How to Install a Water Garden Pond

Installing a water garden pond is simpler than most people think. See more pictures of famous gardens.

Installing your own water garden pond is easier than most people expect. With the two alternatives to traditional pools available today to home gardeners -- flexible liners and prefabricated pools -- installing a water garden pool is no longer exclusively for the professionals.

The information in this article will give you everything you need to get started on installing your own water garden pond, including tips for installing your own water garden pond, installing a flexible liner for a water garden pond, installing a prefabricated liner for a water garden pond, how to build a waterfall for a water garden pond, how to choose a pump for a waterfall, and how to build a waterfall with a flexible liner.

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In the next article, you'll learn tips for installing your own water garden, including choosing a liner and determining the proper calculations for installation.

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Installing Your Own Water Garden Pond

A water garden pond can be installed without the help of professionals.

Many people these days choose to install their own garden pools. If that's your choice, there are two main alternatives: flexible liners and prefabricated pools. Both are inexpensive and can be installed by two people in a single weekend. Concrete pools are more expensive and require greater skills: It is generally best to contact a professional landscaper for planning and construction.

The pool surface itself must be perfectly even (one edge can be a bit lower to allow rainwater to drain away). If your yard is on a slope, you may have to dig further down at the higher end or even shore up the lower one to obtain the desired effect. Use a level throughout the installation process to make sure your pool remains on the level.Installing a flexible liner is the easiest and least expensive process for the nonspecialist. Be sure to use a liner specifically designed for water gardens, not just any sheet of plastic. Currently, PVC liners are most popular; dark shades will give the most natural effect. The thicker your liner is, the longer it will last and the more it will cost. Since light degrades plastic, look for liners with enhanced UV protection, especially if your pond is a shallow one. Rubber liners are the most durable but also the most costly.

To calculate the proper size for your liner, measure the width and length of the planned pool at the widest points, add twice the pool's depth and then tack on an extra foot for overlap. For example, a pool 10 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 2 feet deep would require a liner 15 feet long (10. + (2 ( 2.) + 1.) and 11 feet wide (6. + (2 ( 2.) + 1.).

Keep reading to learn about installing a flexible liner for a water garden pond.

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Installing a Flexible Liner for a Water Garden Pond

Outlining the pool is the first step.

Installing a flexible liner is the easiest and least expensive process for the home gardener. The following step-by-step instructions will help you successfully complete the process.

1. Outline the pool with a piece of garden hose. If your pool will be square or rectangular, use string staked carefully into place to do the outline. A framing square will be necessary to get a 90-degree angle at the corners.

Use a straight board as you dig out the pond.

2. Dig out the pond to two inches more than the desired depth. Leave shelves about 6 to 18 inches (9 inches is average) deep in areas where you intend to place emergent plants such as cattails. Don't cut the edges perfectly perpendicular or they may collapse: A slight angle (about 20 degrees) is best. As you dig, use a straight board with a level to make sure the pond's edge is perfectly level. If you'll be edging your pond in field stone, remove a further layer of sod from around its edges so the stones can be set evenly with the surrounding soil.

Line the pond area with damp sand.

3. Remove any stones, sticks, or other debris from the pool bottom and sides, then line the entire surface with two inches of damp sand. You may want to install a piece of landscape fabric over the sand for further protection against piercing, especially if you are using an inexpensive grade of liner.

Use stones to hold the liner in place.

4. Spread the liner carefully over the excavation, folding it carefully at corners or curves. Mold the liner to the hole by pushing with your feet (remove your shoes first). Use stones to hold it in place.

Smooth out wrinkles as you fill the pool with water.

5. Slowly add water, smoothing out wrinkles as the pool fills.

Cover the liner overlap with soil or paving stones.

6. Cut away any excess liner, leaving six inches of liner overlapping at all points. Cover the overlap with soil or paving stones.

Keep reading to learn about installing a prefabricated liner for a water garden pond.

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Installing a Prefabricated Liner for a Water Garden Pond

The final hole should match the liner's shape.

Installing a prefabricated liner is another easy option for gardeners wanting to install a water garden pond without having to look to professionals for help. The step-by-step instructions below will help you get started.

1. Outline the pool's position with a piece of garden hose. Dig out the hole two inches wider and deeper than the required depth, making sure to take into account any built-in shelves. The final excavation should be a perfect image of the liner's form.

Place the shell atop two inches of wet sand.

