Creating a beautiful water feature

Dirt pile 001

I posted about our DIY water feature project gone wrong a few weeks ago. I confess that I was completely convinced that the husband and I could spend our four-day weekend turning a pile of dirt into a fabulous water feature. It looks so easy on HGTV and the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. With a little hard work and *finesse, anything seems achievable! Uh, not true. Some projects are better left to professionals.

After two days of frustration, I let the husband off the hook and called Mike, a water feature expert.  Mike had assisted my sister and brother-in-law with their water feature and it’s quite impressive. I met with Mike and fortunately he didn’t give me a hard time about the mess I’d created. He gave me a few ideas and agreed to fit our project into his schedule. YEA!

Over the next two weeks, we saw our water feature come to life.


A little more digging…

Waterfall box and rocks are added.

Waterfall box and rocks are added.


Rocks (most excavated from our acreage) are added and skimmer is set.

More rocks (most excavated from our acreage) are added and skimmer is set.

It wasn’t exactly what we’d envisioned – it was better! Yes, we had to pay for someone else to do the labor, but we got more than a strong (and younger) back. We also got a great design that provided more views of the water feature from various areas of our patio.


Double waterfall boxes was Mike’s idea!




We can change the splash on the second fall by moving rocks.

We can change the splash on the second fall by moving rocks.

The pond.

The pond.


We have a few things we need to do to finish the project, but we are so happy with the look AND sound of our water feature. Let me know what you think!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

When DIY turns into SKB (Should’ve Known Better)

I’m fascinated by DIY projects. I love the idea of taking something that’s not so great and turning it into something fabulous. I could spend all day watching HGTV (if we had cable) and flipping through the pages of Better Homes and Gardens (if I subscribed). With a little hard work and *finesse, anything seems achievable!

This attitude is what drove me to convince the husband to attempt a four-day DIY project to turn a pile of dirt (remember the photo from last week?) into a beautiful water feature. We attended a seminar a few years ago and the process seemed fairly straight-forward. The husband had also done all the electrical, HVAC and plumbing when we built our house and everything still works perfectly after 12 years, so a simple water feature should be a piece of cake, right?

We began by carving out the pond. With shovels in hand, we began digging away the dirt. With each scoop of soil removed, I could hear the soothing sounds of water splashing on a warm summer evening. Ah, it was going to be so peaceful!

The soil soon became hard clay, and I was having a difficult time scooping anything but air. Out came the husband with the adze to break through the clay. I hate to see him work so hard, but readily admit that seeing his muscles at work gets my heart pumping. For what seemed like hours, he broke the clay then took a break while I shoveled it out.

I kept asking/whining, “Isn’t it deep enough?”

His reply, “No!”

I trust his calculations, because he’s a very analytical guy, but I was so hoping he was wrong. I was hot and tired!

Finally, after six hours, we reached the required depth and set the skimmer. YEA! That was the end of day one.

Day two started with a trip to the local nursery to buy plants to place around the water feature. Oh, I was really envisioning this thing of beauty now. We made our purchases, brought them home and began shaping the two short waterfalls that would feed the pond. We had plenty of rock we’d excavated from our property, so we were ready to go.

We laid the liner and began placing the rocks. This is where it all began to deteriorate. I won’t go into all the details, but there’s apparently an art to the process that we were missing. At 4:30 p.m., I simply said, “We’re done.” My very frustrated husband did not argue. That was the end of day two and I was pretty sure there would not be a day three and four on this project.

We showered and went out to grab something to eat. Over dinner we began speculating on where we’d gone wrong. Maybe if we did this or that. No illumination. It was time to admit that this wasn’t going to be a DIY project, after all. I admitted defeat and called an expert on Monday.

My DIY finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your DIY finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)