want know the right amount of medication to use in your pond when your fish fall prey to parasites or diseases. You'll also need to know how much algaecide to put in your pond or water feature to kill off that pesky string algae.

To determine how much water your pond holds, you can either buy or rent a “flow meter” to attach to your hose, or, as an alternative, you can fairly accurately estimate the amount by measuring the length of time it takes to fill a five-gallon bucket. Divide that time by 5 to determine the time it takes to fill 1 gallon.

Next, begin filling your pond, noting the length of time it takes for the hose to fill the pond to capacity and divide that time by the amount of time required to fill a gallon. That should give you a relatively close indication of how much water your pond will hold.

For example, if your hose takes 1 minute (60 seconds) to fill a 5-gallon bucket, dividing 60 seconds by 5 gallons gives you 12 seconds per gallon. If your pond takes 1 hour (3,600 seconds) to fill and you divide that time by 12 seconds per gallon, you come up with 300 gallons. It’s not absolutely foolproof, but it’s pretty darned close!

Once your pond is filled, it’s D-Day...Delirium Day. That’s the day you get to fire up your pump and get set to be deliriously happy. IF everything works as it should. Which means IF you did everything the way you should have done it, and IF the equipment works.

Which brings up an interesting point. If you hit the switch and nothing happens, don’t panic. Check that all of the electrical connections have been made. Test the outlet to make sure that it’s getting power. Wiggle the plug to make sure it’s making electrical contact. If the pump still doesn’t work, check your home’s breaker box to make certain it hasn’t tripped. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may have a faulty pump--rare, but certainly possible. To find out, try plugging the pump into a different outlet. If that doesn’t work, take the pump back and exchange it for a new one.

Assuming nothing malfunctioned and everything seems to be working just fine, take a tour around the pond, checking the hose and pipe fittings for leaks. If you find something dripping somewhere, simply tighten the fittings until it stops. This is also a good time to check your stream, waterfall, or spillway to make certain that the water is running where it’s supposed to and not where it shouldn’t. Depending upon how well you did your homework and how diligently you prepared for this moment, you shouldn’t have any major adjustments to make, although it’s not uncommon for streams and waterfalls especially to need some tinkering to get them working exactly right.

Once you’re convinced that everything looks good, your next step is absolutely critical. Place both hands on your hips, shake your head from side to side, and say out loud, “Well, I’ll be damned!”

Then go into the house, pop the top on an icy cold one, and settle back into a chair near the pond to watch the thing run. And, realize that you have broken free from the pack. You have done what few other people you know have done. You have built your very own living, functioning pond.

It’s Miller time.

Check out D. J. Herda's two latest gardening books, Zen & the Art of Pond Building and From Container to Kitchen: Growing Fruits and Vegetables in Pots, both available from

SPECIAL! Click on the author's photo above to request a personally inscribed copy by e-mail for readers of Bella Online only!

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