2. Line the excavation with two inches of wet sand, checking as you go to make sure the base is level. Place the shell in the hole.

Stones can be placed around the edges of the liner.

3. Add water slowly, filling in the area around the shell with sand as you go. Add edging if desired.

Keep reading to learn how to build a waterfall for a water garden pond.

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How to Build a Waterfall for a Water Garden Pond

There is a wide variety of pumps available for water gardens

Moving water is not required in a water garden -- aquatic plants, for example, grow best in still water -- but a waterfall or fountain adds several advantages. Moving water is better aerated than still water so fish do better. A filter can easily be added to any pump, making water clearer. But the main reason for including a pump in your water garden is aesthetic: People enjoy the sound and sight of moving water.

Care should be taken to avoid creating strong currents or excessive splashing near aquatic plants or they can be damaged. Fountains especially are not conducive to plant life, as their spray can reach considerable distances under strong winds. Waterfalls can usually be separated from water lilies and other plants by placing the cascade at one end of the pool and installing a few well-placed rocks to diffuse the current.

Choose the form of moving water that best corresponds to your pool. Fountains and other pool ornaments are best for formal pools. Waterfalls cascading over rocks work well for irregular pools in a more natural setting. And simple underwater filter systems suit any kind of pool.

There is no lack of choices among fountains: cones, sprays, jets, bubble effects, or pretty much whatever you want. Pipe heads can also be fitted to ornamental statues, ceramic jars, or bamboo pipes. When installing a fountain, make sure the height of the spray is not more than half the diameter of the pond; otherwise much of the water will end up being sprayed out of the pool during windy periods.

If your yard has a natural slope, consider installing a waterfall: It will help integrate your water garden into the rest of the landscape. Waterfalls can also be used in flat areas, but care should be taken that the resulting raised section doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. Place tall plants or a fence behind the waterfall to ease this potential problem. The combination of rock gardens and waterfalls is a natural one since the waterfall is set off by rocks anyway and rock garden plants, generally low-growing, won't block the view of the resulting stream.

Prefabricated waterfall units are readily available and easily installed. They may consist of an entirely preformed section with several tiers, or they may be individual catch basins designed to be placed so that each one slightly overhangs the previous one. It is also easy to make your own waterfall using a section or sections of flexible liner.

There is a wide variety of pumps available for water gardens. The pump should be chosen according to the quantity of water to be moved, the distance the water has to cover, and the height the water is to be pushed. For example, it requires much more power to pump a fast-moving stream of water five feet up and ten feet from the pool for an extensive waterfall than to simply filter the water in a pond. Pumps generally come with charts detailing their capacity. Ask the supplier to help you choose if you have any doubts.

Always select a pump somewhat stronger than your needs, just in case. The pump should never have a rate of flow per hour greater than the capacity of the pond, but it should be able to circulate nearly half the pool's water per hour. To calculate the approximate volume of your pool, multiply its length by its width by its depth (in inches). This gives the number of cubic inches. Divide this by 231 to obtain the number of gallons. For example, a pool 10 feet (120 inches) by 6 feet (72 inches) by 18 inches deep would have a volume of 155,520 cubic inches, or 673 gallons. A pump rated at 300 gallons per hour would be adequate.

Water filters are not necessary for a healthy pond, but they do help keep the water clear and the pool free of debris. Mechanical filters are still the most popular and need only regular cleaning or replacement of the filter. Biological filters take up more space but need little upkeep.

Keep reading to learn how to choose a pump for a waterfall.

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How to Choose a Pump for a Waterfall

A submersible pump is commonly used in water garden ponds.

The most commonly used pump is a submersible pump, which can be placed out of sight under water. For small ponds, a 24-volt pump may be sufficient. Larger ones using a regular 110-volt house current are the norm for larger pools. If there is no electrical outlet near the pond, have one installed by an electrician. Any underground wiring should be placed at least 18 inches deep and run through PVC piping to avoid accidental breakage. A ground fault circuit interrupter is recommended in all cases.

Keep reading to learn how to build a waterfall with a flexible liner.

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How to Build a Waterfall with a Flexible Liner

Step 1

The flexible liners available to home gardeners are not only useful for building garden ponds -- they are useful for building waterfalls. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to get started.

1. Dig out individual basins.

Step 2

2. Cover excavation with flexible liner.

Step 3

3. Use rocks to conceal liner and edges.

Step 4

4. Install pump and add water.

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