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Hello from Toronto, Canada

Started by Stone-Hale, May 24, 2017, 09:24:31 pm

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Hello from Toronto!  I'm an visual artist, musician and carpenter who has been attempting to create a Japanese tea garden for the last 9 years.  I have not yet been able to find anyone in town here who is attempting a project like this, so i fell very grateful to have found this forum.  I'm in the research phase regarding a major overhaul to a stream i installed about 7 years ago, and am interested in reading more about how others have done this.  I have added a photo of the garden. Many thanks, M. Stone


Hi M. Stone;  I like what you've done so far.  What is it you are attempting to do with this overhaul, what issues does it address with the existing garden and stream?  Pictures, panoramic in the horizontal plane would help, a plan schematic also would help.  Include as much area surrounding the garden as possible.



Beautiful.  Welcome to the forum!


Hi Stanton and Michaelinseattle!

Thanks for your welcome!  Stanton, i'll post a few more recent photos of the garden when i get a chance, hopefully tomorrow, if it does not rain too hard. 

Here's a bit of the history of the garden. When we bought the house 10 years ago, we had a rotted shed, an asphalt driveway, grass, and a pear tree that came with the place.  When I redid the back, I installed a stream and small shallow pond, changed some of the grade to make subtle hills, and added trees, shrubs and moss. Also about 20 tons of rock, some with the help of a hired back hoe, and quite a lot of it with determined leveraging.  When researching how best to construct  the stream, i did not find the kind of information that is now available online, and so i made mistakes.  A few years after i put in the stream, i found really excellent information online that was more related to Koi ponds, and so that is what i have been researching now.  I'm thinking of some major reconstruction for a few reasons.  The major one being that we have had an ongoing leak from the beginning (about 125 gallons every 24 hours) and i believe it is because in one area, the liner below the rocks may have been punctured despite the care we took to use geo textile from the bottom and the top. I also think that i made a mistake with one of the seams, due to inexperience, and i suspect a leak in that area as well. We have been doing tests for about 3 years, to figure out where the problem areas are, and have been using a constant drip to maintain the correct height for the pump. At this point, now that i have read the more recent information on pond construction, I'm considering a redo that would include the addition of a bottom drain in the pond, a skimmer, and 4 foot of depth in a larger area pond that would allow us consider adding Koi that could overwinter in our region.  Finally, all these changes would mean that we could maintain the pond with a lot more ease than we do now.  We have a filter that keeps the water clear, but our system is really high maintenance. We like to keep things really clean for the local children who come to play in the stream.  My husband and i are in our 40's and while we are able to haul out the 5 gallon buckets of water during a cleaning, there's no guarantee that our backs can handle it forever. Our goal is to be able to enjoy the stream when we're older too.  I've learned so many lessons in doing this garden, but i really have accepted over the last few years that i've failed in this first attempt.  There was a fantastic article i read last week called "Concrete pond construction" in Pond trade magazine, written by Demi Fortuna.  It was one of the most clear articles on how to make a really solid hybrid water tight pond or stream, and i think i will be following his advice for cold weather climates.  I would love to read about the details of construction for the public Japanese gardens states-side that have streams and ponds, but i have not been able to find that information yet.  In the meantime, i've promised my husband that i'll be finishing our basement renovation first (before attacking this job) so i can move my wood shop out of our kitchen! I won't start for at least a year, so i can plan exactly the best strategy this time round. Photos tomorrow....  Miranda


Miranda, hello from Saskatoon.

There are a few very good articles on pond and stream construction in Sukiya Living Magazine if you get a chance to read those.  A concrete pond or stream bed here in Saskatchewan is a no go due to the freeze/thaw but I am not sure about your area there.  If I am not mistaken, the new Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids uses concrete and their weather would be similar to yours.  You are so lucky that a 4' pond would allow you to overwinter koi.
Alas I was trying to come up with a way to add that one of the 7 deadly sins of pond construction is  ;)    but could not find a clever way.  Welcome to the forum and I look forward to your ideas.



Hi Ward!  It's great to hear from someone out west!  Your climate is more challenging than mine, for sure!  Thanks for recommending the Sukiya Living articles.  I actually just bought a subscription last week because i noticed there was information there on this subject.  Thanks for the tip on the Meijer garden!  I will look it up.  I was highly amused about your 7 deadly sins reference, since many years ago, i made an album of music by that name!  Thanks again for the hello!  Miranda


Confession time Miranda.  Your name struck a chord with me fore some reason so I googled you.  That was why the reference to 7 Deadly sins,.  I hope you are ok with it.  I watched it on YouTube, I hope you are still performing it!


Hi Miranda.  Sounds like you are really 'paying your hardscaping dues'! My pond also leaks, it's
just a hole dug into the side of a hill; tapping the runoff.  When it's a wet year it's full to the brim, in a drought the level goes down 2 feet.  So it all depends on mother nature for me,
no mechanical apparatus, no pumps, filters, liners, nothing, the water just runs in off the hill and
off down to lower elevations.  So I have no experience with this sort of equipment, I'm sure many of the members do and perhaps they can offer some help.  Journal of Japanese Gardening aka, Sukiya Living has many articles on this, they are firmly anti liner and pro concrete construction.

I don't know if 4' depth is adequate for koi in our cold winters, my pond is 8 or 9 feet deep.
Or you can consider using stones-gravel to represent the water in a stream.  Seems like a hassle free solution, except for cleaning the leaves out of the rocks and forgoing the koi. When it's done right, as in the image, it is an amazing effect.

Here the world's longest link to more amazing stone streams.

or just google (stone stream japanese garden)



Ha ha ha Ward.....(confession time! ha ha ha!)  That is really funny.  I saw the "7 deadly" reference and thought that it was a little uncanny.  I got a good laugh!  I have been off the road for a good number of years and until i'm satisfied that our renovation is pretty complete, I'll be playing table saws instead of guitars!  I might release another record in the future though.  I'm very happy to hear you enjoyed the video! The interwebs.....hide nothing, ha ha!

Stanton....thank you for your condolences on the leak.  I will most certainly be paying hardscaping dues when i go to move all that rock! The stone stream idea is excellent.  One of the very serious options i have considered over the years is to scuttle the ship and drill out huge holes in the bottom of the liner, turning the stream into a dry one.  That photo you sent is so beautiful....and would be a lot less work, and money. It's hard to give up the dream of water though.  Since starting the stream, we get over 30 species of migrating birds coming through in the spring and fall, and we are simply delighted beyond measure to watch them bathe during their rest stops, and of course, the children of our street visit us for the specific purpose to splash around.  If our neighbours behind us do not allow us to access our backyard via their driveway, when it comes time to move the half ton rocks, then we might have to do the dry stream option.  I'm looking forward to getting some of those Sukiya living back issues on the stream/pond issues.  Both you and Ward have mentioned that as an important resource and i agree.  It appears that they have written quite a lot on the subject, and i'm going to start collecting those articles.

Thanks both of you for your comments!  I've included three panoramic photos.  We have only half of the stream running right now, as we are continuing to test leaks, so you'll see the black temporary hose in the photos.  There's also a concrete slab for a 100 sq. foot tea house that was going to go in, but i might be removing that if i redo the stream.  The new drawings/plans involve using the natural hill to it's full advantage, bringing the current 4 foot drop of the back retaining wall INTO the garden, rather than outside of it.  The possibilities are exciting.   



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