For thousands of years, ponds have been one of the most striking features of many elegant and beautiful gardens around the world. Building a pond is a complex task. But with wide variety of easy-to-use materials, kits and supplies available today, ponds have become a popular home improvement trend.
Perfect for beginners, pond kits are the easiest way to build a professional-looking pond. It also saves the time and money it takes in planning and shopping, as it already provides all the equipment needed to make a garden pond. The components are also perfectly matched to suit the size of the pond the buyer desires. Pond kits usually include a liner, underlayment, waterfalls, pump, silicone sealer and anything else that will be needed to properly build your pond. No matter what size of garden pond one has in mind, there is most certainly an appropriately-sized kit available.
Pond liners are the foundation of your pond. They hold the water in the pond and keep it from leaking and losing water. Pond liners are very flexible, designed to conform to any hole regardless of its shape and are built to withstand serious punishment. They also remain flexible through extreme temperatures and are UV resistant. The most common choices for flexible pond liners are the following:
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) pond liners - very long-lasting (about 20 years of use), resistant to ultraviolet radiation and can offer excellent performance in cold climates. It is, however, expensive compared to some of the other options.
PVC (Polyvinylchloride) pond liners - very inexpensive and is easy to use, conforms to the pond layout with little work and can provide about 10 years of service. However, this material is not desirable for cold climates and direct sunlight can have a detrimental effect on it.
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) pond liners – made of tough material, have a life expectancy of 15 years, but do not offer good performance in cold zones..They are one of the less-expensive options and are generally safe for flora and fauna.
Rubber (Butyl Rubber) pond liners – long-lasting on the same level as EPDM, are fairly easy to work with but tend to be thick and heavy which makes them hard to fold. They are toxic to some animals and, therefore, may not be the best choice for those who want a koi pond.
A good pump is required in order to maintain proper flow, circulation and aeration of your pond water. These devices keep clean water moving into the pond. Pond pumps are available in above water and submerged varieties and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. When shopping for a pump, you will need to get the right size for your pond.
Pumps are measured according to their pumping capacity, either in gallons per hour (GPH) or gallons per minute (GPM). Your pump should be able to pump at least half of the pond's water volume per hour. Energy efficiency and durability are very important because pond pumps have to run continuously for many months. There are four different types of water garden pumps defined by what function they serve.
Direct Drive Pumps - offer more power than Magnetic Drive pumps but use more electricity. Best used for large waterfalls and streams.
Magnetic Drive Pumps - more efficient than Direct Drive pumps but are not as powerful. Best used for waterfalls and streams.
Statuary Pumps - used to power fountains, spitters, and other stand-alone creative applications.
External Drive pumps - offer lots of water flow and must be installed outside the water.
Pond filters are important to help keep your pond water clean and clear. If the pond contains any fish, such as Koi or goldfish, more filtration is usually required. Pond filtera must be sized correctly to insure effective cleaning and purification of the water. Many pond filters come with the recommended pump as a package, but filters can also be purchased separately. These devices can be installed at different positions within or outside the pond, depending on the type chosen, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. An out-of-pond filter allows easier convenience for cleaning and maintenance on your pond. Garden ponds that are exposed to the sun for more than 6 hours a day, and Koi ponds, should have a slightly larger filter. Depending upon your requirement you can go for different filters which include the following types:
Mechanical Filters - can be considered the first phase of a pond filtration system, these help clarify the pond water of solid wastes like dry leaves, fish food, uneaten food, feces, plant debris etc. before they reach the pond bottom
Biological Filters - make use of beneficial bacteria to break down fish waste, other organic matter, and toxic wastes like ammonia and nitrate present in the pond water.
Chemical Filters - involves purifying the pond water of harmful chemicals by chemically binding them to the filter media using activated carbon. This method of filtration is extremely useful to remove chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals, ammonia and other chemical impurities from the pond water. Chemical filters also help improve the pond clarity and remove pond odor.
UV Filters - make use of ultraviolet radiation to kill harmful pathogens, fungi and algae. UV filters are highly effective against suspended algae and can help in eliminating them from the pond by altering their DNA structure. U.V. filters can also be used along with a combination of biological filters to produce better results.
As a general rule of thumb, the hose size should always be one size larger than the pump outlet's diameter. The larger the hose diameter, the gentler the flow of water. Hose and tubing is relatively cheap, so spend the extra cents for a top quality hose. Garden pond hose should be regularly inspected for stiffness, kinks or cracks to avoid unhealthy build up of harmful bacteria in your pond water.
Pond Heaters and De-Icers
Pond winterization is the practice of preparing your pond for winter so that it stays healthy and clean and is easy to start up the next Spring. The Fall and Winter months create a different set of circumstances that must be addressed that are not present at other times of the year
Pond Heaters - lie on the bottom of the pond and must be completely submerged when in use. These are usually suggested for shallow ponds. Pond heaters are built with a rubber bumper surrounding them in order to prevent them from touching the sides or bottom of the pond.
Pond De-Icers - sometimes mistaken for pond heaters, these devices keep a small opening thawed on your pond's surface in order to allow toxic gases like methane to escape and to allow oxygen to enter simultaneously. Pond de-icers contain automatic thermo-regulators that turn on whenever the water temperature drops below 40-degrees Fahrenheit.
