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Pond Buying Guide

Pond, Water Garden


This pond buying guide will cover the basics of a pond, or water garden, such as: picking the right spot, some general rules when having a pond, planting the pond, fish and equipment. For many, the makings of a water garden requires little more than a pump, some water and an idea. For others, however those with visions of water lilies and perhaps a goldfish or two a little more effort is required. This requires creating your very own ecosystem. An environment so rich in life, that it will likely become the most beautiful and alluring aspect of your garden – and quite possibly, the most rewarding. Water gardens have always been places of refuge, sanctuaries of peace, tranquility and beauty. For this reason, it is important that you create a pond that reflects your personality as well as it reflects the blooms that surround it. After all, a water garden should do more than complement its surroundings, it should complement you, your lifestyle and your senses.

Picking the Right Spot

Choose an open and sunny location with an average daily exposure to sunlight of 4-6 hours. Do not construct your pond underneath trees and choose a quite place to make a tranquil haven for wildlife. If you are planning a feature such as a waterfall, water course or fountain display, consider how the sounds will affect your neighbors.

Some General Rules

On average, your pond should have a minimum depth of 1.5 feet. Fish need a minimum water depth of 3 feet (especially in freezing climates). Ponds end up being smaller than planned. If you want a 4’ x 5’ pond you should plan for a 5’ x 6’ area.

See below for some general pond calculations. Pond Dimensions, Pond Sizing Guide

Planting the Pond

Plants oxygenate the water and remove excess nutrients, reducing the growth of algae. Choose plants according to their height and consider their different flowering seasons. Not all plants are suitable for all types of ponds. Water lilies don’t like splashing water for example. Some different plant zones include the deep water zone (install the pumps and in-pond filters in this zone), bog zone (the wider the bog zone, the safer it is for children and animals), wet zone (ideal for opulent short plants), in general, slopes should not be steeper than 35 – 40%.


Waterfalls are one of nature’s most beautiful creations. The backdrop to your waterfall can be almost anything, even dirt left over from digging the pond. Existing walls, 55-gallon drums, or old cement blocks serve as backdrops. As a general rule you need 250gph of pond water per inch of overflow edge. Using the above rule of thumb means that if your waterfall lip measures 10 inches across then you would need a pond pump that can deliver 2500 gallons of water per hour i.e. 250gph x 10".

Thinking About Fish?

Pick the appropriate kind, size and number of the fish for your pond. Do not put fish in the pond before the biological balance has been established itself, generally four weeks after the initial filling. To determine the number of fish that can be in a garden pond, the calculation is approximately 8 inches of fish length per 1000 litters of pond water. However then you must include future growth in the calculation. The fish stock should be checked annually and corrected as needed. Excessive fish stock can cause murky water, algae growth, plant damage, and fish disease.

The Ideal Pond

An example for an ideal pond shape and the correct placement of the equipment: The pump is installed at the deepest point of the pond. The filter is sunk into the ground next to the pond and hidden between the bog plants. The skimmer is where the most debris (i.e. leaves) appears. The most important thing is that the water can circulate. The water should move everywhere in the pond. So called “static area” (place were the surface water does not circulate) should be avoided.

Standard Equipment

Pond liners and underlayment keep water from seeping into the soil. Even in heavy clay soils, a liner is necessary. You can buy rigid hard plastic pond liners in a variety of shapes. These are durable and may include built-in waterfalls. If you want a larger pond or would like to design your own shape, consider using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or rubber liner which can be bought in varying sizes and cut to fit your unique needs. Some plastics may also be toxic to fish so make sure that if you plan to add fish that your liner is safe for aquatic life. Liners also come in different thicknesses. A thicker liner tends to be more resistant to punctures. While expensive and requiring more expertise to install, cement is also an option as a pond liner.

Pond pumps are capable of creating fountains, waterfalls or a combination of both. Select the right combination of pump and fountain head for best performance. These pond pumps are also used for water circulation. A pump should be selected based on the water capacity in gallons of your pond. The pump flow rate should be large enough to recirculate the pond water at least once every two hours. For example, a 250 gallon pond would require a minimum rated pump of 125 gallons per hour. Keep in mind water filtration and if the pump you are buying filters the water, this can be especially important if fish are in the pond.

Pond accessories offer a multitude of ways to customize ponds and add that special touch. Everything from pond décor, lighting, nozzles and chemicals are available.

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