Build in "easy-care" features
A. Leave workspace all around the pond
For convenient care of plants and the pond itself, it’s best if you can reach all parts of the pond easily. If you locate your pond right next to a fence, wall, hedge or building, you’ll have to get into the water to tend that part of the pond. Instead, leave a workspace at least 2 ft. wide all around the pond.
B. Provide a winter home for plants
One way to preserve plants through harsh winters is to keep them in buckets indoors. A more convenient method is to create a deep area in your pond. Keep your aquatic plants in pots or root sacks and you can move them to the deep water in the fall. The necessary water depth depends on your climate and plants. Placed in 3 ft. of water, hardy plants will survive in even the coldest climates.
C. Extend the liner to prevent a plant invasion
Even plants that normally grow on dry land love water, and some want to spread into the water along the pond’s edge. To prevent an invasion, run the liner 12 in. or more beyond the pond’s edging stones and cover it with mulch or gravel. The rubber liner will block water-seeking roots.
D. Make a mow-over border where garden meets grass
Flat stones set at ground level create a lawn mower–friendly transition between your pond and lawn. Instead of trimming the grass where it meets the pond-surrounding boulders or plants, you can run the lawn mower right over the stone border.
E. Make your pond easy to empty
To prepare for winter or to clean the pond, most pond owners occasionally pump out the water. To make your pond easy to pump dry, slope the floor gradually toward a sump hole. That way, you can set a pump in a single spot to discharge all the water. Make the sump hole dish-shaped and no more than 3 in. deep so the liner can conform to it.
F. Place the skimmer in an easy-access spot
Skimmers, filters and waterfall tanks collect debris (mostly leaves and other plant parts) and require occasional cleaning. If you plan to use one, don’t put it in a spot that can only be reached by crawling over rocks or trampling plants. The stuff you take out of a skimmer is great fertilizer for plants. Plant a patch of hostas or other leafy cover next to the skimmer. The large leaves hide the debris while it decomposes and nourishes the plants, and you save yourself a trip to the trashcan.
G. Cut steps into the soil for easy access
Steps make it easy to get in and out of your pond, whether you need to clean it, care for plants or just cool off on a hot day. Steps also act as shelves for pots, providing different water depths for different plants. If it will hold plants, the top step should be covered by at least 6 in. of water. Steps that fall 12 in. or more below the water line should be at least 20 in. wide to accommodate large pots. If your pond is too small for built-in steps, create an entry point where the side of the pond is vertical. Sloped sides make getting in and out difficult.