Siting Your PondPicking the right site is probably more important for the pond than for any other feature in the garden – after all you are hardly going to move it next year if it does badly. Some of the older books are extraordinarily uncompromising on this question – laying out very precise instructions on selecting the “ideal” site – but modern gardens do not always allow the pond-builder this sort of luxury, particularly if space is tight. Never-the-less, with a little care it should still be possible to pick the best spot, even if the choice of site is distinctly limited and, more to the point, avoid the major pitfalls.

Finding the Best Site

Ideally, the pond should be in an open, level site, well-drained, south-facing, away from trees and not exposed to strong prevailing winds. The best guide when it comes to choosing the exact spot is to opt for somewhere which will allow you to see it the most; check the view from the patio, conservatory and most-used parts of the house and plan accordingly. A good bit of effort goes into building a pond so it is only sensible to pick a site which lets you enjoy the fruits of your labours. Being able to see the pond easily from the house also has an added safety advantage if there are children – or pets – to consider.

Accessibility to water and electricity is also something which should feature in the siting decision from the outset. The new pond will need to be filled and it will need regular topping up during the summer – calling for somewhere within reasonable hose-reach of a tap – and if pumps, filters, clarifiers or fountains are in the final plan, then running power cables becomes a consideration too.

Unless you are planning to install a raised pond, the location of any underground obstacles obviously needs to be taken into consideration too, such as sewers or septic tanks, water mains, drains and cables. For most modern houses, this should not pose too much of a problem as these are usually marked on the plans, but for older properties, a little more care is prudent to ensure that the site you have chosen is not going to provide you with any dramatic surprises later.

Overcoming Problems

However, few of us have gardens which meet all of the ideal requirements perfectly, so even if yours is on a tree-lined slope and faces north, all is not lost. Starting with a level site is of course, easier, but many a beautiful water feature has been successfully built on sloping ground, with the added opportunity of being able to incorporate the natural landscape into the design of ornamental waterfalls, cascades and streams. If building on uneven ground is unavoidable, the trick is to make sure that sufficient attention is given to getting the finished sides properly level.

It is often said that a pond should be sited in full sun. While most plants need at least some direct sunlight to flower, only water lilies demand lots of light to be at their best and even they will manage with much less than day round sunshine – though their flowering season will be somewhat curtailed. However, if the pond is to be a small or shallow one, it is worth considering the effect on water temperature that a position in full sun can have – which may not be to every pond inhabitants likening. In addition, unless the pond is to be well-planted – perhaps covering a third or even a half of the surface – abundant sunlight may well drive unsightly algal blooms – so pond-builders forced to build in partial shade need not necessarily feel themselves too hard done by!

Settling on the site for a new pond is a major decision, not least because it will shape the ponds development – and your enjoyment of it – for years to come and since things are far more difficult to remedy later, it is worth spending the time to get the position right. For those with smaller sized plots, there may not be much choice as to where to build, but even a less than ideal site can be turned into something worthwhile with a little imagination.

Where should I build my garden pond? FAQs

Where is the best place to put a pond?

The ideal location for a pond is a sunny spot in your garden where it can attract the most diverse wildlife. To prevent leaves from falling into the water, it is recommended to dig your pond away from trees and bushes. Amphibians like to take cover in nearby grass after a swim, so it’s best to leave it grow long in the vicinity.

Is it good to have a pond in your garden?

A garden pond is an excellent way to attract wildlife. It provides a habitat, breeding ground, bathing area, food source, and watering hole for various creatures such as birds, frogs, toads, newts, and insects. Ponds also create a serene and relaxing atmosphere, and they are aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for your garden.

Should ponds be in sun or shade?

While shade can help reduce algae growth and is tolerated by many aquatic plants and animals, too much shade is not good for pond wildlife. It is recommended to have at least part of your pond exposed to full sun for optimal conditions and biodiversity.

Should I cover my pond in summer?

Even a partially shaded pond can overheat during hot weather. The best way to protect your pond and its inhabitants, especially fish, is to cover at least one-third to one-half of its surface area with floating plants or other surface cover. This will help to reduce water evaporation, keep the temperature cooler and also provide a refuge for fish and other creatures.

Can a pond get too much sun?

While sun is essential for maintaining a healthy ecosystem pond, too much of it can cause problems. Ponds that are exposed to full sunlight can get too warm, which can have negative impacts on the fish, plants, and overall water quality. It’s important to monitor the amount of sun your pond is receiving and take measures to prevent overheating.

Can you put a pond next to a house?

When deciding on a location for your pond, it’s important to follow recommended or regulated limits to prevent damage when the water overtops the banks. If you’re not working with specific guidelines from your zoning department or permit office, it’s best to place the pond away from any walls.

Where is the best place to put a pond in a UK garden?

The ideal spot for a garden pond in the UK is in a warm, sunny location that is open to the south. Avoid areas that are already wet or damp as they may already be thriving habitats for wildlife.

Do ponds add value to a property in the UK?

While a well-maintained garden pond can be an attractive feature, experts warn that certain gardening trends, such as adding a pond or removing a lawn, can actually decrease a property’s value. This is because they may not appeal to everyone’s taste, or may require maintenance that some potential buyers may not want to take on.

However, adding a pond to your property can be an attractive addition that provides a relaxing atmosphere and supports local wildlife such as frogs, newts, and dragonflies. A properly maintained pond can even increase your property value by making it more appealing to potential buyers. It really depends on the buyer!

Do I need planning permission for a pond on a farm?

Farm ponds are often considered an agricultural development and can be exempt from requiring planning permission. However, any pond larger than 10,000 square meters, or with an embankment more than 2 meters high, may require planning permission from the local authorities. If you are unsure, contact your local planning authority for guidance.

Do I need planning permission for a pond in the UK?

Ponds typically fall under outbuilding permitted development regulations, meaning they do not require planning permission unless your property is a listed building or in a conservation area. However, it’s best to contact your local planning office to confirm before proceeding with pond installation.

What are the UK regulations on garden ponds?

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to intentionally harm or take animals living in garden ponds. Additionally, destroying or damaging any shelter or protection used by these animals is prohibited. Therefore, pond owners must take responsibility for the welfare of the animals living in their pond and ensure that it is properly maintained.

Last Modified: April 5, 2023