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Small outdoor ponds are no different than their larger cousins, at least in theory.  The basic idea is the same, of course, providing a water based mini ecosystem to bring visual interest, relaxation and enjoyment to your outdoor landscape.  You can do this even if you only have a small yard as ponds come in all sizes, but if you’re intent on creating a small pond you’ll want to follow a few important steps to make sure that you have the best possible outcome.

You may want a simple, basic shape or perhaps you’ve got something more complex in mind.  Maybe you want to include fish in your pond.  Or you might just opt to have plant life incorporated into your water feature.  The only limits for your pond design are the physical space you have to work with and your own imagination.  But before you actually begin the work of building your pond, remember these 5 simple tips:

  1. Plan carefully – You know the old carpenter’s adage, “measure twice, cut once”. Well this applies to pond building as well, even small outdoor ponds.  You may think that the larger the pond, the more extensive your plans should be.  To some extent, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that smaller ponds shouldn’t be well thought out too.  You want to make sure that you have the right spot for your pond, that you’ve taken weather conditions into consideration and that you have all of the necessary funds to cover the expense of building, installing and maintaining your pond.

While laying out your plans, you’ll want to be sure to find a spot that is close to the house and interactive in the landscape.  Make sure the location you choose is level and gets sunlight for at least half the day.  And remember that you need to take into consideration the condition of the soil in the spot where you’ll be putting your pond.  You will want to be sure the area is generally dry and does not naturally hold water.

And finally, make sure you choose a spot where you’ll be able to see your pond from the house so that you can have year round enjoyment!

  1. Liner or Pre-Formed? Once you’ve decided on the location of your pond, the next step is figuring out what style to use.  Options for you pond are a pre-formed pond or one that uses a flexible rubber liner.

The one major disadvantage to pre-formed ponds and that is that they don’t allow you any freedom to choose your design.  If you have a specific design in mind, then you’ll probably want to choose a soft, flexible EPDM rubber liner.  These liners can be easily molded into any shape you choose and will still provide a good, solid foundation for your pond.

Make sure you choose a EPDM pond liner made specifically for ponds as there are others not intended for this use and they may contain chemicals that are harmful to fish and plants.  If you do choose a flexible liner, you’ll need to also incorporate a layer between the liner and the ground to protect against roots or sticks poking through.  This extra layer can be made from a heavy, felt-like substance called underlayment.

  1. Choose Your Equipment – Even small outdoor ponds require constant circulation of the water in order to keep it clear and healthy for fish and plant life. This means you’ll need the proper pump and filter to ensure regular aeration.

When choosing a pump, the general rule is that the entire volume of pond water should be circulated at least once every hour.  So you’ll need to figure exactly how much water your pond holds and make sure you have a pump that has enough power to maintain a proper flow.  In most cases, you’ll want to err on the side of having more than you need rather than ending up with a pump too weak to get the job done.

Of course a pump is only half of the equation.  You’ll also need to provide adequate filtration so that the water in your pond remains clean, clear and healthy.  Water that is not properly filtered can actually become toxic to anything living in or near it, including fish and plants. Improperly filtered water will also take on a cloudy or milky look that will take away from the overall appearance of your outdoor landscaping.  Again, the filter you choose will depend on the size of your pond.  You want a filter system that can adequately clean all of the water in your pond.

  1. Add A Water Feature – A waterfall or fountain can be a wonderful addition to your pond, and not just from an aesthetic standpoint. The visual and auditory stimulation of flowing water can’t be denied.  It is extremely relaxing to hear the gurgling of a fountain or the soft flow of a waterfall.  Small outdoor ponds can benefit from this addition just as much as their larger counterparts

Waterfalls and fountains aren’t just about stress relief, however.  They actually perform a very important service in terms of pond maintenance by keeping water flowing.  This helps to circulate and aerate the water, allowing it to remain healthier and free of bacteria and other toxins.  The waterfall can be combined with filtration by using a biofalls.  A biofalls allows for ample filtration while giving you the enjoyment of a waterfall. This means that your fun waterfall is just as good for the residents of your pond as it is for you.  So you should seriously consider adding a waterfall to your small pond.

  1. Remember the Landscape – In most cases, small outdoor ponds are part of a much larger outdoor landscape design and you need to keep that design in mind when you create your pond. The idea is not to make the pond stand out but rather to blend it in with the rest of your design.  Ideally, you want the pond to look like it’s always been there rather than being an afterthought or addition to your garden.  The more natural it looks, the more attractive it will be.

You can achieve this end by positioning rocks, plants and other natural design elements around your pond in an unstructured way.   Large rocks can provide a border for your pond without looking like a swimming pool deck.  Surface plants, like water lilies, can help to blend in the pond with the surrounding plant life.  Remember, too, to hide pumps, water lines and other mechanical elements with a skimmer.  Rocks and gravel on the liner and in the waterfalls and stream area will create a natural look to the overall look of your landscaping.

These are just a few of the basic elements of designing and building small outdoor ponds.  It is important to remember that with pond design, size really doesn’t matter.  You can have a beautiful, relaxing outdoor environment without having to dedicate a giant amount of space.  It all comes down to how much effort you put into the planning and design.  With the right approach, you can get just as much enjoyment out of your small pond as you could from a much larger one.

You do need to remember, though, that all ponds require regular maintenance, no matter how small they may be. The larger the pond, the more nature will take over in terms of regulating the environment.  With smaller ponds, you will need to stay on top of water condition, ensure the cleanliness of the water and make sure that it is being properly filtered at all times.  This is particularly true if you plan on having fish in your small pond, as they need to have a healthy environment to live in.

If you do want to include fish in your pond, don’t assume that it’s not possible in a smaller pond.  You may need to be careful with your selections in terms of size and quantity, but there is no reason why small outdoor ponds can’t house fish.  Just remember that even the smallest in order to give them a healthy place to live.  And you’ll also need to provide them with spots where they can hide to avoid both excess sunlight and predators.

Opting for a small pond by creating your own design to fit into your existing landscape, small outdoor ponds can bring a large amount of enjoyment to any yard.  Your pond will not only be a source of relaxation and fun, but it can also serve as a way of getting to observe water life in the comfort of your own backyard.  There are many advantages to having a pond, so you shouldn’t hesitate to consider the possibility even if you are limited in space.