How to Determine the Best Location for Building a Koi Pond
Before building a koi pond you should carefully survey your backyard to find the location that most naturally fits the water features that you want to add. This includes fountains, streams, statues, pond lights, surrounding garden ponds and waterfalls. Here are some tested guidelines for helping you find the best spot in your yard for building a koi pond.
It is rare to find a perfect pond location, so compromise and common sense trade offs generally have to be made. Designs for koi ponds and gardens must take into account drainage, sunlight, access to utilities, proximity to trees, elevation and slope of the backyard.
Garden Ponds and Waterfalls Should Fit Into the Natural Terrain of Your Yard
- In nature, ponds are found at the lowest level of terrain, so selecting a site for building a koi pond in a low area of the back yard will create the most natural looking setting. However, if you use chemical fertilizers on your lawn, run off into the pond could be harmful to your fish. We do not use fertilizers in our yard and have found the run off beneficial since it increases the amount of water naturally added to the koi pond from rainfall.
- The top edges (shore) of the koi pond location need to be level. If you choose a pond site that is on a slope you will have to build a berm or wall to create a level shoreline that will hold the water. You can use a board or string and a level to find a dead flat area or build up the edges of the pond to create one.
- Building a koi pond on a slope does have some advantages for incorporating waterfalls or streams into your design. More details on building cascading waterfalls on a slope is provided on the How to Build a Pond page of this site.
- With large garden ponds and waterfalls it also may be desirable to include a spillway to route water away from the house. Pick a section of the koi pond adjacent to the direction you want the run off to flow and make the edge slightly lower than the rest of the shoreline. You then create a shallow ditch lined with rocks to channel the runoff water. My spillway is tied in to where our sump pump discharges water and during heavy rains we have a babbling brook running off into the woods.
- When selecting the location forbuilding a pond, the inclusion of waterfalls and streams in your design is a determining factor. Whenever possible the backyards natural variations in terrain should be used to incorporate water features into koi ponds and gardens. The design should conceal pumps and filters so the garden ponds and waterfalls have a natural appearance. If the backyard is basically flat, you can bring in dirt and rock to build up an area for the waterfall and you can use plantings to frame the raised area in order to create a more natural appearance.
Sites for Koi Ponds and Gardens Must Consider Proximity to Utilities
- The koi pond must be located where you can dig at least 3 feet deep while not disrupting underground power, cable, gas, water, or other utility lines. Also septic fields must be avoided.
- The further the koi pond is from electrical and water sources the greater the initial installation costs and subsequent maintenance effort will be. If you will be installing pond pumps and filters or lights an electric connection is required unless you use all solar powered devices. Solar powered pond lights will work in any situation but the pumps I have come across are generally limited to small ponds and sunny locations.
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- Ideally the pond site should be easily viewed from the house but should not be located closer than 10 feet to the building or any other structure.
The Koi Pond and Garden Design Must Balance Sunlight and Shade and not be too close to trees
- Both fish and the pond benefit from direct sunlight however it is best to select a pond site that provides some shade during the day. Study the movement of the sun and shadows that are created during the day to determine the best location. No more than 6 to 8 hours of direct sun is desirable. More sunlight could lead to excessive algae growth.
- Selecting a pond location close to trees is problematic. Tree roots can find their way to the pond and ruin the liner. Trees release toxins and shed leaves and branch tips that will create work keeping the pond clean and healthy.
- Select a pond site that provides some protection from the prevailing winds. If this is not possible you should consider adding a windbreak as part of the pond construction effort.
Remember the first point! It is unlikely that you will find a location for building a koi pond that accommodates all these items. These ideas are of varying importance and many can be addressed in other ways. So in deciding where to build your pond, spend time surveying your property and select a design and location that works best for the garden water features that you want to build.
Next learn about How to Build a Pond