A DIY Guide to Building Your Own Pond

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Ponds are fantastic for a variety of different reasons. They’re great for supporting local wildlife, they’re excellent for raising unique pets such as frogs, koi or ducks, and they look absolutely spectacular when you design and plan them correctly.

There is going to be a lot involved in this kind of project, and it's really something you only want to attempt to DIY if you are serious about it. You'll need to see about getting pond equipment and maybe even rent some machinery depending on the scale of your project. If you have something really large scale in mind, you'll probably want to leave this one up to the professionals.

Picking an Area


The first thing you’ll need to do is allocate space for your pond. Remember that you’ll also need some proximity to electricity if you want to use pumps and filters to clean the water (particularly important if you want to raise animals in your pond) so make sure the location will be convenient for that. Consider that trees and shrubs will add to your pond maintenance because they shed leaves, branches, and other debris that you'll have to clear.

You’ll want to mark the outline of your pond with something like a rope. If you decide to use a pond liner that is a set shape, then the shape of your pond and how much you dig will be dependant on the liner. However, if you’d prefer more flexibility, then you’ll want to decide on the shape for yourself and use a flexible rubber pond liner.

Excavate the Area

Before excavating, make sure there are no hidden appliances and utility cables underneath your proposed area. While you don’t need to dig very deep, the last thing you want is to destroy an important cable that leads to your home. You may also need planning permission depending on how deep your proposed pond is, so make sure you contact local authorities for this information before you get started. Please also remember to use whatever local service is available to you to check if there is a gas line in the area you are planning to dig. There is nothing worse than causing your family and neighbours to be evacuated because you caused a gas leak that the authorities need to come fix for you! 

Now, you’ll actually want to excavate the area for your pond. For small jobs a shovel might do, but renting machines can also work if you have a large area to excavate. Be careful not to ruin your garden beds when digging up large sections of land that could interrupt the other parts of your garden. Remember that if you’re using a flexible pond liner, you’ll have to plan out and build plant shelves into your plan instead of just digging a large hole.

If you plan to use a pond surface skimmer to reduce the amount of sludge and remove debris, then make sure you dig a space for the skimmer as well. You’ll also need to clear out some space for the filter if you’re using one, so make sure you look at the instructions for your devices to figure out the exact dimensions.

Install Your Underlayment and Liner

First, do a quick scan of your pond to ensure there are no sharp objects left behind that could tear the liner. Make sure not to trim your underlayment before you have properly checked that it fits your pond. It’s always a good idea to purchase more underlayment than you think you need so that you have more flexibility in following the general shape of your pond. For your pond liner, you’ll typically do the same thing if you are using a flexible one. However, if you’re using a fixed and rigid pond liner, then this won’t be something you need to worry about. Finally, make sure there is plenty of liner at the edges of your pond and near the filter.

This is going to take a long time if you’re doing it on your own, so try and invite a friend or family member to help you out. There are also videos showing how to install a flexible liner which can give you a good idea of the entire process, so study these carefully if you want to ensure you get both the underlayment and liner fitted correctly.

Adding Rocks and Appliances

Rocks will help protect your liner and add some natural touches to your pond. You can purchase large rocks and boulders from stores if you don’t have any laying around in your garden. Rocks will also help provide surface area for aerobic bacteria that helps to filter out debris and waste from your pond.

You’ll also want to install your appliances now, such as your skimmer, filter or even pump. There are a variety of appliances that can make your pond cleaner and more attractive, so do a bit of research on what you’d like to install and ensure you’ve already dug out spots for these appliances.

Finishing Touches

You’re at the home stretch now. You can now start to fill your pond with water and also add any finishing touches. You can start trimming unnecessary liner or cover it with rocks and stones, and you can add more rocks around the perimeter for decorative purposes. Because it’s your first pond fill, you’ll notice that there’s some murkiness and cloudiness in your pond. This is likely because of the dirt from the rocks and it will eventually go away.

Make sure you leave your pond for some time before you start adding wildlife so that your filter has a chance to clean it out. You’ll also want to check the pH level of your pond to ensure that it’s a right fit for whatever wildlife you want to attract.