DIY Backyard Pond

Intro: DIY Backyard Pond

If you have longed for a water feature in your garden but never had the courage to start the pond project then now's your chance. Start with a pre-packed pond liner kit. This website is geared to showing you exactly how to install such a kit to make sure you avoid costly errors and more importantly do everything right the first time. In this way it won't be long before you'll want a bigger pond and want to learn a lot more about how to create the perfect pond. Your whole family will suddenly find a new exciting interest in the garden as a whole.

Step 1: Prepare the Pond Site & Select the Pond Shape

The basic rule for siting any pond is to place it where you can enjoy it most. This means normally place it where you can see it from well-used parts of the house. The pond should also be placed in a sunny location.

Choosing the area and trying different shapes

Choose a firm roughly level site in a sunny sheltered place away from trees. Above all consider safety for when children are about. If it is visible from the house, it is safer and it can be seen in winter when you don't feel like being out in the garden as much. Also, bear in mind accessibility to electrical power and water.

If the ground is uneven or has to be made up in places, it will be necessary to define at what height the water level is intended to be by a ‘datum peg’ (a piece of 1inch timber driven into the ground with a lump hammer) driven into a small depression or excavation next to where the pond will be.

Lay out the size and shape. This can be done with a rope or piece of hose. Keep the shape simple e.g. rectangular, oval or kidney-shaped. Complex shapes cause ugly creases in the liner. The maximum width must be under 1.5metres (5ft). The maximum length must be under 2.1metres (7ft). The maximum depth must be 45cm (18inches).

Preparing to dig

Cut away the turf within the shape down to make a firm level area. This must be deep enough so that the edging will all be below the level of the surrounding turf. If the excavation is in a soil area, the same applies. This will be the water level. To make room for the edging, this level area must be extended beyond the bounds of the laid out shape by the same width as the edging stones or paving. Check all around the edge with the spirit level.

Step 2: Dig the Correct Pond-Sized and Landscaped Hole in the Ground

If you don't like digging too much then complete the dig in stages so you don't take shortcuts and get too tired. The excavated soil will come in useful for a waterfall later if you want one.

Cut away the turf within the shape down to make a firm level area. This must be deep enough so that the edging will all be below the level of the surrounding turf. If the excavation is in a soil area, the same applies. This will be the water level. To make room for the edging, this level area must be extended beyond the bounds of the laid out shape by the same width as the edging stones or paving. Check all around the edge with the spirit level.

Make an initial excavation 22cm deep inside the shape that is laid out. Angle the sides back at 15 20 to the vertical. Check all around the edge with a spirit level. This will be the level at which the marginal plants sit in baskets.

Leaving a shelf area 25cm wide, excavate a further 22cm to 25cm deeper within the initial investigation. Once again make the sides slope in at 15 to 20 to the vertical. The excavation must not exceed 46cm. Ensure there are no sharp stones in the base of the hole. Smooth out the excavation and consolidate the surface with some sort of thumper or ram. Check that the base and top edge of the pond is level

Step 3: Install Flexible Pond Liner Correctly

This is where we left off on the last page ... Leaving a shelf area 25cm wide, excavate a further 22cm to 25cm deeper within the initial investigation. Once again make the sides slope in at 15 to 20 to the vertical. The excavation must not exceed 46cm. Ensure there are no sharp stones in the base of the hole because these may damage the pond liner. Smooth out the excavation and consolidate the surface with some sort of thumper or ram. Check that the base and top edge of the pond is level

Spread 2.5cm of soft sand on the inside of the pond. This can be smoothed into place with a trowel or a spade. You can use old carpet instead to line the bottom of the excavation.

Lay the liner into place in the excavation. Smooth it out and push it into the crevices of the excavation. Hide some of the inevitable creases by gathering them together into larger folds. Hold the liner in position with smooth flat stones.

Step 4: Filling With Water and Creating a Pond Edging

You have just finished installing the liner and started to fill with water. Here's the reminder of that step

Lay the liner into place in the excavation. Smooth it out and push it into the crevices of the excavation. Hide some of the inevitable creases by gathering them together into larger folds. Hold the liner in position with smooth flat stones.

