On Toby's Pond

Late news: I have updated pictures of the pond. If you haven't seen it recently, be sure to look at 2 Years Later.

Since I talk about almost nothing but my pond, several friends have asked about it (I have very clever friends). I have tried to email some pictures to some friends, but got tired from the effort and have decided to create these pages to discuss how I built it and why.

koi pond

View from family room patio

I have wanted a koi pond for quite a while as I have always been attracted to water. Ilona had wanted a vegetable garden when we originally moved into the house. She was the architect, so she had first call. We had a vegetable garden -- for two years. Then it sat there growing weeds for the next 13 years until we had a leak inside a bathroom wall that caused us to remodel the entire house and add a laundry room as well as a few feet to the master bath. At the same time we had the contractor demolish the concrete path that separated the vegetable garden from the rest of the yard and run a new path along the new addition. This left a large patch of naked ground for me to build a koi pond on.

When Ilona had said she was going to have a vegetable garden, I had remarked that we'd never have the time or energy to keep it planted and began referring to the garden as "Ilona's Folly." Naturally, from the time we moved the path until I started the koi pond, Ilona referred to the patch of ground as "Toby's Folly."

fish swimming by waterfall

Koi by waterfall

Well look at Toby's Folly now! Since it's been built, we have frequently eaten dinner beside it, have had dinner parties outside by it (that's where we celebrated my birthday) and all of us spend time looking at the fish. It has hugely improved the enjoyment we all have of the house. If you are thinking of building one of your own, do so. You won't regret it.

Before beginning construction, I talked to dozens of people who had built ponds to get ideas and try to avoid too many mistakes. The biggest source of construction information was from a local pond and fish store, Fins, on Pickwick in Camarillo. They were a tremendous source of information and assistance. When I took pictures in, they were more than willing to examine them and draw diagrams of suggested changes. Without their help, this would have been a far less successful project.

Harry Wagner, a koi breeder in Camarillo, gave me nearly all my fish and a bunch of plants, too. He also provided a ton of knowledge about raising koi as well as the care and maintenance of ponds. His backyard puts mine to shame. He has some truly huge koi, some nearly 3' long. Had I talked to Harry before starting construction, I'd have done several things differently. His advice has been invaluable.