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Old pond, new - older - house and newbie

16 years ago

My husband and I bought a new (old - built in 1926) house this past fall that came equipped with a pond. While I've had a very small goldfish pond before (when I lived in Miami) things are a bit different now that I am in the Chicago suburbs.

The house had been vacant for about a year, and the elderly owner had a gardener that kept up the yard/gardens for her. The pond is about 8-10 feet long by 5-7 feet wide. The edge is done in limestone rocks, and there is a fountain/waterfall built into the rear of it about 3 feet high, with an outlet nearby for the pump. The gardener apparently didn't want to deal with the pond, so he installed a wooden cover (that I can't figure out how to remove) over the top. (the cover is partially plywood and partially 2x4s apparently put together with deck screws).

Perhaps it's the nesting instinct (I'm 8 months pregnant and ready to redo everything in the house and garden at once) that's making me so anxious to get the pond cover off and see what's underneath.

I guess, my question(s) are:

1) once we get the pond cover off, what do we do? Now that the pond has been covered and any water in it has been stagnant and covered for a year or more - I'm sort of petrified as to what may be under there. Will we need to pump out the water and start all over? Unfortunately, until that cover is off, there's no way (that I can figure out at least) to tell if it's a hard sided plastic pond/plastic sheeting, etc. or even how deep it is.

2) there are two scraggly arborvitae planted at the front of the pond's corners that we'd like to tear out and replace with Japanese maples. Looking back at pictures from last fall, there are apparently also some kind of irises, and other plants that I (the very green -though not green thumbed novice) don't know what are. (speaking of which, is there a FAQ as to how to post pictures?). The area is fairly shaded and apparently gets a lot of needles from the pines that cover it. Does anyone have recommendations of trees to replace the arborvitae with that won't cause issues with roots if it's a soft plastic pond?

Is there anything else that I should watch for? Granted, we're expecting 7 inches of snow tonight, so I guess my hopes for getting to the bottom of the pond mystery are on hold for now.

Any suggestions for resources for newbies like myself who are excited but overwhelmed at this new part of my garden?

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