Boost your garden… with a pond

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Any garden owner will agree that the additional greenery, foliage and colourful florals definitely add a unique element to their yard – and their house. 

A lot of people go one step further to make their garden spring to (literal) life – they add a pond. And whether or not they add some fish, a pond is still a cool and fresh encouragement for the essential pollinators (bees, birds and butterflies) and additional creature friends to make their garden their preferred hangout. 

However, adding a garden pond requires much more than digging a hole and turning on the hose. So, before you start planning which stone statues would look divine next to your new garden feature, read through our guide to see what you’ll need (and what you must do) to acquire a stone-lined, waterfall-blessed, fabulous-looking garden pond.

1. Location, location, location

The first and foremost consideration is location. Where your garden pond is located will impact on your enjoyment, as well as the amount of maintenance required. 

Consider: 

• Access to electricity and water. 

• Sunlight (this is important for water plants and fish). 

• The views from your patio/terrace.   

• Views from inside your house. 

• Placement on a slope (ideal if you want to add a waterfall). 

• The best reflection for the water (test your location with a mirror first).

Avoid: 

• Overhead trees (think about leaf littering). 

• Low-lying areas (flooding and pollution).

2. Sizing and digging

You don’t have to create your very own lake in your backyard. The average garden pond measures about 3 x 5 m, but you are free to amend the dimensions to fit your garden.

Some designs showcase water trickling down a long, winding stream before flowing into the pond. Many smaller ponds don’t have streams, and have water bubbling over a large flat rock and spilling directly into the pond (a much easier option to build, as it is basically just a hole lined with rubber, plus some tubing and a pump with a power cord connecting to the house).

To start, lay out the perimeter in your pond location using rope or a garden hose. Mark the outline with ground limestone and then start digging. Dig to a depth of about 40 cm, piling the dirt at the pond’s rear, where the waterfall will be placed. Right in the pond’s centre, dig down another 25 cm to form a pit for the pump.

3. A foundation of sand and rubber

country Garden by FLORERA , design and realisation gardens and other outdoor spaces.
FLORERA , design and realisation gardens and other outdoor spaces.

landscape garden with ponds for koi- nature rich garden in The Netherlands- landschappelijke tuin met koi vijvers-natuurrijke tuin met koi.

FLORERA , design and realisation gardens and other outdoor spaces.

Next, line the dug hole and pit with screened masonry sand and rake it smooth. On top of the sand, place the geo-textile fabric that protects the pond liner – the sand and geo-textile will cushion the flexible rubber liner and protect it from punctures. Make sure it’s big enough to cover the bottom of the hole, the pump pit and the pond’s walls. 

Fold the rubber liner lengthwise, centre it over the hole and unfold it (it should overlap equally on all sides). Using your hands and bare feet, carefully press the liner into the hole. When done, use a garden hose to fill only the centre pit with water to hold the liner in place.

4. Some stones for the bottom

Start stacking stones on your pond floor, which we’ll call the plant shelf (to differentiate it from the pump pit). Place the stones in a ruler-wide (30 cm) layer along the wall. Overlap the stones between courses and fill up any considerable gaps with smaller stones.  

homify hint: Safety first! A pond gleaming with fish and frogs is sure to attract small children. Consider adding a quaint little fence. Remember that a pond adjacent to a path can also pose a tripping hazard, especially at night, so illuminate your pond area with some low-voltage lights. 

See Lovely Garden Lights for some exterior lighting inspiration.

5. If you want a waterfall you’ll need a pump

Place the pump’s hose in position so that it extends from the centre pit to the top of the hole. Place the stones carefully over the hose, and continue stacking until the stones are even with the ground. 

Set a single layer of flat stones along the plant shelf, aligning them with the edge of the centre pit. Place one flat rock in the pit’s bottom to serve as a base for the pump. 

homify hint: Beware when using pesticides or chemicals near your pond. Water draining from the ground carries the chemicals, which can drift into your pond. Small ponds cannot easily dilute toxic chemicals.

6. Large flat rocks for the perimeter

Set large, flat rocks (called coping stones) around the perimeter. Build a pile of stones at the rear of the hole to form the waterfall (aim for about 30 – 46 cm above the water level). 

Set the waterfall weir in place on top of a large, flat rock (the spillway stone) that is tipped forward slightly. Connect the weir’s hose to the pump’s hose leading out of the pond. Trim the rubber pond liner to match the waterfall gap at the weir’s front, then attach the liner to the weir using its screw-on faceplate. 

Fill around the weir with dirt and continue piling rocks around the waterfall area. Place a rock on top of the weir to hide it. Once all the stones around the weir are set, secure them with waterproof black foam sealant. Remember to apply a thin line of the sealant under the lip of the waterfall to glue it to the spillway. 

See how the garden and landscape professionals make magic when it comes to gardens!

7. Plugging in your pond

Fill up the spaces between the pond floor stones with about 8 cm of river rock. Afterwards, wash down the stonework around the entire pond and pump the dirty water from the pit. 

Connect the pump to its hose and place the pump on the flat stone in the bottom of the pit. Be sure to check with an electrician if your pump and power cord installations are correct and safe, and that your cord isn’t damaged under a stone. Use a hose to fill the pond to within 7—10 cm of the coping stones.  

Once your pond is filled, plug it in – a few seconds later, water should gently start spilling out of the weir.

8. Kick it up a notch

But don’t just leave your pond with its few stones as is. Make it the main feature of your garden – you are spoiled for choice when it comes to fountains, pots, statues, flowers, etc. that can serve as breathtaking inspiration for your pond.

Think of your garden pond as a mini-ecosystem. Different plants provide food for different animals, and they also supply oxygen. Mix up your plants for some diversity. Aim for a good combination of submerged and emerged plants, foliage with floating leaves as well as those that grow out of the water.  

Ponds also attract wildlife – mammals, birds, bugs, frogs and other creatures will eventually show up, making your pond an exciting gathering spot between fauna and flora. 

The flat stones on your pond’s floor will provide hiding space from predators (such as cats and herons). Avoid large paving around your pond if you want it to be a creature hotspot – frogs can stick to the hot stones, causing them to dehydrate. 

homify hint: Balance is key. Determine how many fishes and aquatic plants you can put into your pond proportionate to its size, and don’t add any more. Nature will take its course and very soon your garden pond will be thriving!

And there you have it – your very own pond for a supreme garden attraction. What other creative ideas do you have for a water pond? 
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