Where to put the Pond??
Stake off an area you would like to place your pond. You can use a garden hose to lay out an area for digging. Don't forget to make careful considerations when deciding the best area for your pond. The site should be shade free for 5-6 hours for the best optimum display of Water Lilies and other aquatic plants, but also needs some protection from strong winds and too much hot sun. Trees that hang over the pond pose serious problems as the leaves that fall into the pond decompose and produce harmful gasses and encourage green algae. Choose a spot that is convenient for electricity and water and also close enough to the house so you can enjoy the sight and sounds of your pond.

Removing the Earth
pond layout

Removing the earth may not seem that big of a task, but unless you are planning a very small pond, or you are in reasonably good shape, this may be more than you can handle yourself. An alternative way to excavate the dirt would be to hire an earth mover from your area. Before you dig make sure there are no cables or pipes in the area to be dug. Notice the shelf area around the inside of the dug out pond. This shelf inside the pond is used to place marginal plants that are in containers. Deep water aquatic plants are placed on the bottom of the pond.

Placing the Liner

pond dugout 

After the hole is dug, leveled and ready for the liner, place the liner across the dug out pond area and weigh down the edges with rocks. Slowly fill the pond with water. The liner will stretch and contour to the shape of the hole. As the pond fills, remove some rocks to allow the liner to move gradually into the dug out area.

Trimming the liner
pond trimming

When the water reaches about 2 inches from the top of the pond, turn the water off. Remove all of the stones, and cut the edge around the liner with scissors. 

Using a flexible liner makes it easy to build a natural looking waterfall using your own design. Use separate sheets for each tier, overlapping as necessary. Each of the levels should slope backwards as to form a pool, and a projecting stone at the front will form a weir. By placing riverbed stones in mortar on the sides and bottom you will obtain a very natural look to your pond.

Placing the Rocks
pond edge

Lay the rocks of choice around the edge of the pond so they lay over the edging toward the inside of the pond about 1 to 2 inches. This will help hide the top edge of the liner. After all of the stones are laid out, then place the mortar to hold the rocks. Place small rocks into gaps to make sure all of the liner area is covered. Be extra careful not to drop the mortar into the pond! If you do, you should empty and refill the pond. Mortar has lime in it and will harm the fish.

Stocking Your Pond

pond finished 

OK! now you are ready to stock your pond with plants and some fish! Place water plants into the pond by setting the pots onto the shelf and on the bottom of the pond. Generally, some like to wait 1 week to 1 month before introducing fish into the pond. Personally, I have placed fish into the pond right away, but I first put a good conditioner for fish in the pond. I never lost a fish. Just make sure your pump is oxygenating the water. A common rule of thumb is one inch of fish per sq ft of water surface, for KOI fish the common rule is one fish per 25 square feet of pond space. With good oxygenation and filtration to remove the ammonia and nitrites the Koi density can be substantially increased.


Leave a minimum of 1 - 3 feet around the edge, more if you want to do an "under-over-under" to form a "lip" to prevent water runoff from entering your pond. 

Another reason for this "edge material" is sometimes the material under the bottom will settle or erode away creating voids under the bottom. The extra edge material allows the liner to "creep" to fill the void without falling away from the top, collapsing the liner perimeter. The liner may also "stretch" to fill the voids.

Pleat the edges to form a neat edge. This is the time when you would want to place your pump and or filter into place. You can run your hose and connections under the edge or the liner. This is also a good time to install your electrical connections, lighting etc....

Pump Illustration
pond pump illustration

The right pump to use will need to have sufficient output to satisfy the following :

Flow rate per hour should be between 50 - 200% of the volume of the pond. As an example, a 300 gallon pond will need 150 to 600 gallons per hour pumped.

For a waterfall the flow rate should produce a sheet of water right across the top lip at the front of the cascade. This will require at least 50 gallons per hour per 1" width, example a 6 inch lip will need a minimum of 300 gallons per hour.

Cascading Waterfall