Imagine stepping out into your backyard and being greeted by the tranquil sounds of flowing water and colorful fish swimming gracefully beneath lily pads. An above ground pond can create a relaxing oasis right in your own outdoor space. Compared to in-ground ponds, above ground ponds can be less expensive to install since they require less digging and soil displacement. But they still allow for flexible design and varied aquatic elements to craft your own backyard sanctuary.
Follow these ideas and tips to create a custom pond that provides peaceful ambiance to help you relax and unwind.
Choosing the Ideal Location
One of the first decisions for an above ground pond is selecting where to locate it within your backyard landscape. Position the pond wisely and you’ll maximize both its aesthetic impact and water quality.
Ensure Proper Sunlight and Shade
When siting your above ground pond, consider how sunlight reaches different areas of your yard. Ponds require 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, especially in the morning, to allow aquatic plants to thrive. However, you’ll want to avoid excessive afternoon sun which can lead to undesirable green algae growth. Locate your pond where it receives sufficient morning sun but gets shade in the hot afternoons.
Make it a Backyard Focal Point
Ponds create natural tranquility, so place yours where you can fully enjoy the views. Position it prominently as a backyard focal point, visible from a patio or deck where you spend time relaxing. But avoid locating it directly beneath trees, or fallen leaves will create excess debris.
Allow for Convenient Access
Consider accessibility when choosing your pond site. You’ll need periodic access for pond maintenance, so don’t hide it away in a far corner. Locate it near your house with paths, stepping stones or benches arranged around it for easiest access.
Selecting the Size and Shape
Above ground ponds can range from small container water features to large preformed shells or custom lined ponds spanning several hundred gallons. Choose dimensions based on available space and the pond style you envision.
Compact Ponds for Smaller Spaces
For courtyards or patios, consider a petite preformed pond under 200 gallons. Small ponds can support a few miniature aquatic plants and are easily maintained. Or create a striking focal point by filling a large ceramic pot or whiskey barrel with water lilies or lotus.
Medium Ponds Offer Flexible Shape Options
Medium sized ponds from 200 to 500 gallons allow room for varied aquatic elements. Opt for flexible pond liner designs to create freeform kidney bean or oval shaped ponds. They can meander along one side of your patio or deck for relaxing nearby views.
Sprawling Large Ponds
With 500 gallons or more, you can create a sizable pond as the central water feature in your landscape. Large ponds suit more irregular shapes with long, meandering edges surrounded by marginal plants. Use a robust preformed shell, or line with thick rubber for maximum water capacity.
Choosing the Water Container
Above ground ponds need some type of vessel to contain the water. Evaluate these pond liner options to pick your container.
Lightweight Preformed Pond Shells
For simple installation, choose a preformed pond shell made of fiberglass or lightweight polyethylene plastic. They come in many shapes like circles, ovals andkidney beans that range from 100 to 1000 gallons. Preformed shells are affordable, easy to install and maintain.
Custom Sized Pond Liners
For maximum design flexibility, use flexible pond liner material. liners made of PVC or EPDM rubber comein large sheets that can be sized to any pond dimensions. Use protective underlayment beneath the liner, and conceal the edges with rocks or gravel.
Permanent Concrete Ponds
For a sophisticated look, have a decorative pond bowl poured and shaped from concrete. Concrete offers a permanent, naturalistic installation but has a higher upfront cost. Consider stamped or stained concrete to complement your landscape.
Incorporating Rocks and Gravel
Strategically placed rocks and gravel add finishing touches around your pond’s edges and underwater areas. Use them to conceal liners, create zones and enhance the ambiance.
Rock Varieties for Ponds
Small river gravel or pebbles make an attractive base layer in shallow pond areas. For edges, stack large flat boulders or weathered stones to hide and anchor flexible pond liners. Consider natural colored rocks that blend into your garden.
Designing with Rocks
Build up rock edges along sections of your pond, or create a stone cascading waterfall feature. Position boulders to form small secluded coves for plant groupings. Or mound rounded stones to build underwater rock cliffs for fish habitat and spawning.
Choosing the Right Aquatic Plants
Aquatic plants help maintain water quality while adding natural beauty to your pond. Include several types to create diversity and vibrant color from spring through fall.
No pond is complete without oxygenating plants like hornwort or anacharis. Their trailing stems emit oxygen to keep water healthy for fish. Plant them along the pond’s bottom in sizes from small to medium.
Floaters Provide Surface Interest
For exotic dangling flowers at the water’s surface, add floating plants like water lettuce or water hyacinths. Their roots hang below to absorb nutrients and provide shade to deter algae.
Marginal Plants Along the Edges
Use marginal plants like cannas, cattails and umbrella palms around pond edges. Their upright styles blend well as the transition from water to land. Most grow in shallow water depths.
Choosing Compatible Fish
Add splashes of motion and color with hardy pond fish suited to life outdoors. Select types adapted to above ground pond conditions.
For focal point fish, you can’t go wrong with graceful Koi. Their brilliant colors and flowing fins make them pond favorites. Allow at least 200 gallons for Koi to thrive, with deeper areas they can retreat to.
Fancy goldfish remain one of the most popular pond fish. Their metallic sheens, spotted patterns and long flowing fins add interest. Keep at least 3 together, with 20 gallons per additional fish.
If mosquitoes are problematic, add small mosquitofish. They voraciously consume mosquito larvae but tolerate crowded conditions. Use 10 mosquitofish per 100 square feet of pond surface.
Installing Pond Filtration
Good water quality starts with proper filtration adapted to your pond’s size. Use these components to keep water crystal clear for fish and plant life.
A pond pump circulates water through filtration components to maintain clarity and oxygen levels. Submersible pumps hide underwater, while external pumps have a remote chamber. Make sure your pump’s flow rate matches your pond’s volume.
Attaching a pond skimmer basket to your pump provides the first stage of filtration. Skimmers float at the surface to draw in debris before it sinks. They capture leaves, pollen and algae particles the pump then discards.
To control single cell algae and water greening, install an ultraviolet clarifier. As water flows through, UV rays destroy algae spores and prevent blooms from forming. Clarifiers also cut down on chemical usage.
With good design and proper components, an above ground pond quickly transforms into a treasured garden feature. Here are some finishing ideas for creating enjoyable views.
Add LED lighting to illuminate your pond at night for stunning effects. The lights reflect off fish and plants, adding special ambiance to evening hours. Or incorporate a small waterfall to provide soothing water sounds that muffle background noise.
To further immerse yourself, build an island in the center with water lilies and grasses. Position chairs or benches around the pond perimeter to relax as you observe fish and wildlife drawn to its tranquil habitat.
You’ll have a backyard that’s tailor-made for escaping stress with the above ground pond suggestions. Building your own water feature creates an ideal spot to relax and reconnect with nature’s inherent peacefulness.