Friday, April 30, 2010

Drainage and ponds

If I dig a pond in my side yard will it help my drainage issues?
In my side yard the lawn doesn't drain very well. If I dig a pond in this area would all the standing water run into it since the pond would be the lowest lying area in that the lawn? IF I did dig a pond in this area would there be any legal concerns since this part of our property does not have a fence around it? Would I have to worry about drowning issues and lawsuits?


You would be digging a retention pond, not an ornamental pond. You might need a permit, so check with your local building code enforcement office.
You could dig out an area less than a foot deep and put a bog garden there and need no permits or fences.
You might also think about a french drain to help with drainage problems.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tiny ponds

Ideas for the base of a small pond?
Hi I am going to make a small nature pond, it can't be too big as I don't have the space or money, really it is for dragon flies, and frogs,toads and newts, not fish. I could get a pond liner but its hard to find one which is small so what other kind of container could I use? I have a rounded plastic tub a little larger than a washing up bowl but it doesn't slope like it should to seem natural. Could I get the smallest pond liner possible and just cut off the excess?
Any other suitable container I could use?
Thanks :)
A horse feeding trough is about $40.00 USD at a feed store. They run about 3' across and 2' deep. 
You can also use your rounded plastic tub and surround it with flat rocks that stick out over the edges a bit to hide them. I have made ponds from casserole dishes and even old aquariums. If it holds water, you can make a pond. Just be sure you put the proper submerged and floating vegetation in it and a mosquito fish. Or use a Mosquito Dunk occasionally to keep mosquitoes away.
The top right photo shows a pond in a casserole dish:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pond liners and tree roots

Have your pond liners been poked by tree roots?
I've got a EPDM liner, and I'm not going to use underlayment.
There are an avocado tree, an apple tree, an orange and a willow. They are about 4 feet away from the border of my pond. The pond is just 15 in below the ground.
I wonder if the tree roots can poke the liner? or it will just run around the liner?

Your liner will be fine with those trees. Bamboo and banana trees poke through liners, no others. But it is safer to use an underlayment. Use 15# roofing felt. It's cheap and easy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Putting stones on the pond bottom


What stones can I put in the bottom of my new pond?
Can I put pea shingle or similar, I have a mixture of shingle and slightly larger stones in my garden already that I no longer require, so thought I could put them at the bottom of my new pond? I will be getting goldfish for it.

Please, no stones in the pond. You will go crazy trying to get them out when it comes time to clean the pond. They serve no purpose at all except to muddy the water. Put submerged and floating vegetation in the pond, then put goldfish in. Don't forget the dechlor.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Pond full of Water 'Hoglice'?
Hiya, I have been moved into my parents' house which came complete with garden pond which i know little about. Today i started pulling out some of the pond weed as there is quite a lot,and it is infested with what i believe to be hoglice, the weed is literally running alive with it, it's not something I have ever heard of or come across before, the pond otherwise seems okay, full of tadpoles at the moment and only a couple of fish and some babies which were born in the pond last year. should I just leave these lice? Is there anything I can do to get rid? are they causing harm? 

Hoping someone with pond knowledge will be able to assist on this one as I don't want to completely mess up the ecology of the pond.

I would leave them alone. They have a predator:
but that predator is invasive and destroying water life all over the UK. I think the ecology of the pond will be fine.
I have a philosophy of benevolent neglect when it comes to ponds and it has served me well for over 20 years.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Natural Bottom Pond

How do I get rid of the grass in my pond?
I have a medium sized pond that has a lot of fish in it and a lot of grass too. I want to get rid of the grass so I can cast my reel and catch something other then grass and lily pads. What can I use to do this?

You will have to rake the grass out. If you want to have a fishing pond, the rules are different than if you want an ornamental one.
Get a small flat bottomed boat and a rake. Rake the grass into the boat and deposit it into your compost heap when you are done. Be prepared for a dirty, nasty job.
BTW, any chemicals that kill the grass will also kill the fish.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pond Pump Blocked

How do I keep my 90 gallon pond pump from getting blocked up so often?
I see ponds with waterfalls in parks that seem to run fine all the time. I need to pull mine up and clean all the leaves and other debris that find their way in about once every 3-5 days or it slows down to a trickle. There must be a trick I don't know about since I know not everyone is pulling up their pond pumps to clean them out like this.

Small pumps like that are almost impossible to keep clean. They are made for indoor fountains, not outdoor ponds. I would probably try to make a 'sock' for it out of a fine mesh. Be sure the sock material is kept away from the impeller because it will suck the sock right on it. You can make a box out of hardware cloth, cover the box with old panty hose or coarse foam and that will work better than what you have now, but in the long run, you will be better off with a larger pump made for outdoor use. It will probably come with it's own filter.
Another thing to try is to fill up a black plastic grow pot with lava rock and put your pump in the middle of it. That way the lava rock will act as a filter and you will get a longer time between cleanings.
Oh, and elevate the pump so it is not on the bottom of the pond. That will buy you some more time between cleanings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pump flow control

How might you control the pump speed of a fountain in a pond, so that the water doesn't spray too high or how?

