How to Install a Garden Fish Pond


Installing a backyard pond can be a do-it-yourself project that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Although the thought of building your own garden or fish pond may seem daunting, it is probably a lot easier than you imagine. The most difficult part is simply the digging itself, which could take you a couple of days. Once you have the your pond area dug out properly, there is very little else you will need to do before filling it with water.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tamper (optional)
  • Sand
  • Ax (if needed)
  • Pond liner
  • Scissors or knife
  • Garden hose
  • Filter or skimmer (optional)
  • Choose the area for your pond. Try to select an area that receives four to six hours of sunlight per day. You will also want to build the pond close to your house so you will be able to see it from your windows. Make sure the pond site is not in a sloped area where rainwater runoff can spill into the pond. Rainwater runoff often contains fertilizers and pesticides that can hurt the plants and animals in your pond.

  • Mark or edge the site for your pond with the side of your shovel. Begin digging out the area. Try to taper the sides of the pond so they slop down like a ramp. Continue digging until the center of the pond is at least 24 inches deep. Make sure the pond is at least this deep, or it could freeze during the winter.

  • Remove any sharp objects, such as rocks or roots, that may be in the dirt sides of the pond. Use an ax to chop away any roots you encounter.

  • Tamp down the sides and bottom of the hole with the backside of your shovel. Use a tamper for this step if you have one.

  • Spread a 2-inch layer of sand along the bottom of the pond. This will help ensure that no debris pokes through the pond liner.

  • Measure the diameter and wall height of your pond. Purchase a pond liner that will cover the inside of the pond hole.

  • Spread out the pond liner into the bottom of the pond. Try to flatten out as many of the wrinkles that you can.

  • Pull up the liner so it covers the sides of the pond hole. Spread the liner out around the edges of the top of the hole. Trim the liner with scissors so that it covers 1 inch of soil around the edge of the pond.

  • Build a 1-inch raised lip of soil around the top edge of the pond hole. This will help prevent rainwater from running into the pond. Pack the soil down tightly with your shovel so it does not erode easily. Make sure to cover the inch of pond liner that is surrounding the edges, and build the lip on top of it.

  • Fill the pond with a garden hose. Stop filling the pond once the water level is approximately 2 inches from the top of the hole. Wait at least 48 hours before introducing any plants or fish to the pond. This will allow the chlorine in the water to dissipate.

  • Install a skimmer or filter if you choose to. This is not completely necessary, but it will help keep the pond clean.

  • Place rocks or other decorative items around the edges of the pond.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you plan to have koi in your garden pond, it will need to be at least 3 feet deep and 1,000 gallons in volume.

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  • Photo Credit Art Wolfe/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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