Miniature Ponds – How To Build A Small Pond In Your Garden
A miniature pond is a type of mini-garden which is usually made up of several smaller containers or pots with plants growing inside them. These are used mainly for fish but they can also be used as an alternative to large outdoor pools.
They have been around since ancient times and were popularized during the Victorian era when they became known as “mini-pond”.
The term “mini” comes from the Latin word mina meaning little and ponensis meaning pot. The name was derived because these tiny containers were often used to hold a single plant rather than multiple ones.
They are still commonly available today, though not all sizes are created equal. Some are just too small to support any kind of aquatic life. Others may require special care if you want it to survive. Still others might even need a bit of tweaking before they’re ready for use.
One thing’s for sure: no matter what size pond you choose, there will always be something wrong with it!
So why bother? Why not make one that works perfectly?
That’s exactly what we’ll do in this article!
We’ll first go over the basics of pond construction which will be helpful for all kinds of pond making. We’ll then launch into the nitty-gritty of building a mini pond which is ideal for raising fish and other aquatic life.
Before we begin, let’s talk about one thing: cost. If you’re on a budget, you can always scale down the size of your pond in order to reduce costs.
The same goes for the amount of aquatic life you want to keep.
The Basics Of Building a Mini-Pond:
There are several different styles and shapes that you can use when creating a mini-pond. The main kinds of mini-ponds are circular, oval, rectangular, square, and freeform ponds.
Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages which we’ll go over in a minute.
Furthermore, each one will also have their own method of construction. Since we’re focusing on building a mini-pond that’s ideal for fish and other aquatic life, we’ll be building a circular pond.
Step 1: Location, Location, Location!
The first step in constructing your mini-pond is to find a suitable spot for it. This may seem trivial but it’s actually pretty important.
You’ll want to place your pond in an area that receives full sun most of the day. This will help warm up the water and allow your aquatic friends to thrive.
Furthermore, the spot should be fairly level since a sloping yard can cause water to flow out of it. If you’re at all unsure about the slope of your yard, lay down some bricks or stones and see if water will pool up on them.
If it does, your slope is too great.
The size of your mini-pond is completely up to you. You can make yours as large or as small as you want.
Obviously the bigger it is, the more work will be involved in construction and maintenance but similarly, the more aquatic life it can hold. It’s all up to you and your needs.
Finally, you’ll want to build your pond on your property. Even though it’s tempting to build it on your neighbor’s land because it gets more sun, it’s illegal to do so.
Furthermore, building it on public land isn’t legal either so if you’re going to build a mini-pond, you’re going to have to do so on your own property.
Step 2: Digging The Hole
This is the part of the process that most people are familiar with. If you’re digging a hole in the ground for the first time in years, be sure to take it easy as you could injure yourself.
The ideal shape of your mini-pond is a circle since this makes construction easier than an oval or rectangular pond. To draw out the perimeter of your circle, tie a string tightly between two poles or sticks around the circumference of where you want to build.
Once you have the perimeter, use a shovel or spade to dig out the area inside your circle. The depth of your pond is up to you.
Most people build them between 3-5 feet deep. This will create a nice swimming depth for most adults and children but if you want to build it deeper then go right ahead.
After this is done, go back to Step 1 and check the slope of your yard. If it still doesn’t work, try moving the location of your mini-pond a few inches in a different direction.
Keep doing this until you have a suitable location for your mini-pond.
Do not build on land that is prone to flooding! Even if you build a mini-pond, your yard can still flood if it’s an area that experiences flooding often.
Mini-ponds aren’t built with flood prevention in mind and can easily be destroyed by flooding.
After you’re confident in your property selection, its time to start building your mini-pond!
Step 3: Fill ‘Er Up!
After you’ve got the foundation of your pond drawn out and you’ve finished digging it, it’s time to get filling it up!
