Autumn pond maintenance tips vital to your ponds health

Autumn garden pond maintenance tips on this infographic

A question that frequently gets asked by pond owners at this time of the year is whether a pond heater is necessary to invest in. If you don’t keep fish in your garden pond then a heater is not needed at all. If you have followed the Autumn Pond Maintenance guidelines as illustrated in the above infographic, then you are not likely to need a heater either and I will explain why.

A pond that ices over for a few days is not likely cause stress to your fish or affect the health of your pond. During the cold winter months fish are less active, their metabolism has slowed and they are eating very little if anything at all. They will also spend the winter at the bottom of the pond where the water is a little warmer. With the slowed metabolism fish excrete less waste into the water. A thorough Autumn pond maintenance regime of cutting back, pruning dead foliage and skimming-off leaves means less organic matter sinks to the bottom of the pond to turn to sludge releasing carbon dioxide into the water as it continues to decay. So, with no sludge and clean healthy water an iced over pond isn’t going to lock in any toxins.

If you live in the northern most parts and you do experience periods of snow and freezing temperatures for extended periods then an aerator or pond heater maybe an option – although leaving a plastic ball floating on the surface of your pond will help prevent it freezing over thereby allowing gases to escape and oxygen to enter the water.

This entry was posted on October 4, 2017, in Garden ponds.

Calculating pond volume of an irregular shape

The availability of flexible flat sheet pond liners allows for design flexibility. Ponds need not be a regular square, rectangular, or a round shape. Flexible Epalyn and Butyl rubber pond liners mould to the contours of ponds, are durable, resistant to the damaging effects of ultra-violet rays and won’t go brittle with age. Ponds with adventurous shapes add charm and fascination to any amount of garden space. To calculate the pond volume of an irregular shape is a little more challenging and less likely to give an absolute accurate surface area measurement relative to regular shaped ponds. In this article we offer a few tips on how to calculate pond surface area and average pond depth to get as accurate a pond volume as possible.

Calculating the volume in gallons or litres is important if you are wanting to stock your pond with fish. It is also necessary to help determine the size pond pump to reach pond water turnover. Having an accurate measurement of pond volume is also important if ever you have the need to add healthy bacteria or algaecide to the water.

Steps to calculating pond volume

To calculate pond volume of a regular shaped pond, you need to measure the length, width and the depth in either meters or in feet. If your pond is an irregular shape the easiest approach is to divide your pond into regular shapes, determine the surface area of each shape and add the sum of each together. If, for instance your pond is kidney shaped, then divide your pond into three basic shapes – two circles and a rectangle. Measure each separately. Add the three totals together and then multiply by the deepest pond depth to determine volume.

Taking measurements is easiest done prior to filling your pond with water.

  • Draw a square or rectangular shape around your pond by knock stacks into the ground and using string to get as a accurate a shape as possible.
  • If a single rectangle doesn’t fit the shape of your pond, then add other shapes to the layout – or a combination thereof
  • Measure the longest length then do the same for width.
  • Using a sheet of graph paper draw out the shape of your pond using these dimensions.
  • From your drawing of an irregular shape divide it into shapes that are easy to calculate surface area – trapezoid is half the width multiplied by the addition of the two lengths, a triangle is half of base x height and a circle is 3.14159 x radius2.

Or, take a length of rope and lay it around the perimeter and calculate surface area as per example:

  • Pond is say 14 meters
  • Divide 14m by 4 = 3.5mIrregular shaped ponds like this one are more difficult to calculate pond volume accurately
  • Multiply 3.5m x 3.5m
  • Equals surface area of 12.25m
  • Multiply that by the deepest depth of 2m
  • Volume of 24.5
  • Multiply by 1000 to get volume in litres.

If pond has been filled with water you can get a depth measurement by wading into your pond with a stick and marking off the depth/s.

Volume is surface area multiplied by the deepest depth – for ponds with out ledges.  For those with planting ledges, again divide your pond into sections as per the different depths. Measure each depth then add them together and divide by the number of measurements taken.

Pond volume for a trapezoid shaped pond

The purpose of calculating pond volume is to make sure you buy the correct size filter to maintain adequately healthy water conditions for the long-term well being of all pond inhabitants. All filters have a guide to the maximum pond size they will cope with. Manufacturers recommend that the entire volume of a pond should be passed through the filter approximately every two or three hours. It is important to also note that for a filter to work efficiently, it must be teamed with a pond pump that supplies it with a sufficiently strong flow of water.

Knowing the size and capacity of your pond also allows you to calculate how may fish and number of plants to add to your pond. If you intend to have a highly stocked fish pond then it is advisable to install a filter to cope with one and a half times the capacity of the water in your pond.

This is how to measure a pond liner for pond with waterfall

A small picturesque waterfall can add a fascinating dimension to a garden pond of any size. The tranquil sound of water splashing into a pond below will turn the most ordinary of gardens into a dream oasis – a place to relax and reflect. If you feel inspired to transform an area of your back garden into a water feature with water trickling over rocks into a pool below then here are a few tips to get you started. And, to help you budget for your project, I will share advice on measuring the amount of pond liner and protective underlay for your pond plus water fall extension.Waterfall flowing into a pond

The first step to getting started is to decide where you are going to site your garden pond so that it offers maximum visibility from your house. The next important step is deciding what type of pond – to home Koi carp, to display a stunning array or aquatic plants or a pond built for the purpose of attracting wildlife? Koi need as big a surface area as possible and a pond depth of no less than 1.5 meters. A waterfall will aerate the water acting as a natural oxygenator – helps maintain healthy water and reduce algae growth while providing oxygen to both fish and aquatic plants. But, cascading water can also be hazardous to pond inhabitants so  keep this in mind when planning your build.

