Good planning is essential during fish pond design. Unlike lawns and borders which are more easily moved or altered, a pond is less easy to change once installed. When designing, there are several important things to take into account.
One of the most important things to consider is location. This is partly down to personal preference. Some people like a pond to be near to the house for viewing from indoors, while others prefer it to be a separate entity which they can visit when the mood takes them. If it can be viewed from inside the home then you can benefit from its beauty all year round. Site it too far from the house and feeding and maintenance can become a chore and missed out during bad weather. Too near to the house or garden walls and it can cause problems with deep excavations interfering with drains or foundations.
Do try to position the pond so that it is sheltered from cold winds and receives sunlight for at least half the day. This will also benefit plants in and around the pond.
Where possible avoid siting your pond under or too near to overhanging deciduous trees, as their leaves and blossom will fall into the pond and become a major headache in the autumn and winter months unless you are prepared to net the pond daily. Bear in mind that the leaves of willow, elder, oak, yew, poplars and laburnums trees are highly toxic. Additionally this will avoid tree roots piercing pond liners or cracking concrete.
Remember that you will need access to a power source if you intend to install lighting, pumps or filter systems. This may be easier and cheaper if it is nearer to the home or a shed with an existing power source. Also plumbing and drainage nearby will assist in filling, cleaning and siphoning operations.
Power and water supplies and drainage need to be considered. Armoured cable isn’t cheap and nor is the laying of permanent water drainage. Try to find the house plans if you can and see where all existing water pipes, gas pipes and other service supplies are located. You don’t want to find them the hard way after you start digging.
Always consider the safety of pets and young children. Remember a child can drown in water only a few inches deep. If you have young children then maybe a pond should wait until they are older and build a pebble filled water feature for now. If you do go ahead with a pond, you should consider covering it with strong wire mesh. Where children may be playing near a pond, it becomes essential to site it near to the home.
Also avoid areas where surface water tends to collect, or areas with a high water table as this could push up under the pond liner or structure and create problems. Avoiding these areas will reduce the risk of any pollutants being washed into the pond during heavy rain.
Styles of pond are very much down to personal choice but are partly dictated by the location and type of garden. The style of pond you choose may also determine its location. A formal raised pond may look out of place in the middle of a large lawn but would look perfect incorporated into a patio area.
There are various styles of pond such as formal and informal, sunken or raised, and this decision is mainly down to personal preference. If you are at all worried about small children around a deep koi pond, then a raised pond can sometimes be a safer option particularly as it is then easier to cover with strong mesh to avoid accidents. Formal ponds are usually square, oblong or exact circles, the type often seen in stately homes, whereas informal ponds are more often kidney or irregular shapes and lend themselves more to a natural cottage garden look.
Size and Depth
Size should be in proportion to the surroundings, and do consider that if a pond is too wide, it is very difficult to catch the fish. Ideally it should be at least three feet deep, five if you are building a koi pond. This is particularly important if you do not live in the South of England as deeper water does remain slightly warmer in very cold weather.
Remember, the bigger the pond, the more fish you can keep, but you will need a bigger and more expensive filtration system. Also any water treatments required are in proportion to the number of gallons of water in the pond and filter system.
The shape and surface area are generally down to personal preferences but it is always best to create a shape which allows for a flow of water between the outlet, bottom drain or pump and the inflow of any filter systems. This will allow solid waste to be circulated and removed to the filter and not get caught in nooks and crannies. Using complex shapes is also best avoided to alleviate construction difficulties and create fewer folds in pond liners. The easiest way to envisage you pond in situ is to take a rope or hose and lay it where you think it will be sited. It is much easier to see how the finished pond will look using this method and once you are happy with your design, the pond outline can be marked out.
Don’t forget to allow for any streams or waterfall features you are considering and allow for planting areas. Normally a shelf is allowed for around the edge of a pond, but in the case of koi, who can be particularly destructive towards plants, it is sometimes best to allow a separate area for planting or even a separate adjacent pond.
Finally you need to decide on the method of construction. Are you going to install a liner pond, a pre-cast fibre glass style or a concrete or brick constructed pond? There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these but you need to decide which is best for you before you start digging. Also think about how you are going to carry out the excavations. Gaining access for diggers, concrete supply and removing excavated soil should be thought about early on.
All of this might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. With a little forethought you will make the job ahead that much easier and save yourself time and money. By Phil Agate
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