How to Convert A Pond Into A Garden?

Introduction

We’re sorry to hear that you’re saying GoodBye to the good old backyard pond of yours. But hey, that’s for a good cause, right? 

Yeah, turning a dead pond into a green, colorful garden is a good idea indeed. 

But for anyone intended to do it, they have to face a handful of hassle. Starting from emptying up the pond, drilling the base and finally, preparing the plant soils and plants themselves- it’s a mammoth task. 

But we’ve done it easier for you in this hands-on guide on how to convert a pond into a garden. Give yourself a few minutes and you’ll see how easy the task is when you’ve got us to explain it for you. 

Let’s kick-off- 

Questions to Deal with Before We Start

What to replace a pond with? Well, it’s clear that you’ve chosen a garden as an answer to the question. But before beginning the steps on how to turn a pond into a planter, we’d like to discuss some preliminary factors that matter. 

How Is The Pond Bottom? 

By that, we address both depth and the material of the bottom of your pond. Both of them are quite important as long as the drainage of your would-be-garden is concerned. 

First of all, it’s the depth. 

Ponds that are about 2-3 feet deep, can be easily turned into a garden without a ton of filler material. But if the depth is more than 3 feet, you need to fill it up with rubbles until it reaches a depth of 3 feet or so. 

What Type of Garden Is In Your Mind?

Regular Garden

In a regular garden, there will be a blend of many types of plants. As long as your pond is spacious enough, you can plant flowers, ground covers, climbers, fruits, decorative plants and so on. 

However, while planning the plants for it, these garden plantation ideas might give you a hand to make it look fabulous and healthy-

  1. Put taller plants behind the shorter ones. 
  2. Plant them in groups instead of here and there. 
  3. Keep the same kind of plants in the same group.  

Container Garden 

Container gardens are quite an option to set on ponds that are too wet for regular gardening. As an example, if the garden space is converted from a 5-6 feet deep pond, there is a good chance that it’ll never be dry enough. 

It’d also take less compost and soil compared to all of the other types of gardens in this list.

Raised Bed

A raised bed is like a large container with soil and plants on it. They are easy to construct, maintain and harvest on a pond garden.

To make a raised bed on the pond, you should fill up the pond with soil only, no compost or manure is needed. But once the pond is leveled up to the ground, you have to lay off a landscape fabric sheet in order to prevent weed invasion.

Bog Garden

The most suitable garden choice in a wet environment like a pond is bog gardening. It requires a constantly wet soil with one or two months of clogging each year. On top of that, if you live in a rainy climate zone, that’s a plus to turn pond into bog garden

However, bog gardens also require proper drainage. Only if you’ve got the pond lined with a butyl liner, we’d recommend creating bog garden out of the pond. Drawing a few holes will meet both ends of neither-too-dry/nor-too-wet demand of bogging. 

If it’s not a liner, consider the other options on this list. 

What Soil Would You Put In?

Although we address it as soil, gardening on regular soil is near impossible. So, we’d suggest preparing a mix of these three as a filler material of your pond- 

  1. Soil- about one-third.  
  2. Manure/compost- about one-third. 
  3. Sand- about one-third(optional).
  4. Mulch- a thick layer.  

Note that, the ratio of this mix and the nature/ingredients of the manure would vary on what type of plantation you’re looking for. But don’t overdo the mix anyway. 

How Would You Drain The Water Out? 

Drainage is one of the topmost priorities in a pond garden. No matter whatever type of garden you’re aiming for(except potted plants), it should be able to let go of the excess water and prevent wet soil. 

The rule of thumb is to create holes of about ½” diameter. They are supposed to be all around the pond surface and the average distance from one hole to another would be 6”. 

However, based on the situation, there are facts that you might consider to make the drainage system quite different than ideal. 

Here are the considerable- 

Rainfall

According to Current Results, the average rainfall per year is highest in the states of Huawei, Louisiana, and Mississippi. On the other hand, states like Nevada, Arizona, and Utah are quite dry in terms of rainfall. 

The reason why we’re quoting this stat is, the rainfall in your state is a determinant of how much effort you’ve to put into the drainage of the pond-turned-garden. 

If you’re in a super dry state, a couple of holes into the pond liner would be enough to go. Oppositely, if it’s within a rainy climate zone, you might take additional steps to keep your garden clogging-free. 

The Surface Type

As long as the pond base is something where you can pierce and drill holes into, that’s a go-getter. But something, the base is made of hard materials like cement, concrete, brick, etc. And learning how to create a garden on concrete is not an easy job at all. 

