Choosing the Location for a Garden Pond
Make a Drawing
When you are trying to decide upon the type of pond you would like in terms of size, depth, formality etc you need to think about its location within the garden. There are a number of factors that you should consider, all of which will impact on your decision. This section should cover most of them and my apologies if you think I'm stating the obvious, but its amazing how often people forget, and its much better not to make the mistakes at this stage than to try to fix them later.
The first thing to worry about is immovable hard objects within the garden because there isn't much that you can do about them. For example, do you have any inspection covers in the area? Obviously, you cannot plan your pond to cover the immediate area surrounding the manhole as you never know when access may be required. However, don't forget that where-ever there is a manhole, there will be drain pipes. You can plan your pond to be over them because the pond will not weigh any more than the earth that is covering them before you start, but you need to know the depth of the pipes within the ground because it could be very embarrassing and expensive if you put your spade or pick axe through a drain pipe. I was lucky. I was about to load the last spade full before stopping for lunch so it was a fairly lack-lustre effort and there wasn't enough momentum in the spade to damage the pipe that I hadn't realised was there. Had it been the first vigorous strike after lunch, I would probably have broken the pipe. In particular, check on a line between your house down pipe from the roof and all visible manhole covers. Also check with your neighbours. They might have some inspection covers so check where their pipes go.
Next consider any walls, particularly if they belong to your neighbours. You mustn't plan your pond to be so close to boundary or building walls that it has the potential to undermine the foundations of the walls. The effects of that could be very serious and also extremely expensive to repair.  Top
At various times through the year, you will need access to all parts of the pond for maintenance and adjustment so don't plan the pond too close to anything that might prevent that access. Try to look ahead a few years to the size that any plants by your pond will be. It might be easy enough to push a small shrub out of the way to get to part of your pond but how big will it get? Equally, you will need to be able to get to fences and hedges for routine maintenance. You must allow space to use any tools safely because don't want to be in danger of falling into your pond whilst using an electric hedge trimmer or of dropping it into your pond.Think about how you are going to get to the other side of the pond to clear any debris or dead-head flowers. My first ponds had a bank around but I was able to walk on the rocks as I made my way around to the other side of the pond. Not much of a problem if you are fit enough but safety must be considered and you don't want to end up in the water with the fish.
When I enlarged the pond, I reduced the number of rocks at the back of the pond as I wanted more plants. The bank is a good way of using up the earth from the hole that you dig. Its far better to use it in one way or another rather than pay to take it away in a skip because the extra height allows you to build a waterfall to further enhance your pond. However, it was difficult to get to the far side of the pond and I had to use a ladder to cross, or risk damaging my plants. In later versions of my pond, I removed the bank completely and in the latest one, I've got a semi-permanent path to all parts. Top
Whilst a pond looks lovely next to trees, providing reflection and rippling light, leaves need to be kept out of the pond (see my maintenance page). They also have roots that can spread further than their branches, and that can pose a threat to the integrity of your pond if they get too big, too close. This isn't to say that you cannot have trees close to your pond; rather its to remind you of the potential for problems. I've got an Acer tree and a Corkscrew Hazel right next to mine and they look better each year. The Hazel looks really scruffy all through the summer but in the Autumn we get a nice crop of nuts. However, in the winter, it is glorious and makes a real sculptural impact on the garden. The branches of the trees will cast shade over the pond, which will slightly hamper the growth of any plants you wish to grow. But the fish will relish the shade during the peak of the summer and less light means less algae.
Another consideration, often overlooked, is the possibility of sap falling into the pond and upsetting the Ph balance of the water to the detriment of the health of your fish. The biggest threat of all comes from pine needles. If you have chosen a butyl liner, pine needles can puncture the liner by getting wedged into a fold and continually applying pressure due to the movement of the water. You need to do all that you can to prevent pine needles getting into your pond, or its possible that you could lose all your water and hence your fish. Top
One thing that is often forgotten is to look at your plans from a number of different angles. Something that looks great from one position might not be so good from the other end of the garden or from your patio and a compromise is often necessary to get the best views from all the places that you are likely to want to enjoy your ponds.
This photograph was taken from my kitchen roof so that I could get the whole pond in but the part closest to the camera is only 1.5m from the kitchen window.
Between the kitchen window and that area is the path for access so we didn't want the pond at this end of the garden because the movement would have been disturbing for the fish. So we put our pond at the other end of the garden. The waterfalls are constructed so that they are all visible from the Kitchen window, the bench at the other end of the pond, and also from our patio on the other side of the garden.
