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A Guide to Garden Ponds

15:26 Fri 09th Jul 2010 |

A pond can be a very appealing feature in any garden. Whether it is big or small, a well-kept water feature offers a lot: the relaxing tinkling of a fountain or fall, a focal point with a surface that reflects your plants wonderfully, a home for frogs and a feeding spot and watering hole for birds and other wildlife.

Building your own pond might seem like a task for a professional landscape gardener, but in fact you can do it yourself in the space of a weekend. With our quick and eay guide, you'll be landscaping like the Groundforce tem in no time!

  • Choose your site. The ideal spot is a shaded area, to help avoid too much evaporation, but not directly under trees because falling leaves can poison the water as they decompose.
  • Choose your liner. Rigid or flexible?
  • A Rigid Liner is like a big plastic paddling pool. Lay it on the ground and mark round it with paint or pegs, staying about six inches from the lip. Dig a hole as close to the shape of your markings and depth of the liner as possible. Line the bottom and sides with a layer of sand. Place the liner onto the sand, making sure it is level with the ground. Refill the remaining hole with earth.
  • A Flexible Liner is a sort of heavy plastic sheet and allows you to make your pond any shape you want. Mark out your design and dig around the edge down to about nine inches to create a ‘shelf’ on which to put plants. Measure in another nine to ten inches and then dig to the desired depth. Scour the resulting hole for sharp stones or roots that might puncture your lining. Pour a layer of sand into the bottom and pat it up the sides, then mould the liner to the shape of your pond and fill with water. Trim off the excess plastic, leaving a six-inch lip.
  • Edge the pond with stones, slabs or turf.
  • A water pump will help to keep the pond aerated and fresh. Pumps are easy to install, and a wide variety of models is available from your local garden centre. The one you choose should move at least half the pond’s total volume of water.

Caring for your pond

Late autumn and early winter is the time to clear debris from your pond and change its water, so that it’s healthy when nature comes back to life in the spring.

Dirty water is an absolute no-no. It prevents aquatic plants growing, can cause distress or kill your pond’s fish and will repel amphibians like newts and frogs (who should be welcomed because they eat slugs and snails).

Around April, turn your attention to the pond’s plant life, removing weeds and dead and unhealthy plants from the edge and thin out the healthy ones to encourage growth. But remember that the plants must be abundant enough to shade the pond’s surface from direct sunlight. Water forget-me-nots, irises and marsh marigolds are classic marginal plants for the damp, boggy parts around the pond.

Ensure some of the plants in the pond are oxygenators – types that live almost completely under water, producing oxygen to keep water healthy. Curly water thyme and parrot's feather are widely available and attractive. Be careful when choosing. Some aquatic plants are highly invasive when they escape from the garden, clogging up rivers and streams.

Water lilies in their many varieties and water hawthorn are both lovely and provide shade for the pond’s surface.

Rising temperatures and the introduction of nutrients with the first fish feeds of the year both encourage your pond’s worst enemy: algae. It can be long and stringy, short and furry, or in a web. Too much is ugly and smelly. So make sure your pump’s filter is clean and the pond is well planted so that the flora will take the nutrients that the algae needs to thrive. Don’t worry about a little algae. It gives a natural appearance to a pond and attracts insects that fish can feed on.

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