If you can use a hammer to piece a few boards together, you can build your own aquatic haven in one weekend. Here's how.
- Two 8-foot lengths of 1x8 cedar (actual thickness will be 7/8 inch); 1x10 or 1x12 cedar for a deeper pond
- Waterproof polyurethane glue
- Table saw or a portable circular saw with a guide
- Stainless-steel siding nails, galvanized 6d finishing nails, or deck screws
- Plastic liner (available at your local nursery) or rubberized paint-on sealant (we used Elasto-Seal)
After you've built your own pond, find even more tips for trimming your landscape budget.
1. Gather the materials. Cedar works well for this project because it's rot-resistant and gracefully turns gray if untreated.
2. Cut 30-inch lengths for the side panels and 15-inch lengths for the ends, then glue up a 15 x 28 1/4-inch panel for the floorboard. Use waterproof polyurethane glue for this and other wood-to-wood joints on this project. Use a table saw or a portable circular saw with a guide to get straight, square cuts on all parts. (Note: You can substitute pressure-treated 3/4-inch plywood for the floorboard if desired.)
3. Apply glue to one long edge of the floorboard, then use siding nails, finishing nails, or deck screws to fasten one side panel to the floorboard first, leaving a 7/8-inch overhang for each end panel.
4. Glue and fasten the two ends and the remaining side panel.
5. Cut another 15-inch-long board to create a divider for a separate planting bed within the box. The divider sits on top of the floorboard, so cut it at least 7/8 of an inch narrower than the side panels (so it will be flush at the top edges).
6. Use a ruler to mark guidelines for location, then glue the divider in place. Drive nails into each side and up through the floorboard to secure the divider.
7. Secure the ends. Cut four corner cleats from 1- x 2-inch cedar and coat the inside faces liberally with polyurethane glue. Position and nail them onto the box corners; they will add strength to the box assembly and provide additional sealing.
8. On the inside of the box, install a plastic liner or use a rubberized paint-on sealant that is safe for aquatic life if you plan on adding fish. Check the directions on the sealant can for suggested number of coats, then do one more. Coat both the water area and the garden section.
9. On the garden side, drill two or three holes in the base to provide drainage for plants. Set the box on two or three bricks to elevate it.
10. Choose plants. Create a composition with plants and rocks by selecting ones that vary in form, texture, color, and size -- all in miniature, of course. Select a combination of submerged, marginal, and edge plants. Fill the garden section with soil and choose plants with similar light and watering needs.
Continued on page 2: Choosing Miniature Plants