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Build a Pond

A water garden is a soothing addition to any backyard and makes a great weekend project. Better Pets and Gardens is able to provide you with easy to follow steps to build a pond and handy hints to help along the way.


STEP 1: Choose your Pond Location
Pond location is important and will prevent unnecessary headaches. Apart from being in a spot where everyone can enjoy its beauty, ensure that the pond receives about 6 hours of sunlight and is not under trees where leaves pollute the water and roots damage the pond. Consider the location of power (electricity), water supply and noise factor as water running continuously can be irritating at night. Above all, make certain that the pond is safe if kids are around.

STEP 2: Choose your Pond Type
Rigid preformed poly ponds or flexible pond liners are the choices when deciding what type of pond you want to install.

Flexible Pond Liners:
Flexible pond liners allow you to create the shape and size pond that suits you and your garden. Pond liner is available in widths of 2, 4, 6 and 8 metres and can be cut to any length.

Rigid Preformed Pond:
Rigid preformed ponds are easy to install, come in many shapes and sizes and are very durable.

STEP 3: Choose your Waterfall or Feature
All ponds need water movement to provide essential oxygen and to create that soothing water noise.

Waterfalls give a pleasant visual effect and provide the soothing water noise. For each 10mm of stream/waterfall width you need 100 litres per hour of water.

Fountain nozzles are pleasant features within a pond but keep in mind that the sprays can be affected by wind. Pumps for fountain nozzles need to have a prefilter to prevent them from getting blocked. The flow for the typical fountain nozzle in the average pond is 1000 litres per hour.

Water Feature:
Water features come in many sizes and forms (immense, spheres, columns, tiered and water panels). The required water flow will vary depending on the feature.

STEP 4: Select your Filtration System
Clear, clean water can be achieved by choosing the correct filter size and type for your pond. The addition of water plants gives the pond its natural appearance but with the added bonus of removing nitrates and adding oxygen.

The most important points for filtration are choosing the correct size and filter type to suit your pond. The filter will run continuously so a quality brand is essential. Be careful not to overstock or overfeed any fish in the pond and remove or restrict pollutants and debris where possible. Water plants are living filters.

There are three types of filtration.  External biological filters remove solid particles from the water and then naturally through bacteria in biomedia. Pressurized biological filters use the same concepts as external biological technology but have the advantage of being fully sealed, meaning the filter can be put below water level. UV clarifiers/sterilizers are very helpful inventions but are also one of the least known about. UV clarifiers/sterilizers use ultra violet radiation to kill the algae making the algae clump together so it is easily filtered.

STEP 5: Select your Pump
The pond pump is the heart of the water garden so choose a quality pump with a long warranty and remember the golden pond keeping rule – if unsure, go to the next size up.

In choosing any pumps you need to make sure you get the right pump for the job. The different types of pumps are as follows:

Statuary Pumps – Small pumps that are often used in wall fountains, hydroponic reservoirs and water features.

Fountain Pumps – Suitable for garden ponds, these usually come in an array of different fountain nozzles with a tee piece arrangement to run a waterfall or biofilter at the same time. These pumps should be mounted off the bottom of the pond.

Dirty Water Pumps – These are high volume pumps used traditionally for features or waterfalls. They require minimal maintenance and are considerably more economical to run.

Sump Pumps – Sump pumps are inexpensive pumps used for draining ponds and transferring water. They are bottom suction and mostly come with a float switch. Sump pumps are inefficient in terms of electricity consumption and should only be used for short intermittent pumping.

STEP 6: Year Round Maintenance

Kick start the pond after its winter dormancy:
• Test water with pond test kit to make sure it is healthy.
• Begin essential biological cycles by adding live bacteria. Live bacteria can be purchased at all Better Pets and Gardens stores.
• Feed fish with easy to digest pond food.
• Eliminate algae problems with beneficial bacteria and enzymes, when sunlight increases. Products that eliminate bacteria can also be purchased at Better Pets and Gardens stores.

Summer is the time when ponds are at their best with lush blooming plants and active wildlife.
• Feed plants with pond tablets to keep them at their best.
• Feed fish with quality nutritionally balanced food.
• Check water quality with pond test kit every two weeks.
• Eliminate algae problems with beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Products that eliminate bacteria can also be purchased at Better Pets and Gardens stores.
• Prevent deoxygenation by using an air pump.
• Consistent clouding indicates the need for a pond clean out or the necessity to fit a bio filter.

Prepare pond for its winter dormancy.
• Cut back and remove dying plant matter.
• This is a good time for a pond clear out.
• Change half the water and remove pond sludge.
• Prepare fish for winter and feed quality fish food.
• Cover the pond with a net to prevent leaves falling in.

The quiet time of the pond year.
• Feed low temperature pond food.

To install a pond liner:
1. Lay out pond shape on ground with a piece of hose. Excavate the pond to the depth required. Include a shelf that should be approximately 20cm wide and 25cm below the water level, sloping inwards.
2. Remove all sharp stones and ensure top edge of pool is even. Prepare pond with clean sand, drape liner loosely over the top and lightly anchor with bricks around the liners edge.
3. Run water into the pond gradually, tucking liner into shape. Any wrinkles present will disappear as the pond fills. Once full, leave to settle overnight. Trim excess liner and complete by edging with stones or paving.

To install a hard-shell poly pond:
1. Place pond in position chosen and mark outline with hose. Remove pond and excavate the hole 5cm wider and deeper than the pond dimensions.
2. Evenly line hole with approximately 5cm of damp sand.
3. Using a spirit level check that the layer of sand covering the bottom of the hole is level.
4. Place pond into prepared area.
5. Gradually fill pond with water and at the same time fill gaps between pond and edge of hole with sand, making sure the pond remains level.

REMEMBER:   Allow 7 days for the pond to settle before any rocks or slabs are placed around the edge. This allows for any ground movement beneath the pond due to the weight of water.