How to Create a Pond In Your Garden
Why Bother Installing a Pond?
Throughout the ages, all civilizations have been fascinated by water. It is everpresent in the gardens of castles, and in all places where man has recreated a piece of nature.
Whereas before this was difficult to achieve due to the technical and financial means necessary, nowadays anyone can create a source of water. Specialized shops and garden centers now carry a wide range of products at reasonable prices.
The Dream of Having a Pond is Now Within Every Gardener’s Reach
Both decorative and reposting, the pond will allow you to master the art of growing new plants like the water iris, reeds, and water lilies. If the pond is big enough, you can even consider looking after certain types of fish.
Just picture yourself stretched out on a deckchair, listening to the sound of a little cascade, or of water rippling over the rocks.
How to Build a Garden Pond Step by Step
This is not a job to be rushed, so make sure to take into account the following points before starting the process.
Choose Right Location
Choose the location carefully. Choose a place with a bit of shade, but avoid putting it under a tree, as the roots will spread and damage the walls of the pond. The leaves will also fall into the water.
Leave a perimeter of around 1 m. around the pond to provide access, and to install stones or plants.
Shape and Size of the Outdoor Pond
If it is too small it will have too much variation in temperature, which is not advised if you want to put fish into it.
The depth depends on the surface of the pond. It is not advisable to have the sides too steep. You should have a stair-like slope, with a step every 20 to 30 cms. about 10 to 20 cms. wide. A depth of between 60 and 80 cms. will allow fish to be comfortable in winter and will avoid the water becoming too hot in summer. If you install a water pump to ensure that the water circulates in winter, 60 cms. is enough.
Steps of varying dimensions will permit you to put plant or flower pots of differing sizes into the pond.
Let’s Identify the Different Zones :
The bordering zone is between 10 and 20 cms. wide permits the development of small plants, whose roots appreciate the mud and water. The roots protect developing insects, for young fish and for fish whose parents eat their young.
The shallow zone should be between 20 and 40 cms. wide. Plants like reeds, water iris, and underwater plants can be installed here.
The deep zone provides refuge for fish in winter, and water lilies can be planted here.
Buy and Install Pond Filtration System
Don’t forget about the filtration. If you wish to install fish, filtration is recommended. This will ensure that the water remains clear, preventing it from becoming green. It also ensures that the water circulates, thus oxygenizing it, and it will prevent the surface from freezing over in winter.
You can filter ecologically by installing the filter in a container placed outside the pond filled with lava stones.
If you don’t want a filter, think about using a pump to move the water around and maybe for feeding a fountain or a cascade. This will bring the outdoor pond to life, and the sound of guzzling water is quite pleasant. But don’t create a torrent, as the neighbors may not appreciate this!
Lining the Outdoor Pond
First, stabilize the walls with a layer of gravel, then a layer of sand, and finish with a layer of cement, to solidify the structure. This will ensure that the pond will last longer, and will resist the growth of surrounding roots and the subsidence of the ground.
To waterproof the walls, different materials are available :
If you choose a molded pond, ignore the above advice.
Concrete: perfect waterproofing can be obtained by laying down layers of cement, the layers being thinner and thinner as you proceed.
The least expensive and longest-lasting solution is a PVC lining. To calculate the dimensions necessary for a pond 60 cms. deep with 30 cms. border, add 2 meters in width, and 2 meters in length.
A rubber lining, more expensive than one in PVC, will last longer, as it is more flexible.
Whichever lining you opt for, place a layer of garden felt beneath it.
The Test Filling
To make sure that all is in order, fill the pond to test the waterproofing and the level of the water. It is still possible to make some adjustments to the edges of the pond. This is also the time to test your filtration system.
Building a Garden Pond Made Painlessly
Building a garden pond using a flexible liner is generally straightforward but some pitfalls can be avoided in the light of experience. Many of these are not mentioned in the literature so it is worth taking a few minutes perusing this page of hints. At the risk of repeating myself here are the main stages in constructing a garden pond:
1. The ground must be level, if it is not you will have great difficulty in disguising the pond liner unless you can get some sloping water.
2. Make the hole as large as you can to fit in with your design. The most common complaint on completion is ‘I wish I’d made it bigger.
3. Mark the perimeter of the garden pond i.e. where the water will end, using sand. Many books suggest a hosepipe or rope but this does not work in practice.
4. Before you dig think. Where is the soil going to go? Don’t be sucked into using it for a rockery unless that’s what you want. Sometimes, if the soil is of good quality, some of it may be used to raise flowerbeds in keeping with a design. Otherwise, dispose of it in batches rather than working around it and plan to handle it a few times as possible.
5. The contours should have been decided in the design process but usually, ponds have shelves dug into some of the perimeters for plant containers (backward sloping so pots don’t slide into the pond), a gently sloping bank to allow wildlife to enter and leave, and a variety of depths( 1 to 3 or 4 feet). If, say, a pebble beach or other feature is to be included the effect on the depth must be considered.
6. After excavation removes any sharp stones or other objects which could damage the liner. Be particularly careful with roots and remember they may continue to grow after installation with disastrous effects.
7. Line the outdoor pond meticulously. We use sand and old carpets for this, although purpose-produced underlay is available. Leave nothing to chance when it comes to leaks. It is heartbreaking to put all the effort into garden pond construction only to discover a leak a few days later. Again take great care with the lining.
8. Installing the liner is a fairly straightforward process. If the pond liner has a shiny side and a dull side lay it shiny side down. This will make it easier to install and reduce reflections in the completed pond. Position the pond liner centrally over the hole, lightweight down the edges, and start to fill.
