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Pond Liner Defects

First of all, the reason you find thousands of pond liner advocates on the web and only a handful of professional concrete and rebar pond builds is just one simple reason: Greed. You are thinking, “Good grief, this dude is radical!” You want radical? How about this: I will give you $5 for every website that promotes and sells liners and does mention all the negative aspects of liners, compared to concrete and rebar pond construction. You, however, must pay me only $1 for all those pond liner websites who are dishonest and do not mention that the factory warranty only covers factory defects, not damage from tree roots, gophers, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice and kids with sharp objects, not to mention liner installers who do not know what they are doing.

In addition, do those websites that sell inferior, intermittent (rather than continuous use), energy-sucking sump pumps with one-year warranties tell you that you will need to pull the pump out at least once a week to clean it? An executive at Aquascape, Inc., once admitted, “…how would a customer react if he knew the truth, that they would have to pull their pump twice a week to clean it?” [Quoted from Water Garden News.] They even sell you expensive water leveler devices because they haven’t tried the new aquafills on the market.

I recently had someone argue with me about the difference in cost between a liner pond and waterfall, and a professional concrete one. A customer was given two bids: one for a liner pond for $12,000 and another for a professional concrete pond for $18,500. How can you justify a difference of $6,500? he asked me. Here’s how:

1. The project consisted of a 6 ft. waterfall cascading over a retaining wall. The liner proposal involved spilling over the top wall, which would require raising the liner on both sides to hold water. The professional approach was to notch the wall down by 3½”, tying the rebar for the waterfall into that of the wall. The waterfall would be coming through the wall rather than over the top, which is much more natural looking. The professional concrete and rebar construction carries a 30-year warranty and the liner guy only offered one year.

2. What if, after all those boulders are set in place with a bobcat, and the back and side yards are completed (meaning no more access for a bobcat), the liner springs a leak from the pressure of heavy boulders, tree roots, rodents, rats, mice, gophers, ground squirrels or chipmunks? Let’s say the hole is in an area where a boulder needs to be removed in order to patch it, how do you move it? And where is the leak? And is there more than one leak? See my point?

3. What will it cost, even if it could be done, to remove all the rock and boulders, patch the leaks, and rebuild the waterfall and pond? Less than $12,000? What if the client does not trust the patching idea and decides to rip everything out and do it right with concrete and steel? How will he get the bobcat in? See the point now?