Water gardening has become one of the newest and fastest growing trends in garden design in the past 5 years. However, water gardening has been around for a very long time. There are many factors to building a pond. Understanding the entire process before you begin will be very helpful in allowing you the opportunity to learn about common mistakes and problems before you even dig the hole. One of the most important tips to know is that the most common mistake people make when deciding to put in a pond is not researching their wants compared to the site selection of the pond. This is to say, often people decide they want a pond and start digging the hole right away. Site selection is the first step to building a pond, because once the site is selected then the possible pond designs are dictated by this selection. It is best to make a site selection based not only on what is available but also what will you want this pond to be for. If the pond that you want includes fish, and a water stream, then it is very important to look at site selection to include a good water stream or waterfall. In addition to this, when fish are being added to the pond, the pond will have to be deep enough to accommodate the ecosystem they need to be healthy. Choosing a site. Preferably the site should be a level area without overhanging trees. The problem with having overhanging trees is that the pond will fill up with rotting leaves in the fall which is detrimental to the ecosystem of the pond. In addition to this, roots can be problematic to the pond liner. Ponds require a re-circulating pump to keep water flow, and filtration. As such, ensure that it is possible to have power run to the site, either by having power directly nearby or by running an extension cord to the area. The area should also allow for the easy cleaning of the pond. Most aquatic plants do best with a full sun location, making a shady location not the best option for a pond or water feature that will be filled with water plants. If you want to have a pond that is deep enough to leave fish outside over winter, it is best to ensure you can have at least a 36” deep pocket at the bottom of the pond for over-wintering the fish Choosing a liner. There are two common methods of building ponds. The first method is to use a prefabricated liner that is made of a hard plastic. This method is often popular for first time pond owners who want a small pond and do not want a long of design concerns. The nicest factor to these ponds is that all you have to do is dig the hole to fit the prefabricated shell and place it in the hole. The second method is to utilize a soft liner to line the pond. This is the most popular method to installing a pond. This method allows the pond installer to customize the pond to exact specifications the suits the pond owner. This method is much more flexible as per design options as virtually anything can be designed. It is best to come in and talk to one of our service representatives if you are having trouble deciding which method would be best for you. Calculating Liner Size. If using a soft flexible liner, the first step is to determine how big the pond is going to be and if there are going to be any other liner requirements, like waterfalls, or streams. The second step is to determine the maximum length, width and depth of the pond. The most common mistake is to make the pond too small, which happens almost 50% of the time on a person’s first pond. In order to help you visualize the size of the pond, take a garden hose and arrange it in the shape and size you would like the pond to be in the exact location you have in mind. Once you have decided on the size of the pond, use the following formula to determine the amount of liner you will need. (Depth x 2) + Width + 2 = Liner Width (Depth x 2) + Length +2 = Liner Length Example A pond measuring 6’ x 9’ and 3’ deep (3 x 2) + 6 + 2 = 14’ (3 x 2) + 9 + 2 = 17’ In order to install this pond you would need a piece of liner at least 14’ x 17’ Your Pond Measurements Length _____ Width _____ Depth _____ Pond liner size = _____ Total Gallons = _____ Digging the Pond Outline the shape of the pond with a garden hose or string. Dig out the first layer of the pond about 9” deep. For marginal aquatic plants you should have a shelf that is about 9” wide, or a little more. The second layer of the pond can be as deep as you need, or you can continue to tier the pond in shelves for different styles of plants or to have a deeper area to overwinter fish. It is very important for the pond to be level, otherwise it will be difficult to maintain the proper water level. Use either a long plank and a carpenters level, or if the pond is too large to accommodate this, use twine and a line level. Installing the Pond After the hole is prepared, it should be lined with 1” to 2” of sand, after which an underlay fabric made for ponds should be laid before the rubber liner. Smooth out the underlay so that it is a wrinkle free as possible before putting in the rubber liner. The rubber liner should be put in with as little walking on it as possible as this can damage the liner. Once the liner is place in the hole, weight down the top that is overlapping the top of the pond. Start filling the pond with water, while the pond fills, constantly walk around the ponds edge and lightly pull on the liner to help remove wrinkles. As the pond fills the water will push the liner out to fill out the pond. Keep filling up the pond until it is about 3-4” from the top. At this point, you should place the capping rocks around the pond to help hold the liner in place and also to hid the liner. At this point, you have the choice of whether to add river rock or decorative rocks to the bottom of the pond or not. Most people do to make the pond look more natural. In addition to this, the natural stone helps to encourage natural enzyme growth and allows for a more natural ecosystem. Selecting your Pump It is important that your pump is adequate for your pond. In order to determine this, the first thing you need to know is how big your pond is. Once this is determined, you should be recycling the water you have in your pond at least once every two hours, and once an hour is better. In addition to this, it is also important to know if there are other add-ons you would like to do, such as a water fall, water spitters, secondary ponds, etc.. One of our staff would be happy to help you determine which pump will best fit your needs. Filtration How a pond is filtered will determine the water quality of the pond. In some cases, it may be best to use a skimmer system with a biological waterfalls filtration system. Other options include in-line pressurized filtration systems, or in pond filter chambers. Whatever the water feature, we have all the filtration needed, and it is best to have one of our staff help you determine which filter will work with your pump and pond design. Whether you know exactly what you want or if you need ideas on how to best create what you are looking for, come into Ritchie’s and one of our knowledgeable staff would be happy to help you determine what all your pond requirements are.