July 07, 2013

The 'pond post' — most popular, by a long shot!

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Nymphaea 'Clyde Ikins'

I'm embarrassed to admit I only recently discovered this blog's most popular post, to-date, is one I added last summer. It's a post titled, "How to make an above-ground pond." You can click on the link to read it.

Now, while I'm happy it has attracted a lot of traffic to my blog (which means perhaps it has been helpful to folks), "how-tos" are not my favorite type of writing. They're difficult, step-by-step directions on how to do something very specific.

But I'm grinning while I write this because the joke is on me. While I check the SEO statistics periodically, the point of this blog is not to make money or to draw a huge audience (although either would be nice). The "pond post" has garnered more than double the site traffic of the next most-popular post, "A terrarium for every room" (another how-to).

I delayed reporting on the success of the pond until we made it through the winter. Now that we've hit July, I guess it's safe to report on the survivors: four goldfish and a Water Lily.

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They made it through a "normal" winter for my area, which included plenty of subzero (below 0 F, or below -17.8 C) days. During the coldest winter days and nights, the pond maintained a water temperature around 50 F, thanks to a de-icer and an insulating cover. We removed the cover and turned off the de-icer sometime in April. We slowly weaned the fish onto wheat germ spring/fall food, and then, in mid-May, onto regular summer pellets.

Sometime during the month of May, we thought we'd lost them. A pair of mallard ducks tried to make the pond their swimming hole, but we chased them away. Then we didn't see the fish for at least 24 hours! But those goldfish were smart--they'd hidden under the internal pond structures (crates, PVC piping) included for that purpose.

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In early June, the Water Lily's first bud of the season shot up toward the surface, and it's now blooming! Several others are close behind.

Some readers have requested information on the materials costs. Here are the fishman's estimates--although these will vary widely, based on locale, store, promotional sales, and other factors:

  $48 –16 - 8’ pieces CCA (arsenic-free) treated 2” x 4”* lumber
  $27 – 1 - 4’ x 8’ sheet of ½” CCA (arsenic-free) treated plywood (for pond bottom and interior)
  $10 – Styrofoam sheet insulation (bagged garage-door insulation; for pond wall voids and for on top of bottom plywood)
  $12 – Coated screws (2 boxes)
    $8 – Stainless-steel staples (for affixing pond liner to pond-wall top plates)
  $16 – 2 - 8’ pieces of 1” x 6”* cedar decking (for top trim)
  $42 – 3 packages of cedar tongue-in-groove wall-siding (for outer walls)
  $12 – 3 - 8’ pieces of cedar 1” x 3”* (for outer trim)
  $15 – 3 - 8’ pieces of cedar 1” x 4”* (for outer trim)
  $60 – Pond liner, pump, fountain attachments & tubing (got an open-box deal; would usually be about $120)
  $30 – Box filter & filter media
  $12 – Black plastic crates (for use as planting platforms; large milk-crate sized one also used to house filter)
    $8 – Dark gray porcelain tiles (to weight down crates, form surface for plant baskets)
    $9 – Various plastic pond-plant baskets
  $10 – Three bags of pea gravel
$319 – TOTAL (without fish & plants)

* Lumber measurements are standard nominal dimensions.
Note: This estimate does not cover the cost of the insulating cover.


Sometime during the fall, I'll write a post about "How to prepare an above-ground pond for a cold winter." Until then, I'm enjoying the aesthetics of the fishman's creation.

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39 comments:

  1. Your pond is fantastic. I love the lily blooms. I have always wanted to add some to our tiny pond. Like you I have a post that has three times as much traffic as the next most popular post. Ironically, I don't think it is my best work (writing or photography) either. I couldn't really say if it has brought me any followers. I have been paying more attention to how I tag my post for my benefit as well as someone searching for information by using key words.

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    1. I know, I need to be better about tagging! I always forget. Mostly, I just tag the meme posts, and posts about specific plants. I didn't expect the Lily or the fish to survive the winter! That was fun to track. We're almost going on one year now with these survivors, so I'm sort of getting attached to them.

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  2. The pond looks wonderful, I love the blooms.

