Constructing the Main Tsukubai and Turtle Island lakes

In our "dry garden" we have two elements that have "streaming" water. One is the chozubachi of the Tsukubai facility in the main garden. The other is the "upper lake" water replenishment of the "Turtle Island" in the front garden compartment.

There are many ways to set-up a water basin and bamboo fountain. Here we show how we did that. In Japan water basins are often fed with fresh water through a bamboo fountain. Water then flows over the basin into a hidden reservoir that contains a drain pipe. This is however a situation that most of us will not come across.

This shows a first pilot setup, still without the bamboo spout and tap.
The top edge of the chozubachi needs to be exactly level

Here we had just started with the first planting.
Overflow full This drawing shows the construction principle of the main Tsukubai. Instead of a stack of bricks we have used a hardwood pole to carry the basin.

The water coming from the bamboo spout overflows over the whole top edge of the basin into the reservoir. The basin should not have a hole.
Same as above now as seen from the master bedroom. 990121
Fall trough
This is an alternative set-up. The water does not overflow outside the basin but the basin serves as a smaller reservoir that lets water leak back into the underground reservoir. Hence it needs to have a hole. The effect of this is however less natural then the previous one. An advantage is that the surrounding area and under ground container can be smaller and you do not need the plastic flab construction to collect falling down water.

Our chozubachi has a hole in the bottom but we have closed it with a cork. The hole is only of use to empty the water basin for the winter.
Both the chozubachi and the under ground container, contain some 40 liter water.
The small pump lies on the bottom of the under ground container.

Here the bamboo spout or "kakei" has been installed.
A more recent photo that perhaps better shows the construction details. The plastic flab has been fit in to ensure that as little as possible water gets spoiled.

In the middle we see the hardwood pole that eventually carries the chozubachi water vessel that gets really heave when fully filled to overflow.
Here the lit is on the under ground container. We have drilled a number of holes in to where water can go trough. In this way the container is very well closed to prevent debris falls in. 040111
The vessel and under ground container get filled from the water tap.

During summer we need to top it up. Normally never more then once per week or fortnight.

To reduce the water loss we do not let it run during the night and also not for the whole day. The timer to switch the pump has been safely put in this waterproof plastic box that gets hidden under the duckboard planks.
This photo dates from summer 2000 when the plating was one year old. It has just started to grow. The moss on the vessel has grown nicely.

The spout portion of the bamboo fountain can be left long or cut down to preferred length. Long and short spout bamboo fountains are very prominent in japanese gardens. This is very much a matter of personal preference.
This is a photo taken in 2004. Here the planting has started to get shape.

For more recent impressions see:
Tsukubai and chozubachi or The main garden compartment.

Below you can see and hear the chouzubachi (water basin) in action in tandem with some of "our" birds.

Flowplayer is a free video player for the web.

Turtle Island lakes construction

Unfortunately we have very few photo's of the original build activities and the underlying technology. With one of the next maintenance activities we will make some pictures to document this feature.

Here the Hõrai-jima, "Turtle island", where the head is just visible, slightly to the left of the tree.

This photo was taken just after a heavy rain shower. The water now makes it a real island.

For a close up and the function of the wrapped stone see: Miscellaneous garden ornaments and small objects.
Overflow one side This drawing shows the principle that is used for the design of the "Island lakes". Instead of a spout we use a fountain. The tubing goes into a hole that we drilled in the "upper lake" basin outer edge.

In the above photo, our overflow water runs over on the left side where we have mounted a plastic flab in the same way as we did for the chozubachi. This will ensure that as little as possible water gets spoiled.

This is the traditional Japanese garden set-up for a water basin fountain. The basin is slightly set so the water runs over only the front of the basin into a hidden reservoir. The should not have a hole.
With the exception of the water in the above chozubachi this is the only real and streaming water in Tsubo-en.

Every day, we see a diversity of birds that come to drink and bath in this small pond. That is why we let it run even in winter.
Here you get a view of the "Turtle Island" "lower lake" that for halve of its size is situated under the "upper lake".

The water in the "upper lake" gets continuously replenished and refreshed by a small fountain that gets the water from the "lower lake" that serves as a reservoir.
The construction is based on the overflow principle.
The "lower lake" contains about 200 liter water (52 gallon US) and needs to be replenished semi-automated or manually during periods in the summer with little or no rainfall when it can easily lose 10 liter or more per day.

The "lower lake" itself has an overflow feature so that if there fall to much rain the excess water flows away to the street side of theGinshanada (here to the left).
The small pump gets its 220-240 Volt power supply from a mains connector just like this. It is however overgrown by the
Armeria Maritima, the low maintenance flowering groundcover (see: Groundcovers).

This pump can also be automatically switched on and off. The timer to do that is placed in house as the cabling is made with a separate connection.

What did not work well

Here we document what went wrong with regard to these water features.

  1. Well so far so good. Nothing of notice to report here.

Links related to the "water works"

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