How big should my pond be?

The cushions of this sofa are about half a square metre each

The cushions of this sofa are about three quarters of a square metre each. So putting them together gives you a pond of one and a half square metres in total.

Garden pond advice often says make your pond as big as you can.

Here’s a typical quote:

‘How big should [the pond] be? This is up to you and your budget. Bigger ponds mean more plant species and a more varied habitat for animals.

But exactly how big is bigger, and what should you be trying to afford?

And is it true that bigger ponds have more plant species and more varied habitat for animals?

First question: what can you afford? Well, the liner for my pond cost £64 last year – not a huge amount of money for 4 square metres of pond.

About 4 sqaure metres of pond

About 4 square metres of pond

And is it true that bigger ponds automatically have more kinds of plant (or animals) than smaller ponds? Well in theory, yes, but in practice there are so many other things affecting the variety of plants and animals in the pond that it’s rarely this simple.

Whether or not the pond has natural margins greatly affects the variety of plants it can have. This pond has concrete edging and so only two different kinds of plants – not very good.

patspondcropped11

With natural edges you could easily get 10 or 15 different kinds of plants growing here.

So how big then?

The size of a sofa? You could comfortably fit 25 different native plant species into this space – and that’s a very good total. The most plant species you could see in the very best pond in the countryside would be around 50 or so. Getting half of these into one and a half square metres would be a good achievement (and one which would only happen in the short term if you collect plants and add them to your pond).

The size of a bed?

A pond this big has lots of potential

A pond this big has lots of potential

This bed is about 4 square metres. That’s a nice size pond – a little bit bigger than mine, although you won’t get five times more plant species than in the smaller pond. That would be 125 species – about a third of all the different kinds of wetland plants growing in the whole of the country – not very likely to happen.

And whether it had more varied animal habitats would very much depend on the structure of the pond. Just one basin – and it probably wouldn’t be much more varied than the smaller pond. But make it multi-basin, and you’d probably be in business.

How about at the luxury end – the size of your lounge? Well obviously that depends on how big your lounge is, but whether you’re a prince or a pauper I’d love to have this much space to play with.

The truth is any of these sizes can be good. If I had a tennis court sized space I’d certainly make two or more ponds (unless I was desperate to keep some fairly big fish).

For most gardens a size somewhere between the sofa and the bed is a pretty good size. And the most popular too. Half the people telling us about their garden ponds have ponds that are up to 6 square metres. And they can’t all be wrong.

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