Build Your Own Garden Pond!

Kayla Gulec Kayla Gulec
Kirchner Garten & Teich GmbH Asian style gardens
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If you’ve always dreamed of having a pond in your backyard, you are not alone. Ponds – as well as water in itself – are inherently appealing. Many people find comfort and solace when calmly observing the mild ebbs and flows of water in a pond. Thousands of homeowners have already had them installed, and many more will install in the coming year so they can enjoy it in all its splendor come spring time. But before you can begin stocking aquatic plants and animals, like fish, frogs, cattails, or water lilies, you need the pond itself. Of course, you can hire someone to do it, but why spend thousands on an installation when building your own backyard pond is half the price? Well, in this Ideabook, we are going to show you how to do just that. Not only will you have a superb pond that will be the envy of all of your neighbours, but you will save money and have a blast creating your own aquatic paradise.

Choose the right place, the size, and get to diggin'!

First things first – just where are you going to put this thing? Keep in mind, your pond doesn’t have to be huge. The average pond measures about 4 x 5 metres, but ponds can be built to just about any size, or shape, you can imagine. If you have a smaller yard, the best size for you would be a 1 x 2 metre kidney-shaped pond. 

Once you’ve chosen your location, lay out the perimeter using rope or a garden hose. When you have that physical representation of where your pond will be, it makes the project much easier to tackle. Then, mark the outline by any means necessary – for example, by using ground limestone, or sticking small sticks in the ground. Then, excavate your pond to a depth of about 40 centimetres. If you’re planning on adding a waterfall to your pond, save the dirt you’ve just excavated for later. Place the dirt pile where the waterfall will go, most advisably at the back of the pond.

Lay your sand and rubber

Greensleeves Entrance and Fish Pond DUA Architecture LLP Modern houses
DUA Architecture LLP

Greensleeves Entrance and Fish Pond

DUA Architecture LLP

After digging your hole, you’re going to want to line it with screened mason’s sand and rake it until it is smooth. Next, you will want to place a geotextile fabric that protects the pond liner on top of the sand. Make sure you get a piece big enough to cover the bottom of the pit and the walls. The sand and the geotextile will cushion the flexible rubber liner and protect it from any punctures. To set the rubber liner, fold it lengthwise, center it over the pit, and then unfold it. The liner should overlap the pit equally on all sides. Then, using either your hands or bare feet, carefully press the liner into the pit. Using a garden hose, add a some water on top of the rubber to keep it in place while you set your stones.

Stack stones on the pond floor

The next thing you’re going to want to do is start stacking stones on the pond floor, also known as the plant shelf (to differentiate between the pump pit, should you choose to build one). Putting stones on the pond floor gives it a natural look while also helping to hide the liner material. Stones also create a biological envoronment for the beneficial bacteria that will grow and break down organic sludge, and they also provide a medium for aquatic plants to attach their roots. You can opt for smooth stones, geometric stones, big or small, flat or round – any style will do. If you want to get really creative with it, take this image as a great blueprint and place large, flat stones that will sit above the water for a nice walkway through the pond.

Connect a pump if you want a waterfall

If you want to install a waterfall in your pond, let’s go back to step one. After you’ve dug the pit for your pond, you’re going to want to dig an additional pit in the center of the hole you’ve just created. This will be the pump pit and will house your pump. You’ll want this to be about 25 centimetres deep, but remember, the size and depth of your pits depend on the overall size of the pond you want. Scale up to size if you plan on making a bigger pond. Next, be mindful of the liner. For those of you who don’t have a pump pit, you’ll need less liner, but for those with, you want to make sure that when you lay the liner, it fills in the pump pit as well as the rest of the pond area. Now we can set the pump’s hose in position so that it extends from the center of the pit. Lay a single flat stone at the bottom of the pit as a base for the pump to sit on, and then carefully lay stones directly on top of the hose and continue stacking until they are even with the ground.

Set large rocks around the perimeter

In order to make a natural looking pond, and to hide the liner and keep it in place, you’ll want to lay stones around the perimeter. Lay your stones in a 30 centimetre layer along the wall. Overlap your stones in your progression. We recommend using large, flat stones. They are the easiest to stack and layer, and they provide a nice sitting area at the edge of the pond for reading or just admiring your pond when it is finished. Use any smaller stones you have to fill any sizable gaps. If you’ve installed a pump, now’s the time to put that dirt that you saved to use. The dirt you gathered earlier will act as a base for the rocks you’ll build for the fountain. Stack your stones at the rear of the pit to form the waterfall. Set the waterfall weir in place on top of a large flat rock that is tipped forward slightly. Connect the weir’s hose to the hose of the pump and trim the rubber pond liner to match the waterfall opening and continue piling rocks around the waterfall area. Hide the weir by placing a rock on top of it and secure all these rocks with a waterproof black foam sealant. Once you’ve done this, you can finish filling up your pond with water!

The final touch: surround the landscape with flora and fauna

Now comes the fun part! Adding a bit of life to your pond! Flora and fauna are pretty much essential elements for the perfect, natural looking pond. Not only do plants add beauty to any setting, they are necessary in helping to create and maintain a healthy contained ecosystem. Before selecting pond plants, research your desired varieties – such as submerged plants, marginal or bog plants, floating plants or deep water plants – in order to determine their needs, growth habits, and ultimate size. As far as fauna goes, you will also need to research which plant and animal species are symbiotic. Some common animals to have in your pond are frogs, tadpoles, or the famous koi fish.

After reading this, are you ready to build your own backyard pond? Let us know how it turns out in the comments section below!

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