If you have a yard or garden, and wish to add a decorative pond, one of the first things you must consider is where to place it.
Location is a huge factor in the success of an outdoor pond and depending on where you decide to place it can influence its ecology in different ways.
Choosing the correct location can make the act of keeping a pond a much easier and more enjoyable experience.
However, different setups may have different requirements, so the first thing to consider is what type of pond you wish to keep.
The location can limit what you may be able to put in your pond. Factors such as pond size, light intensity, wind/inclement weather and depth can all decide what you can keep in your pond, and how much maintenance you will have to perform.
Things to consider when choosing where to build a pond
The first thing to consider when choosing the location of your pond is what type of pond you want:
- Built up
… and so on.
For a typical goldfish pond, you want to initially consider:
- How many fish you want;
- Whether or not you want to add plants and decor;
- The different breed(s) of goldfish you will be keeping;
- Whether the goldfish be staying there year-round;
- How much maintenance you want to do.
Light and shade
The key to owning a successful pond is understanding how to maintain a balanced ecosystem.
The first and most important part of the ecosystem is sunlight, as this feeds the plant life, algae and bacteria, which are vital to keeping your pond healthy and water quality sound.
The level of sunlight can vary from pond to pond, but the most established, healthy ponds, have a good balance throughout the day of light and shade.
A pond that is placed in a dark corner, under a tree or structure, may not receive enough light for plants to survive, which limits the type of pond you want and means you will have to perform more maintenance, as plants remove harmful nitrates from the water.
No plants means you will have to remove toxins from the water yourself by performing water changes, which can be a lengthy and potentially expensive task, especially for those larger ponds.
On the other hand, too much sunlight can create other problems, such as overheating, algae blooms and blanket weed overgrowth.
Overheating can be a huge issue in ponds, especially in warmer climates during summer months. A pond which is too hot will limit the amount of oxygen that can dissolve, reduce the pH and cause severe irritation for your goldfish, health problems and in extreme cases, death.
The best level of lighting for nearly all ponds is around 6 hours per day – this is called partial sunlight and will allow your fish and plants to do well, while keeping the pond from becoming too hot or receiving too many nutrients from the sun.
Additionally, you can create shade by adding marginal plants to block out sun.
You may also add artificial lighting if you do not receive enough sun – LED lights work well and allow plants to grow provided they are bright enough.
Being able to properly observe your pond is an important safety feature, not only for your fish but also for children and animals who may fall into the pond.
Visibility into the pond is a high priority for health checking your goldfish, or checking for organic debris like uneaten food or dead leaves, which may need removing before they cause an ammonia increase.
To maintain good water clarity, a good well maintained filter is required, selecting the correct size filtration and conducting regular cleaning will ensure clear, clean water.
Location is a big factor in this, as ponds which receive full sun can develop “green water” which is a form of particulate algae, which grows rapidly and clouds the water.
This can be prevented by choosing a location with less light.
You may also choose to have a UV steriliser on your filter (most pond canister filters contain these) which will greatly increase the visibility within your pond.
Be aware that UV bulbs will need replacing around every 10 months or so, as they expire. This would open up your options and would allow you to choose an area which receives more sunlight.
Placing a pond under a tree or shrub can bring its own benefits and disbenefits, for example, the partial shade provided by the canopy of a tree can allow you to place a pond in a more open area.
The shade can reduce light intensity and keep the pond cool in the summer months – they can also provide wind and harsh weather protection as well as cover from predators, such as heron.
Trees and shrubs can also help with balancing the water level as they will soak up any excess water and prevent flooding.
When selecting a tree or shrub to place over a pond, be selective of which species to go with as some are poisonous – trees and shrubs such as rhododendron, chinese elm, azalea, caster oil and could pollute the water, causing harm or killing your livestock.
Good trees and shrubs to go with in the UK are native plants, like oak, buddleia, apple and ash.
There are also many other continental tree and plant species ideal for placing near ponds such as bamboo, almond, palm and aspen.
However, having trees and marginal plants can create lots or organic debris, in the form of dead leaves, especially at the back end of the year in the fall.
Dead leaves release tannins into the water, which give it a brown hue.
In the autumn, it is wise to remove dead leaves and organic debris from the bottom of the pond, before they decompose in the winter and produce ammonia.
The shade produced by trees can also block out too much sun, which removes vital hours of light for aquatic plants.
Flat or sloping ground
Sloped or angled ground can oppose a few design choices when building a pond, especially for deck ponds which are built up or natural ponds which are dug out of the floor.
It is important to achieve as near flat as possible, this way, there is no risk of flooding or having the liner bow out on one side.
The best way to properly align a pond is to utilise sand or sand bags underneath the liner – not only does this allow you to create a balanced, structured surface, but also creates insulation and cushioning, minimising the possibility of the pond freezing over winter and reducing the chances of the liner splitting cause by sharp stone.
