By Debra Maurer

Backyard pond rock waterfall AquartA pond allows you to add a truly organic element to your backyard. By attaching the pump’s hose to a fountain or waterfall, it keeps the water circulated while also providing an attractive water feature. However, ponds require ongoing maintenance. Keep the following in mind when planning your pond:

Pond Plants. About 60 percent of the pond's surface should be covered with plants to reduce algae and balance the water chemistry. Keep in mind that some water plants, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce, will multiply in a matter of weeks. If you plan to include water lilies, note that these potted plants must be lowered 12 - 18 inches so you'll want to create a few ledges in your pond design.

Pond Fish. You may also want to add fish to your pond. Japanese koi are brightly colored, friendly, and eat algae. However, they are prey for blue heron and raccoons so you should dig a few places in the pond where koi can hide. You can protect koi from predators by keeping a mesh net over the pond, installing a motion-activated water sprayer, or purchasing a heron statue. (Note: The statue must be moved around every few days to maintain its "scarecrow" effect.)

Pond Size. Make sure you're satisfied with the size of your pond before installing the pond liner. Many pond owners often wish they built bigger ponds so they could have more plants and fish. If you simply want a water garden containing plants only, the water can be a minimum of 2 feet deep, but if you plan to have koi, the depth must be at least 3 feet.

Pond Location. You also want to choose the location of your pond carefully. While fish ponds require some shade, you don't want to put your pond under a tree with much leaf drop (though the use of a net will catch falling leaves or debris).

Photo courtesy of Aquart; Photography by Rocio Escobar