Garden pond design ideas, inspiration & pictures

Garden pond design and tips

Ever dreamed of having your own garden pond like the ones you see in Japanese gardens and other tourist spots? While these artistic structures of water and greenery are more known to be seen in gardens for the public, garden enthusiasts in the Philippines wish to build their own pond in their backyard as well.

Garden ponds are sophisticated, aesthetic landscaping structures that bring life to any homeowner’s garden. Not only does it hold a tasteful appeal to a Filipino home but it also benefits wildlife and plants that need a chance to live in this world. Whether you’re an environmentalist or a naturalist, a garden pond is the perfect addition to your lovely home! There’s just a magical quality that the combination of water and plants give to a typical family garden, and that’s why we’re here to bring you ideas if you’re planning on putting up your own garden pond.

1. The garden pond and its amazing benefits

There are many benefits of small backyard ponds for both people and the environment. Freshwater habitats of all kinds are currently experiencing a great decline through direct destruction, pollution and alteration. From the standpoint of conservation and permaculture, building a pond is immensely useful and beneficial.

Benefiting wildlife

Small ponds are incredibly useful to a wide variety of wildlife, including insects, spiders, fish, and small amphibians, to name a few. Even very small ponds, such as those no more than a meter squared can still provide considerable value to many small animals.

Permaculture potential: Food

Ponds are an excellent asset to those who wish to practice permaculture, even on a tiny scale. Even a small pond can help create a more ideal microclimate for growing many plants as they help to moderate the temperatures and add moisture. Also, many edible plants can be grown in small backyard ponds such as wild rice, cattail, and lily.

Permaculture potential: Water storage

Among the many utilitarian uses, a small backyard pond can provide water storage. The presence of the water can help create a microclimate in your garden that can be beneficial to plants growing nearby and can help keep your yard more moderate during those hot summer days. A small pond can also be a source of water for small-scale urban permaculture practices and can be used to water plants in your yard, whether they are decorative roses or vegetables.

Educational value and enjoyment of small backyard ponds

Small ponds can be things of great beauty and wonder. A pond can really add to the appeal and look of a backyard. It can also provide a great opportunity for interaction and education about the natural world, both for children and adults alike. Even a very small pond is a rich habitat for a wide assortment of life forms. Such a micro-habitat can act as an outdoor classroom for those interested in learning more about the natural world and relationships with it. The magic of watching dragonfly nymphs and tadpoles grow and transform can positively impact children for a lifetime and even inspire a new generation of naturalists.

2. Building your own garden pond

First things first; consider deciding on what type of pond you want to build. You should consider what type of aquatic life you want in the pond. Is it going to be a home for goldfish or koi? Or is your main concern for the aquatic plants? Perhaps you only want the pond for the sound of a waterfall? Each type of pond will need to be planned for its specific features. Keep in mind that the most common mistake water gardeners make when building their first pond is making it too small. A small pond limits the number of fish and plants you can add.

A koi pond is different from a water garden because koi limits the amount of plant life available to be grown. Simply put, koi eats some plants. A koi pond should also be larger because koi gets large despite the size of the pond; thus, it is recommended that a koi pond needs to have an area of the pond at least 3 feet deep.

On the other hand, a water garden typically contains goldfish and a variety of aquatic plants. Water gardens in the Philippines usually need for an area of the pond to be at least 2 feet deep.

You have to establish a new pond to select the proper location. Most ponds will be enjoyed more if they are installed at your backyard where you can see the pond year round. Moreover, avoid placing a pond too close to trees. Falling leaves and other debris will need to be removed from the pond. You will want to place your pond where it will receive at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sun if you want to grow water lilies. Shade is fine for fish-only ponds.

A pump is required to run a filter, fountain, or waterfall. In addition, most ponds will benefit from the use of a biological filter. This is essential if you are keeping koi or more than a few goldfish.

Determine the size of your pond or water garden. Once done, dig the pond or water garden to the desired shape. If you are keeping plants, dig a shelf around the perimeter of the pond about one foot deep and one or more feet wide.

