Choosing the Perfect Spot For Your Pond

Build, maintain, or repair ponds the way nature intended.

Choosing the Perfect Spot For Your Pond

How to Choose a Location for Your Pond

Have you considered adding a pond to your landscape?  If so, this is the guide for you.

There are many factors that should be considered before choosing your perfect spot for your perfect pond.  With proper planning, the pond can be a successful addition to your property that can be enjoyed for years to come.   

The first consideration for your ideal pond location is SUNLIGHT!

Light

 

You definitely want to place your pond in a location that maximizes sunlight throughout the day.

There are different levels of sunlight available in different locations:

  1. Full Sun – a minimum of 6 hours but preferably 8-10 hours of sunlight per day.  

  2. Part Sun (also known as Part Shade) – 3-6 hours of sunlight per day.

  3. Shade – less than 3 hours per day.

Natural Pond Guide recommends you place the pond where it ideally gets FULL SUN (if not possible at least part sun). 

There are multiple reasons for this:

  • Maximize blooms.  Generally, most pond plants prefer full sun and will flower more profusely with lots of sunlight (think water lilies and lotuses for example).
  • Further away from trees that can drop leaves, and branches into the pond that will impact water quality and increase maintenance requirements long-term.
  • Better for turtles, frogs, and other creatures to bask in.
  • Better light to see the pond and enjoy it.

Speaking of seeing the pond, the view is another consideration for location.  Is it going to be enjoyed near the house, patio, or porch?  What windows will you be able to see the pond from?

Use and Enjoyment

Consider the rooms of the house that you might be able to see the pond from and enhance the overall quality of life.  Would you be able to see it from the family room, master bedroom, guest room, kitchen?  How about your office?  

You want to place the pond where it can be observed and enjoyed the most frequently.  Placing a pond in a far forgotten corner of a property may become a missed opportunity.  Or perhaps you want to see the pond along a roadside or frequented walk.  

Another consideration for location is the size of the pond.  You usually can not put a huge pond right up against the house.  If you want a big pond, perhaps you can place it in the distance as a focal point where you can still enjoy the view.  

If you want a waterfall, perhaps you want it near the house where there is electricity and it could be heard from the patio.  

Direction

Sun exposure varies with the direction the pond faces.

East

If the pond is on the east side of the building for instance, consider that the pond will most likely get sun in the morning but by mid-day the building’s shadow will be cast over the water into the evening.  

North

If the pond is on the north side of a building, the sunlight will be very limited throughout the year.  NPG does not recommend building a pond near a house on the northside if at all possible.

West

If the pond is on the west side of a building, expect shade until about noon and then throughout the evening.  This time of day tends to be the hottest as well, so there may be more temperature fluctuation in the water.

South

If the pond is placed in the southern side of a building, then the sunlight will be maximized.  This is the ideal location in terms of exposure.  

Sources of Water

One of the most important factors in deciding on a location for a pond is availability of water.  Whether you have a hose to fill your pond, stream, or a natural spring, there will come times when the water level will dictate supplemental filling, especially if your property is located in an area prone to drought.  When water levels deplete to a certain level, oxygen can become scarcer and cause a sudden die off.  

To avoid this scenario, appropriate water sources are needed.  Also consider the water quality of the source because it could be contaminated with toxins that may affect your pond environment. 

If you are on tap water consider chlorine and other additives that may hurt fish and other animals especially during the initial pond fill.  Allow ample time for chemicals to dissipate before adding animals!

Sources of Electricity

While I may discourage the use of electricity in some larger scale or more natural pond environments, ponds with filters, pumps, waterfalls, fountains, or lights may require proximity to electrical sources. 

Running electricity to a distant pond location can have a considerable added cost that should be factored in when deciding on a location.

Overall Setting

The pond should act as the focal point to the overall setting in which it is placed.  Part of the idea behind creating a natural pond is making it look as if it had been there all along.  

Existing trees, shrubs, garden beds, rock outcroppings, etc can be “borrowed” as a backdrop for a beautiful pond.  This can create a more natural scene, using the natural elements to enhance the overall effect. 

