Getting started

Use our month by month guide for the garden pond, designed to help visitors to our web-site who are planning a new pond or have little knowledge of ponds. Ponds are a fantastic way of adding interest to your garden whether large or small appealing to all age groups.

Apart from the fish and plants you introduce, it will attract wildlife, frogs and insects that used to be so common in our country-side and you'll be amazed how quickly they'll discover a new pond and make it their home!

Existing residents, birds, butterflies, and small mammals will be attracted by the drinking and bathing facilities you have obligingly provided and frogs and toads will be grateful for a haven to mate and lay their eggs.

A big reward for so little effort!

If you don't have a very big garden, only have a patio, or you don't fancy jumping straight in and digging holes in your garden you could always consider a patio or container pond, such as a Lifepond. These are a very easy and inexpensive way to create and instant pond.


Ponds need sunlight, so avoid heavily shaded sites and overhanging trees because of leaf-fall. Take into consideration the future growth of newly planted trees and shrubs. Smaller ponds would benefit from a little shade for part of the day to reduce the warming effect of the sun which will exacerbate algae problems.

Use any soil you have excavated from the new pond to landscape the surrounding area; you may be able to incorporate a waterfall or stream into the design.

For smaller formal ponds pre-formed (rigid) liners, e.g. fibre glass or similar, can be used and are relatively easy to install. Although the contours and depth will have been predetermined, there are many shapes and sizes to choose from and they will incorporate marginal shelves at the correct depth. They should have a minimum deep water depth of 18-24 inches to protect fish and lilies over winter. They can be quite fussy in design and when installed and the edges covered can seem disappointingly small compared to how they look in the shop; also if not well designed the shelves can often be too small and narrow for container plants. They are also more expensive size for size than the best flexible liners and apart from the best fibreglass ones have much shorter guarantees than the best flexible liners.

The alternative to a pre-formed pond is to use a flexible pond liner which gives much more freedom over the design of your pond and is necessary for larger ponds unless you go down the clay liner route. The best (most expensive) material to use is Butyl which is strong, flexible (easier to stretch and mould into tight corners or crevices), resistant to UV light and frost. It can also be easily repaired using a bicycle puncture repair kit and can be heat welded for larger areas. This is still the most widely used flexible liner by professional landscapers, and can come with guarantees of 25-30 years but in reality if properly installed the lifespan is almost indefinite.

Other flexible liners include: Polythene -cheap but not very durable, not resistant to UV light, cannot be joined , is not easy to repair, seldom comes with a guarantee, and has a life expectancy of only 3-5 years (Low-density polythene overcomes many of these disadvantages); PVC -stronger and more flexible than polythene, cheaper than Butyl and EPDM, can be joined and repaired, thicker grades can be unwieldy, life expectancy of 5-20 years and may come with guarantees of a few years; EPDM -slightly cheaper and stronger than Butyl with most of its advantages, can only be joined by using special adhesives and tape, 40+ year lifespan.

Avoid sharp contours and islands, as they will only present problems when laying the liner.

To stand a chance of ensuring the best stable and self sustaining ecological balance in your new pond (in order to create clear water) you need to ensure you have a sufficient volume of water in relation to its surface area. This would require 378 litres per square metre (10 gallons per square foot). In practical terms for a pond of less then 28 square metres this would equate to a pond depth of 60cm (2 feet). Any less than this is an invitation to encourage algae to spread; any more is unnecessary, is just making work for yourself and will be too deep for good flowering of most lilies.

You will need to create some marginal shelves around the pool perimeter for marginal planting at a depth of between 15cm-25cm (6-10 inches) which will accommodate all marginal plants. The shelves should have an absolute minimum width of 18cm (7in) for very small ponds and 25-30cm (10-12in) for medium to large ponds, up to 50cm (20in) for very large ponds to take appropriate planted baskets comfortably. Ideally one part of your pond would have a gently sloping 'beach' area that slopes from the deep area to the pond edge to help amphibians and other wildlife get in and out of the pond easily. This can be enhanced with stones and pebbles and creeping marginal plants will help provide cover.

Include a seating area near to the pond to enjoy all aspects of your new pond


To calculate the size of liner required, simply add twice the maximum depth to each of the maximum length and maximum width of the pool. Add 30cm to each measurement for formal pools, due to the difficulty in positioning the liner exactly and to allow for securing the edges.

This will not be necessary for informal pools, especially if sides have been sloped 20-30 degrees.

It is very important to know how much water the pool contains. It will form the basis of any future water treatments.

Pre-formed pools will have already been calibrated, so make a note for future reference.

The formula for formal pools is to multiply the length x width x depth to find out the capacity in cubic metres, e.g. a pool measuring 3m x 2m x 1m deep = 6 cubic metres.

One cubic metre contains 1,000 litres (one cubic foot = 6.25 gallons). Allowance must be made for marginal shelves.

When filling informal shapes, time how long it takes to fill a calibrated container such as a bucket or a watering can. Then time how long it takes to fill the pool.

Try to avoid peak times of local water demand, so the flow rate is constant.