Our friends at Harper's Statuary and Water Gardens can help you every step of the way. The following are some points that they feel are important to consider during the planning stages of your pond, waterfall, or fountain.
When you are trying to decide on the size of your pond, Doug Harper's advice is to build the largest pond that you can afford. Larger ponds are easier to maintain and in their experience, "most people that install a small pond are always wishing it were bigger."
The depth of the pond depends on several factors. If you only want a reflecting pond, 12 inches is deep enough. If you want a fish pond and/or water lilies, then 18-24 inches is a good depth. If you plan on keeping large fish such as koi, an area 3 feet deep is usually recommended.
Contrary to what you may think, a low spot in your yard is the worst place to put a pond. Low spots collect run-off which may include fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides which you definitely don't want in your pond and neither do your fish!
The folks at Harper's recommend that you place your pond where it will receive 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. Any less than this, and your lilies and other sun-loving plants will not bloom well, if at all. Placing your pond in a shaded area surrounded by trees will also create problems from leaves dropping in and decaying in the water.
Most importantly, put your pond in an area where you can enjoy it and where water and electricity are accessible.
According to Harper's, both of these types of pond liners work well and come with a 20 year life expectancy.
- Flexible liners tend to look more natural and are usually more economical than preformed liners. A flexible liner allows you to customize your pond's shape and depth and many people find the flexible liner easier to install.
- Preformed liners are very sturdy and most come with built-in plant shelves. All preformed ponds are 18" deep. They work exceptionally well if you decide to create a raised pond rather than an in-ground pond. The preformed liner will retain its shape without requiring strong retaining walls for support.
It is important to include a pump and filter in the planning of your pond. For the healthiest conditions, all of the water in your pond should circulate every 1-2 hours. According to the experts at Harper's, many people make the mistake of getting a pump and/or filter that is too small for their pond. This results in problems, frustration, and additional maintenance.
- The size pump you need depends upon the type of water feature you are planning to install. A simple pond does not require as large a pump as a pond that includes a waterfall.
- Filters aid tremendously in keeping the water in your pond clear and should be selected to be compatible with your pump.
Properly set up, your pond should become a small, self-contained ecosystem. Keeping your pond balanced requires that you have the following things in place:
- Surface plants for shade. These plants offer essential shade for your pond and a hiding place for fish. Water lilies or other aquatic plants with leaves should cover 50-70% of the surface of your pond. This shades the pond, keeping the water cooler, and deprives algae of the sunlight and extra heat which it needs to flourish.
- Submerged plants are essential. They consume the excess nutrients in the pond, robbing algae of fertilizer. They offer protection and shelter for fish, and provide an excellent place for them to spawn. Also, submerged plants attract dirt, creating a natural filtration system.
- The proper number of fish. In stocking a new pond, the usual recommendation is for no more than one inch of fish per square foot of pool surface area. Established pools may have a maximum stocking level of 2-3 inches per square foot of pool surface area. It is important to closely monitor this.
- Filtration and beneficial bacteria. Harper's has found that in addition to the above suggestions, adequate filtration and the use of beneficial bacteria products, such as Microbe-Lift, greatly help algae problems. We also use Algae Fix, which can provide a "quick fix" and kill the algae until the beneficial bacteria establishes.
For more great water gardening tips and information on creating a successful water feature in your landscape, visit Harper's Water Garden Center!