Pond Design Tips
Most people who have ponds will tell you that they get immense satisfaction and enjoyment from their pond (or ponds in many cases). People will often spend hours just relaxing by the pond enjoying the sights and sounds of the fish and wildlife that inhabit or visit the pond. A well designed pond will bring you satisfaction for many years to come. Here are some pond design tips to help you create the perfect pond for your back yard.
There are basically three types of ponds that people generally build:
- PLANT PONDS – ponds designed for plants only, fish. Usually built by avid gardeners who want to try growing new types of plants. These pond have little or no circulation and filtration
- WATER GARDENS – Ponds designed for a combination of plants and fish. This is the type most people picture when they think of ponds, moderate size and depth.
- KOI PONDS- ponds designed for only koi, usually with no plants. Often, serious aquarists build these ponds (it is much easier than building a 10,000 gallon aquarium). These ponds are designed larger and deeper than most water gardens and have large filtration systems.
There are no set rules that defines each of these types of ponds, and quite often one type of pond overlaps with, or ‘evolves’ into another.
Pond Design Tips To Consider Before Beginning Construction
- SIZE – WHEN PLANNING YOUR POND – MAKE IT AS LARGE AS POSSIBLE!! I cannot stress this point enough. Probably the biggest regret most pond owners have is that they did not build their pond big enough. One customer relayed this advice that was given to him while he was planning his pond: Plan your pond, then double the size. He said it was the best advice anyone ever gave him.
- DEPTH – It is important to make your pond adequately deep, even if you are not building a large pond. Shallow ponds tend to heat up too much in the summer months and freeze solid in the winter. The minimum deepest point for any pond should be 24″. If you are planning on putting goldfish in the pond make at least 36″. Ponds for koi should be a minimum 48″ to give them adequate room to grow and properly develop. People often don’t think that they are going to put fish in their pond, but 9 times out of 10 they end up with goldfish and koi in small shallow ponds.
- FILTRATION – Probably the most important component of a pond is the filter, and most people have filters that are undersized for the pond volume or the amount of fish present in the pond. A properly sized filter means better water quality, healthier fish and less maintenance for you! If you can afford it, step up to the next biggest filter that you are planning to buy, you won’t regret it.
- SHELVES – Shelves for plants are not a critical in pond design, but having shelves is much easier than trying to arrange your plants on blocks or upside-down pails. Having shelves at various depths allows for placement of plants that have different requirements. Make the first shelf 12″ deep for most marginal plants, 24″ deep is great for most submerged plants and water lilies (36″ for large varieties). Having shelves deeper than 36″ is not usually necessary.
Common Misconceptions About Ponds
Pre-Formed Pond Are Easier to Install Than a Liner
Not only is it easier to build a pond with rubber liner than a preformed rigid pond, you can make it look much more natural and make it any size, shape and depth. The majority of preformed ponds are 18″ to 22″ deep, plus you have to dig a hole to fit the exact shape of the shell.
Ponds Require a lot of Maintenance
- A well designed and equipped pond does not require that much maintenance. Having the proper sized pump and filter make a world of difference. There is always some extra work in the spring getting your pond started up, but most people look forward to working outside after a long winter. The most common problem in the spring is battling with string algae or free floating algae, but these can be controlled fairly easily. Once the pond has reached a ‘biological balance’ the summer months often go quite smoothly with often biweekly filter cleaning. Again in the fall there is extra work making sure the pond is free from tree leaves and excess organic matter for the winter.
Plants & Koi Don’t Mix
Although it is true that koi will sometimes eat the roots of floating plants or the new growth of water lilies, this usually only happens only some of the time. On the other hand, koi do love to ‘root around’ in newly potted plant, they can empty a pot of almost all the soil in a few hours causing very murky pond water. That is why it is a good idea to put a layer of gavel on top of all new plants, the bigger your fish the bigger the gravel. The roots will soon fill the pot preventing the koi from doing any harm.