Note from Jim: I’ve been sharing a fair few articles around water features for your garden lately, and feel there’s a lot of info here on AGT for those looking to add a pond or water feature to their back yard. To round this off, I’ve got an article from my good friend Josh Nicholas from Swallow Aquatics in the UK, on some important things to consider before you invest in your own garden pond. Despite the miles in between us, Josh’s tips below (like many gardening articles) are universal – so without further ado, take it away Josh!
Ponds can be a wonderful addition to any garden – they attract wildlife, and offer a platform for a fantastic range of beautiful plants. But before you grab your shovel, hold on just a second: there are a few things you should consider first to ensure that your pond is the very best it can be.
1. Make it safe
Safety is paramount where ponds are concerned, and it’s definitely something you should bear in mind as you plan yours. The good news is, that if you consider safety features as you’re putting your pond together, you may have more options available to you than if you have to adapt your pond later on.
A blog post we put together earlier (just like Blue Peter!) offers tips on making your pond safe. “You can put up a wooden fence, steel mesh, or else use plants to restrict access. You could also use rocks to create a barrier if you prefer.”
“Either way, the most important aspect is that the fence is solid, and impenetrable. Children can be very clever when it comes to problem solving!”
Other tips include creating sloping edges, installing a pool alarm and putting in a wire mesh top – check the post to find out more.
2. Choose a suitable location
If at all possible, choose a spot that is sunny, level, and away from trees. This will allow your plants to thrive, and mean that the amount of leaves you need to clear away each autumn is significantly reduced. Also, try to find a spot that is visible from inside your house – both for the safety of children, and so that you can enjoy looking at your creation when you’re indoors.
If space is an issue in your garden, John Rogers from The Very Small Pond offers some great advice.
“My first pond was a raised construction 18 inches from the north wall of my house between a dividing wall and the kitchen extension. It never has seen and never will see the sun. What it has is a quartz-halogen patio lamp on a time switch giving it two hours of high-intensity light a day.
“Surrounded by ferns and stocked with goldfish, it presents a delightful floodlit scene when viewed from the dining-room and kitchen windows – even when it’s raining.”
3. Include multiple levels
Many green fingered types want to install a pond in order to attract wildlife to their garden, as the water can attract lots of different types of insects and animals that may never venture into your yard otherwise. To make your pond really attractive to wildlife, though, you should plan it carefully and include useful features, such as a range of levels.
As Jeremy Biggs at The Garden Pond Blog explains, “Most garden ponds don’t have enough shallow water. The greatest variety (of) wildlife in ponds lives in the very shallow water and tadpoles, newt larvae, water beetles, dragonflies: all love these really shallow areas. A planting shelf that you see on many pre-formed liners is, as far as wildlife is concerned, deep water!
“Make as much shallow water as you can for the best wildlife ponds.”
4. Don’t use invasive plants
Certain species of plant are liable to take over your pond completely, and destroy the other plants that live there. Avoid introducing the following plants to your pond:
Canadian waterweed Elodea canadensis
• Carolina water-shield/fanwort Cabomba caroliniana
• Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa (marine algae/seaweed)
• Creeping water-primrose Ludwigia peploides
• Curly waterweed Lagarosiphon major (Elodea crispa)
• Duck potato Sagittaria latifolia
• Fallopia japonica x Fallopia sachalinensis
• False Hampshire-purslane Ludwigia x kentiana
• Few-flowered leek Allium paradoxum
• Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
• Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum
• Giant knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis
• Hottentot fig Carpobrotus edulis
5. Decide what you want from your pond
Keeping an open mind can be great when gardening, as you can adapt your yard as inspiration strikes. But when installing a pond, it’s good to have a rough idea of what you’re hoping to achieve at the beginning, so that you can incorporate the necessary elements as you plan the area.
- Do you want to attract wildlife?
- Would you like to keep koi carp in the pond?
- Are you hoping for a waterfall feature?
Getting an idea for how you want your pond to look will enable you to make decisions early on about the design of your pond, especially key elements which can have an impact later on down the line, like size and location. Browse sites like Pinterest for inspiration, or visit friends’ ponds, garden centres and parks to get some ideas together.
It may seem that there is lots to think about when planning a pond, but once you’ve got started you’re likely to be so excited and caught up with inspiration that it will seem much more like fun than work.
And there is so much helpful information out there on the internet, that you’re sure to be incredibly well informed on both creating and maintaining your pond before you even pick up a spade! If you ever have any questions, get in touch with me and I’ll help you out as best I can.