The best advice given by pond experts and landscape professionals is to do thorough research before embarking on any pond project. This will allow for a confident execution of your pond build as well as save on time and budget. Success is built on the foundation of thorough research! Join pond forum groups to see photos of established ponds. They also provide a platform to bounce off any questions you may have.  Dedicated pond liner suppliers are generally experts and will be able to advice you accordingly too.

Using all the research you have gathered together, you can now start planning the design of your pond and waterfall. Refer to a previous article post, for Tips on designing your garden pond

There are preformed ponds and waterfalls which can be bought from specialist suppliers. A less expensive option which is what we prefer is the use of an underlay and flexible rubber pond liner. The reason – allows design flexibility and looks more natural.

List of equipment to build pond and waterfall

To budget your project and to ensure you have everything at hand when you start your project to avoid delays. Here is a list of equipment to get you started >>

  • rubber pond liner
  • protective underlay
  • high efficiency submersible pond pump (possibly 2 – one for the pond to pump water through a filter and the other to pump water for flow into pond along waterfall)
  • filter
  • Tubing for pumped water to top of waterfall
  • rocks/boulders
  • stone slabs – pond edging and for waterfall contouring
  • sandpit sand (fine grained) – if your garden is flat use the sand dug out to create your pond to build the contours for waterfall for smooth out with layer of fine grained sand
  • hosepipe
  • Extra wide repair strip – used to join the the pond liner where it meets at the base of the waterfall
  • waterproof adhesive sealant

How to calculate pond liner dimensions?

To budget for your project take the measurements from your planned pond build scaled diagrams as follows:

  • Measure the longest length
  • Measure the widest width
  • Measure the depth from the deepest area of your pond

Add to your calculation an amount needed for the pond liner overlap (0.15m) – this is so you can secure your pond liner in place using your chosen edging material.

How much of an overlay or overlap to add into your calculation really depends on how you plan to fix your pond liner in place. So, increase or decrease the amount of overlay depending on installation and edging method.

The pond liner calculation will look like this:

  • Maximum length + (2 x depth) +2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Length of Liner
  • Maximum width + (2 x depth) + 2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Width of Liner

For a more detailed discussion on determining pond liner measurements, please refer to a previous blog article, How much pond liner do I need?

Do the same for the proposed area over which water will flow into your pond as a length and width measurement with sufficient width to secure the liner in place using rocks and slabs.

In your pre-planning phase and to get a good feel for what your finished product will look like, you can use boxes of different shapes and sizes balanced on top of each other and side by side – just an idea and also helpful when measuring-up ahead of placing your order.

Building pond and sculpturing waterfall

  • mark out the outline of your pond design using rope, hosepipe or spray paint
  • start digging reserving the soil to build-up the ground for your waterfall (or stream – if gentle gradient is preferred)
  • sculpture the sand to the desired gradient and steps
  • trample down on the soil to make compact
  • line with protective underlay pressing it into the steps and contours of your earthy mound
  • clear the bottom of pond of stones and gravel to prevent damage to liner
  • install underlay and pond liner pushing it into all the contours and adding neat pleats for a perfect finish – for more tips, please refer to this article on Pond Build and Pond Liner Installation
  • lay rocks and paving blocks onto the waterfall securing them in place. Use waterproof adhesive sealant if necessary
  • house the pond pump in an appropriate position to pump water through a tube from pond to waterfall

Landscape the area around your pond and along the waterfall. The final step is the addition of aquatic plants and fish. Then sit back and enjoy the sheer tranquility you have bought to your home and garden – the 4th room will be paradise!

This entry was posted on August 23, 2017, in Garden ponds.

8 important garden pond safety tips

Garden ponds, as all enthusiasts will agree bring so much joy and tranquility to a garden of any size. But, they can also be considered a hazard to young children particularly between the ages of 1 to 5 years old. Pond safety should be an important consideration.  Visiting children are a higher risk as they are not likely to be aware of the potential dangers of water. If you have young grandchildren or entertain families with young children there are steps you can take to ensure their safety around your pond.

Pond safety measure with a life belt for ponds too deep to wade into

Children are easily drawn to water so even having neighbours with young children should be enough to alert you to putting pond safety measures in place. A drowning can happen within minutes of a parent being distracted.

Overgrown ponds are reported to be the most hazardous as the transition from ground to water is far less obvious.

Pond safety tips

  • Site your pond where it is visible from the house and from the patio or outdoor seating area
  • Consider building a raised pond
  • For ground level ponds have a gently sloping edge to allow for an easy way of exiting the water
  • Install a fence around your pond. If this is your preferred safety measure the fence will need to be higher than 1.1m with a lockable gate. The lock must be as high up as possible.  The better option would be a gate with a spring attached should the gate accidentally be left unlocked. A gate which opens outwards will make it even more difficult to gain access
  • Grow plants around the deeper side of your pond to deter children gaining access. Planting should not block visibility of your pond from view points
  • Install an OFSTED approved metal pond guard or cover. Chicken wire won’t hold-up against the weight of a child so is not considered a safety measure and should be avoided at all costs
  • Make sure the edging and boulders around your pond are firmly in place to avoid trips, slips and falls. The edging should be clearly defined
  • Maintain your pond through the seasons and prune back aquatic plants so that at least a third of the pond surface is exposed to sunlight

The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) says drowning is one of the five principal causes of serious injuries for the under-fives in England. The charity’s campaigns manager, Pamela Prentice, says: “Most drownings involving two to three-year-olds happen in the home and garden.”

