Garden ponds are a great addition to any garden, the sounds of gently lapping water can inspire relaxation and calmness and they also provide a great haven for wildlife like frogs and birds. For those who love fish, having a pond full of majestic fish is a dream come true. In this article we will look at the things that need to be considered before taking the plunge and digging a big hole in the garden ready for that long dreamt of pond.
Location, Location, Location
Depending on what you want your pond for, location is the most vital consideration. If you want a pond with plants, fish or any other wildlife for that matter, you will need oxygenating plants which produce Oxygen keep the water from becoming stagnant and stale. For oxygenating plants to function effectively, they need sunlight. So, if your plan is to grow water plants, waterlilies for example, or keep fish, then you will need to locate the pond in a sunny part of your garden. If you just want a water feature, then you can put the pond in the shade.
The second major thing to avoid, no matter the type of pond is putting the pond under trees and shrubs. The problem is that as the leaves fall off these plants, they will end up rotting in the pond, creating a layer of sludge which will then foul the water. In addition, you don’t want to be digging through tree roots if a tree is too close as this will damage and possibly even kill the tree.
Finally, make sure you know where your services are as you don’t want to dig into a gas main, an electricity cable or a drain.
You will want your pond to make sense in your garden. A huge pond in a small garden would look odd and a small pond in a large garden would get lost. It is recommended to choose a pond size as big as possible to try and prevent temperature swings. Ideally a pond should be a minimum of 1.3m by 2m by 0.6m deep. This should create a pond that is big enough and deep enough to flatten out temperature swings as large bodies of water are less prone to temperature fluctuations and this is healthier for fish and prevents algae growth.
The profile of a pond is a fine balancing act. You don’t want the sides so steep that wildlife like frogs cannot easily get in, or hedgehogs which fall in cannot get out, but you don’t want the edges so shallow that they suffer from freezing in the winter and evaporation in the summer. Also consider, if you are putting plants in, the depth that they need to be submersed in the water, you will need to consider shelves in the profile for planting.
The shape of the pond is purely a personal choice. Do you want a formal pond which has a strict geometrical shape like a square or a circle or do you want a free-flowing pond with a random shape? Choose whatever fits in best with your personality and the garden style. A very formal pond might look out of place in a very informal garden.
Ponds and sloping gardens don’t really get along. The reason is that the water will lie flat so one edge will be full to brimming and the opposite edge will look empty. This can be overcome by disguising the higher side with stones or building a small wall or alternatively building up the lower edge and then disguising that as maybe a seating area.
Ponds are not maintenance free and, to help keep the pond healthy you will need a pump and a filter so you will need a supply of electricity. As obvious as it sounds you also need a water supply as in the summer water can evaporate from a pond and it will need topping up. You will need to take both these requirements into account when locating your pond.
Raised or Sunken
Raised ponds are those which site above ground level and have structural walls which hold the water in. Sunken ponds, as the name suggests are dug into the ground. There are pros and cons of both. Raised ponds are inherently safer for pets and children but more difficult for wildlife to get in and out. Sunken ponds are better for wildlife but are less safe for pets and children.
This is perhaps your most important consideration, especially if you have young children or pets. There are two main options to make a pond safe: Place a rigid metal grille over the top of the pond or you can fence it off. Take into account that children are great climbers and any fence should ideally be 1.2 m high and any access points are kept locked.
There is a lot to consider before you attempt to build a pond in your garden but with careful planning you will be able to safely enjoy any water feature you feel will complete your garden.