Having a garden pond in your backyard can be both a relaxing addition to your outdoor living space and a hobby all rolled into one. However, there are things that you need to think about before preparing to install a garden pond.
Some important things to consider before building a pond are the permissions needed for building, the proper placement of the pond (on a slope or proper lighting), the proper depth to make the pond, and whether you want to use a pre-formed pond or not.
So, let’s say you want to move forward with your new garden pond – what should you consider first?
Does a Garden Pond Need Planning Permission?
This is not just about your neighborhood HOA. Obviously, be sure the HOA is cool with you putting in a pond, especially if it’s in the front yard and open to the public.
Anything that holds water could be a safety liability, so you should also consider the need for a fence – which also needs permitting.
Also, large features like a garden pond have to be set back a specific amount of space from your property line. You need to be sure of the rules and regulations in your county, city, and community.
Also, don’t ever forget to call 811 in the United States to be sure that your utility lines are marked before you begin digging on your property.
Can You Build a Pond on a Slope?
Actually, building on a slope is pretty common for a garden pond. You can definitely incorporate that slope to make a nice waterfall that will aerate your water. The only thing you’ll have to do is be sure to level portions of the slope and possibly be prepared to build an embankment or retaining wall on the downward portion of the slope.
In my experience, we built a retaining wall with some leftover masonry blocks and brick. Then, we took dirt from the upper slope and used it to fill in that area with the retaining wall until the ground was level enough to make the base of the garden pond. We lined it, placed more blocks around for holding the liner and for decoration, and then we placed a pump hose from the bottom up to higher on the slope to make a waterfall.
Do Garden Ponds Need Sunlight? Should Ponds Be Placed in the Shade?
This depends on the flora you plan to plant in and around your pond. You want to be sure there is enough sunlight to keep things growing, right? I would suggest sunlight in the mornings and then shade in the afternoon as the perfect set-up for your natural light on a pond. This will keep your water cooler and discourage algae.
There’s something else to take into consideration with you decide on placing a pond beneath say… the shade of a tree. Trees are going to lose leaves, especially if you have deciduous trees. And that means the clean-up will be substantial at the bottom of your pond. Do you really want to deal with all of that?
What Is the Ideal Depth of a Garden Pond? How Deep Should a Pond Be for Fish?
This is an important thing to consider, especially if you add fish to your pond. You want the pond to be deep enough to provide your fish with room to have a good life.
I would say that 2 feet deep should be the minimum depth of a backyard pond. If you want to include fish, you should probably make the pond 3 feet deep for at least most of the center – for winter hibernation needs.
It also needs to be deep enough to provide the fish with shelter during colder winter months. It’s dangerous for the fish to remove them during the winter months. Just give some thought ahead of time to how deep the pond should be to give them shelter from the cold.
But there’s a limit. You do not want the pond to be so deep that you wind up running into zoning or permit violations. In some cases, I’ve seen ponds deep enough that the permit changed to a swimming pool permit! So don’t go overboard.
You also don’ want to go overboard and make your pond a hazard to kids – if you’ll have those around. Small ponds can be engineered so that they are the right size to hold fish all year and yet won’t require a fenced backyard or extra insurance due to safety concerns. That’s the sweet spot you’re looking for when it comes to a backyard or garden pond.
Should You Use a Preformed Pond? Is It Easier?
You can use pre-formed ponds instead of getting a liner for your pond, but these tend to be shallow and smaller than a custom pond. That means it may not be the best thing for good water quality or living space for fish. I’ve seen some deeper versions made recently, so just keep your eyes open.
If you just want a shallow pond for growing pretty water plants, a preformed pond might actually be the perfect way to go.
It’s really durable and lasts a long time. You can buy these things in pieces, so that you can more easily create water agitating waterfalls with them, too. You just need to be willing to dig the pond in the chosen shape and build up the surroundings around the molded material you’ve chosen.
Look up your reviews on these things, because some of them have been known to crack and that would be horrible for your pond. So quality over price here is important.
I hope this article has informed you of some important things to consider before you decide on going to the trouble and expense of installing a garden pond in your backyard space. Did you decide to go for it? If so, you may want to also look at my article about the necessities of a garden pond. In the meantime, enjoy everything you can get out of your own backyard boosts!