According to government figures, four out of five residential pond drowning incidents do not happen at the child’s own home. So while you may have a perfectly safe water feature, your neighbours, friends and relatives may not.

According to Froglife and many wildlife charities, filling-in ponds rather than putting safety measures in place should always be a last resort, since the damage this can do to wildlife communities locally can be enormous. Ponds are great for teaching children about wildlife and the different stages of the life-cycle of small creatures such as frogs unfold in natural surroundings.

Adults with young children in their care should be vigilant at all times – even a bucket of water is a potential hazard.

 

How much pond liner do I need?

Knowing how much pond liner you need will save your budget (and time!) – too big or too small is wasted money. Calculating how much pond liner you need is dependent on the accurate measurements you take of your pond. You will need these to add into a pond liner calculator which will take your measurements to determine the amount of pond liner and protective underlay you will need to order. So, let me take you through how to calculating how much pond liner you need.

Pond liners offer greater flexibility in pond design allowing you carte blanche in creativity. However, the further you move away from the traditional rectangular or circular pond shape the more you need to understand how to take measurements. With all measurements remember to add in a little extra for an overlay (visit ‘Pond planning and construction‘ for more information).

How to take measurements of your pond Pond with wooden bridge going across and bordered by ferns

  • Measure the longest length
  • Measure the widest width
  • Measure the depth from the deepest area of your pond

Now, add one side (Length or Width) to two times the depth plus amount needed for the overlap (0.15m).  The depth of the pond needs to be multiplied by two because the pond liner needs to go down one side of the pond and back up the other side.

How much of an overlay or overlap to add into your calculation really depends on how you plan to fix your pond liner in place. So, increase or decrease the amount of overlay depending on installation and edging method. I have used an overlay of 0.15m in my example calculations.

The pond liner calculation will look like this:

  • Maximum length + (2 x depth) +2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Length of Liner
  • Maximum width + (2 x depth) + 2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Width of Liner

Multiplying the depth by 2 accounts for the depth on both sides of the pond. And, the same applies to the overlay. Planting shelves in your pond design don’t need to be accounted for as they won’t significantly affect the pond measurements.

The size of pond liner required can be calculated as: Maximum length + (2 x maximum depth of pond) x maximum width + (2 x maximum depth) with the overlay added into the length and width pond measurements. Or, take each measurement and use a pond liner calculator to do the calculation for you.

How to measure how much pond liner you need

Pond liner measurements for an L or U-shaped pond

For more complex pond designs such as an L-shaped or U-shaped pond, the easiest way to take measurements is to divide the pond into sections. So for an L-shape you would measure as a square + rectangle. The depth where the two liners will meet only needs to be added into the calculation once.

Or, calculate as a whole shape:

  • Measure the maximum depth
  • Measure the length of the two outer longest sides of the pond.
  • Multiply the maximum depth measurement by three and add it to the two longest lengths of your pond to get pond liner dimensions required. Box-welded pond liner fabricated from EPDM pond liner

Ponds with an island or raised plinth:

  • Measure the maximum depth of pond and multiply this by four,
  • Measure length and width of pond
  • 4 x maximum depth + length x width = pond dimension

Use our pond liner size Calculator to get the pond liner and underlay measurements you need to order for your pond design. For L-shape and ponds with a plinth you may want to discuss these with our pond experts first. You can phone us at Liners Online on 01526 399 033 for all your pond liner queries.

My top 5 steps on how to build a pond and fit a pond liner

As with all home and garden projects careful planning is required. So, in this article I aim to share all the steps you need to put in place including a project budget if you are going to include a pond liner, underlay, pond pump, filter, aquatic plants, fish and other finishing touches to your build.

With any pond build, the first and most important step is to decide what the purpose of your pond will be. Is it to attract wildlife, to keep gold fish, home Koi Carp or grow aquatic plants. Are you going to use natural or a mechanical water quality control system?

  • for aquatic planting you will need to add a stepped base or shelf to your design plan.  The shelves can be used to accommodate marginal plants of varying heights or to place planting baskets. Shelves make it easier to remove plants to cut back at the end of the season and for general pond maintenance. The design and planning for this type of pond is much like the steps you would take when planning what to plant in a flower bed so that choice works together in a creative fashion.
  • for a fish pond, water volume is an important factor when considering design and size. The bigger the pond, the easier it is to maintain healthy water levels. Goldfish require a pond of at least 5 meter square and a depth of no less than half a meter – or a volume of 3000 litres. Koi require a minimum of 5500 litres – or minimum pond size of 2.5m x 2m x 1.2m. There is also a maximum depth – a Koi pond shouldn’t be deeper than 3 meters because sunlight won’t penetrate sufficiently to promote the vital growth of healthy algae. Koi are big fish and need a large volume of water. They also produce high amounts of waste. For both those reasons, a steep or vertical sided pond is recommended. It guarantees the largest volume of water for the space occupied by the pond and steep sides don’t accumulate waste materials and debris that can release harmful ammonia.
  • a wildlife pond is probably the easiest type to build and maintain. No retainer wall or brick work involved. A wildlife pond just needs a sloping edge so small creatures such as frogs can easily enter and get out.
  • a natural pond is one in which the water, soil, plants, and animals all live in harmony. There is no man-made intervention such as a pond liner to contain the water or pond pump to aerate the water.

