Wine Barrel Pond: To Seal or Not
One of the most common problems when building a wine barrel pond is deciding whether to add a liner or not. Pond liners are, of course, usually fitted to traditional ponds in order to prevent leaks, and to keep all of your pond life within the confines of the pond. However, this is more complicated in the wine barrel pond, as there may be less risk of leaks, and a liner for a wine barrel can be expensive and time consuming to fit. If you are unsure whether to add a liner to your barrel or not, then you must consider all of the reasons for installing a liner before you begin to build your pond.
Reasons for Installing a Liner
Liners are installed in ordinary ponds for a variety of reasons, including the risk of leaks. Wine barrels are naturally built to hold water, so the chances of leaks is significantly reduced. However, if you cut your wine cask into two, then you risk damaging this water-sealed system. Wooden rings can be moved, or may crack, so that there are gaps in the barrel. This will allow water to leak through. Naturally this will not happen with every barrel, but the chances of it occurring are not small, so you would do well to consider a liner if you are cutting your barrel.
Another reason for fitting a liner is the risk of microbes from the wine becoming established in the pond. Not all microbes are very healthy, and you may find your pond becoming stagnant, cloudy, or otherwise unattractive. Chemical reactions from the wine products may also affect the pond, and its life, so you should consider this before deciding not to install a liner. If you don't intend to invest in a full-price liner, then you could always use a large plastic bin liner, and cut it to shape. Take care to seal around the edges of the liner by taping it to the edge of the barrel.
Reasons for not Installing a Liner
Anxiety about damage to a barrel leading to leaks is a concern for the amateur, or those who have built the wine barrel pond as a first-time project. For those who are more experienced in converting barrels to furniture, you may not think that you need to install a liner. Taking the time and trouble to cut through the barrel carefully, and usually by hand, often ensures that the barrel rings stay in position. If you have taken care to cut through wood between the metal staves, then you are unlikely to have caused the wood to separate.
The concern about microbes and damage to the pond through contamination is also not a great risk if you have prepared the barrel before hand. This involves removing any wine residue by hand, and then leaving the barrel, full of water, out in the sun for several days. Doing this will help to kill microbes, and will also reduce the chances of chemical reactions. If you have cured your barrel in this manner, then you may feel that a liner is unnecessary.