Sunday, 18 September 2011

Pond excavation, 2

subtitle: No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Overnight Management and I came up with a shape, size and location for the big pond that we were both happy with. What we were not happy with however, was how the top pond had been finished. The big bank on the south side was horribly reminiscent of Telly-Tubby-land and Head Gardener decreed early on Sunday morning that It Had To Go ....

It might not look too bad from this angle - I should have photographed it from the other side, believe me, it was not a good look!

LP and Geoff were rechristened Laa Laa and Tipsy-Dipsy respectively which rather set the tone for the remainder of the day ☺ Fortunately they were in good humour and really didn't seem to mind filling in the 'small pool' and cutting away half of the Telly Tubby bank.

This means the final water level in the top pond will not be at grass height but around 6" - 8" lower. I'll have to cover up the exposed far side with timber, stones, or something .... but I'd rather have that problem than live with the steep sided mound which was Plan A. We also decided that the overflow channel/stream could be dug out by hand next year when the ground had settled and we knew exactly where we wanted it.

After moving a small amount soil that had been carefully relocated the day before we all trundled to the bottom of the garden to move huge quantities of soil that had been carefully relocated the day before.

You know your pond is a tad on the generous size when the heavy plant with a big hydraulic arm isn't big enough to take a bucket of soil and drop it outside the hole. Much time was spent as Geoff excavated soil, moved it to the side of the hole, moved it a bit further, then finally managed to move it out of the hole, and then later he had to take the digger onto what will be (one day) the lawn and pull the soil out ....

Huge chunks of stone were excavated from the middle of the pond, we think this is where the original garden boundary might have been, possibly what is left of a wall being demolished? It would match the wall at the back of the Coppice, makes sense.

More of a small tarn perhaps?

Bearing in mind that Bag End can be a little like Disney (the fun never ends ....) the day contained more than a few memorable moments. Once the shape and profile of the big pond was completed the boys made the mistake of asking me if I was happy with it. I had to reply "yes thank you, but in truth it needs to be 4 or 5 inches deeper". So Geoff set about removing more soil, very carefully because whilst we KNEW the water main was at least four feet down and we'd only excavated 2½, no-one was taking any chances.

Which is why, when suddenly a length of 2" metal pipe flew up into the air as soil was moved and it was no longer under tension EVERYONE STOPPED. INSTANTLY. And whilst common sense told us there was no water gushing out and that the main is 4" plastic, sheer fear had us all looking very worried ..... LP began investigating extremely carefully with a small spade as more metal emerged from the soil. No-one really wanted to get hold of it and pull because we didn't know what it might be attached to (remember the electric main is round here somewhere .....)

Tipsy-Dipsy and Laa Laa were even more confused when I started laughing; laughing so much I could hardly manage to tell them I'd realised that they were in the process of excavating a very old, very rusty, very buried wheelbarrow.

The jokes about whether we'd find hands attached and boots underneath were bloody funny and more than a little crude!

At the end of the day we had a wonderful big (muddy) hole and an awful lot of mess where the lawn used to be. Not a lot is going to happen to this for some considerable time because the ground needs to settle.


  1. My goodness, girlfriend!! That pond will be big enough to swim in! But its gonna be lovely when all done, next year, right??

  2. I'd have paid money to see all your faces when the wheelbarrow surfaced!

    Well done that Hobbit for orchestrating such a large operation — that's some Hobbit hole you've got there!

  3. Thanks Sue, maybe not deep enough to swim properly, but you could float on your back! Definitely won't be doing anything on it until next yer.

    James, wish you could have been with us, it was one of Bag End's more memorable weekends.


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