Planning Your New


Star-Tip 1015

Gardening Tips for successful and beautiful Landscapes and Gardens


A.      Before You Start

1.     Site Analysis

a)   Make a map of your yard and landscape.

b)   Take a look at your yard. Determine which direction is North, South, East, West.

c)    Watch for sun angles, they will change seasonally.

d)   Note nice views (mountains), bad views (neighbor’s 2-story house), noisy areas (busy street outside wall), areas of high use (place for the kids and dog to play), etc.

e)   Water run-off from irrigation and rain – which way and where does it go?

2.     Create a Plan

a)    Walk your yard and try to visualize what type of pond you would like to have and where you think it should go.

b)    Examine existing landscape and see how it might affect the chosen location of the pond.

3.     What type of Pond?

a)    Use a pre-formed pond liner or a heavy-duty flexible liner?

b)    Is the purpose of the pond just a simple water feature, to grow water plants, or watch fish? Some of these will affect what size pond will work best.

4.     How much time for maintenance?

a)    If time constraints are a concern, then the simpler the pond the better.

5.    Budget

a)    How much do you have to spend on this project?

b)    Will it be a do-it-all at once, or a part now, part later project?


Water Lilies not only add a nice touch, but actually provide some shade for any aquatic life you might have. Shade will reduce the growth of algae and your maintenance requirements.

6.    Water Features

a)    Will there be fish?

b)    Will there be water plants in and around the pond? Star Note #920

c)     What about water fountain features or waterfalls?

7.    Do you have children or small pets?

a)    A fence may be needed if either of these are true for safety.

b)    A water movement alarm is also a possibility, however, the water will have constant movement from the pump, waterfall, or fountain feature.




B.     Planning the Water Garden

1.    Pond selection

a)    Pre-formed pond liners are the quick and easy way to create a water garden.

b)    Heavy Duty pond liners give the ability to create a unique water garden to meet the needs of the homeowner.

2.    Pumps and Filters

a)    The size of the pond will help determine the size of the pump, but waterfalls and fountain spray heads can also play a factor in the decision.

b)    All of the water in the pond needs to be re-circulated (turned) every 2 hours.

1.    For starters, if you have a 500-gallon pond, you will need a 500-gallon per hour pump. Check manufactures information for pond capacity in gallons.

2.    To calculate size on free formed pond from a liner, multiply length x width x depth x 7.5, this equals gallons. Ex: 8 ft. (length) x 5 ft. (width) x 1.5 ft (depth) x 7.5= 450 gallons


c)     Basic rules for pump selection and water pumping heights

1.    170 gph pump = 7 ft. of water height

2.    300 gph pump = 12 ft.

3.    475 gph pump = 13 ft.

4.    1450 gph pump = 18 ft.

5.    1950 gph pump = 20 ft.

6.    4100 gph pump = 28 ft.

* Always check labeling on the box for pumping height.

d)    The intended use of the pond will affect the type and size of the filter.

1.    Adding fish and plants will increase the need for a filter. Waterfalls and fountain features will increase the need for a more powerful pump.

2.    If in an area with leaf drop, you might also want to incorporate a skimmer.


3.    Waterfalls and fountain spray heads

a)    Pre-formed ponds have connecting pools and cascade attachments.

b)    Flexible liners and pre-formed ponds can have natural looking rock waterfalls created.

c)     Fountain spray heads can be used in either pond type, and can be used with waterfall features.


C.     Proper Placement and Installation

1.    Choosing the location

a)    The area should be level and out of the way of water run-off, either from irrigation or rain.

b)    It should be in full to part sun for optimum conditions, with at least 4-5 hours of sunlight.


2.    If the site is not level, consider building up the site to support the pond.

a)    Use wall block or stacking stones as a retaining type wall to hold the pond and surrounding soil in place.

b)    The soil used should compact and form easily. A good topsoil blend will work.

3.    If creating a free from pond using a liner, lay it out in the sun for an hour or more before installing. This will soften the material and make it easier to smooth out the liner.

4.    Try to avoid areas the have constant leaf or twig drop as this will increase maintenance requirements.

5.    Tips to make installation easier.

a)    Use a layer of landscape sand under the pond to protect it from rocks.

b)    To level the pond, use a 2x4 long enough to reach from one end of the pond to the other. Set a level on top of it to check it.

c)     It is easier to level the pond when it is about ½ full. This will give it just enough weight to hold it in place, but not be too heavy to move.

d)    Lay ½” sleeves (PVC pipe) around the pond for any future water feature additions.

e)    Anything over 18” deep is considered a pool. Check with local building codes for required permits.


D.     Plants and Fish

1.    There are plants that will grow in the water and plants for next to the water in wet soil.

a)    Plants for in the water come in 2 basic types – floaters and container grown.

1)    Floating plants include water hyacinths and water lettuce.

2)    Container grown plants include such types as water lilies and irises.

a.    Use potting soil specially made for use with water plants.

b)    Plants that go around the pond in the wet soil are called Bog Plants or Marginals.

1.) These will grow in shallow water or up on the bank of the pond. Plants like Pennyworts, Parrot’s feathers and Four Leaf Clovers fit into this category.

2.    The type and quantity of fish a pond will support is directly related to the size and depth of the pond.

a)    The smaller the pond, the smaller the fish size should be as well as less fish in number.

b)    The oxygen level in a pond can make a difference here too. The more aeration you provide, the more fish you can add.

c)     For Koi, the best type would be to create a pond with a liner, so they have a deeper pool. Koi like to eat floating plants roots. You may want to protect them.





E.     Maintenance


1.    The water garden will need to be maintained regularly to keep the water clean and the amount of algae down.

a)    Filters can help remove some of the debris and algae.

1.) The Pro Falls Bio Filter will add a waterfall feature and a filter to the ponds at the same time.

b)    Skimmers will clean floating debris, such as leaves.

c)     Good water circulation is a must to keep a pond clean.


Without shade and various types of treatment, Algae is a summer issue.


d)    To remove large amounts of debris, remove the contents of the pond, clean it out, and replace the contents.

e)    If there are fish in the pond, treat the water with the necessary chemicals and then acclimate the fish upon returning them to the pond.

f)      Chemicals are available to keep the water balanced and clean looking.

3.    Filters and skimmers need to be cleaned regularly (daily / weekly)) to keep them in optimum working condition.

4.    Plants will need to be fertilized and cleaned up from time to time to keep the healthy and nice looking.

5.    Fish should be fed only what they will eat in 5 minutes. Anything more will just feed the algae.

6.    Water Clarity

a)    Natural enzyme based water clarifiers will help keep the water clear without harming the fish or plants.


Ponds add a wonderful sense of peace and beauty to your yard. If rushing water features are included the sound enhances the tranquility already induced. With a little planning, and routine upkeep your pond can be something that brings pleasure year round. And complements from your friends and guests!











Copy Provided courtesy of Star Nursery

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