I’ve built a bunch of ponds in my gardening life – some great and some – well, not so great. I wish I had this list before I built that really, really, bad first pond (I covered it in after only one season it was so bad). Now, with this list and the professional supplies that are on the market, anybody can easily build a pond.
Step One Locate the Pond Area
Locate your pond area and mark out the shape of your pond. This sound basic but it is surprising the number of gardeners (mostly guys I note) who just start digging without a firm plan in place.
Laying out the pond
You can use a garden hose to lay out the shape as a hose makes great bends and conforms to your imagination. After you’ve made the shape, I’d recommend you lime or spray paint the edge of your proposed pond and let it sit for a day or three. Keep looking at the shape and see if it fits into the other shapes in your garden. Is it big enough? (not likely – most homeowners build a pond way too small the first time around.) Is it under trees? (Falling leaves are a pain to clean and the trees block the sunlight so the plants don’t thrive.)
Edges of pond painted in
Do Not Build a Pond in Wet or Damp Areas
Most people think a wet area of the lawn is a good place to build a pond. But understand that a wet area might be good for a natural bottomed pond, it is not great for a liner pond as the water will seep under the liner and lift it. Winter damage can be high in a lined pond situated in a wet zone. While there are solutions for this, they involve special valves and messing about with cutting and gluing liners. It is far easier to avoid the wet zones.
You can build a pond on slopes but do make sure you have enough soil depth to make your pond both deep enough (18 inches) and level.
If you have multiple ponds on a slope, the lower of the two has to be the larger if you want the water to flow properly from top to bottom.
Here is the next step in our project to build a water garden.
Step Two: Electrical Work
The second step in our project to build a water garden is to arrange for all electrical and water services to be installed.
It is far easier to have an electrician put in the electrical system at the beginning and then you build a water garden that fits the electrical location than to have to pay an electrician to run wires to fit your pond. Similarly, if there’s any plumbing to be done, get it done right now to ease the chore of filling and maintaining water levels. Put those systems as close together as possible.
Pond Safety First!
GFI switches are mandatory in outdoor electrical systems or any electrical circuit having any kind of closeness to water. This switch senses water and immediately shuts itself off. Trust me, this is a good idea; water and electricity do not mix.
Automatic water filling switches are also a great idea is our build a water garden project. They fill up the pond automatically keeping all systems working at peak efficiency. This means you don’t have to stand there with a hose or let it run to overflowing (and you will because you’ll forget to turn it off) when you’ve gone “just for a minute” to do another chore.
Step Three: Biological Filter
In our build a water garden project is to install the water entrance system or biologic filter. You can find articles about filters here
Plumbing the biological filters
Step Four: Organic Matter Filter
The fourth step is to install the water exit system or organic matter filter.
Filters Have To Be Dead Level
It is enough to say at this point that these filters have to be level and installed at the correct pond level (yes, there’s a diagramme in the works) so water will flow properly between them when you get to installing the liner.
Dead level is the standard you work to
Step Five: – Plumbing
Step Five is to lay all the plumbing to connect the entrance and exit systems. Remember that our build a water garden project, we have to have water flowing out the exit and then recirculate it back to the entrance filter. Both of these filters are important and plumbing should be fully winter hardy and professional grade.
Important Tip: If you try to “save” on cheap plumbing to connect your filters, you’ll find yourself digging them up in a year or two as winter freezes and thaws and cracks them up. Use professional grade spa-grade piping here or be prepared to redo your pond plumbing. Do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Hook up your systems now
Now is the time in step four to hook all the systems up to water and power. Get this done now before you go any further with liners and landscaping in our build a water garden project.
The Construction Series
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