You’re out in the garden, the night is drawing in and all you can hear is the rippling of the water. It’s times like these that you are so glad you made the decision to build a garden pond.
Although they take time to maintain, ponds are enormously rewarding and right from the very beginning, they can offer you pleasure, excitement and fun.
Even the planning of garden ponds is an exciting task. Deciding on the design, the location and the shape as well as the purpose of the pond can be a decision that you can get your whole family involved in.
Then there’s the digging. And this is something that your entire family can get involved with too. In fact, if you have enough spades why not invite the friends and neighbours round and make an event of it?
Depending on the decisions you made with regards to the design and purpose of the pond, it can turn into a full time project that takes weeks to complete. But it should be interesting and fun rather than a chore.
And the whole time you are building it, you know that in years to come, this pond will be giving you pleasure. Ponds are like great wines; they mature and get better with age. And just think how many relaxing evenings you will have with that constant ripple of water in the background.
Garden ponds are great for families. Not only do they provide a relaxing area for the parents to relax after that hectic school run, but they also provide children with a fascinating insight into the world of wildlife.
But of course, the children’s safety needs to be considered when you are building a pond. Garden ponds should be places to relax and unwind and get pleasure from, not places of constant worry and stress.
So to prevent any accidents, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your children stay safe while getting pleasure from the pond.
The first piece of advice is obvious; always supervise children when they are near the pond. But there are other tricks that can help make a pond child proof.
When deciding upon the location of your pond, ensure that you choose somewhere that is highly visible and perhaps somewhere that can be closed off if necessary. Consider building a raised pond or even use a fence as a barrier around the pond.
If the worst did happen and a child did fall into the pond, then you want to ensure that they can easily escape. For this reason, it is a good idea to use wide, shallow planting areas so that escape is easy.
Although accidents are rare, it is always worth considering these simple steps when you are building a pond. That way, you can enjoy your pond without worrying that your child is in danger.
If you have a new pond or even an existing pond, most owners will realise the difficulties found when stocking the pond with fish. If you are adding fish to an existing pond or starting from scratch, you should make sure the pond is ready for the new additions.
If you have a new pond then you should make sure the pond pump and pond filter have been running for at least a week. The pond should have already been planted and if you have time, the pond should be allowed to mature so the water has passed through the filter a number of times. Tap water contains chemicals that are harmful to your fish so if you can, always use collected rain water when filling the pond.
If you have an existing pond and you are adding more fish, you need to make sure you are not going to overstock the pond. Make sure your pond can accommodate the extra fish; an overstocked pond is an unhealthy pond. If you are replacing fish that have recently died you need to determine why the fish died in the first place. Did the fish die of a disease, old age or due to poor water quality? All these things need to be looked at so new fish that are added to the pond do not face similar problems.
When you are building your new pond, you should not only be focussed on the pond liner. The underlay and what goes under the underlay are equally as important. In fact, it is just as important that you use an underlay as the pond liner itself and many pond liner guarantees will be void if you do not use an underlay in your pond design.
When you have excavated the pond area, rake the ground and remove any potentially sharp objects such as stones, twigs and roots. After the surface is smooth you should add a layer of sand to the pond base and sides. Ideally this should be a couple of inches thick and will provide a suitable base to the underlay. There are many different types of underlay that you can buy including prolene, if you have stony ground the geotextile material will provide great protection for your liner from stones or other foreign bodies.
The last thing to decide upon is the liner material. While butyl has been the ‘king’ of pond liners for many years now Epalyn is hot on its heals as the new contender. In fact many people now regard this pond liner material as the number one choice.
If you put the effort into the pond build at the start, the longevity of the pond will be increased and hence the maintenance will be reduced.
If you only have a small garden but would still like to hear the tranquil sound of running water you should consider adding a water feature to the space you have. There are many different water features in the market at the moment and each and every style can vary in size and can add something different to your garden.
The different types of water features you can choose from include wildlife pools, container ponds, bog gardens, streams, water fountains and self contained above ground water features. The feature you decide upon will depend on the look you want to create and of course the effort you want to go to. Many self contained water features are perfect to add that instant feature into your garden. Some varieties of these might include water bubbling through the centre of a mill stone or water tumbling between different levels of pots. These types of water feature come with an in-built pump and your only concern is working out the route the electricity supply will take from your house to the feature.
Adding a water feature to your garden will not only benefit you either. The local wildlife will love the free source of water and who knows, it might inspire you to create your own larger full size formal pond.
If you are thinking of building a pond but the only space you have in your garden involves sloping ground there is no need to be disheartened. In fact building your pond on sloping ground can really be an excellent idea. The sloping ground will mean that your pond or water feature can be built over different levels so you can let your creative imagination go wild.
