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Each year thousands of individuals and families build their own pond or water garden.  There is no size limitation to a water garden other than the space available, your budget to construct the pond, the pond design and the intent or purpose of the water garden. 


If you are one of those individuals who has always wanted to build your own pond, here are some quick simple steps to get you started:

  • Determine the reason you want to build the pond: for the sound and visual effects; because you are a gardener and want to extend your gardening prowess to water garden plants; to raise and/or breed Koi or Goldfish; to create a balanced eco-system in your own yard; or just because it’s something you have always wanted to do.  This information will help you create the right pond design.
  • Research the type of pond you want to build through books, pond magazines, talking to other pond owners, and attending pond tours.
  • Mark out the proposed area for your pond using a rope or water hose and stack milk crates or boxes where the waterfall would go. Then, live with it for a week or two.  This will help you find the optimal location and positioning of your pond.  Be sure to view the proposed location from inside the house as well as outside.  Sometimes, just turning the angle of the waterfall can significantly increase the number of viewing areas for your pond. (Use a landscape drawing for winter planning)
  • If available and time allows attend a pond building class.  These workshops give builders lots of helpful tips on how to build your pond correctly, the first time, saving you time and money.  Click Here for Classes!
  • Finalize the design and put together a materials list. The following items should be included: liner, underlayment, pump, biological filter, tubing, fittings, rocks, silicone and PVC glue and primer. Additional items might include: waterfall base, skimmer, ultra-violet light, check valve and auto fill.  If you plan to put plants in your pond be sure to incorporate plant shelves or planting pockets in your design.  Also be sure to check out zoning restrictions in your community regarding ponds and that your electrical source is GFI protected.
  • When purchasing the materials there are a number of decisions you will need to make.  Below I have listed a few tips to make the selection process easier:
    • Liner: While it may look easier to build a pond using a pre-form plastic liner, it is actually easier and quicker to build with a rubber liner.  If purchasing a rubber liner (EPDM) be sure to buy a liner with a 20 year warranty or greater, and 45mil in thickness.
    • Underlayment: This is a felt-like geo-turf material placed under your liner to protect it from tree roots and sharp items. 
    • Tubing: Flexible PVC is the most durable and easiest type of tubing to work with.  It comes in lengths up to 100’ so you can use one contiguous piece of tubing to prevent the opportunity for leaks.
    • Biological Filter: A filter which contains bio-media to remove fish waste from your pond is essential of you are planning for fish or Koi in your pond.  If you are planning to raise Koi, double the size of the recommended filter size based on gallons.
    • Pumps: When shopping for pumps not only look at the cost of the pump but the warranty and daily cost to run the pump.
    • Skimmers: Adding a skimmer to your pond design will significantly reduce weekly maintenance and increase to life of your pump.
  • Mark out the final design of the pond using bright orange or yellow marking spray paint and start digging.  The pond should be dug in layers, putting all dirt removed from the pond area to the stream waterfall area.  While digging be sure to use a level to ensure your digging from one side of the pond to another is done evenly, otherwise you will end up with a lopsided pond.
  • The easiest way to build a stream or waterfall area is to build it in steps similar to stairs.  However, it is critical that you mound dirt up along the side of the stream or waterfall to ensure the water is contained in the stream or waterfall.
  • Once digging is complete, install liner, underlayment, tubing, pump, filter and waterfall base and skimmer (if appropriate).
  • Add rock to pond based on your design.
  • Fill with water, wait for water to clear, add start-up bacteria and Dechlorinator, starter fish and water plants, and enjoy.


Pond building can be simple and fun. It is a project the whole family can get involved in or one person can do on their own.  There are no age requirements or limits, only the desire and determination to build your own pond.  For those of you wishing to build a pond, but feel you need help with moving large rocks, digging the pond or finalizing the design, there are a number of pond contractors willing to giving assistance with individual components of the pond construction process.  Best wishes in your pond building endeavors.

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