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Planning and research are important first steps in creating a pond water garden. Considerations include the pond’s location, its shape, the plants you want to place in it, and what, if any, animals will live there. Each consideration affects the others. Once you’ve determined these, you can outline the area and dig out the pond, then place the liner, filters, and any other equipment, and fill in your pond with water. Lastly, the plants and animals should be placed in the pond in the appropriate time frame to ensure they will be properly established.
Before creating a pond water garden, careful planning and observance of local laws and permits is a must. Local authorities can provide information on unfenced water features and let you know whether you need permits for construction. If you haven’t already, this would also be a good time to discover where your water, gas, electrical, or other lines are located so you don’t have an accident. A call to the appropriate authorities can provide you with this information.
Decisions about the pond water garden’s location and depth come next. Important considerations in these regards include how much sun the plants will need, how much shade the animals will need, and how much water all will need to survive winter, depending on geography. The pond should also be in a position where trees will not shed their leaves or fruit into it and rainwater won’t erode surrounding soil into the pond. The next step is drawing the outline of the pond water garden, followed by the actual digging. When digging, you should have a shelf 1 foot (30 cm) deep and at least 1 foot wide to accommodate some of your water plants.
Once it’s dug, the pond should be lined. For the do-it-yourself pond builder, lining can be done using a hard plastic liner or a plastic or rubber water liner. For a plastic or rubber water liner, material, such as sand or a pond underlayment, should be laid before the liner is installed. Hard plastic liners can be placed easily, but they do not lend themselves to custom ponds. You can also have a concrete water liner installed, but you will not be able to place plants or animals into the pond for some months after the concrete is laid.
After the lining has been placed, the installation of any equipment can be done. Skimmers, pond filters, and pumps should be installed to the correct depth and specifications according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After this, the pond water garden can be filled with water. After filling, you may have to let the pond sit for a few days. Water in many areas is treated with chlorine, and that chlorine will have to dissipate before putting plants or animals in the pond.
Once the chlorine has dissipated in your pond water garden, you can start installing plants. For specifics for how each plant should be planted, ask someone at the nursery where you obtained them. If you see algae during this period, don’t be alarmed as the plants will often take care of it once they are established. After a few weeks, once the plants are established, you can add any animals you have chosen for the pond. You may have to add fish slowly over several weeks to ensure they are successfully introduced into the pond.
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