How to Make Your Own Backyard Pond
I have enjoyed my backyard ponds for over twelve years now. Yes, I did say ponds, but don't think it's a big deal, they are both small. One is a preformed plastic pond, and the other we dug and put a liner in.
Humans have been fascinated with ponds for centuries. There were ponds in Mesopotamia, "water gardens" in Assyria, Egyptian and Persian garden ponds too. Rome had many garden ponds, some elaborate with fountains and curved canals. In the Third Century A.D., the Chinese arranged water gardens as places of tranquility. Ponds continued through the Italian Renaissance where they were used as works of art for their viewer's pleasure but also at times used as entertainment. Let us not forget the Japanese Koi who are said to be 200 years old. As we move on in history private ponds all but disappeared except for the very rich or in public places.
Frogs in My Pond
Pond Basics: Location
Ponds are back, and in a big way. They don't have to be natural, that is, from water naturally springing forth in the ground. Man-made ponds are easy to construct, and can be placed wherever we choose.
The very first criteria for a pond is location. You want to put it where you can see it and enjoy it. You should consider, however, if you are going to have plants and fish, that it will need six to eight hours of sunlight. Too much sun and you'll be overcome with algae, not enough sun and no plants will bloom. It's a delicate balance. You can get by with less than six hours but if it is less make sure those four or five hours are full afternoon sun.
Be careful of trees too near your pond. In addition to the problem of roots coming through or disturbing the bottom of your pond, the leaves or pine needles that fall into your pond can change the pH of the water and cause your water to become cloudy or discolored. You will find yourself scooping needles and leaves out of the pond on a never-ending basis.
Another thing to consider is how near your pond is to a water source and electricity. You need electricity to run your pumps, and there will be times when you will need to add or even change the pond's water so you need water at least a hose length away.
Type of Pond
If you are one of the really lucky ones and have a natural pond on your property, you can stop reading now, but, if you are like the rest of us there are several types of ponds available. One is the pre-formed plastic pond, there is also a fiberglass pond, a concrete pond and pond liners that allows you to customize the pond the way you want it.
I will be focusing on the plastic ponds and pond liners.
My Pre-Formed Pond
Pre-formed Pond Basics
The black plastic ponds you can buy come in various shapes and depths. They are pre-formed and pretty impervious to rocks. They don't seem to tear or wear out, at least my twelve year old plastic pond is still going strong!
The pre-formed pond is probably best for the first time ponder, or someone with little or no experience. They offer a variety of sizes and shapes though they are generally small. However, they are also inexpensive.
The other advantage is you may not even need a pump if you are not going to add fish. The right plants will keep a small pond clean. It is a matter of building up the ecologic balance. One of the disadvantages of the pre-formed pond, if you live in a colder climate, you can't keep fish in them over the winter. They are not deep enough and will freeze through to the bottom with no place for the fish to winter over.
If you go the pre-formed route, make sure the area you choose for your pond is level. You can dig the area a little bigger and deeper than the pond you chose and then level the area before putting the pond in. As with any pond, or pool for that matter, it is a good idea to put a sand base down before putting the pond in the ground. The sand base helps with any small rocks or stones that would otherwise come in contact with the pool. Of course, you would be removing any large rocks or stones in the area to avoid them poking holes in the pond.
When you place the pond in the leveled area, make sure the pond fits tightly, with no rocking motion. You want your pond to be a good fit and not have to worry about water, from rain or melting snow, undermining your new pond.
Once your pond is fit and leveled you can, and should, place some rocks around the edge to keep the edge down and give the pond a natural look. Now you're ready to fill it up!
My Pond Liner
- Select a spot
- Choose pond type: pre-formed or liner
- Dig hole
- Remove rocks, stones, or any sharp objects
- Add sand or underlayment
- Place pre-formed pond in place—then fill OR
- Place liner in the pond and place rocks along outer edge—then fill
- When the pond is full, landscape around outer edges of the pond
If you decide to go the pond liner route, the sky's the limit. You can make your pond as big or as small as you'd like. The main benefit of the pond liner is you can make the pond as deep as you'd like. The other benefit is you can make them any shape you'd like as well. Be sure to choose a quality liner. You wouldn't want to have to re-do the pond in a year or two. Pond liners should be flexible and of a high enough gauge to ensure their durability, oh, and don't forget to check the guarantee. Obviously, one with a ten-year guarantee is better than one with a five-year guarantee.
Placement of your pond follows the same requirements as the pre-formed pond. Digging the hole too, but, be especially careful to remove rocks and stone from the area you'll be placing your pond. You don't want anything sharp cutting through your liner.
When choosing the size of your liner it should be bigger than your pond area. Unlike the pre-formed ponds, you will need an overlay of liner around the entire pond. Some say to estimate two times the size of your pond, others enough to hold the pond in place. For example, a nine by fourteen-foot pond should have a fifteen by twenty-foot liner. The excess liner will overlap the edges of your pond and need to be weighted down to keep the liner in place when you fill the pond with water. Depending on the depth of your pond, you may need more or less liner.
When you place the liner in the hole, put rocks along the outside edges to hold it in place as you smooth out the liner and get it lined up the way you want it. Then start filling your pond. Once the pond is full, place additional rocks, flat or round to your taste, around the edge of the pond and cover the exposed liner with dirt. If the liner is too big around the outside you can trim some of it off.
Pre-formed Liner (AKA Rigid Liner)
Pond PicturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Probably the best part of adding your own backyard pond is making it look the way you want it to. Once it is properly installed you can landscape any way you'd like. Add plants inside the pond; water lilies, anacharis (for your fish), water lettuce, pond iris, cattails, pickerel rush, canna, and many, many more.
You can add grasses and plants around your pond, or leave it bare. Your imagination is your guide. You can add waterfalls to your ponds, both natural and man-made. You can make your backyard pond the focal point of your backyard or a separate hideaway to relax and unwind. Small or large pond, fish or no fish, the choice is yours!
© 2013 Mary Craig