Back to basics with pond building

Have you always dreamt of having a pond in your garden? Eager to set one up but not sure how? We’ve put together a short guide to help get you started!

Having a pond offers all sorts of benefits to the wildlife that visit or live in your garden, and allows you to experiment with aquatic, water-loving plants. You can keep your pond natural and let it do ‘its own thing’ or create a home for beautiful fish with the addition of a filter system.

Firstly, you’ll need to decide on the position and size of your pond – and take your time with this as once it’s in, it’ll take quite some effort to move! Try and position your pond in a sunny place as this will be better for the plants and wildlife, but if this isn’t possible and you need to place it in a shady area, try and avoid places where lots of leaves fall – otherwise you’ll be spending much of your time fishing these out!

Mark out the shape you want using string, pegs or chalk, or if you are using a preformed pond simply move it around until you are happy with the look. Make sure you consider the position from all angles and from different sections of the garden, making sure it fits with the flow and overall style.

Now it’s time to find your spade and get digging. If you want your pond to be a haven for wildlife, you’ll need to ensure the middle area is at least two or three feet deep, which will give creatures enough depth for hibernation during the colder months. From the deepest part, work your way outwards creating gently sloping sides that make the pond shallower as you work outwards, which will ensure creatures can get in and out of your pond safely. If you plan on having plants in your pond, you may want to shape out little steps that you can fix pots to once the pond is filled. For those of you using a preformed pond, simply follow the design and infill the hole in places if the plastic is sitting out of level.

With the shape and depth sorted, you’ll need to line your pond – those of you using a preformed pond can skip this step. To ensure you buy enough underlay and liner (butyl rubber is used traditionally, but some modern PVC’s are much stronger) make sure you have accurate measurements of your pond’s maximum depth and length. When it comes to fitting the lining, you’ll want to choose a nice still day and have plenty of willing helpers! Place your underlay over the hole and then open out the liner and lie it on top. To get the liner in place, using water is the easiest way – smoothing and folding the lining as the water level rises. Try and make your folds neat and simple, especially as you reach to top of the pond.

Now that the pond is full you can cut off the excess lining – but leave an extra foot (that will lie horizontally) all the way around. Next, using the soil you originally dug out for the pond, create a gentle slope upwards from the edges of the pond out, covering the liner as you go. At this stage it may get a little muddy, but don’t worry!

Before you start planting, wait a few days for the sediment to settle. Now is the fun part! You can add all sorts of plants to your pond, but our recommendations are:

Floating plants: hornwort, ivy-leaf duckweed and water soldier.

Marginals: water forget-me-not, brooklime, spearwort and water plantain.

When it comes to ‘planting’ these, floating plants are simply placed in the water, while marginal will need their roots holding down in contact with the subsoil, which can be done by using a rock. If you want lilies in your pond, start with a small one.

Once you’ve planted up, simply leave your pond to do its thing! The water will likely turn green, but once wildlife has started to make its home, you’ll be amazed how quickly the water becomes clear.

When it comes to maintaining your pond, read our handy blog on helping your pond through the winter. If you need any more advice setting up a pond, or if you already have a pond but it is in need of some help, please do pick up the phone and call us, or pop in store so we can help.