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Planning your pond is a good place to start

Link Home While I started my first pond with a shovel, and without a plan, you don't have to. That was 1994. This is 2013. In 1994 liner and pumps were barely available retail, much less books, designs and filters? We built our first pond filter. You can find more of that story under: "how not to build a pond" on the page at: The pond design page. Written in about 2000, with some revisions since, it contains many of the foibles of different styles of pond building that I won't cover here. I'm assuming you've done your homework, read that, sifted out my prejudicial views (I am not in favor of systems that kill fish or eat up time with excessive maintenance due to poor design), and you are ready to go shopping. I'm assuming you've looked at the pictures on the Pond Photos page, and you've measured your space. Keep in mind, this is a hobby that grows on you. If you give yourself some room for future enlargement, you can always add deck chairs later.. You know your budget, you know your space, you know what you want. Now it's time to find the right stuff to build it. Let's get started, we're burning daylight!

Calculating liner size and dimensions. I suppose I could put a pond calculator on here, but I've found that it's easier to play with design changes if you know how the size was calculated in the first place. Even if you plan on putting in a concrete pond, liner under the concrete is a big plus at preventing leaks when the ground shifts and cracks the concrete. Which in many parts of the country, it will.

  • A tape measure, a can of spray paint to permanently mark your design, and a garden hose to rough it out with. Measure your dimensions by farthest distance across. Recommended depth for North Texas: 30 inches, 24 inches minimum Plant ledges don't add much to liner use, as their area would be covered anyway. I use straight vertical sides with plant ledge steps, because they are the safest and easiest to maintain. It slightly increases liner use, but having slid down a few sloping ponds, it's worth it. Liner is sold in 5 ft increments, so aim toward measurements like 8x13, which with a 30 inch depth, would take a 15 x 20 liner. Depth is measured up one side of the pond, down the other, plus a foot at either edge so you can anchor your liner. To reduce digging, and keep runoff out of the pond, we usually go up 4 inches on the sides with liner, and use brick or stone to bring the liner OVER, so the water level is actually above ground. Since the ground will settle with time, this system greatly lengthens the time between redos and edge adjustments. It adds to material cost, but keeps pesticides and fertilizers out of your pond. Your waterfall and/or stream will add to the liner required. Yes it is now possible to seam liner, and we routinely add on a second liner when the falls are very high, but is that a project you want to get into? If you plan a very tall falls, it might be worth the savings to learn to seam liner. Otherwise adjust your liner size so that you have liner extending all the way UP the waterfall. Because whether you use mortar or other sealants, your waterfall WILL leak. It's a given. Especially if it is very tall. Mortar will crack. And a "pressurized leak" when water is run past a crack removes many times the water of a simple pond liner puncture. Can you imagine taking your waterfall apart to repair it? Or hiring someone to do so?
  • Underlayment helps prevent liner punctures from tree roots and sharp stones that may work their way in over time. Not a guarantee, but a worthwhile investment. (and yes, I am a veteran of using old carpeting, but underlayment is tougher. Buy your pond shears at a hardware store, your wife's sewing scissors cost too much to replace after the job is done. And underlayment dulls blades.)
  • OK, you're going to have a pump - how much pump do you need? In Texas, with many 100 degree days per year, I like a 3 to 1 ratio. I want to turn the pond over 3 times per hour, splashing through air cools the water, which helps prevent algae problems.
  • You are going to have to send the water somewhere. Your pump output size and overall design are your guide for plumbing - whether it is pvc, flex pvc, or tubing. If you are ordering from us and have any questions, please drop us an email.

OK, the list

  • Liner - _____________x__________________
  • Underlayment - ________________x________________
  • Waterfall Liner if Separate - ________________x______________
  • Calculating Volume is next, so that you get enough pump capacity for your pond to remain cool and healthy during the summer. Pond Length x Width x Average Depth. On depth, if you are digging or digging and raising edge to 30 inches, but half of your pond has plant ledges that reduce the depth by 18 inches, call your average depth 24 inches. If you have rounded corners, and most ponds will, but not a round pond, you will have to adjust the volume somewhat. But it is not rocket science, you do NOT have to have a perfect number. If you have 8 ft x 6 ft x 2.5 ft (not many plant ledges), you have 120 cubic feet of water. Multiply that times 7.5, and you have approximately 900 gallons of pond. Your climate, particularly in summer, and whether you have shade will affect pump choice. In full sun, in Texas, I would not put less than a 3000 gph pump on this pond. Turning the water over 3 times an hour is not excessive when it is 100 degrees out. I would divide the flow and send part to a filter, part to the waterfall, and possibly divide it once more and add a fountain if the pond is greater than a 3/4 ratio width / length. Summer heat is hard on goldfish, koi and plants.

© 1999 - 2013 by Alice Burkhart.