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5 Things To Consider Before You Design And Build A Pond

By August 23, 2023Ponds
waterfall pond

A pond is perhaps the single landscape feature that will truly transform your outdoor experience. The wildlife it invites, the soothing sounds of running water, the serenity of a moment spent with sunlight playing off the surface or reflecting the bright colors of koi – it can all bring harmony into your space and joy into your life.

Whether you’ve always imagined a pond in your yard, or you don’t consider yourself much of an aquatic person but still wonder about the lifestyle, this is for you!

These are some things to consider before you add a pond to your space. Answer these questions to help set your expectations and to ensure that you’ll be getting a water feature that you will enjoy and appreciate fully.

spill bowlsWhat Kind Of Pond Do You Want?

All ponds are not created equal! Depending on your space, your lifestyle, and your preferences, you can choose from a variety of pond types and styles.

In small spaces, a micro pond or perhaps a portable patio pond or water garden may suit you. These are good choices for small yards or if you’re just starting out in the aquatic world and aren’t yet sure what you might enjoy most.

A patio pond or portable water garden can afford you all the beauty of an in-ground pond, just on a smaller and less permanent scale. Add plants and flowers, miniature waterfalls, even a handful of goldfish and some underwater lights, and you’ll be able to appreciate all the beauty and serenity of water.

Micro ponds are built into the ground and are also an excellent choice for a small space. They come in sizes as small as six feet by eight, and only two feet deep. Their slightly larger scale means you can add koi and other decorative features like natural stone and underwater fish caves. A word of caution, however: many people who “start small” find themselves upgrading once they realize how transformative a pond can be!

In addition to these questions, there are more things to consider before you begin designing and building your pond. For instance, do you want a koi and fish pond, or a water garden for tending lilies? (Or both!) And have you considered a swimming pond?

That’s right, a pond can double as a natural swimming pool where you can do everything from wade to float to swim if your space is large enough.

Knowing your preferences and how you’d like to experience your pond will help as you work with your designer to create one that’s perfectly suited to you.

midge and John pondHow Big Will Your Pond Be?

We touched on this briefly, but there are a few other things to consider as you choose the size of your pond.

First, remember our warning about how people often upgrade their pond? It’s true – far more people think they started too small and almost nobody ever thinks they went too big.

Of course, your available space will determine the limitations of size, but consider that a pond doesn’t need to be part of your yard – it can actually be your yard! If you’re not the big-green-lawn type, why not convert your yard into a water garden, complete with fish and frogs, plants and stone, seating areas and connecting bridges? Your pond can even abut a patio or deck and become the surrounding landscape itself.

There is another practical consideration for size, too. A small, shallow pond can actually be more work to maintain than a larger one. That’s because the smaller the pond, the more susceptible it is to the whims of the changing elements. Water heats up faster on hot days, and freezes quicker on cold. If you want to keep plants and fish in a small pond, you will need to be extra mindful of their health as the temperature and seasons change.

pond tall lilies

Where Will Your Pond Be Located?

Location is key to enjoying your pond. The last thing you want to do is set your pond somewhere out in the back yard where you can’t see it unless you make a trip out there. Don’t make it difficult to love your pond! Whether it’s in the front or back yard, it is special enough to be the center of attention.

A pond should ideally be visible from multiple places in your home – from a kitchen or living room window, from a deck or porch, and of course from anywhere you may spend time in your yard like a patio, lounge, or dining area.

In addition to the beauty of the pond itself, it will attract wildlife like birds, butterflies, and even the neighborhood frogs. Why not set yourself up to enjoy all of that?

As you consider the placement of your pond, keep in mind that the amount of sun and shade it gets will affect its design and maintenance needs. A pond in full sun may reward you with some spectacular lotus blooms, but it must also be shaded enough with floating plants to keep it from overheating during summer.

A pond beneath trees may collect leaves, so take that into account, too. Adding netting can help, especially during autumn when your skimmer is less likely to keep up with falling debris.

Finally, be mindful of how water flows through your yard. If you place a pond where it is likely to collect runoff from storms, that can be a disaster for the health of your fish.

Plan carefully and the result will be a healthy pond that you can enjoy to its fullest.

pond bamboo edgeHow Will You Deter Predators?

If you have koi and fish, this is an important consideration. Don’t make it an afterthought – plan protection right into your pond design.

There are a number of ways to keep fish safe, including something as simple as stretching netting across the surface of your pond.

If that doesn’t sound aesthetically pleasing, consider adding a bamboo border. Some predators, like the blue heron, need solid ground to get their footing and won’t be able to stalk your fish if they can’t stand close enough.

Mechanical deterrents can work well, too. A motion activated “scarecrow” will release a spray of water when triggered by a predator. These unobtrusive and environmentally friendly boxes can be placed at intervals around your pond to startle and scare off anything from cats to large, hungry birds.

If you really want to think outside the pond… er, box… add outdoor speakers around your pond and play your favorite talk show or podcast! Audio can create a fantastic experience for human listeners, and tell non-human ones that someone is watching – even when you’re not around.

And when you are around, you can choose your favorite music to sit and enjoy a little koi-gazing.

lighting pondWhat About Those Evening Hours?

It would be a shame if you could only enjoy your pond during daylight. A waterfall is magical enough in the sunlight, so just imagine how enchanting it can be at night when lit from within.

You can set lights behind a waterfall for an other-worldly glow. Tuck lights between rocks to illuminate the area or to highlight a special feature like a sculpture or a particularly striking natural stone. Include lighting in the surrounding area, too, like high up in trees so you can appreciate the unique mystery of the evening hours.

And yes, you can even put lighting in patio ponds and small water gardens! Include underwater lighting in your design plan and you will be rewarded with beauty that you can enjoy all evening long.

These are just a few considerations to take into account as you plan and design your dream pond. If you’re thinking about diving into the aquatic lifestyle, book a consultation with us and we’ll work with you to uncover all of the details that will bring a truly special experience to your outdoor space.