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Edging Your Pond

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 2 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Paving Slabs Rocks Cement Concrete Brick

With 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 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 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!

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi, we would like to build a pond from sleepers. Two sides will be raised relative to the ground around it, and two sides will be set into a flower bed (the site is slightly sloping). My question is, should we build a wall of sleepers all the way around, even though on two sides they will be surrounded by earth? I am worried that this might make them rot. Would the alternative be to dig into the soil and have two walls of soil, two walls of sleepers, then top the whole thing off with a row of sleepers all the way around? Or would the sleepers sitting on the soil not make a firm enough frame? Thanks, Rachel
Rachel - 2-Jun-19 @ 9:17 PM
What product would you recommend to seal the cement between the rockery that is beside our pond so that it does leak into pond
Derek - 25-Aug-12 @ 6:17 PM
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