What size pond?

The bigger the pond the easier it will be to maintain relative to a small shallow water feature. This is because a small pond gets warm quicker in summer and is more likely to freeze over in winter relative to a bigger and deeper pond. However, there are solutions to every situation – when the temperatures rise during the summer months add extra aeration to your pond – use an air pump to achieve this and make sure your pond receives sufficient shade.  Use a pond thermometer if you plan on homing fish and keep an eye out for any signs of distress.  The lethal water temperature for Koi and goldfish is reportedly 90 degrees F. The higher the water temperature, the less dissolved oxygen it is capable of holding. Fish have a greater demand for oxygen at higher temperatures so the distress they show is due to breathing difficulties.

Pond location

The next step is to decide where to position your pond. A formal pond into which a box-welded pond liner is fitted can be raised off the ground or dug into the ground. It is about deciding which fits best with your garden size and overall landscape design.

  • site a pond on level ground – this will also help avoid rainwater run-off, which could bring with it fertilisers carried into your pond. Added nutrients will have a negative impact on water quality.Box welded pond liner contains the water in this rectangular garden pond
  • ponds need 50 to 70% of the water to be in shade. This can be achieved by building your pond under a pergola (or building a pergola to go over your pond) or shaded in relation to the position of your pond to a garden wall or house. Include floating plants can also provide the necessary amount of shade ( fish can’t breath if too much of the surface is covered by aquatic plants). Building your pond too close to a tree to provide the necessary amount of shade is possible although you will have to keep on top of skimming off all the fallen leaves before they sink to the bottom.

Pond design

Now that you know what the purpose is for building your garden pond, the size that we best fit in the space you have available and where you are going to position it – the next step is deciding on design. A box welded pond liner doesn’t restrict you to a geometric with variations of square or rectangular layout. It is possible to be more creative with your design and still have your pond lined without creases or folds to the pond liner. The main criteria is that the design needs to include vertical sides.

Use a length of rope to play around with different shapes until you come up with one that will work in your garden and against the backdrop of your surrounding landscape.

Building your pond

A raised pond can be built using bricks, concrete blocks or railway sleepers. Sunken ponds require digging. The soil dug out can be used in flower beds or to landscape your garden. Once you have finished digging and are fully satisfied with the layout and depth you will need to remove as many of the stones and rough gravel as possible so as not to damage your pond liner. Measure the widest width, the longest length and the deepest point of your pond. These dimensions are necessary to calculate how much pond liner and protective underlay you will need to order.

Installing underlay and pond liner Garden pond liners being installed into a complex shaped pond

It is always best to tackle the job with another pair of helping hands. First unfold the protective underlay and line the hole dug for your pond. Then, with great care unravel the pond liner and, with help lift and place over the pond. Allow your pond liner to sink into the deepest area of your pond. Step barefoot into your pond to carefully push your pond liner into the contours. Pleat and fold as neatly as possible into the corners. Don’t be tempted to cut any excess pond liner until the pond liner has ‘settled in’ and you have filled your pond with water.

 The final step is to decide whether you are going to use natural means of aerating and maintaining water quality or mechanical by way of a pump and filter. The role of a pond pump is to keep the water moving and by so doing it add oxygen to it. A filter added to the pump will remove debris. This is particularly important when keeping fish because their faeces, if left in the water increase the nitrate levels. This in turn affects water quality.

Goldfish and Koi excrete waste into the water in the form of ammonia from their gills and nitrate in their faeces.  And, algae grows in ponds where there are high levels light and nutrients. When nutrient levels get high enough, algae takes over the pond and chokes everything else out.  Ponds lined with a pond liner means there is a lack of soil in the bottom therefore few micro-organisms compared to that of a natural pond. There are also fewer surfaces for mico-organisms to attach to. Therefore you have to create an artificial place for the microbes to live. A filtration system can be used to provide a surface for the micro-organisms to live on. Microbes take-up waste animal and plant matter as they float around in the water keeping the water clear of nutrients needed for algae to thrive.

Building a pond in your garden is such a rewarding challenge to take on. The finished product will provide you with endless enjoyment so I hope these steps help you to get to work on your plans.

How to protect your pond pump, filter and pond from theft

Last year there were reports of a pond filter stollen from a popular Koi pond maintained by Maidenhead Aquatics. The theft nearly resulted in the death of more than 125 fish – 25 of which were Koi carp. It is thought that when the thieves removed the UV filter they also pulled out the water pipe resulting in the ponds lose of water.

An article in the Telegraph newspaper, June 2009 stated that police reports suggested thieves were using Google Earth to steal expensive koi carp from homeowners’ ponds. Internet satellite images were used to identify gardens with ponds with twelve thefts of Koi and pond equipment worth hundreds of pounds reported over a three-week period across East Yorkshire.  One of the properties targeted has an eight foot fence and the pond is in the corner of the property so can’t be seen by passers-by.

Hedge around property to protect accessThe intention of this article is not to come across as an alarmist but merely to highlight that it is better to put precautionary steps in place than to suffer a lose of equipments and, or fish as stories of theft are sadly not isolated incidents. Pond equipment is expensive and therefore attractive to anyone wanting to make easy money selling on to pond hobbyists.

