Ideas to spruce up your garden pond by adding features that add life and interest. Two features I added this year were a small fountain and some backyard pond fish. Just these two features made me feel like I’d made over the whole backyard.
The mini-makeover began when I was looking for garden pond ideas to support some pond fish. First considerations were type and feeding routines, but I soon learned that there were a few more items to check off my list before I plopped fish into the pond – so I added a small fountain first, for immediate impact.
Pond Fountains: Do’s and Don’ts
Garden pond fountains require special attention to planning – for both your pond and your garden’s benefit. While they provide circulation and aeration to the water garden, (by oxygenating water which in turn allows aerobic bacteria to efficiently process organic materials), the surrounding area and pond plants must also be considered. Fountains and features oxygenate and freshen the water which is great for fish but most pond plants prefer static water. Fountain and waterfalls, therefore, should not be overdone. They need to be arranged in such a way it won’t create strong currents across the pool, which could be too intense for your pond plants.
Some people add a water fountain to create movement in stagnant areas of a pond which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. All in all a water fountain, bubbler or spitter improves water quality, and minimizes aggressive algae growth.
Setting up a pond fountain is relatively easy once you have reviewed your options and crafted a plan. Small backyard ponds only require a mini-jet. Larger ponds can have fountains with up to an 11 foot high pond jet – and even floating fountain towers! Once you have planned out your pond size, the type of feature you want (bubbler, spitter, tower, fountain), all that’s left is to order the nozzle style and fitting size. If this is confusing, simply order the complete fountain kit – that’s what I did.
With your fittings or fountain kit in hand, you simply set the included water pump at the correct depth, connect the fountain feature, and turn on the power! Mine is solar, so I had to wait a full eight hours for a good enough charge, but in the end, it was well worth the wait.
Garden Pond Fountain Pumps
You’ll need to ensure that water is circulated from the main pool to the fountain through use of a water pump. My favorites are the solar powered water pumps – eliminating the extra cost of electric power and hassle of burying wires below the frost line in your yard.
There are two basic types of pump – surface pumps and submersible pumps. Surface pump are housed in a pump chamber beside the pond, and supply water to fountains or water falls via polythene tubing. The installation of a surface pump is well within the capability of anyone who can use a sharp knife and a screwdriver.
The simpler version is a submersible water pump. Plumbing is reduced to a minimum with submersibles because they work in the water. They are also silent and come in a wide variety of sizes and strengths.
Pond Fountain Pump Placement
Many misconceptions exist regarding pump size and operation for pond fountains. Water pumps operate in a cyclic manner therefore when it supplies a fountain or waterfall with a fair volume of water it then needs to be be sucked back out by the pump and returned to the water feature. The widely believed notion is that these two points (supply and return) should be at opposite ends of the ponds.
This is not always the case. Water current should be kept to a minimum. While the splashing effect might be good for backyard pond fish, if the current is too intense it can adversely affect plant life. For this reason pond experts state that the shorter the distance between exit and entry points, the better. To ensure then, that water movement is reduced, the pump should be positioned as close to the fountain or waterfall as possible.
Another impractical use of a water feature is to have a fountain installed in a small upper pool supplied by water pumped from the main or lower pool. The theory here is to have water from the fountain spray overfill the top pool and then pour as a waterfall down into the main or lower pool. Good theory, but an impractical use. The volume of water that comes through a fountain jet is tiny compared with the volume needed to make even a modest waterfall. The water from the upper pool in this case only dribbles.
If your garden pond idea was to design a fountain above, you will need two pumps to get the right effect. One small submersible pump sitting in the upper pool to supply the fountain, and a second one installed in the lower pool to pipe enough water to the return.
Garden Pond Ideas: Just Add Fish
I have written another article that deals exclusively with adding backyard pond fish, but here is a brief introduction in this garden pond ideas guide. When backyard pond fish are healthy, they will be active and lively and display an erect dorsal fin (the one on the back). However, when they are ill they are sluggish and dull in color.
So before you add fish to your garden pond, understand that the two main reasons fish get ill is due to insufficient oxygen or foul water – both can be solved by adding a small fountain, bubbler or spitter.
However, it isn’t always lack of oxygen that causes a pond to sour. Decayed vegetation from fallen leaves can also release toxic gas while they rot. Sycamore, chestnut, laburnum and poplar leaves are four of the worst for this. Their flowers and seeds must be regularly removed or prevented as much as possible.
Your pond can also become toxic from the spray-drift or run off of insecticides used near the pond – even sodium chlorate used on a nearby gravel driveways can cause problems. If such pollution of the water are not immediately deadly to the fish, they will certainly lower their resistance and make them vulnerable to later infections.
Prevention is always better than cure!
- Avoid plants and seeds that are poisonous.
- Avoid insecticides.
- Transfer sluggish or sick looking fish immediately to a shallow dish of salt water (two teaspoonfuls sea salt per gallon of water) for three days. Change the water daily and (unless the fish shows sign of distress) increase the salt content by one teaspoonful each day. If signs of fungus are spotted after three days, hold the fish in a damp cloth and using a soft cloth dipped in a weak iodine solution (1:10), brush off the fungus, taking care to avoid touching areas of healthy areas. Return the fish to the pool. Repeated after two days if necessary.
- Treatments for pond fish can be purchased online or in specialty pet shops if you are uncomfortable with the above regimen.
In the end, if you want backyard pond fish, it’s always best to aerate their space gently with a water fountain or pond feature. Please share your garden pond ideas below.