    My favorite blog stat is the popular posts because I enjoy knowing what is helpful to readers. It's also a how-to post. That doesn't mean I'll write a lot more of them though.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. I'll let the fishman know. ;-) We need to add more plants and structures around it--that's the next project. I often check blog traffic sources and activity, but rarely the most popular post. I'm guessing the pond post will be the most popular for a long time to come, which is funny because this is supposed to be a blog about plants. ;-)

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    2. among my images, readers download the sign about garden ponds for wildlife at the Green Point Urban Park. My husband took the photo for our information, but off the picture goes on its journeys round the world.

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  3. I think your pond is more ambitious than we can handle, but Judy and I were just talking about replacing our little bird bath/fountain, which has a number of problems. I think we will do without the fish, but really want something that will attract birds.

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    1. Oh yes, having a bird bath is fun. It's great to watch the birds strutting around it, and flying to and fro. I've also seen birds occasionally drink from the pond. The ducks can stay away, though! ;-)

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  4. I remember your post about your above ground pond and thinking what a terrific job the Fishman did on it. Glad to hear the fish survived the winter, and the water lilies are beautiful! A pond has been on my wish list for years, sigh.

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    1. Thanks, Rose. I never would have added it without the fishman. He is very talented with these types of projects, and it's fun to add a feature that we both enjoy. I know there are some simple pond kits that aren't too expensive. Maybe there is one in your future ...

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  5. The pond looks really great and I am glad the fish survived through winter, congrats on getting so many pageviews on that post, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself as Aust Native Plants Down Under has made it on Googles search engine, I like your photography it is stunning.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! And congrats on making it onto Google search! We're having fun with the pond, and I'm trying not to get too attached to the fish. But they seem to be survivors!

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  6. Świetny pomysł i co najważniejsze skuteczny. Lubię rybki w oczku wodnym i kocham lilie. Pozdrawiam.
    Great idea, and most importantly effective. I like the fish in the pond and I love lilies. Yours.

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    1. I think it will be more pleasing to the eye once we get a few more plants around it, but this year we spend money in different areas. The Water Lilies are magical and very photogenic.

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  7. I love ponds and your is fantastic with its inhabitants! it is a great success that it has survived the winter. I looks sublime now, so enjoy it!

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    1. We are very pleased that the fish survived. I can't believe the de-icer and insulating cover kept the internal temperature so warm while the outside temps were below 0F! One of these days, I'm going to spend a bit of time just staring into the pond (and maybe snapping a few more photos). ;-)

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  8. How large is your pond? I did not see the dimensions since you were using stock lumber. Is it a structure above grade? Size really makes a difference on fish survivability. The pond my friend built at the farm is huge and the koi living there keep getting bigger and reproducing. So not always is big better, but the fish do need water volume and a pond deep enough below the frost line (has a heater). He also keeps his pond open (not freezing over with a small heater) which allows the gases to escape and oxygen to keep fish healthy. His specially is pond building and if I ever wanted one, I would surely have him build it. My back yard pond was just a water feature, so my building one for fish would never happen. I commend you for building your pond.

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    1. Hi Donna: The internal dimensions (the water area where the fish are) measure 56" long X 35" wide X 22" deep. The edges and frame add more bulk to the outside of the pond. Because it's an above-ground pond--with a de-icer and an insulating cover--the pond never had any ice in it! The fishman added vents on the sides to allow air and gas exchange while the cover was on. The fishman gets all the credit! I'm just an observer on this one!

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  9. I was hoping to build an in-ground pond this fall but it's been shifted to the "Ain't Gonna Happen" category. Waaahhh!! I'm not surprised that post was so popular. Your pond is fabulous!

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    1. Well, you never know... If we lived in the same town, maybe I'd hire out the fishman to construct one for you. ;-) I agree, the pond is great. But I can't take any credit, except as an enthusiastic observer!

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  10. You have water lilies ! fantastic ! What a lot of careful nurturing you have done to ease your pond and its inmates through the icy blast of winter !!

