Friday, July 2, 2010

Half Wine Barrel Pond

Ever thought of adding a pond or fountain to your yard but didn't have the space, time or money?  A half barrel pond is a simple solution and can even be kept on a patio deck.

I've kept one for a few years filled with aquatic plants, comet goldfish, aquatic snails and a solar fountain.  The thought came to me after discovering used wine barrels for sale for around $30 at the Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley.  

First, soak and wash the half wine barrel thoroughly, especially if you can still see wine residue in the bottom.  Then, set it off the ground at least 3 inches by placing it on top of some bricks.  This will keep the bottom from contact with the ground and prevent wood rot.  Next, fill it with water and let it sit for about a week.  This allows the water to condition and age and to allow the wood in your wine barrel to expand and stop any leaks.  My barrel had some major gapping at the top and leaked quite a bit at first. But it didn't take long for that to stop.  Now there is a water tight seal.  

Next is a critical step.  Bay area water is treated with chlorine and chloramines.  Chlorine will evaporate from the water within 24 hours.  Chloramine on the other hand will not leave the water without help and will kill fish.  Pick up some water conditioner that removes chloramine from any pet store. Treat the water as directed.  These ponds probably hold about 30 gallons of water.  

Then you can add fish.  I chose 4 comet goldfish because they only cost about 20 cents each, they live awhile, and are beautiful fish.  They look much like koi but should not outgrow the pond. Be careful not to add too many fish to this micro environment.  2-4 is plenty.  If you don't add fish or you will have a mosquito problem on your hands so be sure to at least get some mosquito fish.  If you live in Alameda County, they deliver free mosquito fish to your door.

For the plants, be sure to look for dwarf plants when possible.  My barrel has Taro, Parrots Feather (an oxygenator), Floating Heart Lilly, cape rush, water hyacinth and duckweed.  

It also helps the fish to add a fountain or bubbler to oxygenate the water.  I ordered this eco-friendly solar fountain online and staked it into a planter I had so it could easily be turned to catch the sun.  You have two choices for solar fountains.  You can get one that doesn't need a battery and only runs in direct sunlight.  This will be fine for the fish.  You can also order one that stores power and runs 24 hours but they are twice as expensive.  I keep my pond in an area that receives partial sun and partial shade and also where the solar fountain can catch a ray most of the day.

Lately I've noticed my pond attracts honey bees.  They land on the parrots feather and crawl down it for a sip of water.  Kids also love feeding the fish in my pond and watching the snails.  The fish keep the water clean and clear of algae.  The pond sometimes also attracts raccoons.  They tend to treat the pond like their own personal hot tub.  Raccoons can be deterred by adding a chicken wire ring around the top at dusk.

This system is a sustainable mini aquaponics system.  The fish provide fertilizer for the plants and the plants provide a oxygen and a habitat for snails who keep the pond clean.  The fish also eat the plants and small bugs that enter the system.  Its still nice to supplement they system with some koi food, but probably not necessary if you keep the fish to a minimum.  My system is creating lots of extra baby plants. Feel free to contact me if you would like to barter for or purchase plants for your system.


  1. I am loving my new backyard barrel pond thanks to Daluca's guidance and pond plant hook up! FYI Alameda County offers free mosquito fish for ponds with a super fast response time. Check out:

  2. Wow! An eco-friendly planters for gorgeous plants really wins the heart of every visitor. It looks so unique using wine barrels that has a touch of beauty and elegance.

  3. Beautiful work. This might also be of interest to you in your watergarden, I was perusing his work this month and think I might give it a go when I get into our Native Garden:

  4. Pond helps to create ecofriendly environment. It adds beauty to home. Ponds which are built by applying Pond Liner Repair are waterproof for a long time as compared to concrete ponds.