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Common Household Remedies Request


Smoke bombs! (That was my answer last time.) Nature is wonderful: Success in discouraging the woodchuck (mothballs) means that another creature took over the empty niche.

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Here's another one! I'd like a "water feature" -- but nothing cutesy involving gnomes, or little wagons, or resin -- partly to attract pollinators, and partly because I'm at my wit's end about what to do with the "dead space" in the middle of my front area.

Basically, the front area -- and I know this looks awfully sketchy now, but please wait a month! -- is a rough triangle, bounded by the sidewalk, a path, and the driveway. Each edge of the triangle has its own order: The sidewalk has Zinnias, will have wildflowers, and will have clover (when the damn order arrives; now that I have no local hardware store, I'm reduced to mail order for seeds). The path has Black-Eyed Susans on one side, and a squash patch on the other. The driveway has Columbines and Bleeding Hearts and, to be fair, some sacks and piles of rocks and some weeds, and later for that.

In the the middle of the triangle, there's a rock garden on the sidewalk side, two Filbert trees, and the dead space I've never been able figure out what to do with. It's not on my route to anywhere, and I've never figured out how to make it a destination. One time I tried putting an herb garden there, but it's really uncomfortably close to the street (though some basil -- it's invasive! -- remains). A water feature would really tie the area together....

But I looked at water features on Amazon (no local hardware store....) and nothing quite fits. The requirements are:

  • Nothing cutesy
  • Solar
  • Recycle Water
  • Stone (and not resin)

The one I liked best was a stack of stones with a 5-gallon reservoir but it's not solar. Readers, thoughts? Is there a simple and cheap way to contruct my water feature? (Simple and rugged; I don't want to have to be fixing and tinkering and adjusting.)

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

You can find solar pumps fairly inexpensively and make the rest. Any kind of basin will do...big galvanized wash basin...stock waterer...Just cover the edges with rocks or pavers, Whatever you've got, just make sure that any birds that get in can get out again as well.

Submitted by lambert on

Is the answer, "It's galvanized"?

Any way to manage evaporation? I was thinking lily pads on the surface or something.

I guess now I'm elaboraring and thinking of it as a pond. Perhaps not such a good idea

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

That would be great of ice skating during the frozen winters;)

You could look for recycled 55 gallon barrels, then cut it down to the size you want. craigs list maybe or the local recycler.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Oh, it's going to rust out! It may take a couple of years, but rust is inevitable unless you find an old clawfoot tub....something thicker. I know some people who had a pretty good run with a plastic kiddy pool, but those are pretty thin and the sides tend to flop over unless you bury them well and shore up the insides with rocks or something. Either will be too shallow for fish who would be sitting ducks for...ducks and mosquitoes would be a problem there.

Anything smaller that is not self contained will be problematic from an evaporative standpoint.

They make sturdy plastic "ponds" or plastic liners to put into dug holes, but they are really expensive for what you actually get...I'm not sure the experiment would be worth the expense bearing in mind that it will attract EVERYTHING to your yard. You could end up with a whole ecosystem on your doorstep if you aren't careful; mosquitoes will attract the bats, raccoons and possums will eat your fish and leave you with ticks, dogs will chase your raccoons and possums which will get the coyotes interested in whats going on (which will annoy the neighborhood cat lady no end)...which brings us to deer and bears...Are mountain lions an issue in Maine?...that sort of thing.

You have to really want it....I spent most of the morning cleaning fish guano out of the Demonstration Garden can be just ENDLESS, but pretty nonetheless. The bullfrogs are eating our (smaller) goldfish, and my Wife had just finished naming them all!

It is just red in tooth and claw out there.

Submitted by lambert on

I could dig a hole, lay down the pond liner, and put rocks round the edge. Then add a solar powered pump.

I don't think I'd really want a pond, now that you bring my attention to what I already know; create a niche, critters fill it! But the pump would keep the water in motion, so no mosquitos or black flies; and I imagine pollinators would land.

Another nice thing about a liner is that I could shape the "pond" to fit the space.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on


Pond liners are really excellent for doing freeform ponds, as in the pictures here. They are, however, pretty expensive and cannot withstand UV radiation, so they have to be covered wherever they are exposed to the sun. If you cover with rocks and pebbles, you will want to keep in mind that they take up a lot of space; space that dirt, roots and critters will eventually colonize making it hard to clean out. The larger the pond, the less of a problem with evaporation. The smaller the pond the more of a likelihood that it will fill in with detritus which will cause water quality to nosedive into a stagnant mess.

Which brings us to solar pumps. They really aren't that powerful, so by the time you get to the right sized pond for ecological stability you won't be able to get a powerful enough pump to agitate the water sufficiently to prevent mosquito populations from accumulating...which means fish. I think the idea of a pond liner may presage something that is too small for your site.

If you want a water feature, it may be a good idea to look out an old claw foot tub and put a couple of feeder goldfish/water hyacinths in it; something easily cleaned and drained for the winter. A solar pump would be perfectly sized for such an application and it would give your bed some height that it otherwise would not don't want to go to all of this trouble only to have it hiding behind your asters! Just my .02.

This looks like a fun project! I'd love to see what you end up with.

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

That would be cool. Looks like slate, a pretty soft stone. I bet a grinder and a drill would be all you would need to make one. Add solar pump and, voila!

Barring that, maybe you could cement some flat field stones together?

Re: critters. I was thinking earlier about all of the wildlife you could attract with a pond. I stopped right about the time that you were attracting Nile Crocodiles who could smell the herds of moose in your yard all the way from the Sudan...which then died from the lyme disease left by the raccoons' ticks. No natural resistance, doncha know.

Very poetic.

Anyway, this solution would certainly prevent anything like that happening. :)

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

It doesn't have to be metal or plastic. Tightly joined wood swells from the water it's holding and doesn't leak. It'll eventually rot out, but then you replace. This thing doesn't have to be big, right? You could have, say, three wooden buckets at different levels and have the water gently trickle from the top one to the bottom (where it disappears and is pumped discreetly back up by the solar water pump). And the pump could run off a small photovoltaic panel nestling behind some screening plant. ?? The other advantage to small is that you won't get raccoons coming to eat the fish and bears to eat the raccoons.

Or are buckets too close to wagons to be acceptable?

Maine being rainy -- compared to SoCal these days where I am -- mist may not be such a big deal. But here all kinds of birds go crazy for those mister-things they sell as Home Depot for about $10. I've often thought it would be cool to work one of those into a water feature, but I'm not sure how.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

What a cool idea! Where would one find wooden buckets? Half-whiskey barrels? You could also have the water dripping out of pieces of bamboo stuck through the side...very Zen!

The falling water would agitate the lower barrels as well, no mosquitoes!

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Yeah. Finding them would be the hard part. They're used in sauna equipment, asian gardening. The Homely Depot sells wooden planters for beaucoup bucks, but they may leak like sieves. Presumably secondhand from various sources should show up on Craigslist every once in a while, but the shipping would be way too much if they weren't local.

Might be simplest to just learn coopering and make them yourself! :shock:

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I once watched a documentary about wheel coopering. Really hard stuff. I hate to say it, but those wooden buckets are probably worth what they are asking for them.

Hollow logs! Putting a bottom on one of those would be pretty easy....and so rustic! As long as it stayed wet I bet it wouldn't split, either....