One thing that I had forgotten to consider was the rate of growth of all the plants around and in my ponds. As mentioned on other pages, I planned and built the ponds during the winter months and although I was happy with the results, I hadn't considered that when the plants grew, I couldn't see past them to my fish. Hence the latest (domestic management says final) version of my ponds has a patio at each end. Top
As you will see from the Pumps and Filters section, modern pond pumps are usually supplied with 10m of waterproof cable. UV filters often have only 5m of cable. The type of pump and filter you chose will govern whether they have to be co-located in terms of electrical power. eg the pump and UV filter for my ponds on my home page are powered from the shed at the far end of the ponds.
Water and Electricity are not meant to come into contact with each other. When they meet, their reaction can be quite violent and invariably fatal if you are involved in the coming together. Its not just the ponds that you must consider, rain is just as likely to cause you problems. You must ensure that all outdoor electrical connections are made using approved waterproof connectors. I cannot stress enough that this is not an area for the amateur. If you are not entirely sure what you have to do, you must get an electrician to make these connections for you. The latest electrical regulations for the UK state that all power connections for ponds must be installed by fully qualified electricians.
Whoever carries out your installation, ensure that wherever the power is taken from in the house, you use a Residual Current Device (RCD). That is vital to ensure that if the cable is broken, the device will trip, thereby preventing an electric shock. All cabling needs to be protected, ideally by using armoured cable. The cables to my shed are positioned such that I know that I will not have to dig anywhere near them. Even though I have used armoured cable, I also protect them from being bitten by animals by pulling them through a 3/4" plastic pipe which was then buried about 20cm deep. Top
Don't forget your neighbours!! Whilst you might love the sound of continuous running water from your waterfalls, your neighbours may not and as with any other noise, once offence is caused, its difficult to undo the damage. See my waterfalls pages for the sort of things to consider and how to try to avoid problems. Waterfalls don't have to be at all noisy but always make sure that you discus your plans with your neighbours and try to involve them in the tests I suggest in the waterfalls section. If your relationship with your neighbours is somewhat difficult, it may not be wise to install a waterfall at all. You can always return the water from the filter, by pipe, directly into the pond and use an air pipe to provide aeration. Top
Once you have considered all the factors I've mentioned, (and if there are any more that you think should be mentioned here, please e-mail me and I'll update the site.) you can start to produce your draft design. Its best to start with a scale drawing of your garden, or at least the area that you intend to build your pond(s). Don't worry if you are not a great artist. This is where the fun starts. Don't be too worried about the detail at this stage because all you want to achieve is a rough plan which you can refine as you try various options. Having said that, it is worth adding a bit of colour, eg blue for water, green for plants, other colours for flowers etc. This is likely to generate a fair amount of discussion within the home because my experience is that no two people envisage the same thing in any given space. But as I said, this is the fun bit, don't be afraid to try a number of options.
Once you think that you have reached a suitable design, you need to lay out your design in your chosen location. The easiest thing for this is a garden hose pipe. Lay it out in the shape of your pond(s) as you have on your diagram. If you haven't got a hose pipe, just use some cooking flour to show the outline. Then stop for a coffee or a lager!! Don't rush this bit. Only once you have had a short rest and got the plan out of your mind should you go back into the garden and begin checking the appearance from all the possible angles. The reason for that is that it is very easy to convince yourself that your plan is perfect but it may be that a waterfall is obscured by a bush from one of the places from which you particularly wanted to be able to see it. Don't forget to look out of your upstairs windows as well. You will get a different perspective that may help you in your decisions.
If you are like me, you will want to start digging straight away, but try to resist that urge. Its best if you can get away from the garden completely for at least a few hours; a couple of days is best. Then when you come back, go through the checking process again. At this stage, if you don't like it, you only have to move a hose pipe or scatter some more flour. Once you have satisfied yourself that you have a design that you are happy with, make any necessary changes to your drawing and check out the Work Preparation pages. Top
Last but not least. I've had a pond in my garden since my children were 6yrs and 3yrs old and have never had a problem. However, you must be absolutely sure that they are safe to be in your garden before you build your pond. We found that once their initial curiosity was satisfied they were content to keep away from the edge unless we were with them. You must make your own decision as to when your children can be safely left on their own. Please don't compromise on that decision. If children decide that they want to play in your pond, its only a matter of time before they find a way to do so. If in any doubt, delay building your pond for a couple of years.
Remember also that you have a duty of care within your property for any guests (invited or no) and that it is up to you to take reasonable precautions to prevent unwanted guests from gaining access to your pond. Make sure that you have a gate that can be closed to prevent the curious from wandering in and falling into your pond. Top