Pond ideas on a budget
Ponds are great on so many levels, providing a feature in the garden, somewhere for wildlife or even a hobby. They can be big, small, deep or shallow, but they don’t have to be expensive and can be quick and easy to install. Here are a few ideas…
Ponds can literally cost nothing if you have something waterproof lying around that you can re-use. An old bathtub makes a great pond, or a Belfast sink. Re-use a rigid paddling pool or sandpit, or cut a water butt in half and sink it in the ground. IBCs - commercial water holding vessels, can be cut down, or fill galvanised containers or half barrels. As long as it is non-toxic to wildlife and has a plug, tap, or can be sealed, it can be made into a pond.
All a pond needs is a pond liner and a lip around the edge to keep the water in. Build the lip from bricks or blocks, with no mortar necessary if the pond wall is only a foot or so high. Dig a shallow hole in the ground and make a mound all the way around with the soil you remove. A one-foot deep hole with a one-foot high mound all the way around it (and some pond liner,) are all you need to keep fish in the garden.
Make a simple timber frame or buy a raised flower bed kit and stick a pond liner in that. Use sleepers or even a tractor tyre. A retaining wall plus pond liner is literally all you need to get started, and pond liner goes a long way.
Pallet furniture is all the rage and pallets can be used to build a frame, as long as any nails are removed which could pierce the pond liner. Timber decking could be used, or spare fence posts. As long as it’s strong enough to support the water a sheet of flexible pond liner will do the rest.
Be wildlife friendly
A sink or bucket can be used as a small feature, but if you want it to be wildlife-friendly it needs to be at ground level. Dig the hole then place the container in it. If it has smooth or sheer sides it needs a way for wildlife to crawl out of it so build up a pile of rocks, bricks or stone in one corner for wildlife to hall out onto. A wildlife pond could be as small as 3’x2’ and still attract amphibians, insects and birds, but they need to be able to get in and out easily.
Go British native
If you want to score highly for wildlife potential choose British native aquatic plants. Although not always the showiest of species, native aquatic plants perfectly suit British wildlife in terms of feeding, breeding and providing cover. They’re guaranteed to be winter hardy too.
If you want to add pond fish size does matter. All pond fish need somewhere to overwinter under the ice so a fish pond should have a minimum water depth of two feet for goldfish. Koi carp grow huge so will need a pond to match long term, several metres across, a metre deep, and filtered. Stick to goldfish though and it can be much smaller and manageable.
Filter your pond
Not every pond owner wants their pond to look like pea soup. A pond filter with built-in uv will clear water, and filtering a small pond year-round can be surprisingly inexpensive. Filters break down fish waste so are recommended for any pond with fish in.
Not everyone wants electricals in the garden so solar powered pond pumps are an option. Aimed mainly at providing a small fountain, most won’t power a filter year-round but can certainly provide a visual display as well as oxygenating the water on sunny days.