by Ricky Peterson – Swallow Aquatics

As well as adding variety to your yard, ponds also attract an abundance of wildlife that can be beneficial for your garden, making them both practical and pleasing on the eye. If you have children ponds are a great educational tool, too. And, of course, they look stunningly beautiful.

800px-European_Common_Frog_(Rana_temporaria)_(8619564516)Image credit: frog

But just how should you go about digging your pond? Which things should you look out for? There’s more to planning a successful pond than selecting which spade to use and grabbing a bucket; however, with a little preparation, it’s completely achievable. Here’s what to look out for – soon you’ll have a watery paradise all of your own!

1. Where to start?

This is a literal question – where are you going to place your pond? You’ll need to look for a location with the following attributes:

  • A sunny spot, where plants and animals will thrive thanks to the sunshine.
  • A place without trees above it (unless you want to clear the leaves from the surface of the pond every morning come Autumn).
  • Space for dense planting along one side, and hedges and logs nearby. This will provide much-needed shelter for baby frogs.

2. Show me the money!

Ponds don’t have to be super expensive, but neither are they free. So that you don’t end up running out of cash before you’ve even got any plants, figure out a budget that you can afford and plan out what you need to buy first. The usual essentials are:

  • Pond liner (soft liners are cheaper, but hard liners make the job easier)
  • Filter & Pump (to keep the water circulating and prevent stagnations)
  • Water testing kits (one for nitrites, one for pH)
  • UV clarifier

3. Watch out for invaders

Our ponds are being invaded by aliens – but not from outer space. Invasive varieties of plants could take over, and destroy other plants in the process. Unless you want Little Shop of Horrors on your hands, steer clear of the following. Okay, maybe we’re being a little dramatic, but do watch out for these:

• Canadian waterweed Elodea canadensis

• Carolina water-shield/fanwort Cabomba caroliniana • Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa (marine algae/seaweed)

• Creeping water-primrose Ludwigia peploides

• Curly waterweed Lagarosiphon major (Elodea crispa)

• Duck potato Sagittaria latifolia

• Fallopia japonica x Fallopia sachalinensis

• False Hampshire-purslane Ludwigia x kentiana

• Few-flowered leek Allium paradoxum

• Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides

• Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum

• Giant knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis

• Hottentot fig Carpobrotus edulis

Some of these plants are even sold in garden centres, so be sure to research which plants you’ll introduce first, and be wary of any gifts from friends.

4. Make the perfect mix

Now we’ve scared you to death about alien plants, now comes the fun part! There are hundreds of perfectly safe, beautiful plants to choose from, so enjoy selecting which ones you’d like for your aquatic haven. Go for a mixture of planting for your edges, like irises, and floating plants such as water hawthorn. What sort of design will you go for? Check out Pinterest for some inspiration.

5. Don’t stop me now

Choosing a good variety of plants and animals is also great for creating a self sufficient pond, meaning that you get to enjoy it with very little upkeep. However, it’s important to check in on your pond to make sure  everything is ticking over nicely – you’ll need to cut back plants, top up water levels and clear away leaves every so often. However, the plants and animals that call your pond their home will make it worthwhile!

About The Author – Ricky Peterson

Hi there!  I hope you enjoyed my post. Building a pond is great fun, and having a pond is fab too, but it’s nice to avoid the sorts of mistakes that can spoil the experience for you. Have a think carefully about how you want your pond to look before you build it and you will enjoy it for many years. My name is Ricky by the way, I am a sales and technical assistant at Swallow Aquatics, so please visit their website if you want to learn more.