Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Life's a beach!

How sad am I? - I have so been looking for a way to use that title!
Anyway, on with the saga of the pond and the beach:

Himself, having studied the land behind the pond in a worried fashion for several days, decided that if we didn't do anything all the soil from the fruit cage was going to leap forward about a yard and end up in the pond! So he decreed that we needed a BIG retaining stone to prevent this from happening. In my usual fashion I moaned and groaned and said that the soil wouldn't go anywhere (mainly because I wanted to play at making the beach at this point, rather than shift more big rocks!). Himself quite rightly ignored me and started to clear back the soil near the pond and flatten the base to take a retaining wall of a rock.

Himself moving the topsoil in preparation for the rock.
Having realised that resistance was futile, I then opted to help. Having cleared the area and identified an appropriate (for that read very big and heavy) rock, we loaded it onto the flintstones trolley on the yard and hauled it up the garden- jolly hard work for just two of us!
As there was a steepish slope down to where we wanted it and we were using a scaffold tower with feet all at the same level, we had to securely prop up the pond-side legs. We did this by building two little mortar-free towers out of spare bricks topped off with a couple of bits of paving slab we had hanging around.
As we weren't sure how well this technique would work or how we'd position the rock, we protected the liners by folding them over another beam which straddled the pond.

Himself moving a wacking great beam of wood onto the now secure scaffold tower. The beam will support the chain hoist to lift the rock up - which is waiting patiently on the trolley!
The next step was to build a track for the trolley to trundle on. It definately trundled rather than rolled - mainly becasue the wheels were tree trunk shaped rather than round! The trolley was then shoved carefully along the track until it was under the chain hoist.
You can see in this photo how far back the butyl liner goes under the pebbles. Once all the stones are in place on the shelf the water level will be raised again, so the liner has to be high enough to prevent seepage. We used the same method of the plastic coated corrugated sheeting to provide stable edging - and the butyl went up and over the top of the sheeting and is held in place by backfilled soil.

Trolley and rock in place under the chain hoist.
Then the trolley had to be removed!
Oh, we got SO good with levers when shifting these rocks that we could have positioned them on a sixpence!

He's not levering on his own - he's just adjusting the position of the trolley!

Himself levered the rock up, I slid the strops underneath, he lowered the rock back down, then we fastened the strop to the chain hoist, hauled the rock up and removed the trolley.
Strops in place, rock ready to be raised.

THis is the rock securely held up by the chain hoist whilst Himself moves the trolley and the track.
The rock was then lowered down onto the pond ledge which had had a layer of sand put on it first. The rock was swiveled around until the best position was found and lowered gently into place.

The position was marked and the rock was hoisted up again to allow the fleece liner and the butyl top liner to be laid underneath it - I have to confess that my heart was in my mouth as I put the liners in place with half a tonne of rock above my hands! The photo above shows Himself smoothing sand marked by the rock as we swiveled it into place.
Once the main retaining rock was in place we could position the smaller stones - I tried quite a few (okay - lots!) before finding the correct combination of shapes and sizes that looked right together as well as appearing natural in their positionings. Himself sorted out and tidied up the excess liner ,which will not be visible once the tea house is completed.

The big rock (on the right of the photo) looks far less impressive here because I'd backfilled the area with the topsoil we'd removed earlier. All the stones had fleece liner offcuts underneath to prevent damage to the butyl.

This is looking down on the mostly completed beach from the path. The triangular gap between the three stones is a planting gap.

The completed beach with some planting in place.
Not a bad afternoon's work really!


flydragon said...

Wow, what a job. That rock/boulder/mountain, is HUGE!!! It's sooo interesting to watch you getting all of this done. I'm sitting here drinking coffee while you do all the work. Love it:)

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Pretty amazing the amount of work you've put into this! I love how the beach looks. Is that for birds to be able to get to the pond? You already have plants in there. That's exactly what I would be doing!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Now I know how Stonehenge was built. I love civil engineering, oops, I mean gardening blogs.

