An informal pond design can allow you to create a very lush garden pond. Plus you will benefit from a semi-natural looking environment for your wildlife or fish. Which creates an aesthetically backdrop for your garden.
You need to have quite a large amount of space for even a modest size of pond for fish. Because you need to have room for the planting and rock work around the pond. As well as having a large enough water volume for the fish that you want to keep.
Space can be important if you have a boring fence or wall to the garden that you want to hide. By moving the pond a little away from the boundary you can build up a lush backdrop. That will effectively hide the boundary and give a much more luxuriant setting for the pond. There is no reason why you cannot create whatever setting you desire.
A informal pond design will brightened up any dull looking corner.
Informal pond designs give you an area of tranquility and respite, ideal for a relaxing few minutes feeding the fish after a busy day at work.
The description of a pool as being informal can be quite misleading. Most pools are not informal but in fact very formal. Designing an informal pond is much easier. This garden pond style works well but can be quite difficult to incorporate into a formal setting. As the informal pond would need to blend in to the rest of the hard landscaping.
Informal Fish Pond Shapes
The shape of the water is not the main thing to focus on. However if you already have a formal pool. Its easy to make it more informal with the use of soft landscaping (plants). So that they work together to produce a pleasing informal design. Of course you can incorporate some large feature stones or bigger plants to break up the hard lines. Within reason when building a new pond you can design it any shape you want. It’s essential that the design is balanced and works coherently.
Bear in mind that fish will grow and so it is essential that the pond is large enough to house its residents right through their lives without them becoming cramped or the pond overstocked. This is one of the biggest mistakes many pond owners make and is especially a problem with informal designs where the water volume can actually be relatively small for a large feature. Basic rules of koi keeping still apply and need to be designed into the project. Having said that a informal koi pond is certainly possible.
Bear in mind that everything should be in keeping. So the size of the fish, the pool dimensions, the planting and the size of the stones used need to be balanced to enhance the overall design.
It is very hard to create an informal pond design with concrete. As this material, especially when reinforced, is not easy to work into the smooth flowing shapes that this style of pond requires.
Similarly, fibreglass ponds, especially pre-formed models, constrain the design of the pool. Much better to use a 1mm EPDM butyl liner which can be moulded to a much wider range of shapes. The flexibility of a liner allows such a wide range of designs and features to be incorporated. From pebble beaches gently disappearing into a pool of water, to custom waterfalls and cascades. The possibilities are limitless!
Choosing a preformed informal pond design.
Be careful about the size. Very often preformed ponds can look much bigger in the shop, than they do back home. Especially as they often have an edge around the outside. This increases the size in the water garden section but it does nothing for the water capacity.
As a minimum, any pond (Informal Ponds or Formal pools) that is being designed to house fish in the UK. Should have a depth of at least 18 inches for goldfish and for koi look for a minimum depth of 3 feet (for the fish to be happy).
Any informal fishpond design should aim to have a minimum surface area of around 20 square feet (2 square meters). If you want to keep koi then the size needs to be much bigger (10 square meters) for keeping them much happier long term.
These volumes and depths will ensure the fish are safe from rapid changes in temperature, freezing of the pond in the winter and allowing good exchange of oxygen at the water surface.
For more information on best pond shapes and pond depths click here
Think about the electrical needs of the pond design
Before totally finishing the pond shapes and design think about what electrics you are going to need. What are you going to want or need to install around the pond. This is especially important if you want to keep fish and they may need a powered pond filter, but also take into account any lighting or perhaps waterfalls or fountains that you want to incorporate.
Citing the electrical cables and the equipment is important and needs to be built into the design. We always recommend that the electrics should be easily accessible and be able to be removed once the pond has been constructed.
It may seem like a good idea to run a cable under the rock work to keep it out of sight, but what then happens if it needs replacing at a later date? There are plenty of ways of concealing cables without making a rod for your own back at some point in the future.
Digging out an informal pond
Before starting to excavate the informal pond design. Think about the various levels and build in the need depth for any paving or decking you might want around the pond. You want the different elements to blend in seamlessly and you cannot achieve this if the sitting area around the pond is not at the right level.
We always run the liner under the leading edge of stonework to help conceal it and keep the levels correct. Check your levels and then check them again! Water will always find its natural level even if your pond is out by a few millimetres!
Designing and planning the hard landscaping of your informal pond
Stonework can be very heavy and so bear in mind. That you need to think about how you are going to move and position them. You don’t want to be in the position where you are struggling to move large stones and unable to get them positioned exactly right. It might take several people to move even a modestly sized stone. Plus if you are not completely happy with the positioning, then keep adjusting it until you get it right. For large stones, specialist machinery and handling equipment might be required to move them around the site. So planning in advance here is the key here. Even staging the rocks in a holding area needs thought.
Stones can be positioned in and around the pond, perhaps creating a waterfall, breaking up the outline of a formal pool or being partially submerged. Bear in mind that some stone is more resistant to frost damage and freezing than others. This will have a major bearing upon the materials that you can use.
Designing the soft landscaping in and around your informal pond.
When choosing the plants for your backdrop remember that you want to have some structure and colour year round. Incorporating plants such as the New Zealand Flax is ideal. As it brings structure and interest 12 months of the year. Low maintenance evergreen plants are also useful for building up the structure of the backdrop. One key point is not to over-plant the backdrop unless you want a jungle feel.
Having too many plants crowding each other will lead to a lot more work. As they draw water and nutrients from the soil and start to compete for light. Better to have a few well-chosen plants than to plant too heavily at the beginning. Also bear in mind the location and exposure that the plant is likely to endure. Delicate plants, such as Japanese Maples, do not take kindly to an exposed position, and will not thrive when in direct sunlight or strong winds.
The planting of the pond will very much set the scene for the design. So consider what it is that you like. It could be a tropical-style design, or perhaps more of a temperate stream. By deciding upon the planting style that you want and then matching this to the design of the pond. The hard materials used you can create a design that works harmoniously together.
Softened the hard edges and straight lines, especially where stonework comes up out of the water. A way to quickly fill the gaps is growing low-growing plants such as creeping jenny as it will spread. The rocks can also quickly develop a natural covering of moss that softens the materials as they start to weather and blend into the landscape.
Looking after your new made informal pond design.
When designing your informal garden pond think about how you are going to be able to maintain it. Try to avoid difficult to reach areas. That will be treacherous to reach if you need to clean fallen leaves or trim back plants during the winter months.
Bear in mind that your pond should be used 12 months of the year. So take into account how it will look and how you can use it in the winter months. Ever green ponds are used year round. These ponds are much more likely to be maintained properly. Most garden ponds in the uk are ignored from November until April.
If you have a conservatory then looking out across the pond is perfect, as you can enjoy it whilst remaining indoors in the warm and dry.
Informal pond design are amongst our favourite designs to build. But through years of experience we have learnt that. They can be however amongst the most tricky to design effectively. With all of these different factors to take into account.
For more information on formal pond design watch this video
As with all our ponds, but especially with the informal pond design. Getting the design right comes down to taking your time. but you must get this ironed out before the first spadeful of soil is dug out of your garden.
Please feel free to leave comments about your informal pond designs below.
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