For instance, my pond is nestled between my neighbors Autumn Blaze maples that I “borrowed” and my existing line of trees to create a landscape in which my pond is perfectly nestled, appearing to be there the whole time. 

Before I built my pond, there was nothing else there except grass!  Take a look below.

I added the shrubs, rocks, and other plants to complement the overall setting in which the pond was placed.

Features

Waterfalls 

Building a waterfall is easier when you have an existing berm (raised area of earth) naturally occurring on your property.  It will look more natural in terms of setting and will not appear to be sticking out of the ground like a volcano.  NPG recommends using the existing topography of the property to factor in the placement of the pond so that it appears more natural.

Another consideration is the viewing angle of the waterfall.  You don’t want a waterfall facing away from the viewing areas like the house, patio, or walkways.  Then they will not be enjoyed nearly as much as when you can see the water falling.

Bolders

It is nice to mix up the size of the stones in and around the pond to make the pond appear more natural.  Large bolders can be placed strategically to allow for people to sit on them in lieu of benches or chairs.  Large bolders should be considered in the overall location and design of the pond if desired.

Bogs

A pond can be built with a dedicated bog area where soil is always saturated with water.  This can accommodate special plants including some of the carnivorous plants including pitcher plants.  A bog is built along side of the pond so that the water of the pond keeps constant moisture in those areas.  A whole host of perennials (plants that come back every year) enjoy consistently wet soil that may be difficult to grow otherwise.  

Structures

 Your location may have to consider adjacent and complementary structures that will enhance enjoyment of the pond.  However, structures need to be used strategically to keep the pond environment as natural as possible.

Benches and other Seating Areas

You should consider a place to sit at or near the pond to relax and feed the fish.  It is almost a given that you need the space to sit that will not obstruct the view otherwise.  You want the size of the seating areas to be considered as well.  The pond should fit the scale of the adjacent spaces.

Gazebos

Perhaps you may want to build a gazebo near the pond in the future.  Consider location that has space to allow for one if desired.  Gazebos can allow visitors to sit near the pond sheltered from the sun and rain.

Growing up, a friend’s house that we would visit had a pond that had a gazebo built over the middle of it.  You could sit literally above the water and look at the fish, frogs, and plants.  

Walkways and Bridges

Walkways and bridges may be required to allow you to enjoy the pond from all sides and do maintenance around it as needed.  If the pond is crammed against a fence or wall, it may be difficult to get to some areas.  Consider if the paths are wide enough to walk near it without.  Perhaps your walkway takes you over a stream or waterway.  Then a bridge is required.  

Around the back and sides of my pond is a path that you can walk around the pond unobstructed, though I purposely made so that you couldn’t see it when viewing from the house.

Safety 

Another important deciding factor for determining the location of the pond is safety.  The first thing to do before you ever begin digging is to contact the utilities service line.  Here in Virginia, you would contact Miss Utility” which is a free service that notifies member utilities to locate and mark all buried utility lines on your property using safety paint or flags.  They can be contacted by dialing 811.  It is very important to consider underground electrical lines, pipes, drainage fields, gas lines, etc before you decide to dig for a pond.  

Is your pond in a place that people are likely to stumble into, especially young children?  While a pond is an amazing addition to a property, you’d never want a child to die because they fell into it and drowned. 

Perhaps placing a pond away from children play areas is important.  We considered this when we built ours because our children were still young and not good swimmers.  

I remember a winter a couple of years ago when I saw our snow covered pond with small footprints going across it!  I quickly spoke to my kids and found out that it wasn’t them, but instead our neighbors children!  Needless to say, I gave them a stern warning NOT to walk across our frozen pond, especially here in the relatively mild winters of Virginia.  

In some areas, zoning may dictate the size and location of your pond, and additional requirements like fences, distance from property lines, etc.

Summary

Hopefully you’ve found this information helpful in regards to choosing the perfect spot for your future perfect pond!  If you have any additional questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me or comment below.

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