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In the Midwest, you can install a pond anytime from March to December, but for the best foundation, it is best to start early OR late in the year when the ground will hold its strength. Summer installations are the worst, but we do them 6 days a week all summer long. Start early, you can then get your plants and fish in early too.
Everything you do depends on two things. Time and budget ...with budget getting the final word. You can have a water garden on a shoestring budget, just understand you may not be happy with the final look and increased maintenance. If you have all the time you need to invest in additional maintenance, you may not need a high dollar filter. You say you want low maintenance, so then you must have extra funds for proper filtration. Right?
Is your water cloudy? Is your water green? Is your water muddy? Does the water smell? There is an answer to your problem, we just need more specifics. Do you overfeed? Is your pond too small for the number of fish? What type (if any) filtration do you have? Is a U.V. right for you?
I always recommend the same thing. Look for colors YOU like. See our page on Selecting a Koi.
If the price the store is asking seems too high to you for the quality of the fish, ask them to lower the price or do not buy it. Do not buy a fish because it is alone in the tank, buy it because it meets your expectations for a quality fish. You will regret the purchase later. Price is only measured in relation to what you are buying. Only you will know.... Is this a fair price?
Once it's in, it's in. Take your time and get input from other koi fanatics. There are lots of opinions out there. You have to make the final decision, just don't start digging till your sure of where you want it. Consider trees, shade, water runoff, electricity, seasonal sun changes, and water access.