How to do a Bubbling Rock
Garden Clippings for June 27, 2020
In the garden, moving water is always a hit. The sound of water trickling over a natural stone is sure to sooth the soul. Birds are drawn to a water source where they enjoy a drink or take a bath. In our newly installed backyard water feature, it is rare that a moment passes without at least one or two visits from feathered friends.
Putting together a bubbling rock or aquatic bubbler need not be complicated and could probably be created on a Sunday afternoon with 2 energetic workers. And the task is more satisfying than watching a round of golf or baseball game, which cannot and will not be done in the foreseeable future.
Start with choosing a location. Pick a spot that will be viewed from both the patio and the house. Be prepared to plant some shrubs and perennials around it to enhance its setting. Remember that you will need access to hydro.
Next, dig your hole. The hole should be about the size of a kiddie pool, 3 to 4 feet in diameter but deeper, with at least one part of the hole about 24 inches deep. Once your hole is dug, dig out an additional 12 inches of sod or soil around your hole, going about 3 to 4 inches deep, tapering slightly towards the hole. When you are done digging the additional width, you will think the hole is far too big, but trust me on this one.
Get a string and use it to measure the required size of pond liner. Lay the sting down along the hole starting on one end and going back up again on the other end. You will likely come up with about 10 to 12 feet. Now add another foot to both ends. In my experience, most people will use a 15 ft by 15 ft piece of flexible rubber liner. At this point you might think it is easier and cheaper to use a rigid preformed pond or even a kiddie pool, but trust me on this one too.
Before putting down the liner, consider adding a protective layer of underpadding to prevent sharp rocks from potentially coming up through the subsoil and puncturing the liner. You can get special pond underlay for the job, but you can also use leftover carpeting for the job. Cut it in strips to make the job easier.
Next, find a 5-gallon pail or a sump pump reservoir. The taller the better. Puncture several holes in the sides of the pail. Puncture one hole near the bottom of the pail for the pump discharge hose.
The fun job is looking for a sizable rock or boulder to drill a hole through. Shopping for rocks is fun, and most places that sell rocks will be able to drill a hole through it. Keep in mind that rock from the Bruce Penninsula is softer and easier to drill than granite. The drill bit diameter should be slightly larger than the pump discharge hose.
If you do not want to use a boulder, use your imagination to find an alternative. A large teapot, cast iron jug, antique water pump or concrete statuary may also suit your fancy.
While you are shopping, look for a submersible pump. You will likely want one that can move 600 gallons per hour or more. Look for a pump that has a long cord.
Lay down the liner and begin filling it with rocks. Any rocks. Even concrete blocks will work, but beware of sharp edges. Set the pail in the water so the top of the pail is about 3 or 4 inches below the adjacent garden or soil level. Install the pump, put the discharge hose through the hole in the pail, and backfill with more rocks. Fill the pond partway with water and test the pump to see if it is all working. Finish backfilling the pond. Find a piece of natural flat stone or flagstone to cover the pail.
Add more rocks, keeping the nicest rocks for the top decorative layer. Next, guide the pump discharge hose through the predrilled boulder. Set the boulder somewhere near the centre of the water feature.
Use a good scissors to cut off the excess liner, but before doing so, try to fold away some liner all around and tuck the excess into the edge of the pond. You might want to redo the pond and adjust its size in the future.
Your job is almost done. Move the rocks around to hide the liner. Add a few plants to soften the edges and naturalize the setting. Adjust the pump volume to suit your liking. Turn down the volume if water splashes beyond the liner. I suggest putting a timer on the outlet so it only runs when you are home.