Top 10 Tips to Building a Pond
Your spouse has mentioned that she would like to have a pond in the garden. The weekend has arrived so you can occupy your time by building a pond. How hard can it be to dig a hole and fill it with water? You have visited the local gardening shop to pick up some information on building ponds and landscaping. You’ve looked over the information and believe you are ready to get your shovel and start digging. If you’re lucky, your helpmate will stick around to help.
1. Measure the area for your pond. When digging the hole for the pond, make it a little larger than measured to allow for several layers of lining materials. Sloping sides rather than steep will ensure that your lining materials won’t slide out of position. Use a thin layer of sand or underlay on all sides of the hole before adding the liner. Doing so will stop stones or roots from tearing holes in the liner and causing leaks.
2. Make several small holes in the bottom of the pond before adding the underlay and liner. These holes mark the spots where you want to set plants. Add the underlay and liner then set the plants, still in pots, into the small holes. Cover the bottom of the pond with a layer of prewashed river sand. The last layer to be added to the pond is a layer of pebbles to cover the sand. Your plants look as though they are actually planted in the pond. No one is aware that you were too lazy to take the plants out of the pots.
3. To make the pond look as though a natural rock barrier is holding the water in the pond, build a shelf rimming the pond. Create a ledge around the edge of the pond about 3 inches below the desired water level. Add the rocks and backfill with soil. Now it looks like a natural pond.
4. If you like to watch wildlife, create a sand covered beach on one area side of the pond. The beach should have a gradual slope into the water where the wildlife can access the water. Try to provide an area where birds have a view from the beach and can see if the neighbor’s cat is sneaking up on them.
5. The secret to building a really durable pond is to plaster the liner with 1 to 1.25 inches of mortar. A mix of 1 part cement,1 part building sand and 2 parts river sand add a waterproofing agent. Make the mix pliable by using only enough water so you can work the mixture. You will need to line the pond with this mixture in one go. If you stop after beginning to spread the mixture over the pond lining then start again, you will create a weak spot in the lining.
6. To build a durable pond that will not leak, use mortar to line the pond and take these extra precautions. Different materials expand and contract at different rates. Over time, cracks will appear between the rocks and mortar on the rim of the pond, and eventually leaks will occur. You can build a pond for your garden with natural rock that won’t crack.
After applying the mortar to the pond lining, spread a thick layer of mortar on the ledge where the rocks are to be placed. Next lay plastic wrap over the mortar and place the rocks on the plastic pushing down firmly on each rock to imprint the shape of the rocks into the mortar. Take away the rocks and plastic after giving the mortar a chance to dry. Store the rocks in sequential order so that you can put them back in the same order.
Spread a nontoxic silicone sealant over the mortar and place each rock in its own imprint. Noone will be able to see the seal. If you don’t use a nontoxic sealant, any fish you introduce to the pond will die.
The rocks are now permanently affixed, and the pond is leak free. Wait until the silicone is completely dry before you add water to the pond. This method takes a lot of patience, but is worth doing.
7. If you are installing a fountain, you need a pump that is the recommended size for your pond. When picking out a pump for your pond, considering buying one a size larger than you need. You can reduce the flow if it’s too fast. If you get a pump and the flow is too slow, you cannot increase the flow. Use a piece of nylon stocking, or double folded cheesecloth, over the pump intake. This will prevent dirt getting into the pump. This will extend the life of your pump. Check the piece of fabric often and replace as needed.
8. You might want to place a piece of decorative statuary or large plant in front of your ugly pump. If your wife has to look at the unsightly pump, she won’t be happy. It will cancel out the natural look of her garden pond. Consider camouflaging the water outlet by letting the water bubble from under some pebbles.
9. To make the pond look more natural, use three different sizes of pebbles. You can place a few bigger rocks randomly in the pond. A nice rock sticking above the water will give birds a spot to land.
10. Your pond will remain healthy if you add water every couple of weeks. You can add an overflow area by digging a hole and lining it with an extra piece of pond liner. Using a pitch fork, punch some holes in the lining and fill the hole with bog material.
Perhaps you and your wife can sit in her romantic garden and dream about future projects for the garden, or how about building a pond in front of the house?
For more information about building a pond for your garden, or if you require pond plants and fish contact Wayne at Perry’s Aquatic Centre near Lincoln. He has over 20 years experience of fish keeping and is always happy to help.