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How To Build A Beautiful Stone Garden Pond In 8 Simple Steps

Friday 15 October 2021 19:10

Every second we spend in our gardens should be special and bring joy, and water is one of those magical properties that enhances any outdoor space with beauty, calmness and peace.

There are so many ways water can be introduced to a garden; from striking slate monolith water features to the trinkle of a gentle stream or miniature waterfall - but one of the most natural and popular methods is a garden pond.

Creating a pond for your garden is a far easier process than you might imagine. All you need are basic digging tools, pond liner or plastic base, a selection of decorative aggregates and a space in your garden. 

What is a garden pond?

A garden pond - or water garden as it is sometimes called - can be any size or shape. It can be simple and small or large and dramatic in scale. It provides the perfect spot to sit and relax - and the sound of gentle water or the glint of the shimmering surface on a summer day will be the ideal backdrop for those unforgettable moments spent with friends, family or alone.

A garden pond adds instant appeal to any garden. It can be left with simple planting or include waterfalls, cobbles, fountains, boulders or gravels. Natural decorative stone creates beautiful edging and can be used to define the boundary of the garden pond, establishing its shape, style and colour - most importantly, it helps create an environment where aquatic plants and wildlife can flourish.

Here are the 8 easy steps to creating your own garden pond.

How to create a stone garden pond

Step 1 - Find the ideal spot in your garden for a pond

Firstly, you will need to decide where in your garden you would like your pond to be. Wildlife and plants prefer sunny areas. However, if your garden is small and you’re limited by the space available, you can create your pond in a shaded area.

Step 2 - Choose your perfect pond edging stones

Before digging a trench for your pond, first decide on which decorative aggregates you will use to create your pond border. You aren’t just restricted to one colour or size. There are so many beautiful garden stones to choose from to match your vision; from stylish slate chippings and paddlestones to lovely rounded cobbles to slate rockery and striking boulders.

Slate Chippings & Paddlestones

Slate chippings make a wonderful addition to any garden feature involving water. Available in Green, Blue, Plum and Graphite Grey, the natural rich shades darken when wet and look stunning around ponds.

Friendly for fish, slate chippings are available in both 20mm and 40mm and can be mixed and matched to form a splendid blend of contrasting shapes and sizes. 

The slightly larger slate paddlestones are a popular choice as they add interest and texture to the pond's edge. Like all slate chippings, both Plum and Blue Slate Paddlestones glisten beautifully when wet and look fabulous when placed between the gaps between Slate Rockery and Boulders.

Gravel & Aggregates

Beautiful decorative gravel is available in a variety of stunning colours and sizes and is simple to lay. At Decorative Aggregates, we stock a wide range of fish friendly gravels, from rustic Rhinegold to warm Golden Gravel to fiery Red Granite and elegant Green

Due to its smaller size, gravel is best used as a gap filler between larger cobbles and garden pebbles. If the pond border consists entirely of gravel, it is likely that the gravel will fall into the water unless a boundary is established.

Cobbles & Pebbles

Beautifully rounded cobbles are an unbeatable choice for pond edging, giving a riverbed or beach look to any pond border and base.

The natural sheen of the cobbles and pebbles sparkles when wet and the stones look stunning near water. They can be interspersed with smaller sized pebbles to form a beautiful mixture of various stone colours, shapes and sizes.

The rustic beauty of Scottish Garden Cobbles or Pebbles is perfect for ponds and water features. These stunning decorative garden stones are sourced from ancient glacial deposits in Scotland and consist of a lovely mix of subtle greys, browns, pinks and whites.

Slate Rockery

Available in mixed sizes of 250mm to 400mm, stunning Slate Rockery stones are perfect for adding interest to the area around a pond. These beautifully hand-picked chunks of striking grey slate tend to be angular and flat with gorgeous gold streaks running through. 

Boulders

Bold, beautiful boulders create height and depth and provide something for wildlife to shelter on or hide between. You can use boulders along the entire edge of your pond or as a single cluster of varying sizes to draw the eye and divide up smaller stones such as cobbles or Slate Paddlestones.

Welsh Quartz Granite Boulders consist of tones of dark and medium greys with brown and pink tinges. There are a variety of shapes and they are all suitable for pond borders and streams.

Step 3 - Mark out the area for your stone pond

Using chalk or string (or even a hosepipe if you’re short on DIY tools and desire an informal shape), simply mark out the area you want to transform into your pond.

Feel free to let your imagination run wild! Stone ponds don’t have to be round - they can be built in any shape; a pond can form the central focus of your garden or landscape or be offset into a corner to create a tranquil area to escape to. (You may wish to avoid any area which is overshadowed by trees in order to avoid leaf-fall in the autumn).