Position any external pond filters or pond skimmers and level these in their proper location. Skimmers are a type of mechanical filter, which means that some sort of net, basket or screen is used to capture debris as the water passes through. Pond skimmers should be buried to the proper level beside the pond.

Place the stone or other coping around the edge of the pond or water garden. If using small stone or if people will be walking around the edge, mortaring the stone for stability may be required. Fill the pond with water to within a few inches from the top and then make corrections if necessary to ensure that the pond is level.

To finish, add aquatic plants as soon as possible after constructing the garden pond. Many aquatic plants are great at using up the nutrients that would otherwise feed the algae. Some of the most effective plants include Anacharis, Water Hyacinth, Parrot's Feather, and Bacopa. Water lilies and other plants with surface leaves can be added to provide shade to approximately 66% of the surface area if in full sun.

3. Little aquatic creatures for your pond

To most people, a water garden simply wouldn't be complete without fish swimming through the water. Whether we keep fish for their bright shimmering colors, the movement in the water, or for the more practical reasons such as mosquito control, fish are an important addition to a pond. Some of us name our fish and care for them as we would any other pet.

Although it can be as simple as picking the fish that looks the prettiest, to the true enthusiast, selecting the fish species is much more involving. Considerations should be made when planning the pond as to what type of fish are desired. This plays a big role in determining the size of the pond and especially the filtration needs. Adequate filtration is very important when keeping fish.

Goldfish are the most popular choice of fish for a water garden. These fish are well suited for almost any pond size and can be varied to a number sizes and colors.

If you have a larger backyard, Koi can be a potential type of fish for your big garden pond too. Koi normally attain lengths of approximately 2 to 3 feet and weigh up to 35 lbs. Due to their large size, they should only be kept in large ponds of at least 1000 gallons. Koi need very good water quality to remain healthy. Sophisticated filtration systems should be used to maintain this water.

The two types of fish mentioned above are the most common fish suitable for your garden pond. Other options that will survive in the Philippine climate include the Golden Orfe, Plecostomus, which is a type of catfish, and the Mosquitofish.

4. Plants that bring life to your garden pond

Growing plants in your garden pond not only provides beauty and naturalization but also helps in balancing the pond ecosystem. Doing so opens up another landscaping dimension for you. Furthermore, establishing an aquatic garden gives you a chance to create a mini-ecosystem entirely different from your existing garden beds. It's an opportunity to experiment with plants you otherwise might not be inspired to bring into your life.

Some of the most common attractive plants found in any Philippine garden include Water Lilies, Water Hyacinths, Sweet Flags, Thalia, and Water Clovers. These plants are all low-maintenance and can withstand the harsh elements of the country’s climate.

If you’re thinking of more options, Water Lettuce is an easy care aquatic plant that floats in your pond, quietly soaking up nutrients helping to prevent the excessive growth of algae. You’ll also love Creeping Jenny’s bright green color against the cool waters of the pond.

5. Maintenance is a necessity

A well-maintained pond is a healthy one that will be the focal point in any garden. The key is to keep the water clear and ensure that plants do not take over. A pond with an established balance between plant and animal life requires less attention than one where there isn’t harmony and where there is a resultant surge in algae growth.

Keep algae under control. Rake away long filamentous algae from the water surface. It is reiterated that you should always check and clean the filter regularly. It is also a prerequisite to feed fish regularly with a high protein food to encourage growth. The warm water temperature in the Philippines stimulates metabolism, so little of the food eaten will be excreted. Koi fish are omnivorous eating both plant and animal matter such as algae, aquatic plants, worms, larvae and crustaceans – therefore can supplement their diet with what is available in the pond if required. Top-up water levels regularly during the hotter periods. This will avoid undue weathering of an exposed pond. A significant drop in the water level would, however affect the amount of oxygen available for fish. Ideally, fill-up with rainwater from a water butt rather than tap water, which is full of nutrients and will cause algae growth.