A garden with a fishpond.

How to Design a Fishpond in Your Garden

Fish bring a pond to life, complementing the planting with color and movement, but before buying, check that your feature is wide and deep enough to create a happy home for them. A small waterfall increases oxygen levels, but site it away from water lilies.

When to plant: Mid- to late spring.

At their best: Early summer to earl autumn.

Time to complete: 1 day.

You will need: Aquatic soil, aquatic planting baskets, Lobelia ‘Hadspen Purple’, Pickerel weed – Pontederia cordata, Golden club – Orontium aquaticum, Water lily – Nymphaea ‘Albida’, Reed sweet-grass – Glyceria maxima var. variegate, Arum lily – Zantedeschia aethiopica, Variegated hosta.

Size matters

Make sure that your pond has a water surface area of 3 square feet (1 meter) for each small fish you plan to keep, and a depth of at least 30 in (75 cm), which will provide an ice-free place for them in winter.

Choose plants

Include mixed plantings in your pond to create a beautiful and healthy environment for both fish and plants. Choose water lilies to partially cover the surface, and leafy marginals that sit just below the water at the pond edges. Also add some oxygenators, which help keep the water clear. Together, these regulate the water temperature on hot days and their roots take up fish waste matter, helping maintain the biological balance. In addition to those featured in this pond, try the tough plants opposite in your pool.

Plant your pond

Fish root around plants for food, and dig them up if they are not planted carefully. Plant in aquatic baskets and cover the soil surface with small pebbles to keep the fish at bay. Water lilies and other floating foliage plants are essential, providing the fish with shade and hiding them from predators, such as herons.

Introduce fish

Fish are sensitive to changes in temperature, so acclimatize them to their new pond. Float the bag in which you bought them on the water and open the top to allow more air inside. After about 20 minutes, gently release the fish into the pond. Don’t worry if fish hide for a few days, they will soon appear when they have adjusted to their new home.