Think your garden pond designs through.

I’m not going to do your garden pond designs for you here, but I hope I’m going to make you think about garden pond designs. The best person to design your pond is you, and you probably already have something in mind. I will give you the basic information you need, along with the trivia that so often gets overlooked. It’s the garden pond I’m dealing with here, but it’s not just the pond you should consider, what about the rest of your garden? Your pond is going to be the focal point, so it must blend in with the rest of the landscape. Design your whole garden now, or make sure your pond design fits into the existing landscape.


The location of your pond is important, but there is seldom the perfect place for a garden pond. Ideally your pond should be on level ground, if it’s not you should build up the low side. This will stop surface water running into the pond and polluting it. Your pond should be situated where it gets plenty of light, but needs some shade as well. Not enough light and your plants won’t do well, too much can give you algae problems. The best solution here is to go for the light, and include marginal and/or surface planting in your garden pond designs to provide some shade. You should avoid putting the pond under or near trees, especially deciduous trees. Leaf fall and tree roots will both cause you problems. Before you start digging make sure that you know where the gas, water and electric services to your house are. As you can see it’s all common sense, but it’s so easy to get things wrong. I know this from experience. I tell the story on a separate page.


Are you planning to keep fish? You don’t have to, maybe you want a wildlife pond, or a garden pond with just plants. Whatever you do, plan for it. Know what pond equipment you will require to create the right conditions for your stock. It’s better to incorporate pumps, filters, etc. in your garden pond designs now. If you add things later the piping and electrics can be harder to disguise, and can spoil the effect of the pond. There is no need to fit it all straight away, but plan for it. Pipes and cables can be pulled through pre-installed ducting at a later date if necessary. If you are going to keep fish in your pond, what type? Goldfish will live happily in most garden ponds, but Koi are not goldfish. They will destroy the plant life in a pond and they also need different filters. Fish have predators, you already know this, so work out how you can prevent them taking your fish. Cats just love a pond where they can sit on the edge and fish. Designing to prevent them sitting there will go a long way to solving the problem. Check what predators are likely to visit and design your pond accordingly, if at all possible.


The pond shape and size is determined by stock and personal choice. If you’re going to keep fish then the surface area will need to be considered. 1inch(2.5cm) of fish, (not including the tail), requires 24 square inches(60cm2) of surface area. This is the general rule. You should calculate the length of fish on the length they will reach when fully grown. However, this rule is not set in stone and a lot depends on the pond equipment you use. I recommend a minimum depth of 24inches(60cm) for a fishpond. For a Koi pond the deeper the better. The art of fish keeping is maintaining a balanced pond, and this is based around the oxygen content of the water. Adding a feature such as a fountain or waterfall to your garden pond designs, will help to maintain oxygen levels by aerating the water.


I will not go into great detail here, see my page on plants for specific information on these. You will need to make provision for the different types of plants you want to use in your garden pond designs. These fall into the five categories listed here:-

Submerged/ Oxygenators. Planted in baskets on the bottom of the pond.

Water Marginals. Planted in baskets on a shelf six to nine inches from the surface.

Surface Plants. Planted in baskets in the pond but float on the surface i.e. water lilies.

Floating Plants Float free on the surface.

Bog Plants. Planted at waters edge.


Understanding the life cycle of a pond is essential to garden pond designs. Before building you should decide on the pond equipment you require. and how you will stock your pond in order to keep your pond balanced. Below is a very brief description of the pond life cycle.

Your pond at the start has no life, it’s just a tank of water. When you add life, be it fish and or plants, they will start to generate waste. As the waste decomposes it produces Nitrite. The good bacteria that live on the Nitrite start to grow, and converts it to Nitrate. Plants as we all know, use Nitrate. The thing that fuels it all is Oxygen. The oxygenating plants produce oxygen, hence we have a full circle. Overstocking with fish, and/or not enough plants will deplete the oxygen, causing problems. Design to aid this process by including a simple biological filter, and adding some form of aerating feature, Eg a fountain, to your garden pond designs. Introduce your stock slowly, giving the bacteria time to develop. Not overstocking and regular maintenance goes a long way in helping to keep your pond in balance, so that you can relax and enjoy your garden pond.


Do use a qualified electrician to install a power point close to your pond if it’s needed. Always use a safety trip on electrical equipment used in and around your pond.

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