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The Big PRE-Makeover Pond Post

I keep repeating myself on this – my pond / water feature kinda sucks! Seeing to it and making it more attractive is one of the things on my 2012 Gardening To-Do List and up to now I’ve been thinking and doing a bit of pond research. So far, Project Pond has started slowly with the adding of some oxygenator plants to the pond, I’ve germinated some Lotus Blossom from seed (new flowering plants for the pond), I’ve been “window shopping” a bit for other plants and taken a few “before” photographs. Which is the point of todays’ post – the big “Pre” reveal of my slightly grotty pond /water feature, my current ideas of what I might do with it and then a call for opinions, advice and suggestions πŸ™‚

Some background info about the pond. It came with the house. It came with four goldfish, we now have three. It has a few random, not very well cared for plants in it (yes I’m guilty as charged). I’m not loving the pond. At all. which is why I think I ignore it. Although it is right opposite the big double door to my office and I hear the water tinkling in it all day, I rarely look at it which seems a pity, so I need to make it look lovely and more of a feature. Look … when I sit at my desk and turn my head slightly to the left, this is what I see. Here, Hercules has taken over again, sitting on my keyboard and faces the pond …

Hercules looking at the pond from my desk

The pond is in the Alley on the left hand side of the house. (One of these days I will draw a map of the property!). It’s a long Alley that starts as a well shaded area and changes to lots of sun and heat (from the boundary wall) and then shaded again further down. On each side of the pond is a planting bed. The landscapers told me whatever I planted in the one I needed to mirror in the other and I agree. That is one of the things I need to work on to improve the overall look of the pond area… but more about those two beds in my next pond update.

Then the pond itself … there is nothing actually wrong with it, it’s just not very inspiring. I don’t ever look at it and say “Wow! that’s lovely”. Isn’t that what one should feel? As I said, the plants in it have been neglected so we will get that sorted in the next weeks as soon as the weather is slightly cooler. Then what? I really don’t know what more to do or to plant to make it all better. But I do have a few ideas which I will share.

Lets look at the photos and see if I can show what I am talking about.


I am showing two panoramas of the Alley – it was difficult to do a good panorama because the alley is narrow and long. If you click the images below you will see the full view – these are cropped versions:

Alley Way Panorama

Alley Way Pano

Some normal photographs of the alley and pond

[one_half]Pond and Alley view taken from the frontPond and Alley view[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Pond and Alley view taken from the other sidePond and Alley view taken from the other side[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Alley Way seen from the frontThe Alley Way as seen from the front garden[/one_third]

[one_third]Closer view of pondCloser view of pond and GOOD Restios[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Alley as seen from the backThe Alley as seen from the other end[/one_third_last]

Project Pond is not a one day project. There are a few things I want to do to improve it. So far these are the steps I have set myself to do:

Project Pond To Do List

  • Tackle the beds on either side of the water feature to get the planting right.
  • Repot into larger pots and fresh medium all the plants that are currently in the pond.
  • Clean up the pond. Seriously.
  • Decide whether the pond needs more plants – if yes, try to buy. (Japanese Irises which I love are apparently rarely available).
  • Decide whether to paint or mosaic the inner which is currently painted black and looking a bit worse for wear. Leave it and enjoy the “oldness” or renew? I need to decide.
  • Find a way to incorporate more plant material into this space, perhaps a trellis or two above the 3 bird baths? I can picture Star Jasmine making a beautiful wall covering here, the scent filling the evening air in spring. I’m very tempted. But how?

I have a lot of decisions to make about this area and being nervous about messing it up and slightly daunted by the task means I’ve had all these things on my “To Do” list for nearly two years. I’m hoping that breaking it down into these bite-sized individual tasks means I might actually get something done. And I feel a bit more committed to doing it all now that I’ve written about it!

Here are a few more visuals and ideas I have …

[one_half]The birds love the three bird bathsThe birds love the three bird baths[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Starlings are here every dayStarlings are here every day[/one_half_last]

[one_half]One of my goldfish in the pondOne of my goldfish in the pond[/one_half]

[one_half_last]I am considering blue mosaic for the insideI am considering blue mosaic for the inside[/one_half_last]

The birds and fishy are just to show you why I want to keep the water feature going and not just fill it with soil and plants.

Tomorrow I will show you the plant beds on either side of the pond and why they are not working (see post here).

