A garden pond without the hassle – in half a barrel

After months of waiting, it is now finally spring! And so our racks are already full of new season plants, particularly a wide range of herbs for that fresh spring taste in your cooking, some gorgeous succulents and the hard workers of the flower beds – the perennials. We always sell a huge amount of planters at this time of year, and the half barrel containers are one of our best sellers … which got us wondering what they were all used for! Small pond anyone?

Here at the garden centre, half barrel containers are popular because they are so flexible and look great in any setting … on a patio, in the garden or on a balcony. They make a wonderful planter for a wide variety of plants, bulbs and shrubs, a herb garden for handy positioning just outside the kitchen door, a feature for your favourite succulents or a small pond … you can even put a pump and fountain in there!

A half barrel water garden pond is a creative solution for a small, easy to maintain and sustain water feature which will give you all the benefits of a lovely water garden on a manageable scale.


1) You may want to line the barrel with a plastic liner to prevent  toxins leaching from the treated wood into your pond water garden, and to enhance the life of the barrel (no less than 20mm thick).

2) Make a home for wildlife with some native floating plants, such as Giant Duckweed, Floating Yellow Buttercup or Bladderwort – but avoid water hyacinth as this is one of the most invasive exotics plants in the world and highly discouraged. If you want to eventually add fish, seek advice from a good pet shop or research online.

3) When filling, use un-chlorinated water collected from rain water – if this is difficult, leave tap water in an open container for several days until the chlorine dissipates.

4) A thriving pond will need a sunny location. Don’t place your pond water garden under large trees but find a spot that receives a minimum of 5 hours of sunlight daily. However, avoid storm water runoff.  Do not place near rooflines where water will get into the pond water garden.

5) A firm surfaced, level place is ideal for your half barrel pond water garden; if you are planning to use a pump for any reason, electricity will be important too.

6) Regular maintenance tasks:

  • Remove dead leaves and debris regularly.
  • Excessive water plants will need to be thinned out.
  • Water replacement at the rate of five gallons a week is recommended.
  • In late autumn, remove plants that are not winter hardy.
  • If you have fish and the pond freezes over, drill a hole in the ice to allow oxygen to reach the water below.