Fill the pond with water. Now the liner will be truly pushed into place. Trim the liner allowing a 15cm overhang around the top edge of the pond.

A stone, paving or even wood edge can be laid into place onto a bed of cement mortar. This will hold the liner in place. Ensure that there is an overhang of at least 2cm to help shade the liner from the effects of the Ultra-violet rays from the sun. Special glue specially designed for the purpose can be obtained from Blagdon Water Gardens for those people who don't like dealing with mortar or are afraid of lime from the cement leaching into the pond. Timber can be pinned into place with long thin metal rods. If you do get cement mortar into the water you will need to empty it out and replenish.

You can now get ready to install the pond pump and pond filter that will keep the water clean and healthy for the fish.

Step 5: Installing the Pump & Pond Filter

The picture below is to remind you of what we want to finish up with ... namely an attractively edged, planted garden fish pond with a pump circulating water through a pond filter 24/7 To be able to install the pump safely and tidily do the following ...

Place a small conduit through the edging, like a piece of reinforced hose, and run it (underground) to where you will connect the electrical supply. Thread a long piece of garden wire through this.

Take the pump hose tail from the pump box and cut off the 12mm (1/2inch) section. Screw it into the pump and connect the hose to it using one of the hose-clips. Place the pump in the pond on the bottom farthest away from where the filter box will be situated. Tie and tape the pump cable to the garden wire and draw it through the conduit.

Unpack the bio-filter and set it up according to the instructions in the box. Connect the tubing from the pump to the bio-filter inlet (the left-hand side hose tail) using the hose clip. 16) Attach a suitable plug to the pump cable and plug it into a fused mains supply, separate from domestic supply, via an RCCD trip switch.

Step 6: Aquatic Plants and Plant Your Garden Pond

The pond needs to be planted with a complete cross section of plants in order to help the biological filter keep your pond clear.

It will need:

16 bunches of oxygenating weed

one water lily

7 marginal plants

4 floating plants and

possibly one more deep-water plant a small lily or perhaps a water hawthorn.

See below for a range of plants

For these, you will need 25 medium aquatic baskets with very fine mesh sides and a large 25kilo bag of pea-gravel. Also, you will need 3 large bags of pond soil or some good chemical free garden loam (not silty).

Fill one basket to the top with pea-gravel and push in all of the bunches of oxygenating weed into it. Slowly submerge the basket to the bottom of the pond.

Fill all of the other medium baskets with the soil to within 10cm from the top. Remove the marginals, deep-water plant and lily from their small baskets and plant each one into an indentation in the soil of each basket; backfill with the soil to the surface of the soil at which each plant was planted; firm into place. Top off the surface of the soil with pea-gravel. This prevents the soil from drifting out of the basket or being dug out by fish.

Place the baskets in the pond. The lilies and deep-water plants can be placed on the bottom and the marginal plants can be placed on the shelf around the edge. The floating plants can be dropped in to find their own level. If the lily you have chosen is not very vigorous, it will be wise to place it on some bricks, piled up 2 high, until the plant seems to have settled in.

Choose from these plants ...

Oxygenators

Elodea crispa or Myriophyllum spicata or Callitriche autumnalis

Water Lilies

Nymphaea ‘Attraction’(red), N. ‘Aurora’(yellow changing to red), N. ‘Fabiola’(pink), N. ‘Formosa’(rose), N. ‘Froebelii’(red), N. ‘Indiana’(orange-red with spotted lvs), N. ‘James Brydon’(red), N. ‘Laydekeri Fulgens’(red), N. ‘Laydekeri Lilacea’(pink), N. ‘Laydeckeri Lucida’(pink), N. ‘Laydeckeri Purpurata’(red), N. ‘Laydeckeri Rosea’(rose), N. ‘Madame Wilfron Gonnęre’(double pink), N. ‘Marlicea Chromatella’(yellow, mottled lvs), N. ‘Moorei’(yellow), N. odorata (white), N. odorata ‘Firecrest’(deep pink), N. odorata minor, N. odorata ‘Rosea’(rose-pink), N. odorata ‘Sulphurea’(yellow), N. odorata ‘Turicensis’(soft rose), N. odorata ‘William B. Shaw’(pink), N. ‘Paul Harriot’(copper fls –maroon spotted foliage), N. ‘Rene Gerard’(deep pink), N. ‘Rose Arey’(rose-pink), N. ‘Rosennymphe’(deep rose), N. ‘Sioux’(yellow/copper), N. Solfatare’ (rose/yellow), N. ‘Vesuve’(red), N. ‘William Falconer’(red).

