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Pond Life!

Updated: May 23, 2018

Here is our quick guide to building your own garden pond.

small waterfall into carp pond with lily pads
Natural looking carp pond

A garden #pond is a great addition to any size garden. If you have little space a mini pond in a barrel, sink or even a tyre is a fun compact alternative. Take a look at the Goods Home Design guide to tyre ponds here for some ideas.


You can experiment with different shapes, sizes and colours of the edges.


recycled tyre pond with small fountain
Recycled Tyre Pond Credit: goodshomedesign.com

Having the sound of splashing and tinkling water in your garden is therapeutic and relaxing so you could add a water feature if you like. It is a common myth however that a pond will need a pump or aerator to stop it getting clogged with algae or smelling bad. If you design it right, with enough space and various levels for plants, a natural ecosystem will develop and the pond will manage it's own nutrient levels. There will be sludge at the bottom and it will smell but unless you go poking about in it it will remain undisturbed and you wont smell it all the time.


It is worth bearing in mind that if you do install an aerator you will increase the oxygen level and reduce anaerobic bacteria, this means the sludge at the bottom will degrade more slowly and you will need to get your wellies on and clean it out more often.


The best place for your pond is somewhere away from overhanging trees or shrubs as these could drop their old foliage and clog the water.


The first thing to do is decide on the shape of your pond (unless you are using a pre-formed pond liner or maybe a bathtub!). We like curvy lines here at Garden Barber as we like a more natural look and feel, however some designs call for straight edges and defined shapes.


Either way you will need to use either some string or hosepipe to define your shape, then get digging!


If you intend to put big #fish like #Koi in your pond you will need to dig the deepest part down to 3 feet at least. This gives the fish enough space to move around and prevents total freezing in the winter.


A #goldfish or #waterlily pond needs to be 2 feet deep at least.


What ever depth you choose, create level shelves at different depths for planting different #aquatic plants and to allow for #wildlife to climb in and out easily.


Line your dug out shape with sand or an old carpet to stop any interfering spikey stones inviting themselves to your pond party and spoiling it for everyone.


Unless you are super human it's likely you will need a bit of help to gently lay your pond liner in the hole. Use bricks or water filled bottles to weight it down while you carefully spread it out, try not to drag it.


The easiest way to edge your pond is with cemented stones. this creates a stable water edge for people to stand on without the sides crumbling in. Fill your pond with enough water so the liner is pulled fully in before you trim the edges of the liner leaving a 12 inch overlap.


There are a whole host of different styles to choose, from pebbles to great big york stone slabs.

You can choose to edge your pond with turf right up to the water line, this is more tricky and you will need at least 10 cm of soil depth for the turf to grow. It is best to use a non-rhizomatous grass to prevent it growing into the marginal plants and looking untidy pretty quickly. Some people build a small stone wall along the edge of the grass to add some stability to the soil and prevent it falling into the pond, the grass will soon grow over this and conceal it.


Now its time to choose your plants. Line the pond baskets with hessian and fill with aquatic compost and place them at the recommended depth, you might need to use bricks to lift some up if your shelves are not quite the right depth.


Whatever the depth and with or without a water feature, oxygenation plants will help to keep your water lovely and clear. We recommend submerged British natives such as

Ceratophyllum Demersum (Hornwort),

Myriophyllum Spicatum (Spiked Milfoil)

Potamogeton Crispus (Curled Pomdweed)

or even

Rorippa Nasturtium-Aquaticum (or Watercress to the rest of us!)


The best place to get these and ask for more detailed advice in our area is The Aquatic Warehouse, Birchall Ln, Cole Green, Hertford SG14 2NR 01707 391196



Don't worry if your pond looks a little mucky at first, the sediment will soon settle.


If you intend to add fish give your new pond six weeks to allow the plants to establish themselves before introducing your scaly swimmers, you don't want them to nibble off any young shoots before they even had a chance to grow!

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