Mini Pond

Creating a mini pond on the balcony

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Water is life and a source of joy. You can easily have your own oasis by adding a mini pond to your balcony. You can create this little aquatic gem quickly and cheaply, and it will be a real eye-catcher.

The best location for your mini pond

Always start by asking yourself where to put your mini pond. Then move on to thinking about containers, layout and design. So where should you put your first mini pond? From day-to-day planting in flower boxes or pots on your balcony, you know that it depends on what plants you're putting in. Because some plants need plenty of light, others appreciate the shade. It's the same when it comes to mini ponds. However, water adds another element, in the truest sense of the word. And for balcony gardeners, water brings new rules into play.

Although plants in mini ponds do need light, there should only be a very minimal amount. And this is mainly because of the water. If the water heats up too much, we run the risk of algae growing excessively. This reduces the levels of oxygen and upsets the biological balance in your little biotope.

It should therefore be placed in a semi-shaded location which receives direct sunlight for two to three hours per day. A pond pump should be used to enrich the mini pond with oxygen and to keep the water circulating. A fountain or a similar water feature does the same job. You will need a wall socket close to hand for this.

Your mini pond is in good hands in a bucket ...

… or in (almost) any other type of container. The most important factor is that the container fits into the chosen location. A second crucial point: it must be absolutely water-tight. If you're not sure about whether it is water-tight, carry out a little test. Fill your preferred container to the brim with water and let it stand for a long period of time. If nothing runs out, then it is a suitable refuge for aquatic plants. You can seal any leakages with silicon.

The container for your mini pond needs to be big enough; the more space there is for water, the more stable the biological balance. As a rule of thumb, provide a capacity of approx. 40 litres or above to be on the safe side. This does mean that your mini pond will be rather heavy. The location and container should be suitably robust.

Fortunately a lot of places have just the thing. Containers made out of plastic, ceramic, glass, metal (stainless), clay or concrete are a suitable refuge for a mini pond. The current trend is for sawn wine casks, which add a particularly rustic effect. Specialist shops now sell specific small-scale products for your little oasis. Beware of zinc tubs. The metal can dissolve in water and slows the growth of plants. You should therefore line zinc tubs with plastic film or pond liner.

These plants are suitable for a mini pond

The decisive factors for planting are location and container. Nevertheless, we can make some general recommendations irrespective of these decisive factors. Eligible candidates are those that feel most at home when the level of the water is between 5 and 50 cm. They shouldn't be fast growers, neither should they sprawl too far across the pond, because they could cover the surface of the water. This would make your mini pond lose its character. This would also happen if you were to plant lots of plants in the pond. Three to four plants should normally be enough.

E.g. grasses, aquatic plants, marsh plants and floating plants which stay small over the long term are particularly suitable. This does actually exclude pond plants such as bur-reed and bulrushes, reeds and sweet flag. But you can also buy these in miniature version and plant them happily. Ideally you should have a mix of tall and short plants as well as plants which thrive above and below the water. Garden centres are the best place to get information about layout. Here is a selection of suitable plants for inspiration:

  • (Dwarf) water lilies
  • Marsh marigolds
  • Fairy moss
  • Water fern
  • Water nut
  • Moneywort
  • Mare's tail
  • Alisma
  • Arrowhead
  • Marsh forget-me-not

Creating a mini pond – time to get serious

You need the following ingredients in addition to the plants and the container: Pond soil, pebbles, bricks, plant baskets that are permeable to water, fleece and, finally, water of course. But first things first —

  • whether you are placing your mini pond in its final position or somewhere else depends on how much you expect it to weigh (without water). If your mini pond turns out to be really large, it will be more difficult to transport later.
  • Once you've cleared that up, the next step is to take the plant baskets and fill them with planting fleece. Be generous with the fleece so that it overlaps by a few centimetres.
  • Now fill the plant baskets with the pond soil up to just below the rim. Use a variety which is poor in nutrients, otherwise it will promote the growth of algae in your mini pond.
  • Now fold the fleece over and press it tightly onto the pond soil. Use scissors to trim away any excess material. This seals the soil, meaning bits won't float off in the water.
  • Rinse the pebbles to remove any stuck bits of dirt which could cloud the water afterwards.
  • Distribute the stones across the fleece, leaving as few gaps as possible. The advantages to this are two-fold. Firstly, it adds decoration. Secondly, the pebbles weigh the plant baskets down and hold them in place.
  • Depending on the desired design, the bricks should now be added to the container. They act as pedestals for plants which for visual purposes need to be placed higher up in the water or need to be on a pedestal for natural reasons.
  • Now place the plant pots in the container. If you like, you can then decorate empty areas of the base with pebbles.
  • If your mini pond isn't yet in its final position, place it there now.
  • If necessary, install a pond pump and water features.
  • Carefully let water run in so that it doesn't swirl up dirt or particles. All done.

Important care tips

Still waters run deep and are a popular breeding ground for mosquitoes. Make sure water pumps around constantly (using a pond pump) to prevent these little pests from laying their eggs. But water lilies don't like this. If you've got water lilies, the only thing you can do is buy a chemical product from a specialist to discourage female mosquitoes.

Replace the water on a regular basis. You must do this more regularly if you've got smaller rather than larger containers, in which the biological balance is better maintained. Refill water more regularly in summer because it evaporates.

Don't put any fish in your mini pond. Their excrement threatens the biological balance. Apart from that, they can only thrive in a "real" pond.

Mini Pond