Planning on Building A Pond for Your Backyard?

If you’re planning on building a pond in your backyard, there are a few steps to consider. Well, there are more than a few, but some include the planning and designing of the water feature, too. The actual steps it takes to build your backyard pond will be discussed shortly.

So, what type of pond are you interested in building? You really should have your pond design nailed down clearly before starting. The reason for this is because there are inevitable ‘building hazards’ you might call them, that can get in the way. Things like underground cables, gas lines or water lines can spell big trouble if they are in the line of where you want your pond to be. Likewise, natural elements, like stone or earthen material that is extremely difficult to work around or dig through can dramatically alter your plans.

building a pond

This small pond has a river rock edge, some succulent landscaping and some lilies. You can also see some 'marine life' in there.

You’ll want to know these things prior to digging a big hole in your backyard. However, there are some things you can do to avoid these problems. One step is to ensure that you have the area marked off by all of your local utilities. This is often a free service and the gas, sewer, phone/cable, electric and other utilities will come by to paint or otherwise indicate where they have lines buried on your property.

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If you plan on digging yourself, this will give you much greater peace of mind. Once you’ve got this all marked out, you can better draw out your plans for your water feature. You might be surprised to learn that small backyard ponds can provide just as much in the way of pleasant sounds, without the hassle of digging a large pit and having to maintain it as well. This is definitely something to consider.

Some pond landscaping ideas include plants that thrive in the water. Essentially, there are three types of aquatic plants to consider for your pond: submerged, marginal and floating. Submerged plants, like water lilies, have most of their structure beneath the water and only a small portion, like some leaves or flowers that grow above the water line. These are best planted at depths of 1-2 feet for optimal growth. Marginal plants have most of their structure growing above the water line, with only the roots beneath. Finally, the floating species have no roots anchored in soil beneath the water, they float on the surface.

building a pond_lilies

This pond has some beautiful lilies growing.

Another consideration is algae growth. Well-balanced aquatic garden ponds will have a natural algae control mechanism in place. Having shade from floating plants will limit the amount of algae growth. Also, fish within the pond can benefit from the oxygen produced by algae. Koi ponds must especially keep this in balance to have a healthy fish population. Again, this is one reason why a smaller pond can be easier to both build and maintain.

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Pond Construction

When it comes to the formal aspect of constructing your pond, there are some modern innovations that can make this project much easier. These materials are available at your local home improvement warehouse.

What you’ll need:

  • liner or basin
  • pump
  • source of electricity
  • tubing for the pump (possible backyard waterfall or fountain feature)

Step 1:
After marking your area, as described above, you can use a hose or other flexible material to lay out your design on the ground. Then, you’re ready to begin digging as per your pond design. Dig out the rough shape for the depth you require. You’ll also want to know where your electrical lines for the pump will be going and your plumbing. Larger ponds will need a dedicated water source so that it can be auto-filled when the level drops to a certain point – much like your pool or hot tub. If you don’t know how to work with plumbing or electricity, (outdoors is also unique) hire a local contractor to handle this aspect for you. For a few hundred bucks you will have it done right and avoid any future issues.

Step 2:
Pour sand into the dug out area for your liner. This will let it sit more naturally in your space and avoid punctures and holes. This is critical because a leak will turn your pond into a mud pit nightmare. Smaller holes can be repaired, but they are best to avoid all together.

Step 3:
Lay in either your liner, which is a rubberized or PVC type material, or your pre-formed pond basin. If you have a larger pond, then you are likely going to need the liner material.

Step 4:
Anchor your liner with larger stones or stakes, rock or other heavy materials. Retaining wall blocks can be used to create more of a wishing well looking pond. If you want a more natural look, you can use things like river rock, sandstone, larger boulders and other stone materials.

Step 5:
This is really your final step. This step involves creating the final look of your pond. Using plants and other natural elements to help your pond blend in more seamlessly with your patio or backyard space makes for a great look. Ponds make wonderful backyard landscaping features because they provide that additional element of sound that creates a peaceful setting.

Even if you have a xeriscaped yard, you can still utilize small water features to add more depth. The key is in proper water management. If you live in a hot or arid climate, like in the desert southwest, locating your pond in an area that gets more shade can help mitigate evaporation of the water and waste that way. You can also use plants to shade and get their water from the pond itself.

Koi Ponds

koi pond design

This backyard koi pond allows for both water feature and fish.

With koi pond construction, there are not many different things to consider. Just as mentioned, plants that provide shade and a well-oxygenated pond are critical. Many koi pond designs often incorporate a Japanese garden feel to the entire space, though this isn’t a necessary element.

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Pond Accessories

pond fountain

This is a typical looking pond fountain. There are others with different spray patterns and even solar styles, too.

You can utilize a variety of accessories, both during the construction phase and final step to help bring further depth to your design. Things like pond fountains can not only add a visual element, but can provide more aeration as well – great for koi ponds or those with many aquatic plants. We’ve written about the solar fountain and it’s features as well here at Patio Covers Place.

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Pond Lights

pond lights

This type of glow is possible using underwater pond lights. There are also LED, solar and other floating pond lighting styles.

There are a variety of lights that can be used to accent your pond. Some are powered with the traditional electrical source. There are also solar pond lights. Like many aspects of outdoor lighting, solar provides a great way for you to get the accent you’re looking for without having to run wires. These make great floating pond lights because of this very design. If you have a larger pond, these floating lights look great in the evening or during a dinner party. They can gentle float around your pond with the wind and provide an additional element to your ambiance.

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As you can tell, building a pond is both a simple, yet very elegant way to add some much needed ‘splash’ to your backyard space. It is also a DIY-friendly project, one that you can likely complete in a matter of a few weekends. If you take the time to plan, design and build right, you will enjoy your pond for years to come.

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