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Planning a Pond

Like any DIY project, planning is the key to success when installing a pond.

Planning a Pond
An important first step is deciding whether you want a decorative pond for sight and sound purposes only, or a functional water garden that includes plants, fish and other aquatic life. This will help you make an informed purchase for the most important components of your project - the liner to shape and hold the water, and the pump to circulate the water effectively.
The most common mistake people make is not building their pond big or deep enough for future development, which may include functional features.  Spending a bit more than you intended on a larger pump or liner generally pays down the road when it comes time to add exciting new features.

Location and safety advice

Before beginning any project, we strongly recommend serious consideration of safety when choosing your pond location and style, especially if children or pets have access to the area. Please check local building codes regarding maximum depths, and whether fencing or protective barriers are required to restrict access. Ensuring the area is free from any underground utilities before digging begins is also essential. Remember: Call before you dig!
The most important advice for choosing a location is to find an area that offers enough level space in a “high ground” area of your yard. Avoiding low-lying and soggy areas offers the best protection against water runoff causing flooding or unwanted residues of herbicides, pesticides or other hazardous garden chemicals entering the pond and adversely affecting its ecosystem.
Ensure enough level ground surface is available for the entire pond area. Uneven installations will cause the pond to look lopsided in relation to the surrounding landscape. An emphasis on creating viewpoints from the most commonly used areas of your yard, deck or patio, coupled with a line of sight from inside your home, is also highly recommended.

If you are creating a pond that requires electricity, access to GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is another primary consideration. It is extremely important to ensure that the outlet is installed at a safe distance from the pond (minumum five feet). Please follow all local electric codes and use properly rated components when adding this feature to your project.
Depending on your chosen pond format of decorative or functional, your location needs an adequate amount of sunlight. An average of six hours of sunlight per day is generally required for ponds that contain plants or fish.  Ponds with aquatic life also need an area that offers shade during the hottest parts of the day. During the peak summer months, we recommend that up to 60 percent of the pond surface be covered in plants to prevent the water from overheating.
While a balance of sun and shade is ideal, ponds should not be located directly under trees. Consider adding protection from falling leaves or other organic debris that can decompose in the bottom of your pond without adding potentially toxic elements to your fish or plants.

Size, shape and depth

If creating a decorative pond, the size and shape are limited only by your imagination and available space. The depth is not as critical a component as with a functional pond, and must simply be deep enough to provide sufficient water for your pump and hide the plumbing components from view.
Functional ponds should be a minimum of 18 inches in depth to accommodate plant life, with deeper areas in the 24- to 36-inch range as a minimum for exotic Koi fish.  (Deeper areas are not as susceptible to extreme temperatures that can harm your fish.)  Please familiarize yourself with local building codes and safety standards as they may change depending on the depth of your pond.  The ideal functional pond would have shallow areas for plants and deep areas to successfully support fish and balance your pond's ecosystem.

Creating shelves near the perimeter, approximately six to eight inches below the intended water surface, provides an area for plants and helps secure the liner. Sloping the walls at an approximately 30 degree angle provides a smooth transition to the perimeter.

Packaged pond liners and pre-formed shells from Angelo Décor offer an array of sizing possibilities for above- or below-ground applications. They can be combined to create ponds up to 1,500 gallons (5,678 litres) in size.

The location you choose for your pond affects the decision of a flexible liner or pre-formed shell. Both offer unique benefits, but the flexible liner offers more size and shape options in a below-ground environment, while the pre-formed shell offers easier installation for above-ground ponds when properly supported.

Flexible liners allow very simple installation in free form shapes that accommodate your space and landscape surroundings. While preformed shells have a fixed capacity and size, flexible liners require a finished size calculation to properly fit your intended project size. The finished pond size helps you calculate your pond volume so you can choose a pump that properly circulates your pond water.

Appearance and sound

The major factor for most people who build a pond is the beauty and sound it creates. The Angelo Décor Pond Building Series™ product line is designed to offer varied visual options from a simple reflection pond to a stunning display of water features.  Whether you want the calming nature of a Zen-inspired stream or the rich sound of a dramatic waterfall, the colour-coded packaging will guide you to a project that meets your vision.
  • The simplest and least expensive feature of any pond is the fountain nozzle, which not only provides a pleasing sight and sound, but also aerates the water to provide a safe habitat for fish and plants.
  • Spouting statues offer a charming accent and provide both sound and aeration, while decorative statues offer the ability to create or reinforce the theme of a garden.
  • Waterfalls and streams are a popular way to add a compelling visual element that is easy to construct starting with the waterfall weir. This component also provides a key filtration function.

The most common type of pond is a natural water garden that complements the surrounding landscape. The use of plants, stone and decorative brick are common components used to finish this type of pond.
Whatever style of pond you build, submersible lighting is a dramatic yet cost-effective way to extend your enjoyment and viewing time.

Energy use considerations

Electrical costs and environmental concerns dictate a serious appraisal of energy use before completing your planning stage. The size of pump you choose is not only related to the amount of water sound it will generate, but also directly affects the operating cost of your project.

If a waterfall or feature requires a pump that is beyond the circulation requirements detailed above, we suggest a two-pump system.  A smaller energy-efficient solar pump can provide the necessary circulation required, while a large secondary pump can be placed on a timer or remote control to offer the dynamic visual component only when it is needed. Lights can be placed on the same circuit for added convenience and savings.

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