Step 4 - Dig around the marked pond area to create a trench 

Using a square edged spade, dig a trench around the outline of the pond area. Depending on your design, you might want to dig diagonally. This creates a shore-like effect; allowing the garden stones to cover the first few inches of water, and an underwater shelf making it easier for wildlife to find their new home.

Ensure the base is flat and compact, and that any sharp stones or debris have been removed to avoid damaging the pond cover and check the edging is level using a spirit level.

How deep do you need to dig a garden pond?

If you’re hoping to enjoy the company of wildlife, your pond will require some shallow areas no deeper than 35cm with areas as deep as 60cm for fish.

Step 5 - Prepare your pond lining sheet

Once you are happy with the shape, formation and depth of your new garden pond, apply your pond lining sheet. To keep your sheet stable, we recommend inserting some wooden pegs around the edges. The extra weight provided by the surrounding decorative stones and cobbles will provide even more stability.

Step 6 - Place your decorative stones around the pond edge

The pond has been excavated and the sheet has been prepared; now it’s time to add those beautiful finishing designer touches with decorative aggregates and planting.

There is lots to choose from - you could intersperse gorgeous Polar White Pebbles between striking Welsh Boulders, or create a stylish and consistent border with graphite grey Slate Rockery stones. Alternatively, the golden gravels have a warm, welcoming appeal and are very popular.

Step 7 - Add water to your garden pond

Now that your beautiful new stone pond has been created, it is time for that magical ingredient. Connect your garden hose to a tap and begin to fill the area with water.

If you intend to allow wildlife and fish to enjoy your new garden, we would recommend waiting for the pond to naturally fill with rainwater as tap water contains nutrients. To speed the process up, leave buckets out over a few days to collect additional rainwater. 

Step 8 - Add plants and wildlife to your pond

Plants and wildlife will be pleased to make your beautiful pond their new home, but it is important that the correct conditions are met and the ideal aquatic plants are featured.

Different species of plants can create a wonderful contrast to your stone border or enhance the natural colours perfectly. White Water Lilies are a classic choice for ponds; the elegant white petals look lovely near lighter coloured stone, and vibrant green reeds and rushes contrast beautifully against reds and pinks.

Once your plants have been added, you may want to add fish. Koi are an incredibly popular species of carp that are used to add life to outdoor ponds and water gardens and will breathe colour and add excitement into any pond.

Before adding fish, make sure the environment is suitable. You should wait at least 72 hours before adding any wildlife to your pond to give the water time to chemically stabilise and adjust to outside temperatures. Any sudden changes can have a serious impact on the health of your fish. A water pump and filter is also important; not only will a pump help keep the water looking clear but it will also improve your pond’s ecosystem and remove potentially harmful fish waste.

What plants are best for ponds?

There are many plants which flourish on the surface of ponds or submerged and add a splash of natural colour to any style of pond - here are some of our favourites:

  • White Water Lily (Nymphaea alba)

  • Duckweed (Lemna triscula)

  • Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

  • Rushes

  • Water Mint (Mentha aquatica)

  • Water Violet/Primrose (Hottania palustris)

Stone pond project summary

  1. Find the ideal spot in your garden for a pond

  2. Choose your perfect pond edging stones

  3. Mark out the area for your stone pond

  4. Dig around the marked pond area to create a trench

  5. Prepare your pond lining sheet

  6. Place your decorative stones around the pond edge

  7. Add water to your garden pond

  8. Introduce plants and wildlife

When should you build a garden pond?

You can build a pond in your garden at any time in the year. However, the best time to build this wildlife haven in your garden is during autumn and winter.

Where to buy stones for garden ponds

At Decorative Aggregates, we stock a range of gorgeous decorative garden rocks that can be used to create beautiful pond borders, from large, rustic Welsh boulders to beautifully rounded cobbles,  pebbles and slate rockery.

What should you put at the bottom of a pond?

We recommend adding a thin layer of decorative gravel or pebbles at the bottom of your garden pond. Stones help break down organic matter to create a healthy habitat for fish and provide a beautiful finish. 

Please make sure that the garden stone you use is fish friendly. If choosing gravel from Decorative Aggregates, keep an eye out for the “fish friendly” label on each product page.

Which types of pond stones are fish friendly?

Many stones will be beneficial for fish and wildlife, however certain stones such as marble or limestone are not suitable for ponds as the calcium carbonate will cause excess alkaline in the water. However, there are many fish friendly decorative aggregates, cobbles and stones suitable for ponds.

Fish friendly gravel

Fish friendly slate chippings

Fish friendly cobbles, pebbles & boulders

Does a garden pond need a pump?

A simple garden pond without fish will not require a pump, however a pump will help keep the water looking clear and prevent excess algae and debris from building up and possibly spoiling the appearance of your pond.

If you plan on introducing fish, we highly recommend adding a pump and filter to your pond to ensure the water stays oxygenated and excess waste material is removed.

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