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    1. Yes, they're just a bit distracting right now. The reflection of the Lilies on the water, and then fish moving in and out is a very calming effect. The fishman is the nurturer of the pond inhabitants, though. :)

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  11. I remember your posts about the pond last year, how lovely the fish survived, and the water lily is just gorgeous, I so want water lilies in my garden! Ehh...but I really haven’t got a space for a pond, I think I have to settle for my little bird bath as my ‘water feature’ – it is well visited, but the last few weeks I am plagued with a lot of alga, it only takes 2 days from washing and cleaning and refilling until the bath is pretty yucky again. The magpies love to splash in the water, but won’t use it when it’s green. I hope the problem solves when the summer is over and we have less heat and sun.

    By the way, my most popular post, three times more visited than any other of my posts is very aptly titled ‘Will it ever stop raining??’ I wrote it in June last year but people are still visiting...
    Looking forward to seeing how your pond develops and how big your fish will become!

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    1. A bird bath is wonderful! I love to sit and watch the birds play in the water. They are so entertaining. Our bird bath gets pretty dirty fast, too, but we've had so much rain lately it seems to wash it clean. I don't know if it helps that it's a copper birdbath? Ah, I remember your post about the rain. Last summer was crazy for all of us, wasn't it? This summer is more of a normal one for us here in my part of the U.S.--except for the rain (not a problem in my garden, but it's tough for farmers and people in low areas).

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  12. Every bit of work that you put into your lovely pond has returned with beauty.

    I do love ponds, and I can see why the post would be so popular.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jen. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't put much work into it except to document the process. But I will pass along your kind words to the fishman. He is very proud of his creation--and deservedly so. :)

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  13. Wonderful pond. The flowers are lovely.

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    1. Thanks! I'm sitting out by the pond now, listening to it gurgle and watching birds sip the water and preen their feathers. Very pleasant!

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  14. Check out my Garden Love column!

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    1. Thanks for the garden love, Tammy. Please don't feed the chipmunks. ;-)

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    2. Thanks for the "Garden Love," Tammy. ;-) Hmmmm ... feeding chipmunks?!

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  15. The waterlily is lovely and I am glad some of the fish have survived. I think it is great to write a difficult post and see it become so popular, great job, Beth.

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    1. Thank you, Masha. "How tos" are fun occasionally. I just find them more difficult and time-consuming -- mainly because I don't want to share incorrect information. A new flower is blooming on the Water Lily today. I keep thinking I need to take more photos, but I think I'll just stare into it for a few minutes (or hours). ;-)

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  16. I agree how tos are difficult and there are so many variables depending on so many variables. Great to hear the post is a popular one....as that pond is beautiful. Wonderful to hear about the fish too!

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    1. Yes, the fish are still going strong. I know it sounds funny, but I have trouble becoming emotionally attached to fish (at least aquarium fish), because they don't live very long. But these outdoor goldfish have me smitten. ;-)

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  17. Congrats on your success! I enjoy my little pond too but it's a lot more work than I thought it would be. I kept my fish alive for five years then this year two baby grackles died in the pond (without me realizing it) and polluted the water. I lost every single fish. Trying to decide now if I'll add more or not.
    Your water lily is absolutely stunning. I would photograph it for an hour for sure!! I wish I could get them to bloom in my pond but I don't get enough sun. :(

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    1. Awwww, that's sad. Our pond is in the shade, too, but the Water Lilies find a way to crane toward the sun. And they're so pretty with the dappled light flickering among the petals.

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  18. Your pond is exactly what we looking to build and with your detailed instructions we now have a plan in mind. Here in the UK our winters don't get much colder than -6C so hopefully they will survive well like your goldfish and lillies - what a gorgeous colour they are!

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    1. Great! Good to hear it. Your fish should be fine if you keep the water from freezing solid. Since your winters are much more mild, they should be fine! Good luck!

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  19. Oh, cool! I'm glad you included this link, too. I look at Statcounter once in awhile. My posts on eating ornamental sweet potatoes get the most hits. A couple weeks ago, someone emailed me, asking me to write an article about them, and which varieties I like the best. I forgot to let them know that I don't remember which is which anymore.

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