How to Buy a Pond

Do you dream of creating a beautiful pond? A pond, or water garden, creates a space in your own backyard that offers so many benefits - quiet meditation, observation of nature, and a beautiful gathering place for family and friends. Ponds can be large or small, dramatic or simple, and really allow for expression of your own personal creativity and style. 

1. Before you buy any pond equipment and supplies, it is a good idea to consider what type of pond you want. Perhaps it is a simple water garden with a few plants or maybe you're envisioning a more elaborate pond with a school of koi fish and a waterfall. Figuring this out at the start will ensure you purchase the correct pond products and equipment.

2. Select a spot in your yard that gets an average of 4 - 6 hours of sun daily and is not located under trees. Keep in mind that waterfalls and pond equipment will make some noise and your pond will attract wildlife also. So right outside your bedroom window (or your neighbor's) would not be the best location.

3. Allow for some extra space in case you run into anything unexpected during installation. If you're looking to end up with a 6' x 6' pond, plan at least a 7' x 7' area. Depth will depend on what's going in your pond; a minimum of 1.5' is recommended for plants and a minimum of 3' for fish.

4. Your pond will start with a liner which is necessary to contain the water and prevent it from being absorbed into the soil. It is best to use a liner specifically designed for ponds. Swimming pool liners and other plastic materials can emit chemicals harmful to plants and fish. Flexible liners are the most common type and offer the most options for pond shapes and sizes. Preformed liners made of rigid plastic or fiberglass are available but these will be limited in available shapes and sizes (typically no more than 6 feet across and 1.5 feet deep).

5. Flexible liners are made of pliable EPDM rubber material which is sturdy and fish safe and holds up well in colder climates. They typically come in different size rolls, offering many options for different pond designs. These liners can be cut to the size and shape required, making them the best choice for ponds of all sizes and shapes. Liner material with 45 mil thickness rated with a 20-year warranty is recommended. You can also use underlayment to further protect your liner from rocks and any other sharp objects. Underlayment is made of polyethylene fabric.

6. Determine the liner size by measuring the longest length, widest width and the depth of your pond. Then plug those numbers into these formulas (based on measurements in US feet): Liner length = length + 2 x depth + 6"; Liner width = width + 2 x depth + 6". To calculate how much water you'll need (in gallons), take length x width x depth x 7.5.

7. Now for the pond equipment, starting with the pump which is the heart of your pond, circulating water and oxygen necessary to keep it all in balance. Ponds pumps are typically labeled with a flow rate measured in gallons per hour (GPH). The experts' rule of thumb is 1500 GPH per foot of waterfall width (the width is measured at the initial waterfall drop). If your waterfall is 2 feet wide at that point, then a 3000 GPH pump is suggested by this general guideline. But keep in mind that elevation and resistance will reduce that flow rate and must always be taken into account. You want a flow rate that gives you the right balance of water (not gushing and not trickling).

8. It is recommended to use a pump specifically designed for ponds such as the Aquascape Aquasurge. These pumps are fish safe as they do not use any oil. They are also made for continuous use at low amperage which means a low operating cost.

9. As for plumbing, it is best to check with the manufacturer of your pond pump for their recommendation. That being said, flexible pvc (also called flex pipe) is a favorite for ponds. Due to its flexibility, it can curve as needed to accommodate turns and small spaces. The material also handles expansion and contraction caused by changes in temperature.

10. The final component to your pond pump is a check valve to prevent back flow of water. When your pump is turned off, either by choice or power failure, water will flow backwards into the pond. But you really want this water to stay in the biological filter to nourish good bacteria. So be sure to include a check valve when choosing your pump and plumbing.

11. Next you will want to size and select a pond filter. Some filters have a waterfall feature built in which makes it easier for DIYers to add a waterfall. To size a filter, you will need to know how many gallons of water are in your pond. If you don't already have this calculation, you can use the formulas below (formulas are based on measurements in feet and inches).

12. For a rectangular or square pond: length x width x depth x 7.5 = gallons. For an oval pond with straight sides: length x width x depth x 6.7 = gallons. For a circular pond: diameter x diameter x depth x 5.9 = gallons.

13. Now that you've calculated the number of gallons, sizing the filter is easy. The rule of thumb is that you should have a filter that is rated for about 1.5 times the number of gallons in your pond. So if you calculated your pond contains 400 gallons, 1.5 x 400 would mean a filter rated at 600 gallons per hour (GPH). All pond filters will have a flow rate measured in GPH. Some pond experts recommend over-sizing the filter if fish are present due to increased waste products.

14. With the liner, pump and filter properly sized, consider what pond accessories you might want. Pond lights are an inexpensive yet very effective way to accent your pond. Aquascape LED pond lights are especially designed to have a warmer color than typical LED's. Spotlights can be used to accent water features, decorative statues and spitters, or the landscaping around your pond. Pond waterfall lights are smaller and more compact, making them easier to camouflage in rocks, gravel or plants. Different color bulbs are available to give you even more creative license. Lighting will also increase safety around your pond at night.

15. Pond fountains are another accessory which is functional as well as attractive. While adding movement and sound to your pond, they also aerate the water which adds vital oxygen for your pond's ecosystem. There are several styles of fountain heads which produce different spray patterns.

16. If your pond has fish, it may well attract predators so you might want to consider a decoy. Our most popular over the years has been the floating alligator which has three hinged body parts to give it natural movement. The alligator is a deterrent to herons and other predators. Our other decoy is a standing heron which will deter herons from entering the decoy's "territory". Pond decoys offer a simple and eco-friendly way to control predators and protect valuable fish.

17. Pond aerators are another popular accessory, oxygenating the water to promote healthier fish and plants. An aerator will also increase the breakdown of fish waste products and will help prevent icing over during the winter months.

If you have any other questions about pool and spa products please do let us know - we are here to help!

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