In Guyana, or at least in Georgetown, I don’t suppose that many gardeners feel any urgent need to have a water feature in the garden, because for a disproportionate amount of time we all have an excess of it! However, you will find that there are formal or informal water features in every really good garden, and if you have the space and a garden that is normally well drained, it is well worth considering. Water which is still or rippling gently gives peace and tranquillity. Pools must be in good light (to avoid the growth of algae) with a light fringe of trees, and sited where the ground is level. So what I suggest is that you get a pencil and a piece of paper and sit in a comfortable chair and just doodle.

Mark the north point at the top of your plan and draw any shape which pleases you. On it note existing pathways, trees and flower beds that you consider permanent, and your pool will fit into what is left. It need not be large, but it’s a really worthwhile way to spend your time, even though you’ll throw the plan away as soon as you’re satisfied you have it right. If I am not too sure I always make a little pretend telescope with my right thumb and first two fingers to focus on a particular point. When you are happy, mark the outline out on the ground with sand.

If your pool is large enough and you can afford it, now is the time to dig out the pool with a spade on a nice cool day. At this point you will appreciate the virtue of a small pool.

The first thing to do is to take off grass to designate the outline before you start to dig out the pond. The hole you dig out must have gently sloping sides. Try and create a shelf about nine inches below the top, the entire depth being not too much more than 18” to two feet deep. Anything deeper and planting will become increasingly difficult, and anything shallower, the water will heat up too much, especially in Guyana.

The base and sides must be clear of stones which could perforate the liner if you have one, and this will result in having an empty pond very quickly. Whatever you use as the base of the pond should be covered in sand, because you will need to use soft shoes when walking inside in order to plant. You ought to edge the pool either with slabs of stone or turf. The turf you ought to have saved from that which you cut out when starting to dig out the pool/pond.

Allow the turf to hang over the edge of the pond and don’t cram in too many plants to start with. Don’t plant too much at first. After a while your water lilies will start to establish and begin to flower, and the fringe plants like buttercups will begin to thrive on the little shelf you’ve created. Stay well and may your God guide your hands.

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