Spring is the best time to plant pond plants as their growing season is about to begin and they will establish themselves quickly without any fuss. They also have a chance to acclimatise themselves slowly into winter if they’ve had all of spring and summer to thrive. If you plant in autumn or winter you run the risk of loosing them as they would struggle to adapt to the cooler climate along with their non-existent growth rate as they tend to hibernate/stop growing during winter.
Ponds do best in semi-shaded areas. 40% sun and 60% shade for most of the day. If the pond gets morning sun and not afternoon or vice versa this is good. Or put up a mesh canopy to filter the light or an outdoor umbrella next to it to provide some shelter. Algae loves light therefore it’s important to have some floating plants to help cover the walls and floor of the pond. Water lilies are great for shading the floor.
Another great addition to ensure the success of a pond is to have some water movement. It doesn’t have to be lots of water movement as aquatic plants don’t like turbulence. Consider adding a water pump, pond filter or water fall. We understand this is not always easy if you don’t have power therefore ensure it is heavily planted to provide oxygen if you can’t add some movement. If you will not be running any power to your pond thus adding water movement is not possible, consider making the pond a variety of depths so that the sun can heat the shallow areas quicker than the deeper areas. By having a variety of temperatures in your pond the water will very slowly circulate via a process called thermohaline circulation.
Don’t clean the walls or floor of your pond as this will scrub off the beneficial bacteria responsible for converting fish waste into nitrate (plant food). Sludge can be removed every couple of years if you wish but don’t go scrubbing anything as you want the eco-system/balance of nitrifying bacteria to remain in tact. Don’t overstock with fish as skyrocketing nitrate levels from fish waste is a sure way to encourage algae growth and stressed out fish resulting in sickness and disease.
Lastly be sure your pond is made of the correct materials that don’t leach chemicals as incorrect use of plastics can cause fish fins to curl and other health complications. High grade/density polyethylene is what is used for making plastic fish ponds as it can withstand the elements of the sun and water. I don’t recommend tote bins as even the food grade ones are not made of the correct food grade materials (often made of thin polypropylene) for fish pond use as even though they may be safe for use with food they are not designed to withstand UV rays, sun light, water weight/pressure, heat and constant exposure to liquid (water). Bath tubs, concrete and proper pond liners are of course excellent choices.