Choosing a pond

With a rigid or flexible pond liner, ifs quick and easy to introduce an attractive water feature into your garden.

Adding an ornamental pond to your garden is not the daunting task that it once was, when the only lining options were mass concrete or puddled clay. Nowadays, a range of rea-sonably priced, lightweight, easy-to-install, rigid and flexible pond liners is sold at most major gar-den centres. For an even larger choice, you can visit a specialist water-garden centre.

Choosing a site

Before deciding on the size, shape and type of pond lining, choose a site. A pond can form part of the patio or be a central or corner feature in a paved, courtyard garden. In a larger garden, a pond can be set in a lawn or tucked among shrubs, as a pleasant surprise.

Though most ponds are installed level with the surrounding area, a raised pond can make an attractive feature.

If children use the garden, the pond should be visible from the main windows of the house – you might feel it’s safer to postpone in-stalling a pond until very young children are a bit older.

For lively reflections and healthy plants, choose a sunny or slightly shaded spot; ponds in deep shade look dank and few plants thrive. Avoid overhanging trees; falling leaves may foul the water.

Dig a few trial holes First, especially near the house, to check for shallow cables and pipes. If you intend to install an oxygenating pump, heater, fountain or waterfall, consider the availability of electricity and practicalities of running an underground cable.

Size and shape Go for the largest lining you have funds and space lor. Remember that rigid linings look bigger out of the ground than when installed.

Ponds smaller than about 3sq in (3’/iSq yd) are best avoided if you want to keep fish, as they aren’t big enough to provide a balanced environment for plants and fish – algae is also a problem in small ponds.

Look for a minimum depth of 45cm (I Sin) – if it’s any shallower, there’s a risk of the water freezing solid in winter, and overwarming and de-oxygenating in summer.

A healthy pond has a balance of plants and fish. When stocking with fish, allow about 30sq cm (lsq ft) surface area of pond for every 5cm (2in) of fish, including the tail.

Simple shapes, whether formal and geometric or fluid and informal, give more surface area for the &™ POND SHAPE money than fussy ones. Ponds with very tight curves rarely look natural, and can he difficult to install, especially in paved areas.

Try to relate the shape to the surrounding setting; a pond, perhaps raised, with straight sides looks comfortable on or next to a formal, straight-sided patio, while a gently curving pond can reflect the curves of a nearhy border.

Consider also the needs of different plants; if you want to grow shallow water plants, look for a rigid liner with a planting shelf.

Colour and quality

A dark coloured liner, such as charcoal grey and black, tends to look more natural than light colours such as buff or pale grey; vivid blue is perhaps more at home in hot, sunny climates. Pale colours, like pale carpets, also tend to look grubby unless immaculately clean.

Try to buy the most durable liner material you can afford; il the construction material isn’t stated on the label, ask first. Check guarantees, and arrange for delivery if the liner is too big for you to transport.

Rigid liners

A rigid liner is the quickest, easiest option for a small pond and you know what the finished appearance will be. They are also better for formal, geometric ponds such as square, circular or I.-shaped ones, with perfectly straight sides and sharp angles.

Sizes vary from very small -15060em (5x2ft), suitable for use next to a patio but too small to support fish – to over 7sq m (8sq yd) of surface area. Edge flanges can be plain, or simulated crazy paving or rough stone; some are sold with a choice of edges.

There are three main types of rigid liner material: Reinforced plastic with a smooth surface is moderately priced and reasonably resistant to cracking and damaging ultra-violet light from the sun. It usually comes with a 10-20 year guarantee, and in brown, grey or black. Resin-bonded fibreglass is the longest lasting rigid lining material, and is completely resistant to frost and ultra-violet light. Colours are buff, grey, black, green or blue. You should get a minimum 20-year guarantee. Ordinary plastic, made of blue, grey, green or brown vacuum-formed polythene, is cheap but only semi-rigid and cracks easily, especially in the corners. It’s also very vulnerable to sunlight. Unless the pool is temporary, choose a sturdier material.

Flexible liners

Unlike a rigid liner, a flexible liner allows you to create exactly the size and shape of pond you want. This makes a flexible liner the best choice for large, natural-looking or unusual shaped ponds.

Sizes range from 2.5×3.5 m (9x 12ft) to 3.5×5.5m (12x18ft).

Blue or black 50 gauge polythene sheeting, used as a double layer, is sometimes sold as a pool liner. Though cheap, it’s easily er to transport and to handle. A punctured by stones, is virtually impossible to patch and soon becomes brittle at the water-line because of damage from the ultraviolet light in the sun’s rays.

Ordinary, 50 gauge polythene has a maximum life of about three top-quality flexible liner costs much the same as a similar sized rigid liner.

Polythene sheeting varies in quality. A proprietary brand of liner made from toughened polythene is likely to prove far more reliable years so, unless the pool is tempthan ordinary polythene; most orary, choose another material.

PVC sheeting is strong, stretchable and moderately priced. Two types are available: ordinary liners have two layers of PVC bonded together, while reinforced types have nylon mesh sandwiched between two layers for extra strength. One side is usually blue, the other stone coloured. Larger sizes have welded seams.

PVC sheeting is vulnerable to punctures though reinforced types are fairly strong, and holes in either type are easily mended with a vinyl repair kit. It is gradually degraded by sunlight. The expected life span is 10-15 years; a 10-year guarantee is common. Sizes range from 1.8×2.4m (6x8ft) to 5x7m (16x24ft).

Butyl – stretchable, synthetic rubber sheeting – is roughly twice as expensive as PVC], but longer lasting. It’s immune to damage from sunlight and frost, and is highly resistant to puncturing unless overstretched.

Butyl comes in black, charcoal grey and stone colours, and should have a 10-20 year guarantee. Sizes range from 1.8×2.4m (6x8ft) to 6.5x10m (22x32ft) or larger, made to order. EPDM, the newest lining product on the market, is 25% thicker than butyl and more puncture resistant, but roughly half the price. It usually comes with a 20 year guarantee. Sizes range from 1.8×2.4m (6x8ft) to 5×6.5m (16x22ft); larger sizes can be made to order.

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