Scanning through pond forum sites, pond equipment and pond fish theft is a subject that frequently crops-up for discussion so thought I would sum-up a few ideas on how to deal with the protecting your pond from the hands of thieves – and unless equipment is under lock and key, you are not likely to be covered by insurance.

Tips on pond pump, filter and fish  protection

  • conceal pond pumps and filters as much as possible to make it as difficult as possible to steal
  • build a structure around your filter to box it in – the longer it takes to gain access, the less attractive it becomes
  • You can box in filters in the garden to look like wheelie bin houses or compost boxes
  • construct a pergola over your pond to hide pond contents and equipment from satellite images
  • toughen the perimeter of your property to make access more of a challenge. Planting hedges and bushes along a wall or fence – plants like pyracantha or holy work wonders.
  • gravel paths can be noisy to walk on and will alert when someone enters your property.
  • make route from pond to a likely place a car or motor bike is parked as difficult to negotiate as possible – no good stealing a filter if can’t carry through a narrow exit!
  • install a super bright spotlight with motion sensor

If someone is determined, you won’t stop them. But if access to your property and pond looks too risky to get to your pond pump or filter, the opportunist is more likely to look elsewhere.

Do you have any other ideas you could share? We would love to hear from you.

How to theft proof your Koi carp and pond

Not all Koi carp are taken by visiting Heron! The hand of a deceitful person is just as likely to be the culprit for a garden ponds dwindling numbers. What are the real risks of loosing your precious Koi to theft? Despite researching this there doesn’t seem to be any data as it is collectively documented under garden thefts which, according to crime statistics one in seven homeowners in the UK has something stolen from their garden at any one time – with hanging baskets and garden tools toping the list! But, taking precautions is the wisest step to ensuring your Koi carp grow old in your pond without any risk to their lives.

The design of Koi ponds varies (size of pond, number of Koi and health of pond) and the value of Koi carp differs so it is very difficult to put a fixed strategy in place to deter ‘would-be-thieves’. However, there are steps you can consider to theft proof your Koi pond as best as possible.

Eight types of deterrents to stop Koi carp theftKoi swimming about in a garden pond

  • site pond close to your house and out of view of passers-by
  • invest in secure fencing or hedging around your property – hawthorn, blackthorn, pyracantha and privet
  • lock gates onto your property
  • install movement and body heat activated halogen outdoor lighting
  • strategically place CCTV cameras around your property
  • be cautious about where you share information about your Koi carp – it is important to consider whether your online presence is potentially putting your fish and pond equipment at risk. We live in a digital era and for many criminals social media channels are used as a means of sourcing potential targets
  • put a metal grate over your pond and bolt it securely in place when you go a way. This is easier to install to raised formal pond designs
  • microchip your Koi carp and put a sign at your pond stating that your fish are trackable. Take photos of your fish – each Koi has their own distinct markings

Distracting the attention of feathered thieves from your pond

If herons are a likely thief to your garden pond then here are a few ideas (gathered from the feedback given by a number of fish pond enthusiats) to make your pond less attractive to these cheeky thieves:

  • have places in your pond for fish to hide when they feel threatened – aquatic plants such as water lilies or adding in ledges.
  • build a vertically sided pond to make it difficult for Heron or other prey to wade into your pond and wait for the kill.
  • place a pond guard or netting over your pond – although many pond owners feel that this spoils the beauty of a pond and makes pond maintenance a challenge.
  • avoid set routines for pond visits or activities out in your garden – Heron are wise creatures and will strike when they know you are not around. Their feeding times are usually dawn or dusk. They are particularly active at the start of the breeding season and the young become active June to July.
  • place a decoy or realistic-looking plastic heron close to your pond – some pond owners swear by this tactic while others are somewhat sceptical. But, from my experience this is a good deterrent. Beware, though as it may get attacked – with beak open and wings outstretched it will try to scare off the decoy! After an unsuccessful attempt at driving him off, the unwelcome visitor is likely to fly-off with ego dented!
  • build a pergola to disguise your pond. Herons will only visit if they can see the water of a pond. A pergola type structure will also have the added benefit of shading your pond for some of the day, helping prevent algae growth.
  • fishing line suspended 8 feet above the water in the path in which Heron fly in to land on the edge of the pond. The light gauge line will scare them off.
  • attach a length of fishing line across the path of the heron about a foot away from the pond and a foot off the ground. Heron prefers to wade into the pond – so the fishing line will give it a shock when it trips over the line.
  • put two lengths of fishing line about 6 to 12 inches from the pond and 6 to 12 inches above the ground. However, herons do get wise to this and will start to use other routes. Therefore, it is probably wise for the whole pond to have a perimeter of fishing-line placed around it.
  • hang wind-chimes near your pond.
  • an effective long term solution for preventing herons taking Koi is to train the fish when to come to the waters surface – always feed them at the same time every day, so that they eventually get to know when to come up.

Which ever strategy you decide to put in place to protect your pond life, remember that the heron is protected at all times under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, with fines or prison sentences handed to anyone killing or attempting to kill the majestic bird of our waterways.

Buying Koi carp for your garden pond

Koi, or as sometimes referred to as ‘Swimming Jewels’ can live for many years making them popular as pets. Koi kept in garden ponds can live for 25 to 35 years whereas those kept in a bigger expanse of water can live for 100+ years and can grow to 36 inches or more under ideal conditions. Koi are bred for their colour and beauty with no two having the same markings, scale types and patterns. There are currently 22 recognised varieties of Koi classified according to their variation in colour. The different breeds each affect the price tag, which ranges from just a few pounds to thousands of pounds.