Pond lighting allows owners to enjoy their pond both day and night. It also adds a creative style which accentuates the pond's best features. Some garden ponds, in fact, can be even more beautiful in the night than they are in the day with the right lighting setups. Installing lights, however, requires that the owner pay a significant degree of attention to safety because electrical work, especially around water, is potentially very dangerous. There are basically four types of pond lights to consider:
Rock Lights - basically halogen lights encased in something that looks like a rock to blend in with the pond's theme and overall garden landscape. But these don't necessarily have to be rock-shaped. Popular models also include frogs, turtles and many other animals.
Submergible Pond Lights - underwater pond lights can turn your meager pond into a really beautiful piece of landscaping. One should ensure getting proper mounting brackets so the underwater lights do not end up face down on the bottom. Special light lens covers are also available to change the colors. Owners should get at least 35 to 75 watt bulbs, depending on the depth of the pond, since deeper ponds require higher wattage.
Floating Pond Lights - most varieties of these are made of temperature and water resistant bowl-shapes and use 5 watt bulbs. They usually come with individual cables which are low voltage. They look very serene amongst lily pads and most water plants.
Solar Pond Lights - rechargeable lights that use the sun to illuminate the darkness. Solar pond lights automatically come on when it gets dark. These lights float on the pond's surface and don't require very much maintenance or timers. The solar batteries generally last up to 3-years before needing to be replaced. The advantage is you don't need electricity.
A pond fountain is an elegant and eye-catching feature that adds a great deal of character to the pond. Pond fountains also promote a healthy aquatic environment through the oxygen transfer and water circulation that is produced as the cascading water returns to the pond. The best way to get started with pond fountains is to use a kit. These contain the basic elements one needs. Along with your fountain, you will need a fountain pump. Pond fountains come in different styles, designs and sizes, which all have different looks and effects.
Pond foggers are completely safe to use with fish and other living creatures and can give your pond a cool effect, especially at night when used in combination with lighting. They are required to be kept afloat at the right depth using a "fogger float," which is essential for proper operation. The best pond foggers should be fully or semi-submersible, have a long power cord for optimal usage, and come with a transformer and float. Some can also have color changing lights. Look for ones that use ultrasonic waves instead of chemicals.
Pond waterfalls are some of the most relaxing and elegant features that one can add to their fish pond or water garden. They also have the added benefit as acting as a type of aerator. The most important supplies needed for a pond waterfall are a pump and a length of hose. The pump must be adequate for the pond waterfall you aim to create. There are pumps which are designed specifically for the features of waterfall ponds and these are the best choices. One can also place plants at the edges of the pond waterfall to conceal the mechanics used and to add a nice natural touch. The spot where the hose exits the water can be concealed with landscaping rocks. Some individuals like to add lighting to the pond waterfall to make it more dramatic at night.
Pond nets are designed to be spread across your pond to keep debris like dead leaves from falling into it. Nets are also a practical way of keeping predators away from the fish, aquatic plants and other living creatures in your pond. Pond nets are typically made of plastic components, solid plastic or nylon for seine nets, and are available in a variety of different net designs.
A thermometer is a definite necessity in order to keep your pond at the right temperature, especially for ponds containing fish and aquatic plants. The pond thermometer must always sit in the water completely, about half way down the depth of the water.
Aquatic plants are a great asset to any garden pond. Not only do they give the pond a more natural appearance, they also help balance out a garden pond's ecosystem. Pond plants can be classified into four basic categories:
Oxygenators - are plants that are submerged in the pond water. They perform an extremely important function of pond cleansing by taking up excessive nutrients from the pond water, thereby cutting off food supply to algae and other pathogens. During the day time, they soak up carbon-dioxide from the pond water and release oxygen which is important for the survival of pond life. In addition they can also act as shelter to fishes during extremely cold temperatures.
Floaters - as the name suggests, floaters are pond plants that float on the water surface. Their roots remain submerged whereas their leaves and stems float on the surface of the water acting as a pond cover. They perform the important function of protecting pond life like fishes from direct sunlight, thereby helping the pond water to remain cool during hot sunny days.
Marginals - are plants that grow to the brim of the water. They generally need to be planted in individual containers and kept not more than two to three inches below the water surface. They help in beautifying the pond with their attractive flowers and leaves and they also need to be fertilized on a regular basis.
Deep Water Aquatics - need to be planted at least one foot deep into the pond using proper containers. They grow till the surface of the water and perform the dual function of protecting the pond water from direct sunlight and beautifying the entire pond.
Though not a necessity, it would be great to have all these four varieties in your pond as each variety is useful in its own way. The pond plant no one wants is algae. Colonies of these develop into what's commonly called "pond scum," which is smelly and can choke the nutrients out of the water, making the environment entirely unhealthy.
Goldfish and Koi are the most popular types of pond fish because they are colorful, which makes them easier to see in the pond water than many other kinds of fish. Koi are not suitable for very small ponds, they must have at least 200 gallons of pond water per fish and must have adequate pond filtration. Goldfish are the staple of garden ponds. These bright and colorful fish adapt readily to a wide range of pond conditions and breed easily.