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How to Build an Outdoor Fish Pond

Updated on June 24, 2014

The benefits of an outdoor fish pond

There is nothing like a fish pond at home to sit by and enjoy, and all the benefits or relaxation, as you watch the fish lazily swim back and for is worth the short term effort to put it all together.

The first thing to do is figure out why you want your pond. If it's for relaxation and atmosphere, it's a good idea to put it close enough to your home so whether the weather is good or bad you can enjoy looking at it whether you're in the house or outside.

Fish ponds are also great for part of your landscaping, as there's a lot you can do to add to it, while enjoying its main purpose.

What's neat about fish ponds is you can get them in all types of sizes and lengths; they can be meandering and long, small and out of the way, or a very formal look if that's what you prefer. Either way, there's a pond style for you out there, and it's not that hard to put together. 

Choosing the right pond area

Once you believe you have the area chosen out, you can either use an orange string to lay out the dimensions you want. If you are buying a pond that is already formed, you can simply put the liner on the ground and then put the string around it to identify the location.

From there, just walk around it, go in the house and look at it; look at it close and from far away, or whatever you need to be able to accurately visualize how it will look where it is at. 

Fantastic fish pond photo

Fill in the pond outline with spray paint

Once you've done that, you can spray paint within the string in order to give the exact place for you to put it.

After that's filled in with the paint and the shape is what you want, you can start digging out the pond area. For this, take you shovel approximately 3 to 4 inches out from the spray painted area and start to remove the topsoil and sod from around the edge of the area.
Once you've done that, take a piece of wood, preferably a 2X4 and put it across the width of one end of your pond.

Lay a level on the wood to be sure that the pond edge is level. If it isn't, just put some topsoil on until it is.
You do this with the whole pond until you know everything is completely level. The reason for this is if there are places the liner isn't level, it'll look tacky, and water could end up escaping the pond. 

Start to dig out your pond

Now begin to dig in the middle of the pond area and work it to slope at about a 20 to 30 degree angle. You should dig down a couple inches deeper than the actual pond depth.

At the completion of the pond digging, go around inside and make sure there's absolutely nothing left that could poke a hole in the liner. Anything like a root, stick or rock should be removed.

Fill pond bottom with sand

Take sand an fill up the bottom of your pond with a couple of inches of it. Don't be afraid to wet it in order to get it to pack down well.

Koi fish pond

Installing pond liner

Now get your liner and roll it out and lay it in the sun so it will heat up. What this does is make easier to work with because it become more flexible.
Simply lay the liner in the position you want it in the pond, but be careful to disturb the sand as little as you can.

The time you've been waiting for is here, and is ready to be filled with water.

Cut off extra pond liner

At this time, if there is extra liner above the ground, you can just cut that off and save the pieces in case you need to patch the liner at a future time.
Finally, before you add your plants or fish, dechlorinate the water, then you're ready to go.

Outdoor fish pond photo

Pond plant care

For your rooted plants, they for the most part are put in a pond in pots, usually adding gravel to the top of the soil.

To keep everything clean, be sure to rinse your plants off with water before adding them to the pond. A number of pond owners use a light solution of bleach to do this, ensuring anything that could harm the pond is cleansed.

After putting the plant in bleach for a couple minutes, you should also then rinse them off with cool running water.

Finally, use a decholorinator on the leaves so there is no chance any of the bleach will be left on the plant.

Pond liner considerations

Not all pond liners are created equal, and you should know this before making a final decision. Some of this will depend upon whether you want it to last for a long time, or if you're thinking of it as a short term project for several years to a decade.

Here's how the different materials for a pond liner break down:

Fish-grade PVC lasts about between 7 and 15 years; fish-grade rubber usually has twice the lifespan of fish-grade PVC. A preformed fiberglass pond will go on for about 50 years, while concrete could last as long as the house or us, if you don't mind the added work to get it in.


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    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 7 months ago from U.S, California

      Nice pond.... Helpful article.

    • funmilayo odueko profile image

      funmilayo odueko 5 years ago from Namibia temporarily

      great hub ,thank for the information

    • profile image

      al newman 6 years ago

      how can you say this is great info ? how about telling us how to get the liner, or how to build a cement pond , how do you form up for the cement? how thick should it be? how deep ? how do you build a pond that doesn't use a liner? ive seen them but how does the water stay ? will lining the pond with rocks naturaly seal the sides and bottom? how deep does it need be so the fish can stay all winter? give me something to at least get a general idea what options are best,thanks al

    • profile image

      vj 6 years ago

      great job . it looks imaging

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub! Thanks

    • profile image

      Hailey Fischer - Pond Pumps 7 years ago

      Wow those ponds look splendid. Now I'm getting some ideas for my own garden pond. I'm also looking for good pond air pumps to use. Thanks for the info.