Happy Gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no β€œfull sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

23 replies on “The Big PRE-Makeover Pond Post”

I definitely think you need something growing up on an unusual trellis and the blue tile seems wonderful…I’ll look at the planting beds but you might want a small bed in front of it as well to round it out since it is all right angles

Donna, I thought of pots in front of the pond perhaps. I’m going to do everything else first and then add a pot or two. If they don’t work I can always move them …

Love your idea of a star jasmine on a trellis on the wall behind the pond. And I agree with Alan that everything is ‘feathery’. But – the lotus has big, round leaves, and the flowers are magnificent, so that will balance things. Once you add the lotuses, I don’t think you will need any more pond plants. They will take up a lot of room. I would keep the black paint and not do anything else to the inside of the pond. Like Diana says, algae will grow there and it will be black anyway. Plus, black makes it look more mirror-like, and increases the perception of depth. I can’t wait to see what you decide to do!

I’m so relieved to hear that the general consensus is – no mosaic! I’m also going to add a Colocasia for the drama (I bought a Black Magic) and I can’t wait to get the lotus going in there. Then the trellises and creeper … I think it will be a whole different picture. THANK You for your advice. Its so much appreciated.

What I noticed is how boxy it is. Maybe if you soften the edges by adding plants that are less geometric and more billowy – maybe something variegated that can flow over the edges. I agree with Diana from Elephant’s Eye that a mosaic on the wall is a better choice. You could hang one, or several, like you’d hang a picture in your house. Also, you need color. Lobelia would be a great choice. I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose to do! πŸ™‚

I think its rather nice, but just not “gardeny”. I suspect thats what you mean… I’ll be watching to see what you do. I love these kind of before and afters. And as another commenter posted…your befores are so much better than normal befores how wrong could you go???

I agree with the others that this doesn’t look too shabby, though I can see why you want to make it a bit more exciting.

I like the idea of jasmine behind the pond; scent is such a powerful sense, so if you add that to the sound of the water and the sight of the plants and animals, I think you’re on to a winner. Though the scent could also be from plants in the beds on the sides of the pond.

I look forward to seeing where this project will take you!

Mosaic under water is going to go green with algae, unless it’s a swimming pool blasted with chlorine with no life in it. Wouldn’t you have more fun from mosaicing on the wall, where you can see it from your office?

Looks as if you have the tall Cyperus, grows fast. The dwarf papyrus is more feathery (what Pam has in her pond, me too). Once your Lotus flowers you’ll have your WOW factor. There is an indigenous Gunnera, not HUGE like the stately homes version, but I don’t know if you would ever find one for sale.

I’m relieved that the general consensus is not to mosaic the inside of the pond!! Saves me a lot of time, anguish and money of course! Thank you so much for your opinion!

Love your design. You may not see the feature, but your kitty does. That looks like an oasis on the side with great landscaping. I think you won’t need to do much, but if you’re looking for color….Cannas! Looks like you get some sun in that area and Cannas really will soak it up. But honestly, your space has wonderful balance right now. Maybe, just a little color is what you need….some reds, oranges, etc to pull your eye into the space. Chris:)

Hi Chris – Yep, I’ve added Cannas to my shopping list. I think they would really make the area pop with colour! I see now from all the comments that it is colour that is missing!

I had to really study your photographs to try and see what you were referring to. Your area is lovely! Now before doing any major demolition, take a look at pile-o-mess I have going on with my pond build! When you consider it from that perspective you will see that you are in great shape! πŸ™‚

I agree this isn’t as terrible as you make it out to be. I do have a few ideas though that might make it more to your liking.

– You’ve got a lot of fine (small, thin) texture in this area. How about adding something big-leaved, like some Colocasia? I’m thinking in the side beds. They may need a bit of extra water, but they do fine planted in the ground — they don’t need to be in water or in a bog.

– Add the trellis as you suggested, but extend it a little past the ends of the pond. Then plant the jasmine (or some other vine that you don’t already have) in the soil at the sides of the pond and train the vines to grow toward the center along the trellis.

– Add some water-loving cannas to the pond. Put them in pots with the crown of the plant a few inches above the water. Something like the Canna ‘Paton’ I found last year (

Just some ideas. πŸ™‚

Hi Alan – I like ALL three ideas and am going to do all three. I coincidentally purchased a Colocasia Black Magic on Saturday for using in the pond and I asked for Cannas but I think those are out now till next season. But absolutely would love that in or near the pond. I’ll have to show why the trellis extended to either side might not work (wall in the way), but I am I’m looking at other ways of achieving it. I’m so thrilled that you (and a few others) agree with the trellis idea! And Thanks so much for the advice on the plant choice! LOVE the Canna Paton – wonder if I will ever find it here.

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