For built up ponds, thick polystyrene boards can be built within the liner to help structure the sides. Choosing a flat location is key in making sure the pond does not tip or lean to one side, and will provide you with the best chances of success.
Wind and harsh weather exposure
Having a pond in a temperate zone proposes extra factors to consider, as the seasonal changes and weather can impact the safety of your fish and maintenance of your pond.
Choosing to keep a pond out year round requires more selective design, as harsh weather can limit your choices.
A pond needs to be around 36” deep to prevent freezing, so be sure to choose a ground which can either be dug out or built upon with a depth of at least 3ft.
Choosing an enclosed area is a good option to avoid weather exposure, such as in the corner of a fence or garden post, near trees or bushes or out of the open.
You may want to consider what parts of your garden receive the most intense weather, for instance, a garden which is facing east will receive the most morning sunlight.
During the summer, the heat will be intense and can overheat the pond, so it may be wise to find an area with more shade.
Wind and hail can also affect a pond, as objects could be blown into the pond or water could be lifted out if winds are strong enough.
As mentioned in the visibility section, children and animals could potentially fall into a pond, which is a high risk for families who may want a large pond.
Be sure that the pond is in a visible area and can be spotted easily, or is fenced off if there are children and animals present.
A border to the pond is also a good safety feature, such as pebbles lining the outside, however, be aware that this will reduce the accessibility of the pond, and may make it more difficult to perform maintenance.
Built up, decking ponds are great for this as the height provides a barrier and decreases the chances of someone falling in.
You also do not want to place the pond in a dangerous area where you could fall down a hill or near sharp rocks, as when performing maintenance, you will want to be able to move around the pond freely and without worrying about suffering injury.
This is another reason why selecting a flat area is optimal.
Make sure the area is also away from exposed electronics or electrical equipment which could catch water damage from excess water, during rain and harsh weather.
The condition of the substrate
For Dugout ponds, a good practice is to perform some experimental digging around the garden, to find which area is best to place your pond.
Substrates can vary in texture from garden to garden, Ideally, the soil needs to have good drainage, so that overflow from the pond does not waterlog the soil and create a bog which creates risks, such as loss of ground composure and pond integrity.
Water logged soil can also cause structural problems in your garden or house, such as landslides or sinkholes which can collapse, so be careful to pick a substrate which is secure enough and will not wash away or hold too much water.
The substrate can also contain high amounts of shale, jagged rocks, or even foreign debris like glass shards. This is hazardous as it could puncture the lining of the pond and cause it to leak.
Sometimes the substrate in your garden simply isn’t suitable for a pond, in which case it is recommended to have an above ground pond such as a decking or built up pond, or many of the premade octagon ponds, which are easy to set up over late spring and summer.
Access to your goldfish pond
Accessibility is key to maintaining a pond – it is important to be able to access your pond from all sides, or at least be able to reach them safely.
Having poor accessibility can be hazardous to the health of both you and your fish, as you may not be able to perform proper maintenance, or could fall if attempting to reach places.
If there is any point where the suspected pond location may feel unsafe, it would be best to redesign it or perhaps try a different location, where it can be better accessed from.
With other factors considered, the best spot would allow for room behind the pond where you can safely stand, even if the pond is built against a fence or wall, there should ideally be some space left where one can access the furthest parts safely.
Running electricity to your pond
A good pond should have proper equipment and filtration such as a canister, pump or even a sponge filter – these filters will require electricity to run and must be plugged into an electrical outlet.
Getting an electrical outlet to a pond is fairly straightforward provided you have the correct equipment.
Make sure that the outlet is contained within a suitable weatherproof plug socket that cabels can be run through and accessed easily.
Also be sure that you can secure the wires in a safe place, where they will not be damaged – possibly lead them to an outdoor shed or create a makeshift electrical box outdoors, specifically for the pond.
Running water to your pond
To fill the pond, it is best to use a hose pipe and tap, however, be aware that tap water contains harmful chlorine and heavy metals. If living in a large city or town, some water tables put chloramine in their water.
Metals and chloramine do not evaporate over time and so a carbon filter would be best to place onto your hosepipe to remove them.
Just be sure that the hosepipe and carbon filter have the right fittings and are within reach of your ponds.
For very small ponds, buckets are an option when performing top ups, but this can be labour intensive and potentially unsafe.
Things to avoid when choosing a location for your goldfish pond
As discussed in the points above, there are many things to consider when choosing a location for your pond.
The most important things to avoid include:
- Full intense sunlight all day
- Open spaces
- Wedged into a corner
- Substrate with poor drainage or poor structural integrity
- Underneath poisonous plants
- Nearby exposed electrical equipment
- Slanted flooring
- Near unsafe flooring where accidents are prone to occur
- Just below a foundation or structure