Build Your Own Garden Pond

Building your own back yard pond may seem daunting at first glance, but it really is a very simple project that just takes a lot of time and hard work. All the work you put into it will be well worth the bother when you are sitting next to your pond on a warm summer evening listening to sounds of water falling over the rocks and watching your fish. Our pond brings us many hours of peaceful, relaxing times.

Pond Location - Pond Shape and Size - Digging Your Pond - Pond Liners -Pond Edgings

Build Your Own Garden Pond

Pond Location

Determine the location of your pond, taking into consideration such things as shade, drainage and access.

Some shade is desirable, but no more than a third of the pond should be in direct shade to maintain a healthy environment. Large trees drop leaves in the autumn which makes it difficult to keep the pond clean.

Do not chose the lowest spot in your yard, to avoid run off and contamination.

Consider your access to the pond, you will probably want to incorporate a path and seating area at some point.

Also consider how the pond will be viewed, not only because it is pleasing to look at, but may be considered a hazard to children.

A hidden water feature encourage such vermin as raccoons.

Once you have determined the location decide upon shape and size.

Pond Shape and Size

An easy method to figure out shape and size of the pond is to lay out your garden hose to determine the finals shape and size. You can move your garden hose into different positions and shapes until you are satisfied with the resulting shape.

Once the pattern has been established use a bright spray paint to mark out the edge and remove your hose.

Digging Your Pond

Remove the sod, if any, from the entire area.

Begin excavating the soil from the center which will be the deepest part of the pond, you will want to create a step effect for a plant ledge.

Throughout the excavation, ensure the top edge is kept level from side to side and end to end.

The top soil that is removed should be retained to use later to slope back the area surrounding the pond. The heavy clay can be disposed of.

Continue the excavation until the deep part is to the desired depth, usually 2 to 3 feet deep, the plant ledge should be approximately 10 to 12 inches wide, and 8 to 12 inches deep.

If you are using field stones as edging you will need to add a third step around the outside edge approximately 4 - 6 inches deep and 10 inches wide.

If you are using flat stones as edging, the third trench will not be required.

When a pond is lined with a flexible liner, the rocks around the outside edge are used to hold the liner in place.

Pond Liners

Preformed shells are available, and the hole must be dug to accommodate the shell. I prefer using a flexible liner, because you are not limited to size or shape.

Many people have had good luck using such things as heavy black poly, or recycled swimming pool liners, but your best bet is to use any of the many commercially available pond liners. These liners are available in many sizes and can be seamed following manufactures directions.

Do not under estimate the size and depth of your pond, be sure to order the liner large enough to avoid disappointment.

When you are satisfied with your excavation insert the liner. Get right in the pond with your bare feet or soft shoes and shape the liner to the hole. Excess liner should be carefully pleated to follow the curves of the circumference.

Use a few stones placed around the edge to hold liner down. DO NOT TRIM the liner yet. Begin filling pond with water, refold pleats and reposition rocks as required.

Pond Edgings


Flat rocks are laid around the pond to finish the edge. Place them slightly over the edge to shade and camouflage the liner.

Fine gravel or moss can be tucked between the flat rocks. The moss should not touch the water as it may wick water away from the pond.

Trim the liner at the edge or just under the stones on the garden side.

Used reserved top soil to gradually slope back surrounding area so the pond is the highest point.


Arrange field stones of random sizes around the outer edge in your third trench, covering the liner. Approximately half of each stone should be covered in water.

If your stones are sharp use remnants of the liner or cut pieces of an old beach toy in the trench to avoid puncturing the liner. Trust me, you want to avoid that at all costs!

When the liner is being trimmed, allow enough length to fold liner to make it double at the back. The liner up the back of the trench is supported by the rocks on one side and firmly packed soil on the other.

Slope soil back so the pond is the highest point.

Spaces between the rocks can be filled with landscape fabric and soil in to which creeping bog plants may be planted.

Many commercial pumps and filters are available to buy for your pond.

Consider buying plastic pipe to accommodate your power cord and hoses to such features as a waterfall. Heavy sharp rocks will damage both electrical cords and your hoses.

Allow residential water to sit for 2 or 3 days to allow for chlorine to dissipate before adding the fish or the plants.

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Useful Links

Plants For Your Garden Pond

Amateur Fish Culture (1901 eBook)

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