9. As the pond is filling smooth the liner and try to fold it in such a way that there are fewer large folds that will lay flat. Some rearrangements may be needed here but it is well worth the effort to get a more professional effect.
10. Fill to the top and use the water level to check how to level the edges are. It may be necessary to make some minor adjustments here but be careful with the spade!
11. Allow standing for a day or two before proceeding with the next step which is edging.
Selecting Pond Plants is Crucial to Water Garden Success
Planting, maintenance, and propagation of pond plants can be a nightmare, not because the information is not available but because there is too much unnecessary and often conflicting information out there.
This is a personal account of how I made sense of this conflicting information to produce our new water garden.
Pond plants are the “icing on the cake” once the design, marking and digging, moving barrowload after barrowload of soil and debris, lining, and filling the pond have been done.
I bought a couple of water garden books from amazon.com, had many books from the library, and searched for pond plant websites that gave me information on a form of planting that I had the experience of but considered I needed more information to make the best of our new garden.
At first, I was bewildered by the different groups of pond plants, but basically, 5/6 groups do different jobs within the pond. (see below)
I think my bewilderment came from slightly differing information regarding depth, sighting, hardiness, and label information on the pond plants. I did deliberate over what to place where for a long time over last winter but I eventually decided to stop worrying, follow instructions on pond plant labels, plant and see what happens. As in any garden planting scheme, I could always move a pond plant if not happy!!
Pond plants are very easy to grow successfully and will start to look established within one season making all the hard work seem worthwhile, but there are a few rules which need to be looked at.
1. Pond plants should be introduced during the growing season. ie. Spring onwards.
2. You should wait a few days, after the pond has been filled with tap water, before introducing pond plants. Allowing the dissolved chlorine to disperse.
3. Leave a few weeks before introducing fish to allow pond plants to establish (this was not an option in our case as fish had to be reintroduced quickly from the old pond) the fish will tug and nibble at submerged plants – and they did.
4. You will need to make sure that a certain amount of the water surface (approximately half) is covered by foliage to discourage the growth of algae to keep the water clear and contribute to the balance of water, aquatic plants, wildlife garden, soil, and fish.
5. The best method of planting aquatic plants is in plastic containers specially designed for the purpose. This will control growth and plants can be lifted for dividing and repotting. Open-sided containers are lightweight, imperishable, and help to make the task of cleaning out the pond a much easier one.
6. Marginals and deep marginal plants, in general, should be planted in containers following the recommended depth of water over the top of the container as said on the supplied label. For example Caltha Palustris 0-10cm. This means 0cm is water flush with soil and 10cm is the depth of water over the soil.
7. Water lilies should have all the old leaves and anchor roots cut back, then plant with the crown just above the soil level. When the lily has a long tuberous root, plant horizontally with the new shoots just clear of the soil. Finish off by placing washed shingle, about half an inch, over the top, being careful not to cover the new shoots. To encourage growth to raise the container within six inches of the surface and gradually lower to the required depth as new growth progresses.
THE PLANTING GROUPS
1. Oxygenating plants or submerged aquatics or water weeds –
Important for keeping the water clear and providing food and a spawning area for fish. Although most books etc. say don’t drop straight into the water and give planting in container information, in my experience, weighting and dropping into water works very well when needing to cover the water area quickly. Plants grow fairly quickly and need to be weeded out regularly, which is much easier when dropped straight into the pond.
2. Deep Marginals or deep-water aquatics –
Vital for keeping pond water healthy. Submerged leaves raise oxygen levels and floating leaves provide shade and keep fish cool in summer. Plants may grow completely underwater or have leafy growth both above and below the surface. There are deep-water aquatics for partial shade, disturbed surfaces, and very deep water. Young plants can be nibbled by fish ( which happened with the 2 Apongogeton pistachios I put in the new pond in April)
3. Water Lilies –
There are water lilies to suit most climates, sizes, and depths of the pond. They are available in a wide array of colors, shapes, and fragrances suitable for any pond. They require sun, shelter, and still or nearly still water. Water lilies provide surface cover which helps to discourage algae and give cooling shade for fish.
4. Floating Plants –
Good for quick coverage of surface water before water lilies and deep marginals are established they are therefore usually introduced at the early stage of pond development. Floating aquatic plants do not need planting, just drop plants in water. They reproduce and grow rapidly so do need some control by removing unwanted clumps by hand or with a net.
Roots are submerged, leaves, and stem free-floating on or just below surface and flowers on the surface of the water. There are two types, carpenters such as common duckweed and non-carpenters which have large leaves and are less invasive.
5. Marginals –
These are purely ornamental as they do not play a part in maintaining balance in the pond. Marginals are shallow-water plants that are grown usually around the edges of the pond. Most of their top growth is visible above the water and bases and roots underwater.
I found planting depths somewhat confusing so I went for my ‘trial & error’ method, try it, if not growing well move or raise until better established. Raising young plants out of the way of fish is a good idea as the fish will nibble young shoots. Many marginals also grow well in permanently saturated water. bog garden.
6. Bog Plants or moisture-loving plants –
It is difficult to distinguish between bog and marginal plants but in general, plants prospering in standing water are marginal plants, and the ones which require wet conditions, but will not tolerate long periods of being submerged in water, are moisture-loving or bog plants.
Roots are planted straight into the soil, leaves and flowers grow clearly above the surface. Plants require humus-rich soil which is never allowed to dry out. Follow garden rules rather than pond ones for these plants. Making and planting a bog garden around your pond will enhance the natural look of the pond and be a haven for wildlife.