Step One – Planning.
I looked at a couple of water
gardening books at the home supply stores to get basic idea of what I wanted. I
decided not to go for anything fancy, just a basic, simple pond with some
flowers around it. I knew about how much yard area I wanted to dedicate to the
project (approximately 10’ x 20’) so that dictated how big the pond would
be. My thinking was that I would start off small and simple and I could always
expand if I really got into it.
I went to Home Depot and bought a Beckett Deluxe Pond Kit for about $100.00. The kit came with a 12’ x 17’ liner (sheet of thick vinyl rubber), a pump/filter combination, and a small fountain with a couple of interchangeable fountain heads to make the water spray in different patterns. The capacity of this pond is about 1000 gallons. Beckett is one of the biggest manufacturers of pond kits, accessories, and supplies.
Lesson 1 - Pumps and Filters: I found that the pump and filter that came with the kit were really not adequate and I eventually ended up buying a bigger and better pump and filter. The original pump had a small built-in filter that was too small and needed frequent cleaning to keep the water flowing well. I also had problems with algae growth that made my water green. Good water flow and filtration are very important to control the algae growth keeping your water clear.
Had I known this in the beginning,
I may have bought the components separately rather than a kit. However I decided
to use both pumps. One is my main pump, which pumps a larger volume of water
from the deep part of the pond, through my filter, over my waterfall, and back
into the pond. I use the original, smaller pump for a fountain in the middle of
Pumps are available in external
and submersible models. External models sit on (or in) the ground outside of
your pond. An intake hose draws water from the pond into the pump and a
discharge hose carries the water back to the pond. The discharge may run to a
separate filter and/or waterfall before returning to the pond. Submersible pumps
sit on the bottom of your pond and take water directly into the pump through a
filter screen and discharge through a hose to your filter, fountain, or
waterfall. Your discharge water should go through a fountain or over a waterfall
to help gather oxygen as it goes back to the pond. Keeping the water oxygenated
is very important if you have fish. Waterfalls do a great job of helping to
oxygenate the water. The pumps come with waterproof power cords. Take care not
to damage the insulation on the power cord with rocks or tools. I prefer the
submersible pumps because they are out of sight and less obtrusive than external
pumps and the water silences any motor noise.
Larger volume pumps are rather
expensive. You need a pump that will move about half of your total water volume
in an hour. In my case, I have about 1000 gallons of water in my pond so I need
a pump that will move at least 500 gallons per hour. IMPORTANT: You must also
consider how much the water has to lifted to the top of your waterfall, if you
have one. The higher the pump has to lift the water, the less volume the pump
will put out. Read the specifications on the pump. It will read something like
“volume 535GPH (gallons per hour) @ 1’ lift, 502 GPH @ 2’ lift, 434 GPH @
Compare pumps for price AND efficiency. Some cheaper pumps use a lot of current and are more expensive to operate (it will run 24 hours per day). Other pumps are much more efficient but more expensive to buy. Generally, you are better off with the more efficient pumps. You’ll pay more up front, but they will pay you back with the savings in electricity over time and it will probably be a better built pump.
For example: The Becket G535AG20 (502 GPH @ 2’) pump sells for around $82.00 and it costs about $3.46 per month to operate. The Nursery Pro NPU500 (440 GPH @ 2’) costs about $80.00 but it costs about $2.92 per month to operate (based on electricity rates in Louisville, KY 5/01). As you can see, the Nursery Pro pump is cheaper to operate. So, you pay about the same amount up front, but you save about $0.54 per month in electricity. A good pump should last at least 3-5 years. You may find that other pump comparisons have a much wider range of costs and efficiency.
I figure my two pumps (535 GPH for
fountain and 750 GPH for filter/waterfall) cost me about $5.83 per month to
operate. When you add in my low voltage perimeter lights and my 20 watt
underwater light, It costs me less than $100 per year in electricity. Not much
considering the amount of enjoyment I get from the pond year-round.
Filters: Much of same principals
hold true for filters. Good, large-volume filters can be expensive to buy but
they do a MUCH better job of keeping you water clear and a healthy environment
for your fish and plants. I bought a “Hozelock Bioforce 2000” for about
Many people build their own
filters at a considerable cost savings. Again, search the Internet and you will
find step-by-step instructions for building a filter if you are so inclined. A
good filter should provide mechanical AND biological filtering. Mechanical
filtering means that the filter has mesh screens or other materials that
physically trap and remove dirt and algae from the water. Biological filtering
means that the filter actually breeds good forms bacterial that help keep a
proper balance in your little backyard eco system. Some of the more expensive
filters use an ultraviolet light chamber to kill bacterial as the water passes
through it. The ultraviolet units are expensive, use more electricity, and
require more maintenance but promise to keep your water crystal clear. With
proper planning and care, you can keep your water clear without the ultraviolet
My filter is a pressurized filter.
That means it is a sealed unit that allows the water to maintain pressure
through the filter so the discharges can be carried up and over my waterfall.
Plumbing: Be sure to get enough
vinyl tubing, of the correct size, to carry your water from the pump to the
filter, waterfall, fountain, or any other water feature that you have. You will
also need hose clamps to attach the tubing to the pump and filter.
Electricity: Water and electricity can be a dangerous combination so use care and plan carefully. You will need an electrical outlet nearby for you pump and lights. Most pumps have a 6’ – 12’ power cord so take that into consideration. You will want your electrical out as far away from the pond as you can get it and still reach it with your power cords. Use a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupt) outlet. Extension cords are NOT recommended. Check your local electrical codes or better yet, hire an electrician do handle this part.
Next: Before You Begin