Your Answer:
A small pump will have a circular dial to regulate the flow. The larger pumps, meant for outside, have no regulator on them. You can use a clamp which doesn't work very well or you can T off the hose and make two or more outlets to regulate the flow. Just let one hose stay in the pond and hook the other to the statue.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Controlling pond algae

Has anyone used the Water Wych in their ponds to control algae?
They sell these things at pond supply stores and it shows that you just put it in your pond to help eliminate algae and is safe for plants and fish.

  • Answer:

  • Algae control can be done much cheaper and easier. This is just a box that holds barley and carbon. It will work, but so will barley bales and activated carbon from the fish store. It does not help with blanketweed or string algae. The only thing I have found that works with string algae is Microbe-LIft PL. 
  • I wouldn't spend the money on a plastic box when I could put activated carbon in a torn panty hose leg and throw it in the water. Barley comes in its own bag. 
  • To learn more about controlling algae, this is an article I wrote:…

Friday, April 16, 2010

Filter media

What's the best filter media for my fish pond and waterfall?
I've used Spring Flo Bio Ribbon but am thinking about Bio balls. Do they go in the tank with my pump?

I would use lava rock in a bag. It's cheap and works great. I put them in an old panty hose leg and tie it closed. Make it so the pump draws water through it or water is pumped through it and then over the waterfall.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Balancing your pond


Can I put goldfish in the small ponds in my yard?
I have three or four small ponds that measure anywhere from to four feet across and a foot, foot and a half deep. I want to clean them up this summer and make them look nice and I thought some fish would be a nice addition.


These are a few pond rules to know. Makes pondkeeping easy.

Balance your pond ecologically. Use bog plants like irises or umbrella plants. You must have oxygenators or submerged plants. The best is anacharis, followed by cabomba and hornwort. You must have one bunch of these submerged plants per square foot of pond surface. These plants arrive with a rubber band holding them together. Remove the rubber band before you put the plants in your pond. If you don’t want them floating freely, you may pot them up in several pots that sit on the bottom of your pond. The submerged plants are fertilized by fish waste and CO2, a fish byproduct. The fish eat the submerged plants, but they grow faster they the fish can eat them. Nice cycle, huh? Nature takes care of itself if we can j ust leave her alone. If you have too many fish, they will eat all your submerged plants and you have to start over again. A good rule for fish load is 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface area; tails don’t count. If your pond gets green, have patience. It will fix itself

When pH gets on the basic side algae flourishes. Vinegar is weak and it takes forever (days) to neutralize. But it takes an expert to use muriatic acid properly, so do not put concentrated muriatic acid in your pond to balance pH unless you know what you are doing. You can buy commercial products, usually called pH down or some such. They are expensive, but work well.

It is good to have algae slime on the sides of your pond... this is a sign of a healthy pond and can generate up to 70% of the oxygen needed for your pond.

If you feed your fish, these simple ways of keeping your pond clear will not work. You will need a filter, preferably a biofilter.

You must cover at least one half the top of the pond with floating plants. Parrots’ feather is great, as are water hyacinths, water lettuce and water lilies. If you live in the tropics, you can have beautiful tropical water lilies. You must be willing to either sacrifice them in the winter or store them away until warmer weather arrives again in the spring.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fish feeding, balanced pond


You talk about Water lilies on your web site are these your favorites or are these the flowers that generate the most questions?

Water lilies? Yes, they do generate questions. But more questions are asked about murky, green ponds which leads to talking about submerged vegetation, the most important plant in the pond.  The water lilies are what sells the pond and are great for providing shade, keeping the pond clear and protecting the fish from predators by giving them a place to hide.

  I know you feel strongly about not feeding the fish in your pond, can you tell me why this is?

If you feed the fish, you introduce a foreign substance. A balanced pond has 1 bunch of submerged vegetation per square foot of pond surface. The fish eat the plants, provide fertilizer for them. And the plants provide 02 for the fish and grow faster than the fish can eat it.  If the fish get fed, they grow too big, the bioload gets too much for the size of the pond. Soon you have huge fish, too much fish poop, not enough 02. The huge fish begin to die and all the fish poop pollutes the water. The pond becomes a great example of how we are polluting our planet.

 How do you go about achieving a correctly balanced water garden?

See the last answer: One bunch of submerged vegetation per sf of pond surface area, at least 1/2 of the pond shaded with floating plants, no fish feeding, no run off getting into the pond, no more than 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface.

BTW, All the previous information is for goldfish ponds only. A koi pond is an outdoor aquarium and must be treated as such with filtration and food.  If you have a koi pond, you cannot have water lilies nor do you ever need submerged vegetation because those little devils eat it like Hershey bars. Even building a koi pond is different from building a goldfish pond.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Solar pumps

How to pump water from a stream?
I'm looking for a small pump that can run on solar power and pump water from a tiny stream behind my house straight up about 10' to a barrel that I'll use to water my garden. The trick is it has to be low gallons per minute but also be able to pump high enough and run on solar power.

