A pond or water garden can transform your outdoor living space from ordinary to extraordinary. It can enhance the look and feel of your yard. Most people find the presence of water to be naturally relaxing and, if built correctly, your pond will bring you many years of enjoyment. It can attract wildlife to your yard and even increases property value.

If you want to build your own pond, follow these guidelines to get started:

Plan Ahead

Taking the time to make a plan will make the process go smoothly throughout. The first thing you will want to consider is budget- how much money do you have to spend on liners, pumps, filters, lights, labour, plants, etc. Having a set budget in mind will help to control costs in the long run. After you have decided on your budget, a style can be selected. Styles include liner ponds, pre-formed ponds, self-contained water features and waterfalls. These guidelines are for pre-formed ponds. For detailed advice on how to build another style speak with one of our water gardening experts .

Choose a Location

Not everywhere in your yard will be a suitable location for a pond. Make sure that you don’t plan to put a pond where there are underground power, cable, natural gas, water, or sewer lines. Call your utility companies to have them mark where these are located. Choose a spot that receives at least half a day of sun. If there is a spot that always stays wet in your yard, you may think this is an ideal spot for a pond, but it is not. Water runoff will enter your pond causing contamination. Don’t choose a spot directly under a tree- the roots will make it hard to dig and falling leaves will pollute your water. Choose somewhere close to the electrical source and make sure a circuit breaker or a Ground Fault Interrupter is in place.

Outline and Dig

Once you have decided on a location, it is time to dig the hole. Place the liner right side up and mark around the outside with pegs. Do not lay the liner upside down to do this or else the hole will not be the right size to fit the liner. Make the outline 4-6 inches larger than the liner. Measure the depth of your first shelf and dig down 2 inches deeper than that depth. Reposition your liner, mark out the shape of the inner deeper section, and dig down 2 inches deeper than that depth. Remove any sharp stones or roots from the bottom of the hole. Cover the bottom of the hole with 2 inches of sand. The sand will protect the liner and help it to settle into place. Now you can put the liner in and check to make sure it is level. Use sand to backfill the space around the liner. The final step is to fill with water. As the liner fills with water, the weight of the water will cause it to settle in place.

Add Accessories

If you have chosen to add a waterfall or fountain, you would do it at this point. For advice on this area speak to the water gardening expert at your local garden centre.

Add Pump and Filter

Water gardens and ponds will require a pump and a filter to keep the water healthy, clean, and clear. Pumps circulate the water, while filters remove impurities that cause the water to become cloudy and toxic. If the water is not circulated and filtered, the water will become low in oxygen and high in impurities. Fish and plant life will thrive in a clean pond that is high in oxygen. A general rule of thumb is that water should be circulated once every two hours to keep it healthy. For example, a 400 gallon pond should use a pump that can generate a flow of 200 gallons/hr. If you have a fountain or a waterfall, you will need a pump that can generate more flow. Speak to one of our water gardening experts to ensure you are choosing the right pump for your needs.

Add Plants and Fish

Once all of the essential components are added, you can then add plants and fish.

The three main types of water plants are 1) floating, 2) marginal, and 3) deep water. Floating plants, as the name suggests, are plants that float on top of the water and do not root in soil. Marginal plants are plants that grow in soil that is covered by several centimetres of water. Deep water plants are plants that are rooted in soil that is at least one foot under water. The leaves and flowers grow on or above the surface of the water.

The two types of fish that people generally add to ponds are goldfish and koi. Goldfish and koi will both thrive in a pond environment. Goldfish do not tend to grow as large and will not produce as much waste. Koi can grow as large as 3 feet, and the size of the pond will not inhibit their growth. As koi grow larger they love to eat water plants and will produce more waste. A desirable trait with koi is that they are more sociable. As koi get to recognize their environment, they will swim to the edge of the pond as people approach.