Spruce up your garden with a water feature!

Building a water feature in your garden is more than just a talking point, it can also add a significant amount of value to your house. Water features such as ponds and fountains can add character to gardens and breathe new life into the same old green lawns. I can also make your home more attractive to guests and any potential buyers, as well as brightening up the garden as a place of leisure on pleasant sunny days.

A pond doesn’t need to be high maintenance – there are many gadgets designed today to take the strain away from their maintenance. However, if you’re serious about your garden, it’s worth remembering that a neglected pond can quickly become an eyesore – proper pond maintenance is as important as building the pond in the first place.

To build your water feature

Let's say you opt for a pond; the old fashioned method, and by far the cheapest, is to dig the pond yourself. Aside from the obvious advantage of cutting costs, you can dig to the exact shape and size you want, while getting some good exercise in the meantime!

Head to a garden centre to purchase some liner to line the base of your pond; make sure it's a water-tight covering that’ll keep the water inside without damaging your garden’s looks. Alternatively, pre-made moulds can be bought at extra cost.

A simple way to mask the top lip of the pond’s covering on your lawn is to cover it with any flat-topped rock like a kitchen or a bathroom tile or even lareg pebbles and stones. Then it's time to fill your pond and let the fun begin!

If you’re feeling lazy…

Of course, it’s relatively easy to pay someone to do the first step for you. Any firm which specialises in garden labour will be happy to dig your pond for you, and sort out any materials, but this will of course come at a cost.

It’s best to find a firm that you know – preferably one that a friend will recommend to you, but the internet will always have plenty of firms ready to work. Remember:

  • Get a quote before you let the company start work.
  • Make sure you have plans ready (even if they’re just pencil drawings on the back of a notepad) to show them.
  • Always keep an eye on what’s going on and don’t be afraid to get involved– remember, it’s your garden and you either have to live with it, or go back to square one.

Stocking your pond

Once the pond itself is completed, you’ll need to stock it – probably with plants and animals, and for these to thrive, you’ll need a few pieces of kit from your local garden centre / aquatic store.

Most garden centres will sell you pond life, from seaweed to lilllipads. You will also need a number of herbicides and pesticides to keep your pond fresh, most of which can be bought in tablet form from your local garden centre.

The water should always be aerated, for plants but especially for any aquatic life such as fish. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Keep an eye on the condition of the water as you don't want it to become too dirty or murky.

You can take a sample of the water and see for yourself (if it’s seriously murky, fish can’t breathe and plants won’t thrive) or if you’re unsure, bring it in to your local garden centre – the people there will be happy to help.

Maintaining your pond

One of the most effective items you can buy is an ultraviolet light bacteria killer. This is a simple pump which passes water around the pond, killing harmful bacteria under its ultraviolet light as it circulates the water. This is an additional cost in the short term, but will pay for itself, lowering costs and hassle in the long run.

Such a unit might cost over £100. However, store-bought tablets are also capable of doing this job, although less efficiently.

The most important thing is to always keep an eye on your pond and make sure that everything in it looks healthy. If your pond is of any significant size, you will almost certainly need a circulation system to keep the water fresh.

A simple pump system (starting at as little as £20) will sit at the bottom of the pond, keeping the air fresh. This device will need to be connected to a mains electrical source – use caution when installing!

Out of your depth? Ask a professional!

Looking up specific problems on the internet is helpful, but if you are seriously worried about anything either in building or maintaining your pond, it is best to seek the assistance of a professional at your local aquatic centre (the ones that specialise in koi carp fish are the most expensive, and generally get the best staff).

Making your pond a part of your home

Of course, some of the things which make your pond a part of your home take time and effort. Some things, such as adding electrical appliances such as a UV filter or a water pump take both electrical and wiring skill, and may need to be done by a professional.

With time and dedication, anyone can build their own pond which, when it reaches full bloom, will add a tranquil spot in your garden, perfect for sunny days or summer barbeques.

However you choose to enjoy your pond, the following points are worth noting:

  • Much wildlife will develop for free – frogs will gravitate towards this oasis, and a cool, shady rock garden is a natural and beautiful, low-maintenance companion for them.
  • The usual selection of goldfish or, at a slightly higher price, stunning silver Koi carp can be bought to populate your pond with a stress-busting wildlife show that’s really worth the initial time and effort of building a pond.
  • Pond plants are cheap and should develop easily – but make sure to watch out for mould and any signs of disease – one damaged plant could easily damage the whole stock.
  • In the summer months, in particular, you should watch out for mosquito or any other potentially harmful parasites using your pond as a staging point: your local aquatic centre will have plenty of pills and potions which keep the bugs at bay.
  • A pond is a constant financial investment and will become stagnant and unpleasant with neglect. Keep it properly maintained, and it'll not only provide your family with summers of beauty but also a considerable financial gain for the value of your house. An investment of as little as £400 on a home-built, DIY pond could directly increase the value of your house by up to four times the cost of the pond, and will certainly make your house stand out on the property market.

In conclusion

A pond is one of the cheapest investments in terms of adding value to your property that you can make – it’s cheaper to add to your home than replacing the boiler or the carpets with wall to wall parquet flooring – a pond can brighten up any garden space from small to large, and offer years of enjoyment, particularly in those summer months when the garden comes into its own.

Building your own pond is by far the cheapest option, but it’s up to you to decide whether all the hard work (and, believe me, there’s lots) is worth the money saved. Either way, a firm initial investment in a well sized pond and a good filtration unit will save you a lot of money down the line.

And one final tip: if your pond is ever in the shade, frogs will come naturally, drawn to the cool, refreshing water. If you don’t like our amphibian friends, getting too close to the pond might not be for you. On the other hand, you can feel truly proud that you’re contributing to the environment, creating a true paradise in your own back yard.

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