Installing Your Pond
LAYOUT: Use a garden hose to lay out an area for digging. Don't forget to make careful considerations when deciding the best area for your pond. The site should be shade free for 5-6 hours for the best optimum display of Water Lilies and other aquatic plants, but also needs some protection from strong winds and too much hot sun. Trees that hang over the pond pose serious problems as the leaves that fall into the pond decompose and produce harmful gasses and encourage green algae. Choose a spot that is convenient for electricity and water and also close enough to the house to enjoy the sights and sounds of your pond.
DIGGING: Removing the earth may not seem that big of a task, but unless you are planning a very small pond, or you are in reasonably good shape, this may be more than you can handle yourself. An alternative way to excavate the dirt would be to hire an earthmover from your area. Before you dig make sure there are no cables or pipes in the area to be dug. Notice the shelf area around the inside of the dug out pond. This shelf inside the pond is used to place marginal plants that are in containers. Deep-water aquatic plants are placed on the bottom of the pond. (For rigid preformed liner ponds, the ledge area will represent the slope you will have to excavate to accommodate and support the slanting sides of the pond.)
After the hole is dug, leveled and ready for the liner, dig a small trench about 5” inches wide x 1 foot deep around the perimeter of the pond, this is where you will need to backfill the liner edge into the trench to keep the liner secured in place.
LINING: Place the liner across the newly dug out pond area. DO NOT PULL THE LINER TIGHT, LEAVE THE LINER LOOSE FITTING. Pleat the edges or corners to form a neat edge. Loosely backfill the trench with the dirt, or place stones to secure liner in the trench area. Do not compact dirt yet. Slowly fill the pond with water. The liner will stretch and contour to the shape of the hole. Once you start filling the pond, keep a watch on the liner to make sure all the areas are conforming to the pond like you want, straightening any areas before there is to much water pressure and weight to adjust. You should get into the pond barefoot and monitor the pond as it is filling. Do not start filling pond and leave area, or you may have to drain and refill to make any adjustments. (Not applicable to rigid preformed liner ponds - but do make sure it remains LEVEL as you fill it.)
TRIMMING: When the water reaches about 2 inches from the top of the pond, turn the water off. Cut the excess liner around the edge of the liner with scissors. Leave about 6 inches around the edge. This is the time when you would want to place your pump and or filter into place. You can run your tubing and connections under the edge of the liner. This is also a good time to install your electrical connections, lighting , fountains, etc. Remove all of the stones and backfill trench, compacting the dirt now.
EDGING: Lay the rocks of choice around the edge of the pond so they lay over the edging toward the inside of the pond about 1 to 2 inches. This will help hide the top inside edge of the liner. After all of the stones are laid out, place the mortar to hold the rocks. Place small rocks into the gaps to make sure all of the liner area is covered. Be extra careful not to drop the mortar into the pond! If you do, you should empty and refill the pond. Mortar has lime in it and will harm fish.
PLANT AND STOCK: OK! Now you are ready to stock your pond with plants and some fish! Place water plants into the pond by setting the pots onto the shelf and on the bottom of the pond. Generally, some like to wait 1 week to 1 month before introducing fish into the pond. To put fish into the pond right away, first put a good conditioner for fish in the pond. Just make sure your pump is oxygenating the water. A good rule of thumb is one inch of fish per sq ft of water surface, unless you are stocking Koi fish then the rule is one fish per 25 square feet of pond space. Some good varieties of pond fish are: Goldfish, Shubunkins, Comets, Black Moors, Oranda, Lion heads and all the Fantail Varieties.
FISH INFO: Pond fish require a good balanced food. Feeding your fish floating pellets will enable you to net out the uneaten food before it has a chance to decompose. Read the directions on the fish food as to the rate of feed, but usually what is not eaten in 5 minutes should be removed. Your pond will supply lots of food on its own for your fish, but a supplemental food for good nutrition is recommended. Never feed your fish if the water temperature goes below 50 F. The metabolism of the fish slows down and it is hard for the fish to digest the food. Read the label on your fish food for its requirements.