June 22, 2012

Making your dream garden pond

Over the past decade gardens have adopted a new role at home, one that which has meant it is now one of the most expensive parts of the home. With this we have seen the development of a theme which is known by the name of ‘water gardening’.

The main water feature to move into many people’s homes is the pond, and with thousands of people now having ponds in their back garden - and thousands more adding one every year - this article is aimed at giving you an easy to read guide to making your dream garden pond.

Planning is key

Bear in mind that the average pond size is only 10 x 15ft, which in essence isn’t that big at all! So you need to remember not to go and take over your whole garden with a new pond, in fact sometimes a smaller more appreciated one can do just the trick.

Remember to make a good plan before you start any practical work, think about how much of your garden you can really afford to lose and also how much money you can really afford to spend.

Designing your Pond

The design of your pond is entirely your choice but don’t go over the top! For example if you are looking at a fairly small pond there is no reason for a stream and a water feature, as it will probably over flow quickly in bad weather.

A common popular size for smaller, kidney shaped ponds usually is around 5ft x 8ft, but they can literally be any size you wish. You also need to think about whether you want a stream of some sort?

Normally this technique and type of pond is run off a power cable which is will need to plug into the house. The stream format comes by the water running over a large rock of some sort and dripping into the pool, the way this type of pond is built is using a hole in which is lined with rubber.

Start building your pond

Digging the hole

You should now be in a position to start creating your dream pond, now you know the size, and you have a good idea of what you want. The first thing you to do are lay out the size and shape of your pond (the perimeter).

I would strongly recommend that you use either a piece of rope or a garden hose for this, make sure you take your time and get it spot on, detail is key to make sure all is right before you begin digging.

Mark the outline of your pond next of all - using something like a piece of ground limestone will do the job - other alternatives include things such as a piece of chalk. You next need to excavate your pond! The usual depth you would take this too would be between 16 and 18 inches deep.

It is a good idea to pile your rubble around one end of the pond, this can be a great way of creating your waterfall. Then you need to dig another ten inches down in the centre of your pond, this will be where your pump will lay.

Next of all you need to line your hole with sand, don’t forget to make sure you do this under your pump pit as well - so it sits flat on the floor. Then screed the sand, this needs to be done well, ensure your sand is completely flat before going on to the next step.

To protect the pond liner you need to buy a geotextile fabric, buying a little bit more than you need is a good idea and something to remember while completing this task, because you need to remember that you must cover all aspects of your pond to keep it sealed - this must include your pump pit and the walls too.

The precautions in which I have just given you will protect your pond liner from punctures - which is the main failure of DIY garden ponds!

Make sure you lay the rubber correctly

This first step of laying the rubber is vital. You need to make sure that you fold the rubber liner length ways, next of all you need to centre this over the hole, and unfold your rubber liner to fit your pond - The liner must overlap equally on all sides of the pond.

You will then need to use your bare hands and feet in order to press your rubber liner into place, ensure that you make as much time and effort for it to fit as nicely as it possibly can. Next, slowly fill your centre pit with water using your garden hose, this will ensure that the rubber liner is held in place.

Positioning and placing the stone

You can select whatever stone you deem appropriate for you garden pond however it is not the best idea to spend lots of money on this, I advise a natural stone, yet not bank braking.

You undoubtedly are going to be handling a huge amount of stone when it comes to positioning, so save yourself as much time and energy as possible – It’s a good tip to ask the building merchant to drop all the stone off as close to your pond as possible - You don’t want to be doing more than you have too!

Start stacking the stone from the ‘plant shelf’ of your pond, or the pond floor, this process is to separate your pond and your pump pit. Remember that you need to stack the large stones with a foot wide layer along the wall. Be sure to overlap the stones within courses, and then I advise you fill all overwhelming gaps with the smaller stones.

The pumps position

Your pump should be within your centre pit, and this needs to be extended to the top of the hole. You need to then gently lay stones over the top of your hose, continue this process until the stones are level with the ground.

Align a single layer of stone on your pond floor ensuring that they are in fact flush with your centre pits edge. You need to then place one flat rock on the bottom of the pit; this will in fact act as a base for your pump.

Your pump needs connecting

First of all you need to set your pump on a flat stone and the bottom of you pond, this is what you then connect your hose too.

Before doing anything else you need to bring a qualified electrician to your site. The electrician will make sure you have a GFCI-protected electrical outlet which is also waterproof along with making sure you have a safe installation of your pump. Make sure you run the cable through reasonable sized gaps in your stone; make sure that it isn’t under any stones or at risk of being damaged.

Then fill your pond using your hosepipe to 3 or 4inches below the coping stones. You need to build your waterfall next, first make sure you flatten the stones, also known as coping stones, around the whole pond. You should probably create your waterfall at the rear end of your pond, stack the stones to create this, the usual size of a waterfall will be from 10 inches to 20 inches, so bear that in mind.

Place the waterfall weir on top of one of the large flat rocks; this also needs to be leaning slightly forward.

Connect the weirs hose into your pumps hose next; this should be coming out of your pond. You need to then trim your rubber liner until it matches the waterfall at the front of the weir. Then you need to attach them both together using screw on face plates.

Finally – Plugging your pond in

The next task you need to complete is to fill in all the spaces between the rocks and the pond floor, for this job I would advise you to use between 3 inch and 3 and a half inch river rocks, and then make sure you clean all of your rocks to make them beautiful and gleaming.

Finally you will need to again get the qualified electrician in - this is so you can connect your pump and hose together. By setting the stone on the bottom of the pit on the flat stone, your electrician should come and ensure a safe installation of everything for the final time.

Once you have filled your pond you can plug the pump in and before you know it you will be looking at your dream pond fully working in your back garden.

This article was provided by Ryan Hirst who writes helpful guides and tips for Eurofit Direct on their blog.


Phil Goold is a retired landscaper of 30 years. He loves being outside more than anything else, except maybe pie. He enjoys connecting with other landscapers and gardeners because everyone brings something new and fun to the table. Connect with Phil on Twitter and Google+.

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