Deep water plants

Aponogeton distachyos (Water Hawthorn)

Marginal Plants (keep to the precise varieties)

Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’, Acorus intermedius, Alisma parviflorum, Butomus umbellatus- flowering rush, Calla palustris- bog arum, Caltha palustris- marsh marigold (all varieties except C. p. var. polypetala), Carex riparia ‘Bowles Golden’, Carex riparia ‘Variegata’, Dichromena colorata, Houttuynia cordata ‘Chamaeleon’, Houttynia cordata ‘Plena’, Iris ensata (Iris kaempferi), Iris laevigata (all varieties), Iris sibirica, Iris versicolor ‘Kermisina’, Juncus effusus var. spiralis, Lobelia fulgens, Lobelia siphilitica, Lysichiton americanus, Lysichiton camtschatcensis, Lysimachia nummularia, L. n. ‘Aurea’, L. thyrsiflora, Lythrum salicaria- purple loosetrife, Menyanthes trifoliate- bog bean, Mimulus- all varieties and species, Myosostis scorpiodes- water forget-me-not, Nymphoides peltata- water fringe lily, Sagittaria sagittifolia- arrowhead (all varieties), Saururus cernuus- lizards tale, Scirpus angustifolius (Eriophorum angustifolium)- cotton grass, Scrophula auriculata ‘Variegata’, Sisyrinchium californicum, Typha minima- miniature bulrush, Veronica beccabunga- brooklime, Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’- Arum Lily. Floating Plants

Eichornia crassipes ‘Major’- floating water hyacinth, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, Pistia stratiotes- water lettuce, Salvinia natans, Stratiotes aloides- water soldier, Trapa natans- water chestnut, Utricularia vulgaris- bladderwort.

The Water Itself

Add the water treatment as prescribed on the side of the bottle. This will age the water in a matter of hours. However it is better to leave the pond and plants for a further three to four weeks before adding any fish in quantity. This will be the time it takes for the filter to acquire an active bacterial colony.

Turn on the pump, check the filter is operational and check for leaks at the hose unions. For the filter to be properly effective as a bio-filter it must be run 24/7. Turning it off for more than 2hours at any one stretch will mean the death of the valuable bacteria.

After 3 weeks begin to add fish up to a maximum total length of 70inches (1.8metres). It would be recommended to keep the population well below this especially in the first year.

Fish species and varieties: any species of goldfish, shubunkins, red comets (sarasas), possibly one tench. No koi carp or orfe.

Caring for Your garden Fish Pond

Begin feeding the fish 2 to 3 days after arrival. Ensure the water temperature is above 10c. Only feed as much as they can eat in 5minutes. Net off any uneaten food.

If you have to top up with tap water use the dechlorinator as instructed on the bottle.

If you have problems with blanket weed or algae, use the Blanket weed and Algae control according to the instructions with the bottle. Wait for at least six weeks after the pond is established before you use any algicide. If and when you do, turn off the bio-filter for one week after treatment.

Check the pump and its pre-filter each week. There is no need to run it when temperatures are close to freezing.

Check the filter every month.

Rinse out the filter every six months with pond water or rainwater.

In winter, raise the pump to the marginal shelf level. Turn off the pump if the temperature threatens to drop below 5c. When the temperature rises permanently above 7c in spring, rinse out the filter medium with rainwater and start the system again.

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