I think the long handled flintstone truck thing is great. I guess you need those really long handles to have any chance of jiggling the boulder into position.


camellia said...

Had the same thought as Rob – now we know how Stonehenge was built! Amazing work, and what precision and invention in your engineering! I now understand you will also have a tea house... This is wonderful! Can I come with my deck chair please, it'll be great on that pebble beach... (I'll bring some icecream, promise)

Nutty Gnome said...

Flydragon - I love the thought of you sitting drinking coffee while you watch the work. Can I join you?!

Catherine - I'm glad you like the beach but so did the birds, cats, foxes and badgers so a lot of the pebbles ended up in the pond and I had to resort to a few rows of pebbles glued to the liner to stop them all disappearing into the depths!
I couldn't resist getting some planting done - not much, but enough to get a feel for how it will eventually look.

Rob - the long handles are random pieces of 4x3 that we had left over from a project in the house(!). We use them as levers for small adjustments mainly and generally use the orange strop for hauling the trolley any distance.

Camellia - thanks for your lovely comments and of course you can come and sit on my beach (or the tea house balcony when it's built!). I love black cherry ice cream!!!

RainGardener said...

Nutty Gnome, thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you have been enjoying my posts.
WoW! What a job and it paid off because it is beautiful so far. You guys really worked your patooties off! I got tired just watching.

fairegarden said...

I have to add my own Wow to the comments! You could do a tv show of this! It does look beautiful, but that sounds pretty scary! The finished product is fantastic though. We have built and rebuilt our pond several times, but never with a rock that size. My hat's off to you both!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi RainGardener and thanks for popping in to see me. I'm glad you like what we're doing and I am really pleased that it's turning out so well - though it has been jolly hard work at times!
Err, what are patooties?!:)

Frances - Hi! A TV show??!! Photos are one thing, but videos and tv....! Mind you, I'm touched that you think it's good enough for tv. That's quite some praise.

We worked out before we started that what we liked in 'real' ponds and pools was the mixture of different sized boulders, rocks, stones, baby boulders, pebbles and pea gravel - so that's what I've tried to recreate here. It has had its scary moments - and LOTS of "what on earth have I started?" moments too!

joey said...

I'm exhausted yet most impressed by this adventurous project! You must be so excited and pleased with the amazing progress :)

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Now this is what I call a project, it is looking great!
I love the design of you pond and that it does look like a small 'toy pond'
Keep up the good work!

Take Care /Tyra

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Joey - welcome and thanks for popping in. Yes I am pleased with what we're (slowly!) achieving - and exhausted most Monday mornings! I'm glad you like what we're doing. Hope to see you again.

Tyra - welcome to you too and thanks for your nice comments. It's a lovely day today, so I'm off outside to do a bit more....!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Having blog titles in your head for months is just part of the blogging phenomenon. Sometimes I find myself writing narrative in my head, while I'm experiencing something, as though I'm actually blogging. Ah hem.

Nutty Gnome said...

Glad it's not just me Monica! I found myself doing just that this morning when I woke up quite early and the house was very still and quiet.
Blogging is suprisingly addictive I've found!

Carolynn said... guys work hard. If I ever get it in my head to build a pond, I'll come by and have a look at your photos. I'm exhausted.

The beach looks great though. All it needs is a couple of beach chairs and a pina colada or two.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Carolynn - glad you like the beach.Feel free to pop by and try it out - I'm not so hot on pina coladas, but I make a mean gin and tonic!(well I am English!)

Maureen said...

Hi, I like your blog very much. I was drawn to the post title as I have that on a sign on a piece of driftwood hung on my summerhouse which is decorated in beach style, as is the surrounding area that it's in. We all refer to it as "The Beach". I have to say the men in your life work hard !can I borrow one ? none of the men in my life like gardening or D.I.Y

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Maureen - welcome and thanks for popping in. I'm glad you like what we're doing - as long as I feed 'my boys' on a regular basis they'll do pretty much anything! You can borrow them for your plot when they have a break from mine!

Your summerhouse sounds lovely!