If you want a pond in your garden you have 2 choices: Pay someone to install one for you or dig it yourself! For a beginner, the second option might be scary, but it’s not as hard as you might imagine, so let’s get stuck in shall we?
A healthy garden pond makes a wonderful focal point
for your garden and attracts lots of wildlife!
A Healthy Pond Is A Happy Pond
It is possible to make a pond that keeps itself healthy. The right combination of aquatic life and plant life will keep the water cycling and keep algae at bay. But it’s not easy to get right, so installing a pond pump is a good idea. A pump simply pumps water and oxygen into the water to keep it aerated.
Another important consideration is position. So before you dig your pond out, figure out where to put it. Too much direct sunlight may kill the plant life and make the liner brittle, but putting it under a tree may mean you are forever fishing out leaves.
How To Choose A Pond Pump
We already decided we need a pond pump. So what type should we go for? There are lots of options and it can be confusing. Here are some rules of thumb though:
• If you want to keep fish, get a pump with a filter
• Ensure your pump is powerful enough for your pond
Once you have your plan (more on that later) you can calculate the approximate capacity of the pond and select a pump accordingly. Also keep in mind the height of the pump if you have a shallow pond.
Solar powered pumps will save energy and make installation easier but may not be suitable if you plan to have fish since they don’t work so well at night.
Coming Up With A Plan
How you design your pond will depend on what you want it to be. Some people like big water features, but personally I like to attract lots of wild life. Sketch out your pond however you want and don’t start digging until you have settled on a design. Here are some ideas:
• Include shallow areas where animals can drink safely
• Include deep areas for fish and for plants to get established
• Include some stones or a ramp in case hedgehogs fall in
The more complicated you make your designs, the more features you can add and the more variety your pond will likely be able to sustain. But if you are unsure, or don’t have much space, there is nothing wrong with creating a very simple pond.
Once you have your plan you can start digging out the pond. The simplest way to do this is to dig the biggest layer first to a uniform depth (the depth of the shallowest shelf) and then mark out the next layer and dig to the next depth.
Before digging, peel away the turf carefully and save it for later!
Let’s Talk About Pond Liners
The pond liner is what holds the water in the pond. It is a simple sheet of plastic to separate water from soil, but don’t let that fool you, there are options to be considered:
Moulded Liners Or Sheets?
A regular pond liner is just a sheet of PVC, but you can get more robust pre-moulded ones. These are much heavier duty and will generally last longer, but they cost a lot more and limit you to certain shapes. If your budget allows they may be worth the investment though.
If you go with a sheet, there are different materials to consider. My advice is to go with a rubber sheet rather than PVC as PVC can get brittle as it ages. A rubber liner will last longer. It is also worth investing the extra in a UV stabilised liner to protect against sunlight.
How To Install The Liner
• Fish out stones and anything sharp
• Cover soil with a layer of fine sand
• Insert the liner and push into the corners
• Use slabs or stones to secure the liner
Filling It Up
The last step is to fill your pond with water. If you went with a sheet liner, be aware that as the pond fills the liner will tighten, so pull up the sides if necessary and once it is full trim off the sides leaving a border of a few inches.
Finishing It Off
Finally, you can use some of the turf you saved from earlier to place around the border. Eventually this will grow back in and re-enforce the edge of your pond.
If you want to add some plants to your pond you should wait for a couple of weeks first for the water to settle – of course if you are planning to start your build in early spring then getting your timing right will mean that you will be adding those plants at just the right time.
When choosing plants you should consider things like the local climate, how deep your pond is and how much work you want to put in. For example:
• Zebrinus is a pretty grass that can provide cover for small insects, but it can take over your pond so you will have to divide it every year to keep it healthy and in check.
• Cyperus involucratus grows well in shallow water and is a hardy plant that shouldn’t take too much maintenance. Plant it in 2 inches of water and watch it emerge in late May.
• Callitriche verna is an oxygenating plant, it is also a nice cover for tadpoles, so ideal if you want to encourage frogs into the pond. But in a hot climate it may not fare as well.