Did you know that water gardening is the fastest growing segment in the landscape/garden industry? Although professional installers like us are available, with a bit of research & some hard work you can create a beautiful water garden yourself. If you are thinking about adding a do it yourself pond to your yard there are several things you should consider.
Koi Pond or Water Garden
The first question to ask yourself is what style of water feature you would like to have. The two most popular types are water gardens & Koi ponds. A water garden, with it’s main focus on water lilies and lined with rocks, will blend into your landscape seamlessly with it‘s edges softened by marginal plants. Water gardens have shelves for planting and are usually 2’ at the deepest point. A Koi pond may appear formal with straight sides to keep predators out, no rock inside the pond & a depth of 3’ to 6’. Additionally, Koi ponds should have sophisticated filter systems to help keep your Koi healthy. Other styles of water features include pondless waterfalls, fountains & rain gardens.
What they say is true, location is everything, especially when deciding where to install your water feature. Try to locate your pond away from large leaf dropping trees. Shade trees may make a nice backdrop but they will cause headaches when it comes to keeping your pond clean. A front yard may not be the best choice for a Koi pond in a crowded neighborhood where children are present. Before you begin to dig, it is important to check for any under ground utilities. In Florida, dial 811 to call Sunshine Dig. Sunshine Dig is a free resource for homeowners & builders. They will send out reps from each utility company to mark your yard for any underground wiring, plumbing, etc. The next step is to lay out a garden hose or a rope to form the basic size & shape of your pond. Water features can be created using preform plastic tubs, liners, concrete or anything that will hold water. The most popular, cost effective & durable choice is EPDM rubber liner, which conforms to any shape.
If you are installing a water garden, you will want shelves for bog and marginal plants, along with a deeper section for lilies & maybe a couple of goldfish. Always start in the center digging the deepest level first. Shelves should be between 8”-12” wide to allow potted plants to stay in place. An alternative to potted plants is to plant your marginals directly in the gravel on the plant shelf allowing your plants to grow freely.
A Koi pond with its straight deep sides will need additional support. Once you have dug your Koi pond, build a ‘frame” inside the pond using cement block & rebar to hold the dirt back. Do not forget to dig a trench for your plumbing from your pond to your waterfall. When installing liner of any kind, a geotext underlayment should be layed under the liner. The underlayment will protect the liner from sharp rocks & roots & will allow gases to escape. Without it, gases will become trapped under the liner causing the liner to lift.
Keep it clean
Filtration is an important function of a Koi pond and should be considered for your water garden as well. There are many types of filtration systems. A good Koi pond filter system should include a bottom drain, skimmer, external bio filter & an external pump while a water garden may use a simple submersed pump & filter. You should research this area by talking to a local pond expert or joining a local pond club. Most ponders love to share their experiences with others.
You have a pond, now what?
There is no such thing as a maintenance free pond but you can have a pond that is easy to maintain. A well-built pond with proper filtration that is not overstocked or overfed may require 10-20 minutes of maintenance once a week leaving you plenty of time to sit back, relax & enjoy your creation.