Building a backyard pond is easier than you think! With a little planning and effort you can create a garden pond in just a weekend. A garden pond for reflecting, filled with koi or waterlilies can be one of the most beautiful areas of your garden.
Start with some careful planning
Choose your area thoughtfully – Avoid putting your pond into that low boggy spot in your yard. Areas like this attract runoff from your own yard as well as your neighbors and that means groundwater and even chemicals may filter into your pond system damaging plants and fish.
If you plan on adding lilies or other aquatic plants, be sure that you place your pond in an area that will receive at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day.
Don’t hide it away in an area no one will see either. Place it close enough to your house so that you can enjoy the view from your deck or window. Keep in mind as well, that being closer to your house means you will be closer to the electricity which you’ll need if you plan on having pumps or filters.
Decide on the shape, size and depth
Depth – If you plan on fish, they will need at least 2 feet of water. If you are in a cold area and experience a long winter freeze, then your pond needs to be deep enough to allow 1 foot of clear water under the ice. In other words, if you think your pond will have 2 feet of frozen ice on it, then dig it 3 feet deep to allow your fish to survive the winter.
Water lilies and other aquatic plants need to have at least 18 inches to thrive, but don’t worry if your pond is deeper as you can set the plant pots on cement blocks or flat stones down under the water. But if all you want is a reflecting pond without aquatic plants or fish, a depth of 1 foot is all the water you will need.
Shape and size – You can purchase preformed pond shells and simply dig out the ground according to their shape, or you can design your own and use a flexible liner which allows you to make the pond as big or small as you wish.
Using a pond liner
If you choose the liner(see our article about The most common Pond Liner materials), the easiest method is to lay out your garden hose until you achieve the shape you like, then spray paint around it right on the ground. Then you are ready to start digging! You can use the dirt in other areas, but you will need to save some for backfilling.
When your pond is the size, shape and depth you want, line it first with felt or old carpet underlay. This will protect your liner from sharp rocks and save you from a leaky pond. Choose a good quality, heavy duty liner. They are a little more expensive but will save you the headache of having to dig up plants and rip apart your pond to replace your liner after only a year or two when it gets a puncture.
When laying your liner into the hole, make sure it is pressed up against the sides of the pond as best you can and if you want to be sure there are no air pockets you can fill it partially with water to help press it out. At this point, if you plan on a pump or filter, these need to be placed into the pond with the wiring laying out on the ground up out of the pond, ready for you to connect to whatever power supply you will use.
Use rocks and slabs to create the pond edge
When the liner and pump are in place, put your first layer of rocks on top of the liner along the edge of the pond. Make sure you leave a small space where the pump and filter wires exit the pond in case these ever need to be replaced. Next, fold the liner up behind the rocks you have placed on the edge so that it is sticking up in the air and backfill with dirt. Then you can trim off the excess liner. If you use this method, your pond can be filled right up to the bottom of the first layer of rocks. That way your liner won’t be exposed to the sun and won’t be as likely to degrade.
After this, the finishing rocks, or slabs can be place around. Some pond owners may like to put these rocks firmly in place with cement. You can then backfill with topsoil ready for planting.
After your pond has been filled, you need to wait at least a week or two for the water to stabilize before adding fish which gives any chemicals that may be present in your water time to dissipate.
This will give you a chance to add some water lilies and other aquatic plants as well as add the finishing touches to the landscape surrounding your beautiful new water feature. Congratulations, you are the proud owner of a charming new garden pond!