If you’ve got a water hose handy, attach it to the spigot and start filling up the hole. You may need to turn the water on outside your house and run it for a while to get enough pressure to push the water all the way out to your mini-pond but you should be able to do it with enough time and patience.
Don’t have a hose attached?
No worries, water is everywhere and the ground should have absorbed enough of it to get you started.
Take a bucket or some other type of container to collect water from your nearest sink faucet. Every couple minutes, run inside and dump the contents in the bucket into your mini-pond.
You can also use a watering can if one is available. Keep doing this until your mini-pond is about halfway full.
At this point, you can start connecting a small submersible pump to a power supply. Either plug it into an outlet or connect it to a generator (if you have one).
The pump will only run when it’s submerged in water so it’s a good idea to test it on your kitchen sink or bathtub before putting it into your mini-pond.
When it’s full, plug in the pump and make sure that it works. The last thing you want to do is fill up your mini-pond and have the pump not function properly.
Most pumps come with a little Float Switch accessory. This is the part that makes the pump come on automatically whenever water in the mini-pond gets low.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try attaching this to your pump. (Note: this is only recommended for people with knowledge of wiring. You can cause a short in the pump or even start a fire if you wire it up incorrectly).
Once your mini-pond is full and the pump is running, you’re almost done!
Step 4: Add Plants, Fish & Enjoy!
Now that you’ve got water in your mini-pond, it’s time to stock it with some natural aquatic lifeforms. You can do this yourself or contact a pet store in your area to get some fish for your pond.
Most of these stores should have no problem selling you some goldfish or other simple aquatic creatures.
If you really want to go all out with this project, you can buy or build a little dock, ship or raft to put into your mini-pond. This adds a nice bit of flare to the project and can easily be built with some wood, rope, paint and a little imagination.
Once your mini-pond is stocked with fish and you’ve got some time to kill, you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy your new personal touch to your back yard. Most people also use their mini-pond as an outdoor kitchen!
You can easily add a small portable grill or even build a small table with seating around the pond.
If you’re really serious about getting the most out of your mini-pond, you can try catching some local wildlife such as frogs, newts and salamanders in order to populate your pond. This is done by carefully scooping them up with a net while standing outside the pond then dropping them in.
Most of these animals are nocturnal so they’ll stay hidden during the day and come out at night when it’s safe.
For aquatic plants, water lilies are a great choice for any pond. You can get packs of 10 from most garden centers for fairly cheap.
Simply open up the package and spread them out in different areas around your mini-pond. They thrive best when they are planted densely so don’t worry about spacing them out.
The next stage after this is up to you. You can continue to experiment with different aquatic life, bridge your pond with a small stream or just kick back with a fishing rod.
Whatever you decide, your mini-pond is an always evolving organism that changes with your needs.
In the future, if you feel like expanding your mini-pond, you can always add a water filtration system or even a small underwater window. This way, you can view everything that’s going on underwater without having to drain the entire pond.
Just be careful when walking around the pond after doing this. You don’t want to accidentally step on a salamander or newt!
Also, after a while, you’re going to have to get rid of all the leaves and other gunk that falls into the pond. You can either scoop it out by hand or set up a self cleaning system.
The self cleaning system is a little more expensive to set up but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
Good luck and happy fishing!
Sources & references used in this article:
Inner city stormwater control using a combination of best management practices by EL Villarreal, A Semadeni-Davies, L Bengtsson – Ecological Engineering, 2004 – Elsevier
XXVI.—Observations on the Natural History of the water-snail and fish kept in a confined and limited portion of water To the editors of the Annals of Natural History by R Warington – Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1852 – Taylor & Francis
Microcosm terrestrial and aquatic landscape habitat: a freestanding “miniature mountain” chain, topiary, upper pool, waterfall and pond-aquarium hybrid habitat with … by NJ Gramza – US Patent App. 11/445,984, 2007 – Google Patents
Habitats of the British amphibians (2): suburban parks and gardens by NJ Gramza – US Patent 9,038,572, 2015 – Google Patents