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How To Build a Pond

Building a pond in your front or backyard is a fun, creative project that can add years of enjoyment to your yard landscape. You can install a basic pond that is just a basin filled with water, or you can build a pond with a plant shelf for aquatic plants to add texture, interest, and color. You can also build a pond specifically for fish such as goldfish or koi. Ponds can be built from scratch or you can install a pre-formed pond liner. Larger ponds can be excavated with machinery like excavators, bulldozers, and backhoes. We will address building a pond with the use of a pond liner.


A pond makes an interesting and beautiful addition to your landscaping

A pond makes an interesting and beautiful addition to your landscaping

  1. Spend time studying the location of your pond.
  2. Take into consideration the location of trees, shrubbery, property lines, fences, and underground utilities.
  3. Once you have the basic pond design worked out, lay the design out on the ground. You can use sand, marking paint, or flour to lay out the perimeter of the pond. A garden hose works well, too.
  4. Dig down around the perimeter of the pond at a slight angle to the proper depth.
  5. If you are going to have a plant shelf, excavate the 10″ wide shelf around the perimeter of the pond at a depth of 10″ to 12″ deep.
  6. Continue excavating the center of the pond to the depth you want.
  7. Clean out any stones, sharp rocks, sticks, roots, or debris from inside the pond excavation.
  8. Make sure the rim of the pond excavation is level or at least reasonably so.

Pond liner installation

  1. Install a layer of sand about 2″ deep in the pond excavation. This will cushion and protect the liner.
  2. You can also install a geotextile underlayment product over the sand base that will further protect the pond liner.
  3. Stretch out the pond liner on the ground and let it rest for at least an hour or so.
  4. Lay the liner over the pond excavation making sure it is evenly disbursed around the perimeter of the pond.
  5. Work out as many wrinkles and folds in the liner as you can.
  6. Begin filling the liner with water.
  7. Once you have the liner as full of water as you desire, trim the excess liner around the edge of the pond leaving at least 4″ to 6″ overlap.
  8. Tie down the liner overlap with stones, gravel, coping stones, or slate. Whatever product you use to finish off the edge of your pond, make sure that it is clean or the dirt and debris will wash down into the pond.


Make sure the rim of your pond is at least 10% higher than the surrounding ground. This will help to prevent rainwater from washing insecticides, pesticides, and lawn fertilizers down into your pond.

If you are going to add a pump to your pond, make sure you check local codes and install all required electrical wiring in accordance with the NEC.

If you plan on adding fish to your pond, make sure that you dechlorinate the water before adding the fish. There are products you can buy to achieve this.

To add a waterfall to one end of your pond, plan on buying a large enough liner to accommodate the waterfall, as well.

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