Jan. 1 2007 12:00 AM

 A POND OR WATER FEATURE CAN be a striking addition to any landscape. It can be sized to fit both the smallest lot and the smallest budget, or built to dwarf an average swimming pool. The problem with ponds is that they're sometimes put in the wrong location.

Before you install it, you should give pond placement as much thought as you give the placement of trees, shrubs, and other plantings. You should also consider the major vantage points of the landscape.

You want to place the pond where it will make the client happy. However, this isn't necessarily where the client thinks he wants his pond 'many times, clients think they want their pond in one location, only to realize later they made a poor decision. That means it's up to you to find the ideal place for the pond.

The right location will make for a happier client who will enjoy his pond for years to come and continue to call you for all of his landscaping needs.

Location of the pond

The most important question in pond location is: is the client asking you to place the pond in a section of the yard that isn't used? This is a big mistake. There's usually a reason why that area is not used mostly because it's out of sight and out of mind. Why would you consider putting a pond there? Ponds are made to be seen!

Installing the pond out of sight is one of the most common mistakes made in pond building. A pond should be placed in a location where the client will interact with it on a regular basis. For example, if the client uses his deck or patio frequently, place the pond as close to there as possible. Don't tuck it away in an unused, unseen corner.

I often hear comments from people with ponds such as, 'Ponds are a maintenance nightmare,' 'My pond looked great in the beginning, but now look at it,' and 'I spent the money, but now I never really enjoy it.' The complaints go on and on, and can be quite varied, but usually have one common thread. In nearly every case, the pond is so far away from where the client spends his time that it ends up being ignored. We all have that space in the yard that we don't frequent' so why would you put a pond there?

Vantage points of the pond room_2.jpg

To find the right pond location, consider the vantage points from which the pond is being viewed. Ask your client some questions. What windows are important viewing points from the home? Common ones are the living room, dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom. Ask to go into the home and take a look from each of these windows. Try to shape and place the pond to take advantage of as many vantage points as possible. Also remember to face major features' such as the waterfall' towards the house and not away from it.

I often see ponds placed in the side yard of homes where there are no windows and no decks or patios 'in other words, there are no vantage points. You know a pond is there by sound and sound only. To me, this is just a way to fill in a void and charge the customer for a pond they will not interact with and not enjoy.

Other considerations

While aesthetics and vantage points are the main considerations in pond location, there are a few other ideas to keep in mind as well. For example, if you are fortunate enough to build a pond at a new installation, consider putting the pond in first, and then landscaping around it. This can make installation much easier.

If you are installing a pond in an existing landscape, try to locate it away from overhanging trees that will create debris. Not only is excessive leaf litter in a pond unsightly, it can encourage the growth of algae. Certain types of trees can be even more damaging: pine needles can poison any fish in the pond, and eucalyptus leaves can stain the water brown and give it a foul smell.

It's best to place the pond in a location where it will receive between six and eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Too much sun can trigger an algae bloom; too little sun, and nothing will bloom.

Contrary to instinct, it can be a good idea to place the pond in an elevated area rather than a low-lying one. Water runoff from rain or irrigation systems can pollute a pond with mud, or with algae friendly nutrients such as fertilizer and dead plant matter.

The bottom line is that when building a pond, take the time to consider all the facts. There is much to learn, but with time and patience you can become a master pond builder who truly understands his client's needs.