A pond can form a dramatic centrepiece to your garden or a fascinating feature. They are a boon to wildlife and great for getting the kids interested in the natural world. To introduce one is not as hard as you might think – but they will need a minimum amount of upkeep throughout the year, so be prepared.
There are two considerations
Where is your pond going to go and how big should it be? Selecting a location is easy – it needs to be in a sunny position. That will let the oxygenating plants thrive and bring it alive. Avoid obvious walkways and don’t put it under a tree or the leaves will clog it.
Size-wise it should be in proportion to the garden but not so small that nothing will live in it. You should be looking at a minimum depth of 2.5ft or 76cm to stop a fish pond freezing completely in winter. But where fish are concerned, the deeper the better.
Plastic or Rubber
You can buy pre-moulded plastic ponds, in which case you simply dig a hole roughly to the shape, line it with sand for cushioning and then add the pond form. Move the mould about a bit to help the sand settle as any voids underneath it will increase the risk it’ll break when the water goes in. Alternatively, and more popular is the rubber pond liner because you can let your imagination run wild with any shape, depth and size you like. These days, they’ll last for donkey’s years.
Once again it’s a case of digging the hole and making sure there is one nice deep part for the fish to go in winter. But also include some shelving areas for marginal plants – about 8ins to 10ins under the notional surface. Make sure there is a “beach” at one end to allow amphibians to access it. Again pack the hole with sand and use old carpet or a special membrane under the pond liner to protect it. Take out any stones that might pierce the line. A membrane will also help stop tree roots puncturing it.
Unroll the liner and fold it out over the hole. Pull and stretch until you get the shape right. If you have gone for a kidney-shaped pond, you’ll need to do some pleating to avoid wrinkles. Then fill about 20 per cent with water. This will give you an idea of how much spare liner there is and help the shape settle. Trim the excess but leave enough to bury back into the ground round the edge.
Finally, use rockery stones or flags to lay around the edge of the pond to tidy it up. An off-the-shelf filter system will help keep it clean. And that, essentially, is your pond. Leave the pond to settle for a few days then you can stock it with a mix of oxygenating plants, which will also help clean it. Water lilies are principally ornamental but they will also provide shade and habitat for fish and wildlife.
Marginal plants – things like water iris or reeds – around the outside give it a proper pond feel. If you have never kept fish before, go for goldfish. They are easier to keep than koi carp – and cost less
Please make sure that you have a ramp exit for the pond too. Our hedgehog friends are great swimmers but they do need help climbing out, so a simple ramp will help them and in turn they’ll help you manage your insect population.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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