How to Build a Small Water Feature for a Patio or Garden Corner
Half of a whiskey barrel can make a fine small garden pond or water feature;
maybe pond is the wrong name although it can certainly hold a
few pond plants and even a few small goldfish will also do nicely
This page discusses building a small patio pond in some detail and it is not
confined to using a whiskey barrel. Almost any small container of about 70 to
100 litres (20 gallons or thereabouts). You'll need to give thought to the creation
and after care. Think about ...
We you are going to use a wooden barrel then you'll need to line it with a
waterproof membranes and Bradshaws supplies various
pond liner materials to do this job well for you. A section about 1.5 metre
square will do. Fit this to the best of your ability and you will have a few
folds to contend with. Just pleat the liner as best you can.
If you do put fish into this small pond I would strongly suggest you place a few
lumps of Alfacoral or larger pieces of Alfagrog that are available in the UK. If
you can't get Alfagrog then ask Bradshaws what they would suggest as a good low
cost filter media. Some of the filters supplied by Bradshaws do contain Alfagrog
(eg those made by FishMate). This porous ceramic filter media called Alfagrog or
Alfacoral will enable large colonies of bacteria to grow in the small volume of
the pond and so long as the pond is not overstocked the water will remain
ammonia free and healthy.
In these small ponds it is normally best not to feed the fish and if you do,
feed them tiny amounts only and occasionally. Insect life that will appear in the
pond quite naturally will sustain your little goldfish.
When you first fill the small patio pond with water let it stand a day or so
then add a few suitable plants including oxygenators and maybe a small water
lily. When you add the fish start with 2 small goldfish and you can increase to
about 5 gradually. Don't stock koi not even small ones since they become
stressed far more easily than goldfish. Be prepared to change about 20% of the
water in the small pond every week or so and this will keep nitrates down to
Pond plants you can use in the small patio type pond
Aquatic plants ensure the small patio pond is pleasing and interesting. Do
include at least one flowering plant.
The following four types of pond plants will do well in this small confined
are desirable for a balanced ecosystem:
Pygmy water lilies
Hardy oxygenating plants (Canadian Pondweed
and Hornwort are good examples)
Floating plants (water lettuce, duckweed which
goldfish will eat although you'll probably have to remove with a net
occasionally too) and if you create a shallow section try some
Bog, or marginal rather tall accent plants (rushes, reeds,
The plants that need soil should be planted in individual containers specially
made for aquatic plants. Be sparing with the fertilizer although to get the best
from your water lily you will need to use now and again. To help minimise algae growth
restrict sunshine by using plants and allow them to cover most of the surface
(say 75%), plants should
cover 75-80% of the surface of your pond.
Snails bought from your aquatic centre will help to remove debris but take
advice from the aquatic centre first.
It is probably that if you plant as
suggested and add only a few small goldfish that you will not need to buy a
pump, or UV or pond filter. An small air pump on standby when weather is hot
might be useful to have around.