In those cases, you have to aim at creating cracks instead of holes. Hammering them with a metal hammer might do the job.

Steps on How to Turn A Pond into A Planter

There are 7 steps involved in turning an unused pond into a beautiful garden. But for keeping things neat, we’ll split them up into two parts- 

Part 1: Emptying Up The Pond

Step 1: Drain The Water Off

At first, you’ve to dry the pond up by taking the water off. We’ll use a water pump to do that. Before that, make sure that you’ve removed pond accessories like the heater, filter, water feature, etc. 

Ponds with a gradual slope to the central sump hole are the easier ones to dry. Otherwise, it might take a decent amount of effort along with more time. 

We found this nice tutorial, if it helps- 

When the pond is nearly dried up, take out the pond liner. Leave the ground open under sunlight for one day to undo the dampness of it.  

Step 2: Watch Out for Wildlives

Any backyard pond is the safe house of an entire mini-ecosystem among fishes, micro-livings, and plants. While you’re turning a fish pond into a garden, it’s imperative that you take proper care of them without reaching any harm. 

The best practice is to take the fishes out and drain the water into some other water sources. It can be a bigger pond, the nearby river, or even the nearby drain.

Part 2: Creating The Pond Garden

Step 1: Prepare the Bottom

The accuracy of a pond-to-garden project vastly depends on how well you prepare the base of it. All of the water and rainfall will flow towards it and if it fails to drain them off properly, your garden will be soon clogged up. 

If possible, we’d suggest taking off the base completely and starting the garden from scratch. For liner-only ponds, that’s quite easy. And if it has a concrete/cement/brick base, we’d suggest you to crack the base uniformly. 

In fact, if that’s okay, the best thing to do is to smash it up completely. Done so, you can make a very attractive raised bed or regular garden on it. 

Step 2: Prepare The Sidewall

Not all of the ponds have sidewalls, right? Small backyard ponds used to have a round or elliptical base and that’s all. 

But in case of ponds that are a few feet deep, it’s quite common to have sidewalls. And mostly, they’re made out of concrete, cement or similar hard materials. 

For the sake of drainage, you can’t leave these solid walls as they are. You have to either draw holes into them, or crack it so that it can leak water slowly. 

To drill holes, you can use a masonry drill. And to create cracks, metal hammers are good enough to go with. 

Step 2: Fill It Up

All done with preparing. Now it’s time to fill in the blanks with whatever gardening medium you’d like. 

Based on garden type, this can vary a lot. For a clearer perception, here is a list- 

Step 3: Plant The Plants

Now, you’re ready to turn the ground into an eye-catching garden. Your selection of plants follows whatever mix you’ve filled the pond with. 

Here are some plants that are suited for different pond-turned-gardens: 

  1. Regular Garden: Everything that you’d grow in a usual gardening soil. 
  2. Bog Garden: Primulas, March Marigold, Plantain Lily, Globe Flower, Caltha, Water Iris, Equisetum, Cyperus, Gunnera, Lobelia, etc. 
  3. Raised Bed: Root vegetables, leafy greens, onion, tomato, potato, etc. 
  4. Container Garden: Tomato, Pea, Potato, Squash, Lettuce, Pepper, Cucumber, fruits, herbs, etc. 

Step 7: Add A Layer of Mulch

The majority of the plants that you might harvest on a pond garden would require wet soil. Therefore, it might get harder to maintain the moisture in the soil during the summer season. 

The easier practice gardeners do check that is to add mulch on the soil. And the best time to do that is when you’re done with the plantation. 

Keep These 5 Tips on Mind

We’ll we’re about to end the discussion today on how to convert a pond into a garden. But as it’s quite a complicated process, we’d like to end the piece with some crucial tips- 

  1. Don’t put holes in the bottom ground of the pond. It’ll let the rocks accumulate too much water and hence, kill the plants.
  2. If you plant right on the soil(not in raised bed or pot), then select the plants carefully keeping the root length of them in mind. The root length shouldn’t exceed the length of the pond. 
  3. Compress the soil as much as you can, making sure that it doesn’t resist plant root’s growth. Compressed soil is likely to behold more water in it. 
  4. Take care of the irrigation system properly. An in-ground irrigation system is recommended. Even a better choice would be a drip irrigation system. 

Hope these tips will give you a lift and help you learn to turn old pond into garden like a pro. We hope that we’ll soon come up with ideas on converting pond to water feature.

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