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Initial Planning for Fish Pond Construction

Updated on October 16, 2012

How to Start Building a Pond

Fish pond construction does not have to be a difficult task, provided you have adequate, sensible, planning in place. In the initial planning stage of building a pond, oddly enough, one of the commonly overlooked factors is - the hole the pond is going to be sitting in.

Often, when the enthusiasm of the home handy-person is left unchecked, these holes can end up becoming major earth-moving projects, similar to open-cut mining. Worse, and more often the case - the hole is just too small.

A good rule of thumb to remember here, is "measure twice, dig once". This, quite naturally, will also apply to the dimensions of the pond design.

Let us look first at the logistics of excavating the hole.
There are a number of extremely important things you must first take into account:

Is the site where you propose to install your backyard pond relatively level?

  • Unless you are looking to install an infinity pool, steep sloping sites are out.
  • It will be the degree of any slope in your backyard that is going to largely decide for you, just how much earth must be moved.
  • The greater the slope, the greater the earth works.

Is the finished project going to fit in with the present landscape of your garden?

  • If you have a simple cottage garden, an enormous edifice of steel and concrete, or some massive marble fountain, will detract from the general ambience of your established garden.
  • Likewise, if your garden is an architectural marvel of rock and steel, a subtle fish pond will only get lost amongst it all.

Is there a water source, or at least a garden-tap, close to hand?

  • Ponds need topping up every now and then, due to normal evaporation of the existing water mass.
  • Cleaning a pond, also, will lower its water level.
  • If the nearest water source is 500 yards away, on the other side of a concrete driveway, or the tennis court, getting water to your pond might be somewhat problematic.

Added to this, is the drainage factor.

  • It will help to be able drain it, at times, for cleaning purposes, or when one of the kids has playfully thrown the car keys in there.
  • Overflow must be factored in also, whether from unseasonal rains, or having forgotten you left the water running when topping up.
  • You cannot merely presume to be able pump the water out into your yard.
  • Depending on the actual capacity of the fish pond, if it is fairly large, there are neighbors to consider, if not the council.
  • Unless you are happy having hoses draped all over the place, you may have to factor in the services of a plumber for the job.

Similar to the plumbing, is there a power source at hand, to preclude added electrical jobs?

  • Depending on what sort of fishpond you decide on, there could be extra pumps and filters, possibly pond lighting, too.
  • Having the garden festooned with extension cables is not only ugly, but dangerous, too, if not illegal.

Does the proposed area for this feature get enough sunshine?

  • Do not put your water feature in full shade, as this is going to hinder the hours of sunshine required for the overall health of your water creatures and plant-life.

Do you really have enough room for a Fish Pond?

  • The dimensions and design of the water feature depends initially on the amount of free space you have available.
  • Forcing a fish pond into a spot that is too small, ultimately, will cause you a fair amount of grief.
  • Not the least being, if the pond only just fits into your back yard, you may be going for a swim every time you go through the door.

What is it going to cost you, financially, and to your health?

  • Well, if you want something the size of a small lake, you probably won't want to dig it by hand.
  • You could therefore, hire a work-gang or some earthmoving machinery.
  • If it is a modest size, you could hire a portable excavator, or do it by hand.
  • In order to dig a hole by hand, to put a fishpond into, may turn out to be more a matter of stamina than enthusiasm.
  • Make sure you are fit enough to do the job.
  • If you do your back in on the first day, how long will this project languish there, accusingly unfinished, until such time as you regain your health (only to once again do your back in, in the first five minutes)?

One last thought.
If, indeed, you decide to hire the machinery and the manpower to excavate the hole - does your property have adequate access?
There's a thought.

Fish pond construction, may either end up a terrific bonus, or, an outright catastrophe. If you are going to be building a pond, go through the necessary preparation first, as this is going to assist you in keeping clear of all manner of problems.


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