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Building A Pond

 
Laying the vinyl pond liner out in the sun softens it up

Laying the vinyl pond liner out in the sun softens it up making it easier to work with

You should try building a pond that’s the largest you can afford, even if that means holding back on the landscaping for now.  You can always add the decorative features at a later date.  The reason I say this is because once the pond is built it is so much more difficult and more expensive to change the size and shape of a pond.  Very small ponds are more restricted in the size and number of fish that can be kept.  Remember fish grow so you want to consider the size and number of fish or your pond will soon be overstocked.

The biggest rule I’ve learned over the years with pond building is you should always go for the largest surface area as possible.  By doing this you will get the maximum air/water interface and oxygen absorption which is the life force of any water ecosystem.  I can’t stress enough how extremely important pond surface is. I always explain this to anyone that I help out.  The other consideration is the depth of the pond.  I’ve had more arguments on this with seasoned pond makers as there are so many different opinions on this one.  The minimum depth that I would go for a pond is 4 feet.  I try to excavate a depth of 5 to 6 feet.  You especially need the deeper water for the winter (which I will talk about under another post).   Goldfish are pretty hardy fish and can put up with most of the temperature fluctuations in the pond (as long as you have some type of aerator in the really hot weather).  But Koi might be distressed by temperature fluctuations if there is more depth to a pool than surface area (Sorry, I just wanted to put in another reminder about surface area.)

There are other choices for creating a pond besides a vinyl pond liner
(which is what I used).  You can use concrete (nice, but expensive) and also the preformed pond forms, which are probably the simplest, although not the cheapest.  The preform is a matter of digging the hole to its specifications (a little bigger than the actual form) and making sure to add the sand base to set the form in so it settles correctly and is level.  The precast ponds can also be installed at ground level, or partially or fully above ground level.  Be sure to choose a deep enough one if you intend to have fish in your pond.

Laying down the pond liner

Laying down the pond liner

Liners seem to be the most popular material used.  Don’t use Polythene sheeting as its way too fragile and degrades rapidly under exposure to sunlight. Vinyl and butyl rubber sheeting  are the best materials to use for a liner.  According to the local pond shop the heavier grades of butyl have a reputed life of 50 years and the standard grades being good for 20 years.  Just keep your dog out of the pond, I’ve seen the damages a dog can do when panic strickened after falling into the pond and shredding the liner trying to get out.

You need to dig the hole for a pond down deep enough so that if you intend to keep your fish in during the winter that the pond doesn’t freeze solid if heating is not supplied.   You need a deep area, even if you live in a warmer climate (better predator protection).  Remember a shallow pond’s temperature will fluctuate more rapidly and will stress the fish out.  A pond should be at least 3 feet deep but in colder areas 4 feet is better for the fish in winter.

The first thing to do in preparing a pond is to mark out the area.  I had wooden sticks marked out with string.  Once I had my site picked out I marked out the area to the size of the liner that I had purchased from my local garden store (make sure your liner is safe for use with fish).   This was the hardest part since my yard has a lot of rocks.  In digging the hole, I put the dirt in a nearby pile so that I could use it to help me build the waterfall later on and around the edges where needed, I also piled the rocks I came across for later use.  I dug from the middle of the pond site and worked my way outward.  Make sure the surface area remains horizontal, I used a level and some string as a guide.  The pond must be level across its width and along its length, if not water will overflow at one end while at the other end the liner will still be exposed.  One thing I didn’t do which I wished I had the room to do was to include a shelf around the edge of the pond to support plants, so I had to create hangers.  Shelves also help animals escape if they fall into the pond.

Adjusting the vinyl pond liner for Dons Fish Pond

Adjusting the vinyl pond liner

You have to dig a little deeper than the area you plan to lay the liner in because once the site is ready a layer of at least an inch of sand needs to be added to further protect the liner and act as a base and for leveling.  I compacted the dirt after the hole was completed, removing any small rocks that might hurt the liner, only then did I add the sand, which I also compacted down.  Once the hole was completely ready, I laid the liner over the pond hole and let it settle into the pond then jumped into the pond and from the center smoothed it out as neat as possible and then tucking in the corners.  When I purchased the liner I made sure it was more than what I needed for the hole so that I had extra for the overlap over the sides.  (Note:  If you lay your liner out in the sun for 30 minutes to warm it up it will make it more elastic and easier to work with.)

Laying all the rocks around the edge of Dons Fish Pond

Stacking the rocks around the pond

I would then advise putting in any accessories that you want to include in the pond in my case I put a filter on the pond bottom (see pond filter section).  I also added flat rocks around the edge of the pond which not only helped to complete the look of my pond, but also weighted down the liner around the edges.  I also added on the bottom of my pond a shelter for my goldfish, I used an old plastic wash basket (yes I asked my wife first if she needed it) and cut the sides out so that the fish would have a shelter to hide out in.  I weighed it down with some flat stones.  They sell tunnels for fish in the fish pond stores.   If you are using any rocks for your pond, make sure that they are clean from dirt, the mistake I made was not doing this and I had a dirty pond when I first filled it up which took some effort to clean, a waste of  water if only I had been more careful (hey, it was my first time building a pond).

Putting in the pump for the waterfall

Putting in the pump for the waterfall

Once I was happy with the look of my pond and I had my pond pump, filter, goldfish hiding spot and the waterfall attached I then grabbed the garden hose and started filling up the pond.  I loved this part, finally added the water and having the hardest parts of pond creation behind me.

Proof that you should wash the rocks before filling a pond

Proof that you should wash the rocks before filling a pond

So to recap the steps I went through:

1.  Mark out the pond area using sticks and string and a level make sure the pond surface is level.

2.  Start digging from the middle of the hole out, putting the dirt where you might need it later.

3. Get rid of any sharp rocks in the hole and compact the dirt.

4.  Add an inch of sand to add stability and protection to the base.

5.  Lay out the liner, and making it look smooth and tuck in the corners.

6.  Add flat rocks around the edge of the pond to anchor the liner and help decorate the pond.

7.  Before adding the water prepare the filters, fish hiding spot, waterfall or any other additions to make it easier to install.

8.  Fill with water

9.  Add decorations around the pond.

10. Let the pond water settle for a day or two before adding the fish to make sure there are no leaks or other problems.

11.  Add fish

12.  Sit back and enjoy (my favorite part).

Note:  I purchased what pond products I could online at Amazon  as I like Amazon prices, other things like pond plants, fish, etc. I purchased at my local garden store.

The Finished Pond

The Finished Pond

 

 

  2 Responses to “Building A Pond”

  1. Amazing report mate, I appreciate all the details and pictures because I went through building a pond as well and I know there are many surprises on the way :) Great result too!

  2. Interesting post. You told all the way how did you build a pond and make it easy for other to follow. Pondpro2000 made easy to maintain pond

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