Incorporating plants, using beneficial bacteria populations, and even utilizing ultraviolet lights to control pond algae are just a few possibilities that you may entertain to control the quality and clarity of the water in a fish pond. Depending on where you live and how deep the pond is, there may be building codes that require the construction of a fence surrounding the pond. If you understand the potential additional maintenance and expense that comes along with having a fish pond as you are planning your project, then you won’t be unpleasantly surprised down the road should problems arise. In the end, having a fish pond can be a magical attraction that provides loads of enjoyment for people of all ages.

When the time comes to figure out what you want to do next with your landscape, consider installing a water feature. It will provide you with the opportunity to create something that combines numerous aspects of landscape design and construction, all the while building something that can provide excitement one moment and tranquility the next.

Dan Dewey, a resident of West Barnstable, is the owner of Dewey Gardens, an organic landcare company specializing in design and installation services on Cape Cod. For more information, visit

Step 1 – Planning:


These four steps will help make your water feature a success. The planning process is important! Determining the site of your water feature is a good place to start. Figure out how to get the most enjoyment out of your feature by placing it where it is accessible relative to your home and landscape. Once you’ve chosen your location, decide if this is a do-it-yourself project, or something to be done by a landscape professional. Depending on the scale of the project, a pond-less waterfall or fish pond can take a weekend to install—or a few weeks. Either way, you will need to figure out the design of the water feature, what your budget is, and a realistic installation schedule. Finally, begin to plan a maintenance schedule, which will be dictated in large part by the kind of feature that you choose. This should be factored in before construction begins. TIP: Use a hose to outline the shape of your water feature to visualize its shape and size.

Step 2 – Preparing:

Pond Perspective

If you decide to take on this project on your own, there are a number of ways to learn about the design and installation process, with numerous books and websites dedicated to water feature design and installation process. Also, you need to decide whether or not you will purchase individual components, or an all-in-one pond kit. There are pros and cons to both options, but ultimately, your decision will be based on your budget and how much ‘know how’ and time you possess. TIP: Here are two web sites that will help with the installation process, including information on pond-less waterfall and fish pond kits;

Step 3 – Building:

Pond Perspective

After choosing a design and materials, it’s time to break ground. Draw lines on the ground for the shape and size of your water feature allowing for 20% more room than you think you will need. This provides a visual for excavation, revealing the actual size and shape of the feature. As you dig out the feature, the fill can be used to berm the edges of the pond for a more natural look. Make sure that you have plenty of pond liner. Ideally, have at least a couple of feet coming up and over the edges on all sides. Determine where the water source is going to enter the pond and where the pump will sit at a low point. Next, the plumbing is laid out to connect the pump with the feature’s high point. Be sure that there are no tree roots or other objects that could puncture the piping and ensure that the ponds edges are level, side to side. Determine how you are going to power the pump that circulates the water. TIP: You will probably need an electrician to install a close GFI outlet to power the pump. The outlet can also provide electricity for any additional lighting.

Step 4 – Finishing Touches:

Once the construction process is done, you can naturalize the water feature with plantings. Working with your design, do a mock up on land of where your plantings will go. This gives a better idea of how the planting will look after it has been installed. A properly laid out planting scheme can bring a water feature to life, providing year round interest to your property while contributing to a habitat for surrounding wildlife. As time goes by, you will find out how to keep your water clean, which water plants do well where and what time of day the Cardinals like to come around! Ultimately, you will realize that you have created a truly magical landscape feature that can be enjoyed for years to come. TIP: At this time, you can also position additional features such as bird baths, wind chimes and/or perhaps a bench offering enjoyment of your creation.

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