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Garden Ponds

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

 

There is nothing quite so relaxing than sitting in the garden on a nice sunny day. Gardens and water go together naturally. The installation of either a still water pond or a pond with water falls and fountains will bring a whole new dimension to any garden, and brings with it new possibilities in the range of plants that can be grown, and provides an attractive environment for wildlife. Water brings and breathes new life into the garden, through its natural beauty, its sounds, and movement.
 
Garden ponds have become more and more popular in recent years, thanks to the development of materials, and the availability of easy to fit flexible and rigid pond liners. Consequently, garden ponds come in different sizes and shapes, are quick to install, and are relatively cheap.

 

Choosing a site for your pond

It’s important to locate your pond correctly if it is to mature and develop into a natural, living feature. One of the first rules is not to position it under deciduous trees, falling leaves will pollute the water as they rot, any fish you have could become ill, or even die! Laburnum trees are also extremely poisonous.
 
Because sunlight promotes algae growth, a mixture of oxygenating plants will help prevent the water from turning green. Please note, it is difficult to maintain clear water in smaller ponds that contain fish as well as vegetation if the surface area is less than 3.75 sq m, or 40 sq ft., unless you are installing a running water system.

Rigid pond liners

Of the numerous rigid pond liners available today, the most popular is probably those made from fibreglass - they are a one piece construction, both strong and resistant to extreme temperatures.
 
If rigid pond liners are handled with care, and fitted correctly, they are virtually leak proof and will last for many years. A very effective water feature can be created by the use of a couple of rigid liners, connecting them up and linking them together with a watercourse

Installing a rigid pond liner

The first step is to stand the pond liner over the position you want to locate the pond. The liner will need to be supported, or propped up while you mark out the ground where it will sit. You may be able to do this with wooden boxes or crates. Once it’s supported in position, the orientation can be checked and the outer perimeter marked on the ground.
 
Use a spirit level (one that is long enough) and hold it vertical against the edge of the liner and ground. Then, plot and hammer wooden pegs around the whole of the liner profile. You can dig back outside the marked line, so we don’t need to be so precise here. When you have the shape of the liner fully pegged out, remove it. Time now, for a spot of digging.

Digging the hole to accept the liner

The tools you will need to dig a hole big enough for the liner will depend upon the soil in your garden. You may get away with just a spade, but you may well need the help of something a bit more substantial, a pick perhaps.
 
Lay a straight edge across the top of the hole and check now and again to check when you are at the required depth. Don’t just dig a big hole into which you can drop the liner; if the liner has marginal shelves, dig to this shape as close as possible. There’s no need to take out earth that doesn’t need to come out, but ensure you extend the outer boundary of the liner by about 6” or 150mm on all sides.

Ready for fitting the liner

Compact the base down by foot, then cover with a thin layer (approx 25mm) of sharp sand in the base. Lower the liner gently in place and bed it into the sand.
 
Next, check that it’s sitting level with the surface using the straight edge and a level. Once happy with this, wedge it all round with wooden blocks or pegs; to hold it in position until you’ve back filled, and it can support itself. The next step is to start filling the liner (before backfilling). As the liner is filling, gradually pour the soil you dug out, down the sides of the liner. Don’t try and rush this part. Take your time, get down and using your hands, compact the soil under the shelving; try to keep pace with the rising water, but if you can’t, turn the hose off till you’re ready.

Just the edges to finish

When the liner/pond is full and firmly bedded down, you can finish the edges with stones, turf, or plants

Flexible pond liners.

The first step to installing a flexible liner (as with the rigid liner) is to mark out the pond profile. You’ve nothing to work from here, so just peg out the desired pond shape in order to give you a line to work to.
 
When you have dug the hole out to the desired depth, including any marginal shelves, deep gullies, etc, make sure you remove all loose pebbles, stones, bits of brick; in fact any sharp object that could puncture the lining material. Including any roots, they too can cause problems.

Protection of the flexible liner

Flexible pond liners can be easily punctured when fitting. In order to offer some form of protection, compact a layer of damp sand in the base of the excavation, and use a trowel to extend this layer of sand up the walls of the hole. Alternatively, use a proprietary flexible pond lining underlay.

Fitting the liner

Having made sure the liner is large enough for the pond you’re making, and there’s adequate overlap, drape the liner across the excavation with an equal amount of overlap all round, and hold it in place with bricks, slabs or blocks, while the pond is filling. As the pond is filling, and the liner is stretching, and being pulled down; you will need to keep moving the weights. Keep the liner taught during filling, this will help reduce creases.

Finishing the edges

The same as with the rigid lined pond; use turf, plants, stones, make a small border perhaps, use chipped slate, cork chips or pebbles

Tools you will need:
Faithfull 1.8Kg / 4Lb Fibreglass Handled Club Hammer
Faithfull 1.8Kg / 4Lb Fibreglass Handled Club Hammer
- Faithfull 30m PVC Reinforced 12.5mm Hose Starter Set
Faithfull 30m PVC Reinforced 12.5mm Hose Starter Set
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