Edging Your PondWith the hole dug, the pond itself installed and the bulk of the physical labour behind you, edging the pond marks the start of a rather more “artistic” phase in the project. Since the edging you choose will probably define the overall appearance of your pond more than any other single element, it is as well to have given some serious thought to what you intend to use.

Picking Your Materials

Paving slabs form one of the most popular materials for edging and if done well, look very good, especially around a semi-formal pond. They should be laid slightly overhanging the pond by an inch or so – the shade helps protect the liner from being damaged by the UV in sunlight – and bedded into a firm concrete bed, to stop them being tipped up by anyone walking near the edge. If the cement around the finished edge is ever likely to come into contact with the water, it should be waterproofed with a proper sealant made for the purpose – and care should be taken when doing the work that no cement is allowed to run into the pond.

Slabs which have been laid with no gaps between them will need some provision to be made to let animals get out, even if it is not a wildlife pond as such. Garden ponds attract a wide range of creatures, especially at night and inevitably from time to time, something will fall in. Finding little drowned bodies floating there the next morning is not a pleasant sight – but a strategically placed log or stone to act as a ramp can usually solve the problem without spoiling the over all look. Alternatively, if the cement bed is deep enough, a few large pipes can be laid beneath the paving slabs, to act as escape tunnels.

For a more informal pond, large pebbles or rockery stones set into a concrete pad make a change from the more usual slabs – and avoid any problems of trapped wildlife. However, this is more difficult to do as the cement needs to go right up to the pond’s edge and, of course, will need to be sealed, but this kind of edging can be a very striking feature if your concreting skills are up to it and the starkness can be softened with appropriate planting. Careful planting is key to a natural looking edge, with marginal plants and pond edge plants helping to blur the hard edges between the pond and the garden.

Turf can be successfully used if the lawn is to extend right up to the pond and letting the grass beside the pond grow longer creates the right effect, particularly for a wildlife pond as well as making it easier for frogs and other visitors to make their way in and out of the water. If you do decide to use grass, a good tip is to make a small drainage ditch first, about six or eight inches away from the pond. When filled with fairly coarse gravel, it will help stop the edge becoming too waterlogged and prevent soil and lawn feed from being washed into the water – which could end up promoting algal growth.

Formal Edging

Paving laid very square and level can look very effective around a formal pond, as can a low wall to finish off the edge – though it is probably not a good option where children or the infirm could possibly trip over it. Anything from one or two bricks to perhaps a foot or so in height, the wall can be brick or block work and the side facing the pond should be cement rendered and waterproofed, taking care, as always, to avoid letting cement or mortar contaminate the water. As a variation on this idea, a second wall built just behind the first and filled with soil allows for planting, which is one solution for the koi enthusiast who also wants to be able to have some ornamental pond plants – given the habit this fish has of pulling up vegetation. Trailing plants can be used to soften the edges if a less geometric look is wanted or more upright types if the formal lines of the pond are to be kept.

Given the growing popularity of decking in our gardens, it should come as no real surprise that increasing numbers of ponds are being finished off with wood – square cut wood being particularly effective at echoing the straight-sided geometry of formal ponds.

While the whole question of edging is essentially cosmetic rather than constructional, from an aesthetic point of view, this is the one aspect that can make or break a pond in terms of how it fits into the overall design of the garden – so choose wisely!

Further reading: All about pond edging.

After installing a pond or even if you are building one from scratch, edging is added in order to assist the pond to blend with its surroundings. Normally, edging could be done with pebbles and plants making the pond look complete and closer to nature. However, there is not one particular way of doing it; rather play with the options you have to decorate your pond as you like. 

Normally pond edges have rocks, pebbles and gravel casually lying around it which gives it a nice look but it demands maintenance in the long run as these are not glued to the edges. It covers those lines that separate the pond with the garden, making it one with the greenery around. If you choose this casual look, be more creative with the big rocks and create a waterfall or stack them together to guide the birds so they can sit on these rocks. Make sure that the rocks selected have smooth edges which won’t harm the birds or other wildlife. Smooth rocks will also keep your pond liner safe from any cuts. It is better to plan the layout before you start moving the rocks as it will be difficult to move the big rocks around. 

Pond Edge Plants:

Another great way edging your pond is plants! They not only add magical ripples in the still water of the pond but thrive in that environment too. Bog plants which love water, can be planted to enhance the beauty of your pond. Plants will then invite wildlife too, painting a perfect picture. Water lilies and other such flowering plants attract bees too, however, cleaning the pond to remove petals will have to be done.

If you are a fan of greenery, you can add grass along the edges to make it all look seamless. If you end up using grass for the edges, make sure that you mow the grass carefully as it is very easy for grass clippings to fall in the water. You must have a picture in your head by now of what you want your pond to look like. Select the options that suit your pond and work with your creativity to make your pond a beautiful safe haven! View the range of pond edge plants