Making a Garden Pond

Making a Pond

Ponds are ideal for encouraging lots of wildlife into your garden as well as adding significantly to the overall visual appeal. They are a great source of interest and education, particularly for children. However, since they can also represent a danger to the safety of very young children, it may be worthwhile considering instead another type of water feature, such as a pebble pool.


Old-fashioned concrete ponds used to be difficult to construct, but with modern liners and preformed pools, making a pond is a job you can complete in a weekend.

  1. Place the preformed pool on level ground, then insert canes around the edge and lay a piece of rope around them to transfer the outline to the ground.
  2. Excavate the hole, following the profile of the pond and its shelves as accurately as you can. Take measurements and lay the pond in the hole from time to time to check the fit. Don’t be afraid to make the hole a few centimetres (inches) larger all round than the actual pond, as this will make backfilling easier later.
  3. If you need to check that the depth is correct, lay a piece of wood across the top edges of the excavation, making sure it is level, then measure down from this. If the soil is very stony, excavate an extra 5 cm (2 in) and line it with that depth of sand.
  4. Place the pool in the excavation and check that it is absolutely level in all directions.
  5. Run water into the pond and, as the level rises, pack fine soil around the edge. If you synchronise the filling with the packing, you are unlikely to disturb the levels.
  6. Be sure to pack soil firmly beneath the shelves to avoid causing stresses within the moulding. Use a piece of wood to ram the soil into place if necessary. The backfilling may push the pool upwards, so check the level frequently as you fill and pack.


Although most water-lilies prefer the deeper water in the centre of the pool, the majority of aquatic plants grow in shallow water. A marginal shelf will enable you to grow many kinds of plants.



  1. Mark out the shape of your pond, using a length of rope or a hosepipe. If doing the job in winter, run some hot water through the hose first to make it supple.
  2. Dig out the soil to the required depth and barrow it away unless you want to make a raised rock garden behind the pond. Leave a shallow ledge about 23 cm (9 in) wide about halfway down the total depth of the pool. Remove grass from around the edge to allow for the paving which will be used to produce a neat edge. Make this shelf deep enough for the thickness of the paving plus a bed of mortar.
  3. Make sure the edge of the pond is level. Space short wooden pegs 90 cm-1.2 m (3-4 ft) apart around the edge of the pool, and go around the pool with a spirit-level.
  4. Make sure there are no sharp stones or thick roots sticking out of the soil, then place a cushion of about 12 mm (1/2 in) of sand on the bottom and the marginal shelves — also along the sides if possible (if you slope the sides slightly and use damp sand it should adhere). If the soil is very stony, use a polyester mat instead of sand. You can buy special matting designed for the job from water garden specialists. To save money and a trip to the tip, you could even use an old carpet to line the bottom and sides of the pond, instead of sand!
  5. Drape the liner loosely in the excavation, making sure that there is sufficient overlap all around. Hold the edges in place with a few bricks. Run in water from a hosepipe.
  6. Lift the bricks from around the edge and allow the liner to move a little from time to time as the pond fills up with water. There will inevitably be some creases. Remove the worst of them by stretching and adjusting the liner as it fills.
  7. Once the pond has been filled to its final level, cut off the surplus liner, leaving a flap of about 15 cm (6 in) all the way round. This will be covered and held in place by the mortar and paving.
  8. Bed a paved edge on a mortar bed of three parts sand to one part cement. Rectangular paving slabs are the easiest to use for a rectangular pond, but you can use crazy paving for an irregular shape.

Use this formula to avoid either spending too much money by buying a bigger liner than you need or finding to your horror that the liner is too small for your excavation:


A pebble pool is perfect for anyone with a tiny garden or small children. It’s also ideal for anyone who is too busy to look after a water feature that needs regular upkeep as there is no standing water, just a low, bubbling fountain that runs away through the surrounding pebbles. You get all the sparkle, sound and water movement without the routine work or risks of a pond. They can be landscaped to suit more traditional or even wilder styles of garden, just by altering the surroundings.


Water is endlessly recycled from the fountain into the reservoir. Clean it out once a year and refill it with fresh water.

A perforated lid holds the weight of the pebbles. Because the water is kept in the dark most of the time, it will not become green as it would in a pond. The top of the water pipe coming up from the pump produces a low, chunky bubble of water that will not blow around in the wind.

Pebbles are not provided with the kit, buy them in bags from garden centres for landscaping. Don’t take them from the beach. A small pump is all you need to power a simple pebble pool.



A lot of people are worried about having electrical wiring in the garden, especially where it is used in connection with water. If you’re in any doubt about handling electrical appliances such as these, ask a qualified electrician to install the wiring and pump for you.



Dig a hole deep and wide enough to hold the reservoir. Line the hole with fine sand to cushion the reservoir and the pump. Once you have sunk the reservoir into the hole and made sure it is level, sit the pump in the middle of it.

Fit the perforated lid on the reservoir and over the pump outlet, that should stick out through the hole in the centre of the lid. Fill the reservoir with water and turn on the pump to check that all the water returns to the reservoir. If water splashes over the sides, adjust the pump to reduce the height of the spray. Conceal the lid of the reservoir under a layer of decorative pebbles.

Surround the pebble pool with suitable plants such as hostas and ferns, making sure you dig in plenty of organic matter and keep the soil around the pool well watered.

A bell jet fitted to the top of the pump outlet can produce an attractive spray effect, but you should make sure the breeze does not spoil the shape of the spray effect, by choosing a sufficiently sheltered location for the pool. You will also need to keep the water in the reservoir topped up regularly, as there is inevitable water loss through evaporation.

26. February 2015 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Water Features, Water Garden Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Making a Garden Pond


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