Let the Koi Pond Build Adventure Begin

Heat waves, hardpan, and harrowing trips to the hardware store be damned, let's build a koi pond in the middle of summer.

3 min read Filed in maker pond

The summer in California’s Central Valley is an ever worsening affair, the streaking heat rising day after day above 100, crops thriving while your electric bill drives you towards bankruptcy. Discounting the worsening extremes brought on by ongoing global warming, by all accounts starting an outdoor project is not a wise endeavor in the middle of July.

Having completed yet another conference call that sadly did not end early due to rolling blackouts, I walked down stairs to find a 300+ gallon agricultural water trough in my living room.

“Dad it came!” was the immediate exclamation from the twins, who popped out of said trough with a feverish energy that I both relished and was envious of. Kids do that to you; they remind you that there is joy and fun in everything if you just take a moment.

My build of the koi pond was not correct in many ways.
Justin Ribeiro

Said trough, ordered over a month ago to the point I had stopped checking as to its arrival date, was to become a part of a new koi pond. To say that the kids had been consumed over the last several months about koi fish would be an understatement. What started out with a renewed interest in tending to our existing 100 gallon goldfish pond, turned to intense study leading to tranquil canvas paintings and plans.

Evelyn watches videos as her recent koi painting sits overhead.
Justin Ribeiro

Said plans of course have expanded a bit from the initial design. The trough itself was a bit of a compromise, given my general aversion to buying new things (almost all of my outdoor builds are reclaimed projects, even the existing goldfish pond). With the pond comes a re-envisioning of the desert tortoise enclosure which is where Monica rehabilitates endangered tortoises. The temporary fence is to be replaced with a raised hydroponic bog for the new pond. The current 100 gallon pond will be converted into a high feature as a waterfall, which the kids very much wanted. And all this requires that I run some additional water lines and some new power as well, given its location.

It’ll be a slow moving project to complete given both the sweltering summer heat and that hardpan ground that our terrible subdivision has gifted us. The initial eight or so inches of drop have been chiseled out of the ground allowing for placement of said trough and initial leveling. It’s not a summer digging in California hardpan unless you’ve snapped a shovel (done) and blistered a few hangs in the process (done and done).

Eight inches of hardpan later the trough sits level ready for further work.
Justin Ribeiro

The upper level base, which was previously a planter box and will soon hold the existing goldfish pond, is next on the list for a retrofit. This part ideally will be easier, through getting the underlying concrete bricks into place I’m sure will be its own interesting exercise.

The current 100 gallon goldfish pond so to be turned into a waterfall feature.
Justin Ribeiro

While the summer drives onward with a high degree of justified unrest in the world, I only hope that this tiny creative project will help not just my kids but also me.