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Siting a pond on a sloping garden

Discussion in 'Water Gardening' started by Sian in Belgium, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. Sian in Belgium

    Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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    i have always wanted to have a pond in my garden. For years, whilst in rented accommodation, I made do with a large half-barrel. We are on our third now, I think, and it is starting to fail. I think the ice over the extended freeze has split some of the wooden panels, despite having the pump running throughout, stopping it from freezing solid.

    So, having read about people getting ponds on the forum, I thought "why can't I?".

    We have pure sand at the top of the garden. It is so bad, the grass won't grow. If it's wet in the summer, we get a strange blue-green algae on the surface of the soil. Otherwise, very little grows. So, I won't be loosing lush lawn if I put a pond there....

    When I went to a pond specialist website, to see prices for liners, and how much I would need, i was surprised to see that ponds should be situated in 50% shade. Dad's pond was in full sun, and I didn't think that would be a problem, so long as you have enough aquatic plants to cover 50% of the water surface?

    I'm thinking of a pond, around 9' by 4' (very ish on the measurements!), about 2-3' deep at its deepest, with planting shelves, and a shallow pebble entry place - with slight ridge before the drop-off. Learnt that lesson the hard way. Unless you are careful, all your lovely pebbles end up in the deep end!

    The garden is on a slope, but that is the gentler part of the slope. It is at the top of the garden, so at the moment not where people naturally wander, unless they are inspecting the veg beds. But it does seem the natural place to position it.

    IMG_2037.JPG
    Not the best of photos, but I'm thinking of putting the pond where Harley is heading to. You can just see a bit of a blue patch of wild flowers above his left ear? Then the flower bed will be extended forward to incorporate the pond.

    Questions I'm left with:
    - Am I mad to think I might be able to dig out hole, and place liner, over 4 days? Hubby not keen on a pond, so planning a fate accompli for when he's away. (Added advantage that he's bringing MiL back with him, so unlikely to give me a ticking-off in front of her!)
    - re the slope. The soil I will be digging out will be pure sand. It holds its shape quite well, as the line of excavated sand from last year's veg beds proves. Could I use this to build up a little on the down-side of the slope? This would give a use for some of the excavated sand, and mean I don't have to dig quite so deep.
    - I would like it to be a wildlife pond, but I have goldfish in the water-barrel pond that is failing. Thinking of moving them to the pond, and then going "wildlife friendly" from there on in. I have yellow flag, water mint, a water sedge, a small water Lilly and a.n.other aquatic plant that would also be coming over from the barrel. If it helps, we have frogs in the barrel pond quite regularly (no idea how they get up there!), and dragonflies.
    - we excavated some granite cobble sets when digging the herb garden, so thinking of using them on the "upside" of the pond, with the liner going up behind them, to prevent soil seeping into the pond, and disguise the liner. They are old sets, so the stone surface was cut many years ago. Any risk of contamination into the water? The rest of the liner will probably be covered with pebbles, soil, or some of the old bricks we excavated at the same time as the sets. Again, any risk of water contamination?
    - at the moment I can't see a way of getting power to the pond site, although there is power about 10 metres away (electric gate motor). So the pond will have to work and be balanced without pump...

    Frogs, common toads, and crested newts are often found in the garden, with midwife toads in the area, and dragonflies, damselflies etc often fly through, so hoping it will establish well...

    All in all -
    Am I mad?!!!
     
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    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      No, not mad at all Sian
      My pond is pretty small.....looked huge at the building stage though. I will be making a bigger one at some time
      Some fantastic ponds on the forum......much larger than mine....so I will leave some of the answers to them, but........
      My sense is you are tackling this with a view to getting it all done asap.....like yesterday??? You are likely to skimp on many essential aspects in your haste. You wont enjoy making it either with this urgency in mind
      I suggest you get hubby on board. Also to build it without time restraints. Design it for future enjoyment and aesthetics
      My own pond is in full sun.......it does pretty well. Algae disappears once half of the pond surface is covered with planting and oxygenators are growing vigorously. You can plant taller subjects to create some shade.....lots of tall prairie plants on the sunny side.......perennials like thalictrum, sanguisorbas like Red Thunder and tall grasses......will do this. Consider reflected planting in the water; reflections of grasses, perennials to double the effect .Also away from trees......consider leaf fall in the autumn
      A pond with a pump adds movement, sound and actually creates a feeling of being cool in hot weather. Here a galvanised watering can pours into the pond; a small fountain spray too as an option gives a different sound and effect. Not essential though......water lilies prefer still water so something to consider. A wildlife pond prob doesnt need a pump at all.
      So, for me, take your time, get it right from the start and be ambitious in your thinking :)
       
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        Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
      • Sian in Belgium

        Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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        Thanks for your reply, @Verdun !

        Ah yes, I didn't put orientation on, did I?

        I am facing north-east when taking that photo, looking directly up the garden. So planting tall plants to the south of the pond is not really an option. Exposed to the prevailing wind that funnels up the garden, and would actually block any sight of the pond from the rest of the garden, and the house...
         
      • Verdun

        Verdun Passionate gardener

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        Thanks Sian.......a wildlife pond would look good there though. :)
         
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        • Redwing

          Redwing Wild Gardener

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          If you really want a wildlife pond find another home for the goldfish. They breed prolifically and will eat amphibian eggs. You may think it’s ok for a year or two but eventually they will take over and their poo will make the water too nitrogenous giving rise to algae.
           
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          • Clare G

            Clare G Gardener

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            Yes, I rehomed mine when I remade my pond (the old one was leaking) last year, as I wanted the new one to be more wildlife-friendly. If you do decide to go this route, and don't have an obvious home for them, my tip would be to contact your local freecycle moderators*. Mine didn't want me to advertise the fish on freecycle, but were able to put me in touch with some neighbours who were happy to rehome them in their own garden pond.

