Planning A Pond

5th July 2008

There’s something quite delightful about the sight and sound of water in a garden, especially on a hot summer’s day. Of course, there are serious safety issues, especially for families with young children, but if you can prevent access or ensure that toddlers are always rigorously supervised, then the addition of a pond can take a garden into a new dimension. These tips should help you plan and implement a successful pond project.

The first consideration is position: You may like the pond close to the house, visible from a window or terrace, or hidden away, to be ‘discovered’ on a stroll through the garden. Whichever you prefer, site the pond so that it is sheltered from cold winds, and has sun for at least half the day. Avoid overhanging trees, and don’t locate it too close to walls or other structures.

For a simple pond that looks as though it has always belonged to its surroundings, aim for a shape that allows a ‘natural’ flow of water and good access around the outside. Use a rope to create a shape that pleases you, and check whether a pre-formed pond would suit; if not, then take your planned measurements along to a pond liner retailer who will help you calculate the right size.

Depth is critical. If you plan to have large fish (such as koi) then at least 3 feet in the deepest part is essential; smaller fish such as goldfish need a minimum of 18 inches. To keep the pond healthy and balanced, at least 40 per cent should be at maximum depth, reducing temperature fluctuations. The deeper the pond, the better the balance. However, do bear planting areas in mind, and allow ‘shelves’ at the edges for containers of marginal plants. The shelves should be at least 9 inches deep. It can be helpful to buy planting baskets (of different sizes) in advance so that they are to hand when digging. The more shelves you have, the more plants you can include – crucial for absorbing the nutrients on which algae would otherwise feed. Spare liner can be used to create an adjacent shallow bog garden.

It’s also worth considering a completely or partially raised pond, which may be safer in a family garden or more suitable in a formal setting. Less excavation will be needed, but the walls must be strong enough to support the weight, and a filtration system must somehow be concealed.

The ‘style’ of the pond is naturally going to evolve over time, but it’s helpful to have some idea at the outset. A wildlife pool is ideal if the surrounding garden can also be left fairly wild; if sufficient planting areas are included in the water, allowing the plants to cover two thirds of the surface area in due course, then it’s possible to succeed without any added filtration, although a circulatory pump to maintain oxygen levels will be helpful. As the plants mature, the pool will balance and the water become clear.

Fish are best kept to a minimum in a wildlife pond, and added very slowly over time. If fish-keeping is your purpose, though, and a ‘fish pond’ your goal, then pay plenty of attention to the installation and positioning of the filter system. The size and capacity of the filter required will depend on the pond volume and the anticipated stocking levels – this is another point at which consulting an expert is advisable.

The possibilities for creating wow factor into any sort of pond are endless… whether it’s the incorporation of a stream or waterfall to link two pools together, the installation of stunning garden lighting to highlight the pond area, the addition of beautiful fish for colour and interest, or the abandonment of control to allow the pool to settle easefully into its natural environment. Your garden, your pond, your choice.

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