How To Build a Backyard Pond

A pond can be a great feature for your backyard.

It will beautify it and give your family and guests something to enjoy while going on a stroll in the backyard.

So how do you build a backyard pond? You do this by making a plan, picking a location, digging the pond, adding landscaping, installing the pond liner, adding a water feature (if wanted), adding a pond filter, adding a pond heater (if needed), filling the pond with water, creating a border, adding plants and fish.

Read on to find some of the more important things you need to do when you have a pond.

Why have a pond

There are so many different reasons for you to have a pond in your backyard.

These reasons include:

  • Having a source of food for your family
  • Much more cost-effective than a pool
  • Adds value to your property
  • Adds a drinking source for your animals
  • Water storage
  • Provides a habitat for frogs (whose habitats are shrinking)
  • Relaxing

So if you are a homesteader or someone who is just interested in having a place in your backyard to go swimming, a pond is a great idea.

Make a plan

The absolutely first thing you need to do is make a plan.

But before you start drawing up plans, you need to know where exactly you can make the pond.

So that includes knowing where all the utility lines are located in your yard.

If you live in the United States, 811 is the number you would call to have someone come out and flag the utility lines.

If you live in any other country, a quick online search should be able to help you find who you should call.

In the United States, when you’ve called 811, someone should come out to your house free of charge to mark all the utility lines.

After you’ve got your utilities marked off, then you can start actually drawing up the plans for your pond.

A few things to keep in mind when planning where to put your pond.

  • Pick a place that gets sun AND shade. The sun is important as it keeps the life in your pond warm, but too much sun will cause the algae to overgrown

  • Pick a place away from where kids will play. You need to keep in mind that kids often wander and the last thing you want is for a child to wander into your pond unsupervised.

  • The pond should be at least 7 feet by 4 feet. Anything smaller than this size will be more difficult to keep the water clean.

  • Consider what type of aquatic life you want in your pond. What type of fish will determine how deep you need to dig your pond.

Dig the pond

Now is the time to dig the pond.

Go to the area where you want the pond and start digging.

You can either dig with a spade or shovel or you can hire a professional to come with an excavator to dig the hole for you.

It really depends on the size of the job.

Start in the middle of where the pond is going to be and dig down to the depth you want to.

From there, dig towards the outside of the pond.

Make sure that are you get to the outside of the pond that you have a slow upward slope.

Dig small trenches into the pond to create shelves for any plants you want in the pond.

Add landscaping

Once you’ve got the hole dug, you need to add some landscaping.

First, get some builder’s sand and add a layer of sand to the bottom of the pond.

Get out a rake and spread out the sand as much as you can.

The builder’s sand will work as a barrier between the rocks in the ground and the liner you are about to put in.

If the liner comes across any rocks, it will rip the liner and then you will have to replace it.

Some also suggest putting a layer of carpet on top of the builders sand as well.

This could be good, but is not necessary.

Install the liner

Then purchase and install a EPDM liner.

The liner is important because it keep the water in the pond area.

Pond liners are heavy enough that they will not blow away in the wind.

You can also put a few rocks on top of the liner if you are worried about it blowing away.

You will also want to pay attention to the kind of liner you get if you want to have fish in your pond.

Some liners are rated safe for fish, while others are not.

The liner should be at least 4 feet larger than the pond.

Place the liner in the center of the pond and then roll it out towards the edges.

As mentioned earlier, when you have it all rolled out, you can then place rocks on the edges of the liner to keep it from blowing away.

Add a water feature

If you are familiar with camping and hiking, you know that the best water for you to drink is water that is constantly moving.

This is because if the water is moving, it is not staying stagnant and picking up any illnesses.

A common sick people get from water is Giardia.

Getting sick from water can be avoided by either filtering your water or drinking from streams that are constantly moving.

The same concept applies to the water in your pond.

The movement of the water aerates it, which makes the water cleaner and healthier for plant or fish life.

So while you might think a water feature is not necessary, it could save you some trouble in the future.

Add a pond filter

Just like the water feature, a pond filter will save you trouble.

It will help to keep the water clean and also prevent bad odors from occurring in your pond.

When you purchase a pond filter, they should come with directions, so make sure to follow those to get the best use from the filter.

Also, if you don’t like the look of the filter, you can also surround it when plants in your pond.

Add a pond heater

If you are going to have fish in your pond, then you are going to want a pond heater.

The heater will help the pond to stay at a certain temperature throughout the year.

If you live in a cold area where the top of the pond might freeze during the winter, then you are going to want a pond heater.

Fill with water

Once you have done all of the above, now is the time to fill the pond with water.

Attach a hose to your water source and then turn on the water.

Put the hose into the pond and let it fill up.

You may see the liner shift a little bit as the pond begins to fill up.

If that is the case, get a friend or two to help you pull on the liner while the pond is filling up.

Once the pond is completely filled up, the liner should not move.

If you are wanting fish, put de-chlorinator into the water.

The de-chlorinator will make the water safe for fish.

Create a border

The liner isn’t a great look for the pond.

So you are going to want to create a border to make the pond look nice.

A good look with a pond is a nice rock border.

You can use rocks of any size, but start grabbing rocks and lay them on the outside of the pond.

The rocks will help keep the liner in place and also give a great look for the pond.

Add plants and fish

Now that you’ve followed all the steps, you are ready to place the plants and fish into your pond.

The plants will help with the health of water in the pond.

Some good plants for your pond include:

  • Pitcher plant
  • Water lilies
  • corkscrew rush
  • Horsetail rush
  • Rodgers flower
  • Northern blue flag
  • Papyrus
  • Marsh marigolds

The best type of fish for your pond depend on the purpose of the fish.

If you want the fish for looks, the following fish would be good:

  • Goldfish
  • Koi Carp fish
  • Sterlet
  • Red Shiner
  • Fathead minnow
  • Golden Tench
  • Rosy Red minnow

Good fish for your homestead pond include:

  • Trout
  • Carp
  • Yellow perch
  • Tilapia
  • Bullhead

So make the decision of what exactly the purpose of the fish are and then go from there.


A backyard pond can do so much for your house and your family.

This includes increasing the value of your home and having a peaceful place for your family to hang out.

A pond can also be place where you store fish for your homestead.

If you go step by step and plan out your pond, then the pond will be a great feature for your home.

Bill Lantz

Bill Lantz is a database analyst by day and a weekend warrior by... weekend. He's currently building up his own miniature homestead in Central Utah with his wife and six kids. Some of his interests include knowing random trivia about films, reading history books, and playing video games with the boys.

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