Pond Design – Planning


When thinking about pond design and deciding on the best area in your garden to site your new pond is a critical step in the design process that may well ultimately influence other aspects of your garden pond design. 

Some factors that must and need to take into account. When you are deciding upon the location of your pond, I am going to walk you through some of the critical decisions that you may face when deciding where to build your pond. 

Pond Design – A focal point, or close to busy areas?

Depending upon the type of pond you plan to construct and the layout of the rest of your garden. You may choose to build your pond close to an existing seating area. As this will maximise your time spent enjoying your garden pond. Alternatively, if you have areas of the garden. Then it can make sense to build your pond here to create a new focal point.

Pond Design – Can you put a pond in the shade? Yes, but avoid heavy shade and tree cover for flowering plants.

Garden ponds designed specifically for growing aquatic plants. dense shade, either from adjacent buildings or trees is not good. As a rule-of-thumb, half the garden pond should be in full sunlight for at least half of the day. Partial shade is the minimum amount of light required. To get ornamental aquatic plants to flower vigorously. 

Tree cover, as well as shading the pond, will also drop leaves and debris into the pond. Tree roots will also extend often some distance beyond the canopy and may damage pond liners or the concrete walls of your pond.

Many trees also have leaves that are toxic to fish and other aquatic animals. Even that quintessential lake-side tree, the weeping willow, has leaves that are highly toxic in water. Even those leaves, twigs, pollen and seeds that are not toxic can lead to a massive build-up of waste in your pond. That will need mechanically removing. 

Pond Design – Safety first

Think about child and pet safety. If the pond is close to a play area then will it need to be fenced off? Would a pondless waterfall make a better feature if you have a young family?

Pond Design – Groundwater and runoff

Paradoxically, you should avoid building ponds in areas. Where there is a lot of water in the ground or a high water table. Water building up under the pond liner can cause a ‘hippoing’ effect. Lifting the pond liner and washing away the dirt underneath. Black rubber liner lifting can not only be unsightly and damage marginal shelves. But can also lead in the longer term to damage to the pond liner.

If you have a damp area in your garden. Then perhaps think about planting it with moisture-loving plants. That will naturally thrive in these conditions. 

If there is no option but to build the pond in an area. With a high water table or where springs are present. Then this could require you to install some means of draining away from this build-up of water. Under pond, drainage can be undertaken at the time of pond construction. But is much more difficult to put right once the garden pond is in the ground.  

Pond Design – Retaining walls and buildings

Keep ponds away from any retaining walls or buildings if possible. If you must build close to foundations then take special care and ensure that you are not undermining the foundations. A minimum distance of 2 metres away from any wall is a good guide to avoid the risk of subsidence. 

Pond Design – Services

Are you planning a koi pool or fish pond that will require constant filtration, a waterfall perhaps that requires a powerful pump to operate? Think from the outset about how you are going to supply the pond with electricity and also water.

Long distance from the mains, then this can be a potentially quite expensive undertaking, especially if it’s after the pond is in the garden.lanned from the beginning. 

Pond Design – Soil conditions

Whilst you can excavate through bedrock if you have enough time and money, is this, or the presence of large rocks in the soil, going to make excavation more challenging? Perhaps dig a test hole as part of the planning process to access the soil conditions before deciding on your final location. 

Pond Design – Prevailing winds

If your garden suffers from high winds or is very exposed. It’s worth considering and mitigating when designing your pond. A cold prevailing wind will chill the garden pond and perhaps also damage new plants. In the summer months, a strong wind can massively increase evaporation from the surface of the garden pond leading to more regular top-ups. 

Alternatively, if you are planning a large wildlife pond. Then it is best suited where it will experience some of the warmer prevailing wind. Wind movement of the surface is likely to be the only source of oxygen mixing in a pond such as this, so some exposure ensures and maintains good oxygen levels. 

If there is no option but to build the pond. In an area that is affected by the wind then perhaps mitigate this by planning some diffusers. Such as taller plants, hedges and fences that will shelter the pond itself. 

Pond Design – Pollutants

Run-off from adjacent land and occasionally roads can lead to pollutants finding their way into ground-level ponds. Even lawn feed added to areas around the pond can leach into the water and stimulate algal growth. 

On large wildlife ponds think about the impact that geese and ducks will have on the water quality. Ducks in particular tend to feed around the pond and then release a lot of waste into the water when they are resting up. 

Pond Design – Access

Ponds built close to a properties boundary, or with a high feature behind them might look great, but what about those times when you need access to the back of the pond? Even something as simple as changing the planting can become a major chore if you do not have easy access all the way around the garden pond. 

Pond Design – Show your best side

Most ponds are not designed to be perfectly symmetrical. So think about how the garden pond will appear from different angles. Is it showing its best side from the seating or approach area?  What will the garden pond look like from other areas of the garden, will it blend in well?

There are even more considerations than this to consider. But this list will get you started and ensure that you avoid many of the pitfalls in siting your new pond. 

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