A ‘Pond In The Woods’

I am in the process of filtering through older posts and pictures to come up with book-worthy materials. In the end, while browsing through this blog, I find myself somewhat surprised at my persistence, yet discomfited in the realization of how incredibly many projects I never got pictures of. There must be 100 projects I have managed which are interesting and maybe pretty enough to include in a retrospective, but for which I have no photos. Vancouver being on the other side of the continent doesn’t help, or I would delight in taking 25 year shots which I can strictly guarantee will not resemble their beginnings.

Perhaps the single most remarkable fact about this one is in its origins. What we are talking about is looking out a back porch and seeing forest such as is now moved back to allow in the landscaping, but which basically abutted the home itself. We had loggers in, dug up stumps, produced a mess like nobody’s business, then we dug this ginormous hole in the ground and did all this cosmetic work. It was one hell of a chore.

Rumor has it this place is now on the Portland Garden Walk, officially an “important” local feature. It caused various degrees of consternation and some panic during its construction, but then, every single project does that, bar none. Enjoy.

(The pictures expand by clicking)


My recent visit to Portland included revisiting this eye candy project and some speaking with the new owners who were delighted to know all the ins and outs of the construction of this place.

I have featured this project in other posts but I have recently unearthed a new little trove of pictures taken as we were leaving. These pictures were taken on the day we actually finished the project. It’s hard to believe a month or two earlier the area was all mud, complete with the broken and sawed up tree parts and underbrush which comprised the entire area prior to our excavations and then landscaping. Interestingly, the water clarity in these pictures, although it gives a really pleasing mirror-like reflective finish, is still a bit dirty, proving the “unfinished” nature of it all. Later, it was crystal clear.

There were numerous and very intimidating challenges to it all. For one thing, the deck seen hovering over the water was always designed to stay just an inch above the waterline. Naturally, installing the deck preceded almost all the landscaping work save for the excavation. In typical fashion, therefore, it became our typical logistical nightmare.

Having said that, once a “level” is decided upon, at least we have something solid to base the rest of the construction on.  The impracticalities all come home to roost right around then.

picture 29

This project was pretty gnarly to make. The liner itself was something like 80′ by 60′, meaning it took 7 of us just to spread it out, much less to adjust it all. EPDM Liners are heavy as heck. Just getting it into the back yard required a machine. Nor was this the only liner on the project. We also had a creek to construct because we wanted at least some water recirculating and oxygenating instead of becoming an algae-infested mess. Yes, it is pretty much shady back there, but it still got enough sunshine to make algae an issue.

So we made a good sized creek, with a fairly good rate of flow. Making it look natural was pretty easy, frankly, owing to the density of plantings and the availability of plants we had relocated, ready for planting, upon the commencement of the project:

(click images to enlarge)


The look from the patio:


The project was complicated by the desire of the owners for a small island. Man, anything but that! 😉

This is not easy when designing with liners. The little mound where the island goes has to be made just right, at the proper height and width, nor can it eventually sink. So it got compacted to a large degree but not so it would become impossible to plant.

Hey – hand me that piano, OK?


When all was said and done, we had ourselves a real winner, I think. We found abundant forest material to insert into the edges of the water, making it appear far older than – ahem – one day old.



The Springtime effects look gorgeous in many of these shots – there were blooms galore and bright shiny new leaves everywhere.


The project remains a rather epic achievement for yours truly, shared by many others, of course. These sorts of projects can be frustrating and challenging but they seem more than worth the effort with a little ‘remove’.


21 thoughts on “A ‘Pond In The Woods’

  1. An amazing project Steve. I love all the images and appreciate you sharing all the steps for creating this beautiful design. And I agree with you, the spring plants look awesome!

  2. Totally true story, Ben. Man, how cool would it be to have had a brain, back when one was…………..uh……….’over there’, lol. Love your site and work. Awesome stuff, brother.

  3. Your landscaping is almost as impressive as your ability to come back from physical adversity! I am i awe of both!

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