Designing your Pond

Designing your pond is an essential part of the process and one which make the process easier and the result more spectacular, but what pond design considerations do you need to think about when drawing up the initial design.  I will try to offer some advice regarding some general pointers but at the end of the day it is your pond and you can created it however, wherever and what ever shape you want. I personally had a reason for my pond, I had space behind my garage which couldn't be used for very much else so decided to put a pond there. Therefore at the initial stages of building my pond I really did not have any consideration for what an ideal pond required, only what space I wanted to use and how I wanted the pond to look. There were many problems along the way such as over zealous garage foundations, and the realisation that fish needed a certain depth and Koi needed more, Koi will eat your plants etc etc. All stuff that you will learn on the way, as you build and maintain your pond.

I would say it can be more enjoyable learning much of the pond keeping knowledge gradually as you become more and more involved with your project. However there are a number of areas which I can hopefully help you with, which can not be easily rectified after the pond is built. Like the size, depth, layout and location of the pond. And if you have a bit of freedom on where, what shape and what size you want your pond these tips may help you with the planning. 

Location and layout of the pond design

The location should not be too sunny as this encourages blanket weed (green slimy weed which can take over your pond). But to be honest there are measures you can take if your pond is in the sun all day, such as planting water lillys to cover some of the surface area. My pond is roughly half and half, but my other neighbour’s pond is in the sun most of the day and neither suffer too much from blanket weed. 

Try not to put it under a tree as the leaves will drop in and cause unnecessary waste in the pond, but once again this is not a show stopper, the additional ammonia produced from this waste can be counter balanced by having less fish, a bigger filter or fishing them out before they rot. 

Bare in mind the safety of children!! whether this be with a fence , some form of cover or designing it so know one is likely to fall in.

Once you have decided on a position most people suggest using a length of string, cord or hose pipe to mark out the desired shape of the pond. It is recommended that you try to avoid acute angles as gentle curving shapes look better and allow easy laying of the lining material. But at the end of the day chose a shape that fits in with your garden a bit of extra work during the creation will be well worth it when your get the exact pond that you want. My pond is full of angles and although you get more creases in your lining once the water is in most of them are flattened down anyway, and the rest just provide ledges for pond life to inhabit. 

Size and depth of the pond 

The general rule for size is the bigger the better with regards to the health of your fish. Koi require deeper ponds of around 100cm and above (the water temp does not fluctuate as much when it is this deep) and the more hardy fish such as goldfish, shubumpkins, tench etc who only require it to be about 60-70cm deep. The overall size largely depends on the size of your garden, for a koi pond it should be at least 500 gallons, although this is not set in stone. At the end of the day the bigger and deeper the pond the better, but if you are restricted by size or do not want the pond to take over your whole garden do it as big as you want.

I would recommend deciding up front whether you want to keep Koi carp or not, if you don’t want to then as long as the pond is a reasonable size and about 70-90 cm deep then you will be fine. One recommendation though would be to make sure you go and see a few Koi. You will then get a feel as to how big these fish grow and will know whether you want them in your pond. The reason I say this is because I built my pond with the intention of not having Koi but as soon as I saw them I wanted one in my pond, luckily it just meets the basic size requirements for them, although I may have problems when it gets to full size, which is why a pond extension is already in the pipeline. Also just a quick note, although koi are supposed to keep growing no matter how small the pond is, from my experience if once they get to a certain size appropriate to the pond their growth rate definitely slows down.

Choose your pond liner construction 

There are many options when it comes to choosing what to make you pond out of but unless you have a specific reason for a particular method I would recommend just going with a pond liner and buying the best quality one you can afford. Also remember you can usually get liners that come with various guarantee length such as 10 or 20 years. These are often the same liner so as long as you install it properly and do everything you can to reduce the risk of damage such as adding a layer of sand and or foam/carpet along with a good quality underlay you such have a liner that will last as long as you want it too. Other materials for pond construction such as Fibreglass and Plastic moulded can be more expensive and you are restricted to the shapes and sizes available. Concrete is also an option but from what i have heard these can be hard to get right and require a lot of work and products to get them watertight and not to crack so are not generally recommended.

Consider what Edging technique your are going to use 

How you are going to edge your pond is also an essential thing that you need to consider before starting to build your pond, as the method you choose will determine how the pond is constructed. Click here for a few ways I have seen and used.