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Creating the Perfect Backyard Pond

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Having a small pond in your backyard can really beautify your landscape and give your home an added splash of color and character. Building a pond can be done without the help of professionals, but you do need to be careful to keep a few things in mind.

Plan Before You Build

It is not a good idea to jump headlong into building a pond without first planning how you will build it.

- The Dig Line

You need to call your dig line to find out where the dig lines are. The dig lines are where your electricity, internet and gas providers would have laid down their lines. Your pond needs to be as far away from these lines as possible.

- The Site

Next, you need to decide where your new pond will be located. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind while finding the right spot in your backyard:

o Keep it away from your children’s (or pets’) play areas

o Do not plan it close to large trees. You could damage the roots of your trees and the pond would not get adequate sunlight.

o Choose a spot that is partially shady and partially sunny. You need the sun to make sure your pond stays clean and healthy. But too much sun will make the algae grow too fast.

o The size of your pond should not be less than 4ft by 7 ft (1.2m X 2.1m). This is the minimum size you need for your pond to remain clean.

o The depth of the pond should be at least 1.5 ft (0.46m). However, if you’re planning to have fish and aquatic plants, then you will need to create a deeper back yard pond.

o Choose the shape of your pond. You can choose any shape you like, but remember it is easier to construct a rounded shape – and it looks more natural. Outline the shape of your pond on the spot that you have chosen so that you can get an idea of what it will look like. You can tweak the shape to your liking when you do this.

Creating Your Back Yard Pond

Once you have put your plans, checked for safety and so on, you need to start the actual labor! Here’s how you go about it.

- Digging the Pond

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure that you have dug your new pond perfectly.

o Remove the sod from the area you have outlined. Ensure that you remove about half a foot of extra sod around the perimeter of your pond.

o Next comes the digging. Start by digging a trench that is about a foot deep all over the pond. Once the trench is ready, you can start digging from the center of the pond and then move outwards towards the edges. Start by creating layers instead of digging to the depth you want all at once. You can either use a shovel or an excavator for this exercise.

o If you are planning to include aquatic plants in your pond, then it would be best to create small terraces or shelves around your pond so that there are shelves for your plants to grow.

- The Overwinter Zone

If you live in place that freezes over in the winters and you’re planning to have fish in your pond, then you will also need to create an overwinter zone in your pond. This is a place where you fish can shelter in the winter months without the water freezing. This area will need to be at least 3ft deep and 3ft wide. And if you’re planning to install water pumps or fountains, then that equipment needs to be as far away from the overwinter zone as possible.

- The Ledge

Once you have dug out the shelves for your plants, you will also need to dig out the ledge of the pond. This ledge is the edging of your pond – rocks that will surround your pond so that its boundary is clearly outlined.

The ledge should be lower (about an inch) than the rocks. However, do ensure that you use rocks that will be of greater height than the surrounding area so that runoff doesn’t end up in your pond.

- Levelling the Pond

This is a critical step that you must not miss. You will need to use a level to ensure that all sides of your pond are level. This will allow the pond to fill properly and prevent overflows.

Equipment, Accessories and Landscaping

Now that you have dug your pond, you can finish creating your back yard pond!

- Readying the Pond for the Liner

Before you put in the pond liner, you will need to ensure that there are no big or sharp stones or roots at the bottom of your pond. Take them out if you can. Then, add builder’s sand to the base of the pond and use a rake to spread it out. This is added protection for your pond liner.

- Installing the Liner

Next you will need to install the pond liner. This is usually made out of polypropylene and EPDM and is highly weather-resistant. Ensure that you buy a liner that is at least 4 feet bigger than your pond. Start laying out the liner from the center of your pond and then roll it out towards the edges. Tuck the liner into all the shelves and ledges you have created. If you’re going to have fish in your new pond, then make sure you buy a liner that is fish-safe.

- Adding the Equipment

You can place your waterfall, fountain, or any other water feature to your pond now. Also install your pond filter and pond heater (for freezing climes) for your fish.

- The Water

Now that all the equipment is in place, you can add the water. Add dechlorinated if you’re going to have fish in your pond – or they will die.

- The Final Touches

This is where you can add the rocks around the edging. Then, you can add those lovely aquatic plants and fish to your pond and bring your new back yard pond to life!

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