Solar powered pumps are not capable of that. Solar power has a long way to go before being powerful enough to pump a 10' height. You could set up a sump pump in the stream that worked on a timer and pumped water when you needed/wanted it. It would have to be a relatively large pump to have a 10' head, perhaps as much as 2500 gph.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Water plants and soil?

Do Water Plants work without soil?
I have a small pond with no soil, only pond pebbles. Water is about a foot deep. Will water plants such as lilies grow without the soil? Or do I have to have soil?

Pot up your pond plants. They don't need to be in soil, but they do need to be in a pot. Use pebbles if you wish or any old soil you have lying around your yard and put pebbles on top.
DO NOT plant directly in the rocks in the bottom of the pond. The plants will grow everywhere and you will have to get them out of those rocks. If it were me, I would remove the rocks now before you have to deal with cleaning them. But whatever you do, don't plant anything directly in them.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pond pumps and underlayment

Pond Pumps: GPH and Water Circulation?
Why does a pump have to circulate 1/2 to the entire volume of water in one hour?
What pond liner, underlayment, and pump would be suitable for a pond 20 X 20 feet that is 3 feet deep?

Use 40 mil butyl rubber for a liner. You can use commercial underlayment or roofing felt. Old carpet can rot and start to stink as time passes.
To find liner size, measure the bottom, both sides and add 6'. I would get a 3500 gph pump so water will properly circulate. Circulating water adds O2 to the water, so the fish can breathe.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

String Algae!

How to get rid of string algae in our ornamental pond.?
We've tried 4 or 5 different chemicals including clarifier and algaecide. We have a barley pad floating in it, we have a fountain running and a creek running into it, we also have about 30-40 comet goldfish and koi, and about 6 plants growing in it as well (water lily, cattails, irises) although they are not fully grown yet. The algae lines the entire bottom and sides and is about 3 inches thick. Would a pond vaccum help? We don't know what else to do :(

I have found that Microbe LIft PL works very well to eliminate this stuff. Get as much as you can out and then put the Microbe LIft in according to directions. It's an enzyme and won't harm your fish or plants.
You don't need a pond vac at all.

To find more pond information, go to

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My pond is losing water

How to arrange my rocks in my pond so they do not splash out and lose water?
The water looks like they are causing me to lose water off the rocks.  How can arrange them so it does not happen?

  • The water area needs to be twice as wide as the height of the waterfall. If it is not, the water will splash out. That's one of those laws of physics that none of us can break. Even if the water flow is in little drops, it will still splash out. So lower your water height or make the pond bigger.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Solar Powered Fountains

    How can a pond fountain work with a solar panel?
    I try to put a fountain in my garden pond I would like to make it solar powered and don't know how. I’ve see it in garden magazines and I would like to do that in my yard.

    You can buy them. Oase makes the best one I know. That said, the technology for solar powered pumps is not as good as it could be and the failure rate is high. I wish they were higher on the list of important things to do.

Monday, April 05, 2010

What pump should I buy?

Hi. I am wanting to find out what pump I need.
I am putting in a garden pond with a waterfall that will come down a 3 ft gradual slope. How do I know why gph pump I need to carry the water back up? Do you recommend filter boxes to protect the pump?


I would buy at at least a 2500 gph pump. I always suggest that folks buy a bigger pump than they think they need.
Yes, I advise a pre-filter. I like a box because the larger area does not gum up the impeller as fast.

To find more pond information, go to

And to meet a great community of gardeners, join us at  Gardeners  Gumbo

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Patching a pond liner


Is there a paste of some kind that will repair tiny holes in a rubber liner for a pond?

There is no paste, but there are patches that you can just attach. The patches are sticky on one side, so get the liner dry and put the patch on. I often help it seal to the liner by blowing it with a hair dryer.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Water Lilies

How do water lilies grow?

They grow just like any other plant, but they grow in water. They grow from rhizomes planted in most any media, need feeding with aquatic fertilizer twice a month during their growing season. That season starts in the spring when the first pads reach the top of the water. They need at least 5 hours of sun daily in order to flower, come in hardy and tropical, night and day blooming varieties. And are beautiful.

Friday, April 02, 2010

koi skimmer, filter, pump

I have read a lot about building a koi pond but i am unsure of where to put the skimmer, filter and pump?
Does anyone have a diagram of where to put all the stuff, preferrably the pond would be L shaped. or can you tell me please because videos on youtube etc... dont really say where the filter goes.

You don't need a skimmer at all. You do need a filter tho, bugt it doesn't matter where you put it. Put it where it is easiest to hide and to clean.
Here's an article that I wrote about how to build a koi pond.

Oh and thoughts about skimmers:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

DIY underwater lights

Have you ever made underwater fish pond lights yourself, HOW ?
I refuse to spend 80 dollars or more on little 12 volt LED lamps or other types. What about LED lamps in water-tight containers, SELF made? Has anyone here done it, and what problems did you encounter? The solutions?
Thanks. My goldfish pond is 3 feet deep in the middle, and maybe 6' x 8' rectangle. 33 fish. Some babies every spring.

I would not try to make underwater lights myself. Electricity and water together can be deadly. Sealing the lights safely will be impossible. Don't try it.