Ponds have long been a staple in gardens, and it’s not hard to see why. Ponds help to attract wildlife to your garden and provide the basis for a thriving ecosystem that can help keep pests at bay. Ponds are also great if you love aquatic life and want to have fish nearby, or you want to improve the look of your outdoor space, allowing you to include new and unusual plants to your landscape.
If, however, you’re a beginner when it comes to ponds, you might be a little confused. What should you have in your garden pond? What equipment do you need? What should the pond be made of? How big should the pond be?
In this beginner’s guide, we’re going to answer all your questions and more.
Can You Build Your Own Pond?
One of the reasons for the explosion in the popularity of ponds has to do with the increase in the number of DIY options available on the market. There are now many different ponds to choose from that you can build yourself. Granted, these ponds tend to be small in scale, measuring less than two metres by one metre, but they can be sufficiently large to bring many of the benefits to your garden that a larger pond would.
If you want something bigger – and many people do – then you’ll need the help of professionals with proper digging equipment. Professionals can help you create ponds with greater depth and volume, allowing you to keep a greater variety of plants and animals and more faithfully recreate a natural ecosystem.
What Equipment Do You Need For A Garden Pond?
If you want your pond to be a success, you’ll need to invest in a range of equipment.
The first task is to choose the right pond-liner or tub. Pond liners fit over excavated areas, preventing water from seeping down into the soil below. Preformed tubs can either be sunk into the ground or rest on top of it – the choice is yours. Tubs can be made from all kinds of material, including fibreglass which provides high strength. Preformed fibreglass tubs can be installed in as little as two hours.
You’ll also need a recirculating pump. The purpose of the pump is to keep the water from becoming stagnant and overgrown with particular bacteria and species of algae.
If you’re installing a larger pond, you may want to include additions such as a skimmer box and tubing that connects to a waterfall, if that’s something you would like. If deciduous trees overlook your pond, you may also want to install a leaf skimmer to prevent leaves from bunging up your pond. You can either buy a handheld leaf skimmer – a tool which looks a bit like a giant tennis racket – or use a mechanical skimmer instead.
As for cosmetics, you can do what you like, so long as they’re safe for wildlife. Most people adorn the edges of their ponds with rocks, especially if they are sunken into the ground and use a liner. Others surround them with species of grass and reeds to more faithfully create a natural-looking environment.
Remember that you need access to an outdoor tap to fill the pond and a ground fault circuit interrupter on electrical outlets.
What Plants Should You Put In Your Pond?
Just like regular garden plants, aquatic plants come in two varieties: annual or perennial. If you’re the kind of person who wants to see greenery in their pond all year round, choose perennials. If, however, you like the idea of your pond plants blooming during the spring, then annuals are your best bet.
Many aquatic plants, like lilies, float on the surface, allowing you to see them. Others reside in subsurface rocks, providing a natural habitat for various creatures.
How Big Should Your Pond Be?
How big your pond should be depends on your personal preferences and budget. Larger ponds cost more to install and maintain, requiring bigger pumps and more energy. Smaller ponds offer a cheaper alternative but don’t provide as rich an ecosystem. As a rule of thumb, many gardeners suggest allocating 10 per cent of space to water.
What Fish Should You Add?
If you live in an area where water gets cold, then koi and goldfish are good options.
Every species of fish has different space requirements, so check online. Goldfish require about two cubic feet; koi more.
If you have a small pond or a lot of fish, then you’ll need to feed them too with food from your local pet store.