Three well known Koi carp breeds

  • Kohaku – means ‘red and white’. Known for their elegance. It was the first ornamental Koi variety to be developed and is one of the more popular choices amongst Koi hobbyists.
  • Chagoi – well known for their friendly personality and tameable nature. They can easily be trained to hand feed. Chagoi Koi are easily recognised by their distinct network of scales and uniform colouring. Easily grow to large sizes and are of deep earthen colours.
  • Ogon – uniform bright metallic coloured fish.

Koi fish keeping requires dedication and thorough knowledge on pond maintenance plus upkeep.  But, it is all worthwhile as there is considerable reward in owning such strikingly good looking fish. Despite their actual value of a few pounds or lots more, I am sure you will agree that it is wise to take the necessary steps to keep them out of harms way!

Need help designing and building the perfect Koi pond? Then I hope my previous article provides the information you need >> 5 Steps to building a Koi pond

Tips on designing your garden pond

Designing garden pond that brings you the perfect outcome is down to research, planning, budget and passion. Achieving all four of these steps is sure to set you up to get digging.

Humans have been irresistibly drawn to water since ancient times for it’s healing and transformational properties. Today, water continues to play an important role for many psychological reasons. We are known to turn to water to find inner peace and tranquility. Garden ponds are a closed system of water that can also provide that calm place for contemplation. Adding a fountain or stream running into a pond will bring added peace and serenity.

A man planning and designing garden pond which will best suit his garden size and budget

But, it isn’t just humans who are attracted to water – the quickest way to attract wildlife to your garden is by building a pond.

The first step to designing garden pond is to decide whether you want it to attract wildlife, to grow a variation of aquatic plants or to keep fish. Still not sure? Then go online and start researching pond ideas. Join forum groups where pond enthusiasts share photographs of their ponds from start to finish, what has worked well and challenges they have faced.

Build a pond anytime of the year but it will establish fastest if you build it in Winter. This is also a time when you aren’t spending as much time outdoors gardening so you can use that time to start putting the plans in motion. It is less demanding on the body to start the building process when the ground is still damp enough to dig. A lot of thought and careful planning is required before you go ahead and randomly dig a hole in the ground for your pond.

The second part of the garden pond planning process is to decide what design would best suit your garden, surrounding landscape and the intention for which you want a pond. As part of your initial research it also a good idea to spend time on the week-ends visiting public gardens and looking at the water gardens that have been created. No matter what your intention is for your pond, whether it be for mixed fish, Koi or as a wildlife pond, they should all have one characteristic in common: a simple, open design. The bigger a pond the easier it is to maintain.

Designing garden pond to blend with your surrounding landscape is best done by drawing a diagrammatic plan of your garden with exact dimensions. Add to that a number of garden pond plan designs of different shapes and sizes. Locate them in different points within your garden. Or, you could log on to your computer and look for a garden design website, which offer the ability to draft your own plans. There are some points to consider when siting your pond: needs to be close to a power supply to run a pond pump and filter, site away from trees as the roots can cause damage to the pond liner and some trees have toxic leaves or fruits which, if the fall into the water will change the water balance. It is also a good idea to make sure that your pond is accessible from all sides. A

Established garden pond with water lilies filling the centre of the pondYour pond design should work in synchrony with your overall garden scheme. For instance, if your garden is wider than the length, installing a pond that is deeper than wide, can make the garden look awkward. Or, a wide pond in a long, narrow garden.

Once you have made a firm design decision, you are then ready to mark it out on the ground using a hosepipe or sand and start digging. Happy garden pond designing!

Designing garden pond with a budget

Budgeting will need to include a pond liner and protective pond underlay, pump, filter, aquatic plants and, perhaps fish too.

To know how much pond liner and underlay to order, you will find this article helpful ‘How much pond liner do I need?’

For next steps on building your garden pond, this article takes you through the different stages including installing the underlay and pond liner ‘5 Steps to building your pond“.

SAGA offers free garden and pond design software and can be found here >> Virtual garden design software

 

5 Steps to building a Koi pond and installing a pond liner

Five basic steps to creating your own Koi pond are planning, digging, inserting the pond liner and protective underlay, installing the pond pump and filter, filling with water and finally adding your Koi.
Planning your pond

When you are looking for a site for your pond, start close to the house. There is little point in spending a lot of money on a pond full of beautiful fish if you have to trek up to the end of the garden to see them. Apart from missing out on the joy of Koi, there’s a strong chance that out of sight will mean out of mind. And a forgotten Koi is invariably found floating upside down.

Think about where the sun falls in your garden and don’t put the pond where it will be in full shade – especially during winter. Avoid trees as much as you can. Leaves will clog and pollute the water and roots could cause serious damage to the pond liner. Don’t forget, you will need to get an electrical supply to your pond, so think about cable runs and siting.

Then plan the size and shape of your pond. Remember, Koi ponds have to be deep, at least 1.5m and up to 2.0m – don’t go much deeper than that because at 3.0m sunlight can’t penetrate sufficiently to promote the vital growth of algae on the bottom. Also remember that Koi are big fish and need a large volume of water; they also produce large amounts of waste. For both those reasons, a steep or vertical sided pond is recommended. It guarantees the largest volume of water for the space occupied by the pond and steep sides don’t accumulate waste materials and debris that can release harmful ammonia. Koi feeding in a koi pond with a frog on a lily pad

Also, keep the design of your Koi pond simple. The simpler the shape – round, oval or rectangular – the easier it is to maintain. A simple shape can always be disguised by creating border features with stones, rocks and plants – bear this in mind when purchasing your pond liner and underlay as both will need to extend beyond the limits of your border features.

