Choosing the site: The site should be ideally in part sun. This means sun preferably in the morning and shaded in the afternoon. This will keep the pond from getting too warm in the summer months. This will also help keep the algae from getting out of control.
Hard or soft liner? In my experience a soft liner works best. The hard liners are pre-formed and not easy to get level. When you are installing a pre-formed liner many of them have built in plant shelves and different levels. Dig the hole larger than the entire surface size of the pond and the total depth. This makes for a lot of digging. Once its dug and the bottom is level, install the liner and start back filling. Try to have more than one person back fill with you, so the liner does not shift. Try to pack it down as you go. Putting some water in the liner will help anchor it in place while you are back filling it. If you live in an area of the country that has freezing temps in the winter, BEWARE: Hard liners can pop out of the ground during the winter months.
A soft liner gives you more flexibility. With design, with layout and the edges are easier to hide.
When digging for a soft liner install, spray paint the shape of the pond onto the ground, then start digging. This too should be as level as possible, however the soft liner is very forgiving and will bend to any slight bumps or divets. To install shelves in the pond, you can dig the shape into the wall of the pond or use materials such as cinderblock to create shelves. A pond fabric underlayment is extremely important. This will protect the liner from roots and rough edges. If you are using cinderblock or other rough materials to create ledges or shelves pad the edges well so they will not rub against the liner itself. As you install the soft liner get the bottom set and smooth (you will have to get in the pond) and work your way up. Again adding water to the liner will add pressure and help smooth out wrinkles. If you are building a waterfall, run a soft liner under the rocks and into the pond. Make sure it overlaps into the pond a good bit. This will reduce the amount of water loss.
With a hard or soft liner you will want to cover up the edges with some type of rock border. This is for decorative purposes if you are using a hard liner, however, if you are using a soft liner a rock border is a must. This will anchor the liner in place and keep the edges from moving or sliding. You can use natural stone such as Slate or Bluestone for a natural look or for a more contemporary look, cut prefabricated concrete wall capping for a clean custom look.
Filter Systems: There are two types of biological filter systems. In the water and above ground. The in the water systems are good for smaller ponds. The pump and filter system sit in the bottom of the pond. These systems are relatively inexpensive, the down side is that when the filter needs to be cleaned (on a regular basis, at least bi-weekly) you are getting wet.
The above ground systems are more expensive, however, once installed they are easier to maintain and are good for larger ponds and ponds with waterfalls. These pumps are generally stronger than the submersible type and can push more water. The filters are easier to change and clean.
When cleaning your filter system, whether above ground or in the pond, Never clean the entire filter system at one time. There are usually more than one filter pad or chamber of filter medium. Clean half at a time. You want to keep a supply of beneficial bacteria in the filter system. The beneficial bacteria helps to filter our things like chlorine and waste. It will also keep the algae at bay.
Having Fish: If you want to have fish in your pond, it should be 24' - 30" deep at the center so the fish can be wintered over. It also provides a cool spot for fish in the summer. A biological filter is also a must. Start with small, inexpensive fish. The fish will grow to fit the size of the pond, and you are bound to lose a few from time to time. Unless you are an experienced water gardener, I would not recommend spending $80.00 on a special Koi. Koi are beautiful, but they are also dirty fish. They excrete more waste than a regular goldfish.
Caring for your fish: Before you put any fish in your pond, neutralize the chlorine from the water. Fish hate chlorine! I recommend letting the pond settle for a few weeks and let the filter system grow a little beneficial bacteria before adding fish. When you do add fish, let the fish acclimate to the water temperature for at least one hour before cutting open the bags and pouring them into the pond. This way the fish can change temperature slowly and reduce the chance of shock. A dose of stress coat in the water will help reduce stress. This will coat the fish and reduce stress. The other deadly problem for fish is high Nitrates. Doing some reading about water chemistry in ponds will go a long way.
Pond plants are also great for the pond. They provide a source of shade and food for the fish. There are floating plants, such as Water Lettuce, Water Hyacinth, Anacharis and Water lillies. There are also bog plants. These grow in special pots and sit in the ledges of the pond, such as Iris, Cannas and Cat Tails. There are dozens of different types of pond plants.This will add aesthetic beauty to the pond. It will also create a habitat for frogs and turtles.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but really its just a lot of info. Once you get your pond installed and balanced, it will be a joy. Put a bench near the pond so you can sit, relax and enjoy the serenity of a pond in your own backyard.
There are many ready to install pond kits available that will make building a pond quick and easier then you can imagine. You can find a series of sizes to meet your specific needs at most Garden Centers.
This article may be reproduced and/or distributed. Please include this Author Resource. This article was written by Vera Pappas, Owner of Green Nation Gardens, suppliers of unique and eco-friendly garden supplies.
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