Pond design - shape and size

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How to design a pond shape to suit you:

  • Lay a hosepipe on the ground to look at the pond design shape from all angles.
  • Check for access around it.
  • View from inside (upstairs and downstairs).
  • Walk around outside it to check path width.
  • Consider the sharpness of any curves to the pond edge.
  • Think about mowing the lawn along this curve - is it too tight for the mower?
  • In a small garden space make your pond design as simple as possible - circle, square, rectangle or kidney.
  • Too much fuss in a shape can lead to the area feeling too busy.
  • Check whether your site is level.
  • The finished pond will have a water line that finds a level which may not be apparent to the naked eye.
  • A rockery or sloping cobble beach may help on a sloping site. Or link 2 smaller ponds together with a stream.

Use a similar method to think about the shape of the preform pond you might buy from a Garden Centre. Go with an idea of the shape & size that suits your space best.

Design informal ponds for plants and wildlife:

  • Use more curved shapes for the informal pond design.
  • Curves look more relaxed and lend themselves to more informal, wildlife-friendly planting.
  • Design a sloping shelf or exit route with cobbles and spreading plants on at least one side of the pond for wildlife creatures.
  • Surround the wildlife pond by planting from a bog zone or moist planting area as an emergence area.
  • Include flat shelves below water level to create a range of shallow water planting levels all around the pond.
  • Depth does not need to be more than 60cm(2ft) deep.
  • Plan a sitting area near the pond.
  • This is often a favourite place to sit and watch the wildlife.

For more information go to our page: How to dig an informal wildlife pond with planting shelves.

Design a formal pond:

  • Structured shape and pond design - squares or rectangles.
  • Often fish ponds or raised planted ponds.
  • A fish pond would need to be 80cm(3ft) deep or more if for koi.
  • A part of their interest is in the formal design of the structure itself (see image above).
  • Include flat shelves creating a range of shallow water planting levels for plants.
  • Place the shelves in the corners or down 1 or 2 sides.

For more information go to our page: Construct a formal pond.

Pond design - size:

  • Make the pond cover as large a surface area as you can.
  • By the time you have finished and included the edge of the water area of the pond it always looks smaller than you expect.
  • It is easier to maintain the water temperature and ecosystem balance in a larger surface area pond.
  • The largest pond would be one built as a Natural swim pond - see our page on Swimming Ponds.

  • Think about a patio container pond for small garden spaces – it can be on a balcony or roof terrace. A focal point in the garden or placed in a secluded quiet corner near a seating area.
  • More detail on the Container Ponds page.