• Ponds

  • If you’re thinking about a pond for your garden and where it would look best - first you should have a very clear idea on exactly what you want from a garden pond...

    For instance, if you’d like a small pond to provide a natural habitat for frogs and newts, then your choice of location will be much wider than if you wanted a formal pond for keeping large fish. Equally, if your decision calls for a deep pond, there may be areas in your garden that are not suitable, due to underground services for water, drainage, gas or electricity.

    What size of pond is best?

    The size of your pond needs to be in-keeping with the rest of the plans for your garden. A tiny pond in a large garden often looks as if it was plonked there by mistake. However, one that is too big for its surroundings will also spoil the overall effect. Our experience shows the bigger the pond, the more pleasure you will get from it.

    Here are a few pointers to mull over before making the final decision on the type, shape, and size of your pond:

    How Deep Should My Pond Be?

    If you are planning to keep fish, your pond needs to be at least 500mm deep, so that the water will not be too cold for the fish in the winter, or too hot in the summer. If you want to keep Koi, the theory says you should be thinking of a depth of at least 1 metre.

    So what’s best… 500mm or 1 meter? All Wills Landscaping ponds make the best of both worlds:

    It cannot be denied, there are certain parts of the human anatomy that do not like coming into contact with very cold water! Also, as you never know when you might need to get into the water for maintenance - even in the winter - we make sure all parts and all depths of our ponds can be reached without getting those aformentioned anatomical parts unnecessarily wet and cold.

    You might be thinking a pair of waders or wellies would solve the problem. However, you need to be bare-footed whenever you step into the pond. This means you will feel any tiny particles of sharp grit before you put weight on them and risk damaging the pond liner.

    Remember also that different plants thrive at different depths. So if you have a particular favourite, you need to ensure that your pond provides the correct environment for it.

    What Shape Should My Pond Be?

    If you are going to have a natural looking pond - edged with rocks and plants - informal curves can create whatever shape your heart desires. However, if you intend your pond to be positioned next to a patio or decked area, then it might not be possible to incorporate curves.

    The main thing is to make sure your pond shape matches your garden theme.

    If your garden is of a formal design, an irregular shaped pond just wouldn't look right. Equally, in a natural or semi-wild informal garden, a rectangular or square pond would also look wrong.

    The exception is for Koi keeping. Koi ponds tend to have clean-cut lines and square corners that afford the fish the whole focus of attention and interest. For this reason, Koi ponds are often devoid of plants and have smooth and almost flat bottoms.  

    How Much Water?

    Pumps and filters are related to the size of the pond and not just to the amount of water you want flowing over your waterfalls.

    The pump needs to move the full capacity of your pond through the filter in a reasonable amount of time, but not too fast that the filter struggles to be effective.

    Generally, the bigger the pond, the more powerful the pump will need to be and the bigger the filter. Therefore, the pump and filter will be more expensive.

    Another thing often forgotten is the cost of the water. Most houses now have meters on their water supply. So there will be a cost for filling and topping up your pond that you will need to factor in.

    What Species Of Fish?

    Goldfish, Shubunkins, Comets and Orfe will be quite content in 500mm of water. If you want to keep Koi, your pond should be at least 1000mm deep.

    Most fish-keeping guide books state each square foot of pond surface area can support 1 inch of fish. However, as long as you provide a regular supply of food and maintain a well balanced environment, then your pond will have little problem supporting may times more.

    Unfortunately, there is a down-side.

    The bigger the fish, the more waste they produce, and hence the bigger the filter needed to keep the water clean. So if you hope to grow really big Koi, you will need a really big pond and a really big pump/filter system.

    There is no possibility of compromise here.

    What If I Get It All Wrong?

    People with ponds love to talk about them and what influenced their decision at the planning and design stage. We can refer you to people we know with garden ponds in and around the Bristol area who will be more than happy to meet with you.

    We cannot stress enough that this time - the time you take at the initial planning stage - is the time to take your time. In this way, you have less chance of your project going pear-shaped.

    If you get it wrong, the end result can be quite expensive, since once you've had your pond built, you will invariably get parts replaced that you don't like. This always costs significantly more than any slight adjustments made early on at the planning and design stage.

    Having said that and you’re still not sure, here’s a good rule of thumb:

    Think of the size of pond you’d like… double it… think about it again… then make it bigger!

    Of all the people we know who have created a garden pond as a DIY project, most have been rebuilt within 2 years. Every client we've designed ponds for has agreed that their initial plans were not bold enough, and were delighted they went for a bigger pond than they first envisaged.

    What's All This I Hear About Underwater Profile?

    As well as deciding on the overall size and shape of your pond, you will also need to consider the underwater profile. Again, a number of factors are tied into the decision you make.

    If you intend to keep specimen Koi, then you will need a pond that has clean, straight, almost vertical sides, and a nearly flat bottom with just a slight slope towards a centre drain. If you want a more natural-looking pond, you need to plan suitable areas for plants, some of which will need a fairly large platform not too far below the surface.

    One more thing... pick up almost any book in a garden centre on how to build a pond, and it will invariably suggest a shelf around the pond at about 20cm below the surface of the water for you to plant 'marginal' plants.


    These books must have been written by a Heron breeder. This type of thing is exactly what Herons love, making it easier to pick off your fish one-by-one for an easy lunch! You do need to think about your marginal plants of course, but unless you are going to fill the shelf completely with plants, then an all-the-way-around shelf is really not a good idea.

    Wills Landscaping aim for a number of levels inside our ponds to give the maximum flexibility when it comes to selecting plants. Also, different levels in your pond probably makes things more interesting for your fish!

    Another advantage of tiers in your pond is the ability to move the pump to a slightly shallower depth for the winter. Although there are good reasons for running your pump all year round, this can also cause you problems. Having the ability to raise the pump overcomes these.

    We could go on forever, but if you'd like a chat about your garden pond project, give us a call. We’re looking forward to sharing our ideas with you.