Digging the hole

Unless your pond is going to be built above ground, you are going to be shifting a lot of soil even for a modestly sized pond – so consider hiring a mini digger – it will save a huge amount of time and effort (and blisters) – though may not give the same satisfaction. Before you start digging, mark out your pond using a rope or hosepipe – even consider placing some rocks or plant containers around the periphery so that you get a better idea of what your pond will look like in that position. Make an allowance too for the block work which will form the inside walls of your pond and prevent groundwater leaching the soil behind your pond liner and causing potential damage.

If your pond is going to be longer than 2.5-3.0 meters, it is well worth while building a concrete collar around the outside of the perimeter- including any curves or features you have added to disguise the basic shape of the pond. The collar will not only prevent run-off from your garden entering the pond, but also provides a secure anchor for the pond liner. To create the collar, dig a trench about 10cms deep and 15-20cms wide and fill it with concrete, taking to ensure it is precisely level all the way round. Now you can start digging in earnest, remembering to create any shallow shelves or ledges around the edge where feature stones and plants will be positioned. If you are going to create shallower areas for the fish, these should slope inwards. Bear in mind that the shallows around a pond are the ideal hunting ground not only for herons, but domestic cats too.

Once the pond is dug to the right size and depth, create the channels for the bottom drain, which will remove all the waste and the connecting pipe work (usually 110mm), as well as returning pipe work from the filtration system.

Once the base is levelled, and the bottom drain (or drains depending on the total size of the pond) is positioned, it can then be filled with 10-15cms thick of concrete. It is worth specifying a strong mix with plastic reinforcing fibres. The base should be sloping gently towards the bottom drain. Once the base has had a week or so to cure thoroughly, the block work for the walls of your pond can be laid. The wall should extend to the height of and ledge or shelf you have created around the pond. Again make allowances for any pipe work.

Installing the pond liner

When the walls are complete, the box-welded pond liner and protective underlay can be installed. The best underlay is a tough, durable 0.5mm geotextile made from mechanically bonded polypropylene. They not only protect the pond liner from physical damage, but are also gas permeable to allow any gases that build up underneath the pond liner to escape. This should be overlapped by 20-30cms and laid so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pond completely. At the top, it should extend across any shelf or ledge and over the top of the collar you have built around the pond. The underlay can be held in place with lengths of stout stainless steel wire shaped into large staples and pushed through the underlay into the soil around the edge at the top. It should be cut away closely around any bottom drains to allow the pond liner to be fitted to the drain. Once the underlay is in place, the pond liner can be fitted.

Because Koi ponds tend to be deep, steep sided and regularly shaped, consider ordering a box-welded liner in either Epalyn (EPDM) or butyl made to the precise dimensions of your pond. It is worth waiting until your construction is complete so that you can measure the actual dimensions. Box-welded pond liners are much simpler to install and, if measured correctly, should provide a good smooth lining without wrinkles and folds which can trap waste matter. Again the liner should extend over any ledges or shelves and over the top of the collar, with sufficient extending beyond that to allow for soil or gravel to be laid on top to anchor it in place.   Any areas of the pond liner which will be supporting plants, stones, or soil should now be protected with an additional layer of underlay.

The right equipment

Making sure that your Koi pond is properly equipped with the necessary water filtration and cleaning systems is critically important to the success of your venture. The ideal set-up will use a gravity feed from the bottom drain taking the water and waste to a filtration and cleaning process which will consist of a settling chamber, where the majority of the large solids are removed; a mechanical filter, which will strain even the smallest particles; and finally a biological filter where good bacteria are encouraged to consume chemicals such as nitrites and ammonia. In natural conditions there is sufficient water volume and surface area for bacteria to maintain a healthy balance in the water. But in an artificial pond, where the ratio of fish to water is much higher than in nature, you must provide additional space for good bacteria to do their work. If your pond is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, you may also want to install an inline UV filter which will kill or damage the single-cell algae that cause green water during summer.

Once all your gizmos are installed, it is time to fill the pond – and the perfect time to find out exactly how much water it will hold – bear in mind the pipes and filtrations system will also contain a fair volume of water, which must be included. This is vital information you will need in the future when stocking or applying treatments for the water or the fish. An inline flow meter is the easiest way – alternatively see how long it takes to fill the biggest (clean) container you have, and then time how long it takes to fill the pond. The time it takes to fill the pond and filtration system divided by the time it takes to fill your container multiplied by the volume of your container will give you the result.

The finishing touches

The important thing now is patience. If you add your fish at this stage, they won’t survive as the pond has not had time to develop active bacteria and the chlorine and other heavy metals present in tap water will instantly kill any that have established themselves. So, start up the filtration system (with the UV turned off for the first few weeks to avoid killing friendly bacteria) and apply a dechlorinator. In a few days when the dechlorinator has done its work and the water has reached ambient temperature, you will be able to add your first wild life. Not fish yet, but some “starter” bacteria to populate the biological filters. While you’re waiting for the big day, busy yourself sorting out the borders and adding your pond plants making sure that you do not place stones or plants directly onto the surface of the pond liner but onto a protective later of pond underlay.

And finally….

