Build Your Own Pond and Enjoy Spring in Style

By: Lou Lynch

As spring approaches, our minds turn to the outdoors. Warm weather and sunshine begs us to come outside to enjoy it. For many people, watching the fish and plants or listening to the gurgle of water from their very own pond is an ideal way to spend the spring and summer days.

Water features are an attractive way to add value to your property. They can create an attractive focal point for an outdoor area. Depending on the size of pond you want and the area you are installing it into, they can be set into the ground or contained above ground. If you want to set a small pond into your lawn, decide on a size, and then choose either a soft or molded liner. Concrete can also line a pond, but the pre-formed molded liners seem the simplest. Dig a hole and set the liner in. Choose a pump with a filter, and carefully follow the manufacturers instructions for setting it up. In addition to a filter, many pond enthusiasts insist that a UV light is essential to keeping your pond clean.

If you prefer a movable water feature, or are confined to a deck or patio space, a pond can be created in any large, water-tight pot. Most garden centers carry these, as well as molded plastic inserts that can be set into cut-in-half barrels. Be sure to choose a light-duty pump with a range that will stay well within your small container pond. Water splashing out of the pond will mean more wear to the surface it is on, and you will need to add fresh water more often to keep your pond full.

Pond plants, and even fish are what make these outdoor water features so exciting. Do some research into what will thrive in your climate, and check out garden centers to see what's available. Water hyacinth is a unique plant with large round bulbs underneath its leaves. These bulbs are made up of a foamy substance that holds air, allowing the plants to float on the surface of the water. The foliage looks lovely, and the flowers they produce are even lovelier. Their feathery roots extract the nutrients they need right out of the water.

Some plants, like water lilies, need to be rooted in soil. They can be purchased in pots and placed in a pond. The lily pads will then grow up and float on the surface of the pond. If you're lucky, you'll also get some flowers. Of course, these are only suitable for bigger ponds, as the pot and leaves both require a good deal of space. Other potted pond plants include those called emergent plants, and include bull rushes and aquatic grass varieties whose fronds emerge from the water and grow upwards. For smaller ponds, there are a variety of very tiny floating plants such as duckweed. In bunches, these plants cover the surface of a pond like a soft, green mat. Ideally, there will be patches of green and patches with visible water. If the duckweed proliferates to the point where it smothers the surface, some may need to be removed.

As for fish, ask at the pet store what type of fish are suitable. Koi are a classic, but are best in large ponds. Chances are you will end up with goldfish, as some varieties are very hearty, and can even live through the winter in some climates. If you live in a climate that freezes for long periods during the winter, you may need to transfer your fish to an indoor tank during these months. Overfeeding your fish can lead to a clogged pond filter. Outdoor fish eat algae and bug larvae, so will need less commercial food than indoor fish.

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