            Good luck with your project! A nice pond is a great enhancement to a garden, and the local wildlife will bless you for it too. :sparrow::hhog::swan: (Not that you are probably hoping for swans!)

            *ETA: or the Belgian equivalent....
             
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            • ARMANDII

              ARMANDII ADMINISTRATOR Staff Member

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              Hi, Sian, that's a good idea to have a wildlife pond in the garden, and the spot looks ideal as it's close to the border giving any wildlife places of shelter when/f leaving the pond.:thumbsup::snorky:

              9' X 4' X 3' = 108 Cubic feet of soil/sand and, roughly, so one cubic feet of dry soil will weigh 23lbs.........if it's wet add half the weight again.:doh: The only problem of doing yourself is that the effort of doing so might reduce your ambitions regarding the size of the pond, even digging it over 4 days. If you can, Sian, get help to dig it out and that will ensure you don't dig a smaller or shallower pond, you don't get an aching back or do yourself an injury. If you can't get help then consider taking long to dig it out so you have more chance of keeping to the original size.. The size and depth of pond sounds ideal to me.:thumbsup::love30:

              That sounds like my garden, but it still takes effort and time to dig out, but it is infinitely better than clay.:hate-shocked:

              My pond is a wildlife pond and having fish in it is not a problem depending on certain common sense things. Firstly, it depends on the size of the fish. You say they're only Gold Fish living in a Water Barrel so they've won't be huge.
              So, let me disagree, with respect, to the view that you shouldn't/can't have fish in a wildlife pond.......unless they are large Koi Carp which certainly don't belong. Some wildlife ponds I visited have had small Tench [bottom feeders], Minnows, Gudgeon, and of course small Gold Fish. Fish do excrete in ponds and that adds to nutrients which can cause algae and silk weed growth, but those can be eliminated if you put in enough plants in the margins and also Oxygenating plants that will float on the surface. Also, they won't be a threat to Frogs, or insects if you give the latter shelter in the form of floating Oxygenators. You'll find that Frogs protect their Spawn by laying it among Marginal Plants and also on the Oxygenating plants where the Fish can't get them, my pond is proof of that:dunno: I have around 5 to 7 basic Gold Fish in the pond with some of the originals nearly 20 years old...........and they have not become large nor have they bred prolifically.
              [​IMG]
              [​IMG]
              so they've lived very happily along with
              [​IMG]
              [​IMG]
              Such insects as Water Boatman, etc thrive very well and are all part of the wildlife pond ecosystem.

              They're handy to have to break up the edge of the pond and set properly so they don't look out of place will look good. Soil will seep into the pond, no matter how you try, but that soil becomes home for micro life that is needed for the pond's balance. I buried the overlap of pond liner into the banks and placing soil right up to the edge and then planted various plants of top of it. Their roots hold the soil and over time it become compacted and stays where it is.

              I think bricks around a wildlife pond will jar and look out of place, but that is a personal opinion:snorky:
              You can take advantage of that as it will become a natural bank and somewhere to plant whatever you want.

              You will need a fair amount of Marginal plants to make it look natural and also to extract the nutrients out of the water to keep it clear and in balance, so you will need to form shelves about 9 inches wide and 10 inches deep to place the pots or crates. There's a fair amount of work there, Sian, and I wish you luck.:thumbsup::snorky:
               
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                Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
              • WeeTam

                WeeTam Total Gardener

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                Go for it, bigger the better. I have Golden Orfe in my pond and they bring it to life imho. I dont suffer from too much weed and dont use any filters. Good shading is a must from either trees or water lillies again imho.
                 
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                • Sian in Belgium

                  Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                  I haven't made a pond for about 20 years now - I'm assuming butyl is the liner of choice, if my pocket can stretch that far?
                   
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                  • Freddy

                    Freddy Miserable git, well known for it

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                    How about a ‘man’ with a digger? It would take most of the hard work out of it, and would be done in a couple of hours, I’d have thought? I realise this would come at a cost, but might not be that much?
                     
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                    • luciusmaximus

                      luciusmaximus Total Gardener

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                      @Verdun I didn't know you had a pond!! Piccies please :)
                       
                    • Verdun

                      Verdun Passionate gardener

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                      Ha ha......small, no planting to show off etc. In spring or early summer I will post something better Lucius in context with rest of the garden. Divided water lily though .....my opportunistic neighbour grabbed a piece:)
                       
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                      • ARMANDII

                        ARMANDII ADMINISTRATOR Staff Member

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                        Yep, Butyl is the liner of choice, Sian. It comes in different thickness so buy the best your Budget can afford as a good thick one ensures it being problem free regarding long life and being leak free.:snorky:
                         
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                        • Outlander

                          Outlander Gardener

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                          Last year I built my second pond after moving house and have learned from a few previous mistakes. These may not all apply to you but here are some suggestions.

                          Make sure there are no overhanging trees otherwise the pond will be full of rotting leaves in Autumn.

                          As you will be using a pond liner, any plants will be I aquatic pots, so make sure the marginal shelves are wide enough and level enough to support them, otherwise any tall plants will be forever falling over.

                          If you intend keeping goldfish, then you really should use a filter and possibly a UV filter which kills algae.

                          leave new pond water to stand for three to four weeks before adding fish.
                           
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                          • Sian in Belgium

                            Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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                            Well, today I plan to find a piece of tarpaulin about the right size and shape to mark out the placement of the pond, and then take photos from various locations, including upstairs in the house. Apologies in advance for some rather boring shots to follow!
                             
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