A week after adding your starter bacteria you can begin to add fish gradually. If you add too many at once, the poor old bacteria can’t keep up and the resulting ammonia and nitrites can be fatal to your fish. Add the fish gradually and monitor the water condition each time. When you bring the fish home from the garden centre or specialist, they need to be acclimatised both to the water temperature and the water itself. So, to begin with, open the bag, fixing it to the side of the pond and leave it floating for half an hour or so. Avoid doing this in direct sunlight. Then start to add a little pond water into the bag gradually over the next hour and finally release your Koi friends into their new watery home.

Discover the many advantages of decorative rainwater butts

Decorative rainwater butts with an integrated planter or aesthetic elegance of ceramics make harvesting rain water far more appealing. These rainwater butts, which are available in a range of shapes and sizes serve a multi-functional role in any size garden. Those stocked by Liners Online can store between 185 to 245 litres of rainwater thereby saving on the use of mains water supplies for outdoor use.

Cascata decorative rainwater buttsRainwater harvesting is the technique used to collect, store and use rainwater for garden irrigation purposes or other uses where purified water isn’t essential.  Rainwater butts including the decorative designs are easy to attach to a down-water pipe to collect the rain off the roofs of homes or any other man-made hard surface.

Many will argue that there is enough rainfall in the UK not to warrant the investment of a rainwater butt. Perhaps pointing out all the advantages will help understand and appreciate the many positive environmental aspects of investing in a rain butt. Rainwater can be used for many outdoor and indoor purposes such as to wash cars, clean patio furniture, wash windows as well as to water established plants during the dryer periods – particularly from July to September when ground water has become depleted.

The advantages of installing a rainwater butt

  • Reduces the demand on mains water supplies
  • Provides sufficient water for your garden during the drier months of summer when needs exceed rainfall amounts
  • Rain water is preferred by plants (avoid using on seedlings) as it has a balanced pH value free of limescale and chemicals
  • Reduces domestic water bills
  • Promotes water conservation. Over extraction of ground water is damaging our wetlands
  • Reduces the risk of flooding
  • More environmentally friendly because no energy was used to pump water to where it is required.

Rainwater butts are available in many shapes and sizes to suit a range of budgets and garden types. Decorative butts  are available with an integral planter or bird bath for a multifunctional use. They combine the aesthetic elegance of ceramics with the longevity of modern plastics. For more information about our range of rainwater butts, please visit the Garden Accessories category on Liners Line website.

How to take care of goldfish in garden ponds

Do the goldfish in your pond look like they need reviving? Belly up and motionless could be a sign that they are over fed or are in a pond with poor water quality. Goldfish swimming in a healthy garden pondIt could also be the result of a lack of oxygen – using a solar powered bubbler will help to increase the oxygen levels of the water during winter months when a pond has frozen over.

Water quality is very important to health of goldfish who become increasingly stressed in poor conditions. There are a number of factors that can affect pond health such as local climate, size of pond, number of fish stocked, number of aquatic plants and the type of filtration system installed.

Goldfish are cold water fish and so do best in ponds that are in partial to full shade (geography dependent but best to avoid goldfish pond water getting too warm). Types of goldfish that are hardy and known to thrive in a garden pond are the Cornet, Ryakin and Shubunkin. They can survive all but the coldest winters when ponds freeze over. Goldfish require less maintenance than Koi and do less damage to pond plants nibbling on them only.

Healthy pond water conditions for goldfish

  • avoid spraying insecticides or pesticides on to flower beds that are close to your pond and put measures in place to prevent rainwater run-off (unless your garden and pond are on flat ground!). Use natural methods of pest control to reduce chemicals entering your pond and affecting the water quality.
  • test the pH of your pond water fairly regularly. Goldfish thrive in water which has a pH of around 7 to 7.4. High ammonia and nitrate levels are an indication that there are too many fish in your pond or the filter system isn’t coping. The role of a filter system is to clean the pond water and keep it free of bad bacteria.
  • carry out a partial water change weekly.  This helps to remove pollutants from the water. The advice on how much water is exchanged varies amongst pond experts. Start by doing a 10% change and monitor the water quality between changes. If 10% is not enough to remove pollutants then increase the volume. No more than 50% should be changed to avoid stressing the natural ecosystem and fish. Use a pump, pond vacuum or hose to remove water from your pond. Replace with harvested rainwater or dechlorinated tap water.
  • a garden pond is a closed water system where water leaves only via evaporation leaving behind pollutants. Ponds need to be installed with a good filtration system to remove fish waste – which if not removed release ammonia into the water. Bacteria in the water converts ammonia into nitrates which is then processed by plants and algae.
  • reduce levels of algae by growing aquatic plants which cover 50 to 70% of the water surface. Plants will also offer a protective habitat to fish. They also absorb nutrients in the water reducing algae growth
  • remove organic mater from your pond water before it sinks to the bottom and starts to decompose – and becoming a food source for the growth of algae.
  • add one fish per 30 gallons of water.
  • the greater the surface area of a pond the greater the amount of oxygen so always build a pond as big as your garden space will allow.

Goldfish can thrive outdoors for many years in well nurtured and maintained garden ponds. A raised, vertically sided pond lined with a rubber Epalyn or Butyl pond liner is more of a deterrent to pond predators than a pond on ground level. There are, however pond guards and protective aids available for all pond types and shapes to discourage predators visiting and reducing your goldfish numbers.

Goldfish are friendly and add so much character to a garden pond. They are hardy provided you follow the advice shared in this article. If you can add anymore advice, we would love to hear from you.