You could create a system of waterfalls, streams, water running over falling steps or just create two separate pond areas at different levels and use a pond pump to move water between them. The ground works will usually be more difficult if you are building on a sloping site but the overall effect can be really stunning. If you are moving a lot of earth and are going to make a large cut into the ground you might want to seek professional advice regarding the shoring technique you will have to use to contain the heavy soil.
If you don’t want to create a large pond at one of the levels you could just create a water feature with several small pools and have the water cascading between them. Whichever option you choose, it can be seen that just because you have a sloping garden does not mean you can’t build your dream pond.
In the last article we discussed positioning of the pond. When you have considered all these points, you might want to look at how to design your pond. The following are a few tips on general pond design.
• Use an old hose to plan out the size and shape of the pond this will give you a good idea about the relationship between the size of the pond and the size of your garden.
• Even if your drawing skills are not what they used to be, try to sketch a plan of the garden to give you a view of the position of the pond in relation to other garden features.
• It is a great idea to position your pond between hard landscaping and more decorative features in your garden. The landscaping might include decking or a patio, the pond will fit nicely between this and the lawn or beds
• Plan where the pond filter will be positioned and where and how the electricity supply will reach the garden pond.
• Decide on the depth of the pond, this may be decided on the amount of fish, type of fish and how many fish you want to have.
We have talked before about the benefits of the position of the pond in your garden, here we will try to clarify a few important points and then discuss the planning of the feature.
When choosing an appropriate position for your pond you should always try to keep the following points in mind.
• The pond should be as far away as possible from deciduous trees; this will stop a large quantity of leaves from falling into the pond during the autumn.
• Position your pond in an area that is shaded from the worst of the wind, especially northerly’s.
• Consider how you will top up the pond and look at the distance from water sources.
• Look at the distance any electrical cable will need to travel to power your pond filter or pond pump.
• Try to determine if any services travel underneath the area where you are going to dig the pond. Finding a water main or gas main whilst digging is not fun.
• Try to have a view of your pond or water garden from the house. In the winter when we don’t venture out into the garden too often it’s lovely to look at the feature from the warmth of our own home.
• Don’t position your pond in a naturally wet or boggy area, your pond may then over fill naturally leaving you with a larger pond than you anticipated.
• Try to position the pond so it receives an adequate amount of sun but is also shaded at different times of the day. Water lilies and other aquatic plants will need a good level of sunlight to flower.
• A good tip to remember is if the pond is situated near to the house then it may tend to be more formal, however if it is sited nearer the end of the garden it might be a good idea to make it more natural looking.
• Look at child safety and try to accommodate this into your pond plans.
You may be thinking about giving your pond an overhaul during the autumn months. This might include a general clean and tidy or replacing essential components like the pond filter or the pond pump.
If you have noticed that your pond filter is not performing as it should, maybe it is time to look at changing it. There are two main kinds of pond filter that you can buy for your pond – pressurised filters and box filters. If you are thinking about hiding the filter in a discreet location then you might want to look at the pressurised variety.
Pressurised filters can be hidden anywhere outside the pond and can even be partially buried so they can be hidden. The filter works by pumping water into it from the pond then after filtration pumping it back into the pond under pressure. Hence the many options of location. Most people use a pressurised filter because they don’t want an unsightly filter destroying the aesthetic appeal of the pond or because they don’t have room to fix a box filter close enough to the pond. Some types of pressurised pond filters even come with easy clean functionality so you can back flush the media to waste.
In the last article we discussed problems with ‘green water’ and issues surrounding water clarity. Following on from this further discussion needs to be had on silt and also filtration problems.
Silt and sediment
Your pond water can be made to look muddy by the silt that collects at the bottom of your pond. Fish (and especially koi) love rooting through the debris at the bottom of your pond and will hence stir up the water making it appear muddy. So why is there so much silt at the bottom of my pond? Silt accumulates over many years and as the silt deepens it will thus get disturbed by the fish again and again. Most of the silt comes from natural fish waste and any organic matter that falls into your pond such as leaves and pond plants that die back in the winter. You can pump out the silt from your pond using a special pond pump that can handle solid matter or perform a complete pond clean by removing all your pond life and water and starting over.
Another thing that can affect water clarity is problems with your filtration system. If the filtration system is not up to the job or becomes blocked then you could notice a change in the water clarity. A working filter removes solid material from the water and also houses good bacteria that will breakdown the toxic waste products produced by fish. If you need to clean the filter then using tap water is not the best idea. In fact tap water should always be avoided if possible. The tap water contains chlorine that will kill the good bacteria that the filter contains hence leading to further problems with water clarity.