How to Create a Pond

Nothing is more relaxing than the sound of moving water, unless perhaps it is watching fish swim in a still pond on a warm summer day. Creating a beautiful water garden can be accomplished by anyone. With the availability of labour saving techniques and materials there is no better time to incorporate a water feature into your garden.

Site Selection

  1. Choose a site with as much sun as possible. Water lilies will require at least six hours of sun a day to flower.
  2. Try to avoid placing a pond under a tree. Falling leaves or needles can clog pumps or filter systems, accumulate on the bottom and cause cloudy/discoloured water.
  3. A low-lying area might seem like a good location but you need to guard against run-off from the rest of the garden/yard. A flat area or a slightly elevated area would be a better choice. 
  4. Keep in mind that you will need to run electricity to the site. A ground fault circuit interrupter should be used.
  5. Most of all, choose a site that will allow you to enjoy the pond!

Flexible Pond Liners

Flexible liners can be used to make any shape and size of pond you want. They are less expensive then pre-formed ponds and can be installed with ease. Flexible liners can be purchased in three different widths—10 foot, 15 foot and 20 foot. With flexible liners punctures can sometimes occur so it is advised that you use an underlay. Geo-textile fabric is a good choice providing cushioning material which protects against puncture.

Installing a Flexible Liner

  1. After deciding on the shape and size, measure the dimensions. With the dimensions you can calculate the amount of liner you will need 
    Width = width of pond + depth doubled + 2 feet (overlap for the edge of pond)
    Length = length of pond + depth doubled + 2 feet (overlap for the edge of the pond)
  2. If the pond is going to have water-shelves, dig the pond to the depth of the shelves first. Tamp the shelf area then dig the deeper area of the pond. When digging the deeper area the sides should be on a slight angle off vertical. Tamp the deeper area of the pond. Then using a board and a carpenter’s level ensure the hole is level end to end and side to side. 
  3. Cut a lip (approx 12-15 inches) wide to provide a flat, level surface to accommodate edging materials. 
  4. Allow liner to warm in the sun to increase flexibility. Spread the liner evenly over the excavation making sure it is centered with equal amounts of overlap all the way around.
  5. Anchor the liner with small weights on all sides. Ensure that the liner will be allowed to pull as the water fills. Fill with water.
  6. The weight of the water will pull the liner down, stretching and moulding it to the contour of the hole. Fold wrinkles where necessary to smooth liner. 
  7. Now the edge of the pond can completed. You can use rocks or patio slabs.

Installing a Pre-Formed Liner

Pre-formed ponds come in various shapes, sizes and depths. They are a little more expensive then flexible liners but are also more durable. Pre-formed ponds are ideal for the novice water gardener because they are easy to install.

Pre-formed Pond Liners

  1. Place pre-formed liner, right side up, in the exact spot you want the pond.
  2. Using stakes or pegs create and outline of the pond. Make the outline 4-6 inches larger so liner will fit.
  3. Start digging out area, using the outline as your guide. Most liners have shelves so dig out to the level of the first shelf then position the liner in the hole and mark out the inner deeper sections. Ensure that the hole is slightly deeper then the liner and that it is level. Remove any rocks or debris that can damage the liner.
  4. Once you have dug the hole to the correct dimensions, add 2 inches (5cm) of sand to the bottom level and shelves. This will protect liner damage due to rocks and roots
  5. Set liner in and check to make sure it is level. The top edge of the liner should sit one inch below ground level because backfilling will tend to raise the liner slightly. 
  6. Backfill around the pond, tamp as you are going.
  7. Add water - the weight of the water will help the liner settle into place. 
  8. Finish edge with rocks, patio stones or other edging material.