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Southern Inspirations Garden Design

A family-run business since 1997

Southern Inspirations
Guidelines on How to Build a Pond
Here are ten guidelines on how to build a pond. They have been acquired through experience. We have had our fair share of fixing leaking ponds. During these difficult times we have found some excellent solutions on how to build a pond that copies nature and which is durable.

Prevention is always better than cure! A garden pond should be constructed correctly to prevent a load of problems developing later on. These guidelines cover pond construction, some ideas to copy nature, how to select your pump and even something on a bog garden.
    How to Build a Pond
  1. Dig your pond hole slightly larger than the required final size. Avoid using steep sides else all your lining materials will slide down to the bottom. This is an allowance for all the layers of material that you will be placing in the hole. Line your hole with underlay or a thin layer of sand before you put the pond liner down. This will stop any sharp stones or roots from penetrating your liner and causing a leak.

  2. Make indentations in the bottom of your garden pond hole where plants can be planted later. Put down your underlay and pond liner. Put the plant pots in the preformed indentations and line your pond with a layer of washed river sand (sharp sand). Finally put the pebbles on top of the sand. Although your plants will still be in pots, it will appear as though they are growing through the pebbles.

  3. Build a ledge around the garden pond approximately 3 inches (75 mm) below your final water level. Build the rock edging on this ledge and backfill it with soil. It will appear as though the rocks form a natural barrier keeping the water in the pond.

  4. How to build a pond for attracting wildlife: A sandy beach which slopes gradually to the water provides makes an excellent area for wildlife to get safe access to the water. Also make sure that there is a clear view for the visiting birds from this beach. They will not feel at all threatened and will stay longer and possibly have a bath as well!

  5. How to build a pond that will last: A durable garden pond will be created by plastering the liner with a 25 to 35 mm layer of mortar. Mix 1 part cement with 2 parts river sand and one part of building sand add a waterproofing agent. Use only sufficient water to make the mixture workable. If it is to wet it will just slide to the bottom of the pond. Line your pond in one go. If you stop and start again you will build a crack in the pond.

  6. How to build a pond that will not leak: Natural rock and mortar will have different temperature expansion rates. This means that with time, cracks will appear between the rocks built onto the edge of the pond and the mortar lining. Your pond will eventually begin to leak. Here is how to build a garden pond using a natural rock finish on the rim:

    • Line your pond with mortar.
    • Put a thick layer of mortar on the rim where the rocks will be placed
    • Put a layer of plastic cling wrap on top of the mortar.
    • Firmly push each of the rocks into position on top of the cling wrap. The mortar will take the shape of the rocks.
    • Remove your rocks and cling wrap after the mortar has dried. Temporally store your rocks in a way so that you will be able to position them back in exactly the same position later.
    • Apply a silicone sealer to the mortar and “glue” the rocks into their correct positions. This seal will not be visible. Ensure that you use a non-toxic sealant or else your fish will die.

    When dry, your joint will be permanently sealed! Please wait until the silicone has completely dried before you begin filling the pond with water. This procedure requires a little patience, but is well worth the time. Doing it right the first time will save you time and expenses later – Guaranteed!

  7. Use the right size pump if you are planning to filter the water and or have a fountain. Make sure you take the loss of head in the filter into account when choosing your pump. Also choose a pump one size larger than you think you will require. It is easier to throttle the water flow back a bit if it is too much, but you can never increase the flow if it is to slow!

    Do not reduce the size of your pipes. Use the same diameter pipes as the pumps inlet and outlet. Rather increase the diameters to reduce the friction with in the pipes. High friction will also reduce the water flow. Protect your pump you can do this by placing a nylon stocking (ladies pantyhose) over the pumps suction. This will stop the dirt entering into the pump and prolong your pumps life. Replace this stocking often.

  8. Hide the pump behind something in your pond. Pumps are unsightly and can detract from the natural look and feel of your garden pond. Similarly always hide the source of your water outlet. For example let the water bubble out from beneath a few rocks or pebbles, or use large leaves to conceal the end of your pipe.

  9. Choose various sizes of pebbles to line your pond. In nature pebble sizes always differ. Three different sizes should suffice. Try and copy nature by placing a few larger rocks here and there. Having a rock or two protruding out of the water can also provide an ideal landing place for birds. Just don’t over do it. Nature is our best teacher on how to build a pond.

  10. Keep your pond healthy and fresh by replacing some of your water every week. An excellent idea is to build a bog area at the point where your pond overflows. When you put fresh water into your pond, the overflow will keep the bog nice and wet. A bog area is created by digging a hole and lining it with a pond liner. Push in a few holes in the bottom of the lining with your garden fork. Fill up the hole with special bog garden soil.
Now that you have the basic idea on how to build a pond, why don’t you give your garden the face lift it deserves with a garden pond design?

Before you start digging that hole, why not get some garden landscaping ideas and look at your overall garden design.




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