Container ponds are growing in popularity because of their ease of set up, the small space they take up and because if you get it right, they can look great too. Virtually anything can be used as a container pond and they can be placed anywhere from gardens to courtyards, patios, on decking, on balconies or in conservatories. Even indoors.

What you’ll need

First choose a suitable vessel. This could be a half barrel, Belfast sink, a bathtub, wooden planter - virtually anything will do as long as it is strong enough to hold water and hold its shape once filled. If you can’t find anything or you don’t want the hassle of DIY, you can get a ready-made container pond here.

If using a half barrel, half-length railway sleepers or a wooden planter you’ll need pond liner. Simply measure the length, width and depth, add double the depth onto the length and width, add a bit on, and you’re done. If you’re still not sure, use our simple to use pond liner calculator here.  

Use a pond pump

No water feature would be complete without moving water.  Add a small pump to gently move the water, or connect it to a small spitter or fountain for a visual display. Better still, use an all-in-one fountain, UV and filter to keep the feature clean and free of green water. A pump and filter will even enable one or two small fish to be added (container size-dependent,) which in turn will keep the water feature free of nuisance mosquitoes in the summertime.

Add plants

Decorate the container pond with a mixture of oxygenating and marginal plants. Marginals go around the inner edges with the top of the pot at the water surface. If you need to raise the pots up, stand them on an upside-down planting basket, or use a floating plant island. Bunched oxygenators can simply be dropped into the pond, and even pygmy water lilies can be added to small container ponds. Just make sure they are true pygmy lilies as most grow too large! 

Water treatments

If adding fish, you will need to dechlorinate the water and add some filter start to ensure beneficial bacteria are present to break down the fish waste. You’ll need a small tub of fish food too. Leave fish and plants out altogether and you can use Swell Water Feature Clear to help keep the water free of algae.

But if you do want fish and plants then fish-friendly algae and sludge treatments can be added to help treat algae, break down waste and keep the water clear. Regular water changes are also recommended. A Belfast sink or old bathtub won’t need a pond liner, but the plug may need to be silicone- sealed into the plughole to prevent it being accidentally pulled out, or slow, long term leaks.

Power points

Unless you’re using a Solar powered fountain pump, ensure that the container pond is in reach of an outdoor power point. Most pond pumps come with 10 metres of cable as standard. If you need more, install an outdoor switch box, which will enable you to extend and control pumps, UVs and pond lights individually.