Planning water spot is hard work

You should keep several tips in mindwhen putting in a pond.
utting in a garden pond is hard work. Before exercising your muscles, put your brain to work, suggests pond expert Lee Andrews.
First, think about what kind of pond you want, and where you want it.
There are three kinds of garden ponds, says Andrews, a representative of Water Creations, a pond products supply company.
You can have a water garden with just plants, a fish pond or a combination. About 90 percent of ponds are combos, he estimated.
Next, consider location. Factors are the size and shape of the pond, its visibility from a favorite window, deck or garden, and the amount of sunlight available.
You might be tempted to start small, but Andrews says most people who build a pond wish they had made it bigger. Bigger ponds are easier to maintain because the water quality doesn't fluctuate as much.
Keep the shape simple, Andrews says. Sharp bends make the liner more difficult to install and can create little "backwaters" of stagnant water.
And finally, think about sunlight. Ideally, a pond should get six to eight hours of sun daily, Andrews says -- especially true for water gardens.
Here are more tips on installing and maintaining a garden pond gleaned from Andrews, pond owners and literature.
* Avoid low areas. They become saturated by heavy rains, causing the liner to bubble up. Also, fertilizer can wash into the pond. If a low area can't be avoided, build a berm to keep out runoff.
* Keep the pond away from buildings, downspouts and decks, which increase the chance that toxins will wash into the water.
* Put a sprinkler or soaker hose on the area to be dug and let it run for several hours; it makes digging much easier.
* Pump size and water treatment guides are based on the gallons of water in your pond. Here's the formula for figuring that out: Multiply length (all measurements in feet) by width by depth by 7.5. If the pond is irregular, make a close estimate. For a round pond, the formula is half the diameter times half the diameter times depth times 3.14 times 7.5.
* At minimum, the pump should turn the water over every two hours -- a 1,000-gallon pond needs a pump rated at 500 gallons per hour.
* 45 mils is the preferred thickness for a liner; 60 mils is hard to work with because of its thickness. Laying out the liner in the hot sun for a couple of hours makes it easier to work with.
* Don't skimp on the liner. Extending it over the higher end of the pond, where a waterfall often is placed, will help keep dirt out.
* A pond is a wildlife magnet. Be prepared for visits from deer, raccoons, herons, owls, hawks and neighborhood cats. And let's hope you find the sound of croaking frogs appealing, not annoying.
* How many fish? Think in inches: A pond can take 3 to 6 inches of fish per square foot of surface area and remember, that's full-grown inches.
* A pH test kit costs about $7 and will help you maintain a neutral (7.0) level, which is ideal.
* It's hard to overdo the plants. Some books recommend that plants cover 60 percent to 70 percent of the pond's surface.
* Clean the pond each spring and fall. That means putting the fish in a bucket, draining the pond and cleaning the sludge off the bottom (but not the sides, where the good bacteria live); a wet-dry vacuum works well for this.

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