Our Backyard Pond
We Always Wanted A Pond In Our Backyard
This is our back yard a long, long time ago... back when the kids were small and that kiddie pool was our backyard pond.
Over the 14 years that we have lived here we have slowly but surely built our backyard pond. It started out just as a really big hole. Not having any money to hire professionals, we built our pond ourselves with the most inexpensive materials possible.
None of our ponds have had fancy pond liners, instead we have always used really big tarps.
Over the years our one simple pond has grown to two ponds connected by a small waterfall. This spring we noticed some serious leakage going on and have spent the last couple of months remaking the big pond.
First You Dig A Hole.
Getting a good book on pond builing is a good idea.
Our first pond, we just dug a big hole, put down a big tarp with some big rock to hold it in place and filled it with water. We enjoyed that pond for quite a few years before it developed leaks.
We learned a lot about pond building and pond care from that first pond. When it came time to redo the pond, we had a much better idea of what we wanted to do to improve our pond.
Wanting a waterfall and the sound of running water was at the top of our list for improvements, but creating a waterfall on a budget took a lot of creativity and hard work.
We used just one regular tarp on our first pond and it lasted about 3 years. Our second liner was a single heavy duty tarp that also lasted around 3 years. The average lifespan of a commercial pond liner is 7-12 years depending on weather conditions.
Our Pond Through the YearsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Rebuilding The Pond
The 1st Tarp
A couple of years ago Scott added a second smaller pond that connects to the big pond. The second pond is higher up, with a small waterfall connecting the two ponds.
This year, when we decided to redo the pond, we broke down and finally bought a real pond pump and filter system. We have some Koi that are now 4 or 5 years old and very big, so we wanted to make keeping the pond clean easier.
We considered also buying a real pond liner, but for the size of our pond the cost was very high. Instead Scott lined the bottom & sides of the pond with sand and we used 2 extra heavy duty tarps.
He used the old leaky tarp over the sand to create further padding for root growth, which is what had caused the leaks in the first place.
Creating Pond Padding. - The sand and old tarp will help make the new tarp last longer.
The First Layer has to be placed & fitted into the hole.
The New Tarp - The new tarp is a 20 x 20 foot heavy duty tarp and about 1/3 of the cost of a pond liner.
Getting the new tarp placed evenly is very important.
Fitting the Tarp into the Hole. - The Pond hole is tiered to give it character & for anchoring of the tarps.
Over the years we've learned a lot about ponds.
Our first pond was basically just a big hole with a tarp and some big rocks. This simple pond was beautiful, but required a lot of work to maintain. Keeping a non-filtered pool clear is a full-time job.
Clear ponds require a well balanced eco-system of fish, plants and healthy bacteria. Non-filtered ponds require constant skiming and algea control. Over the years we have found that using barley pellets & pads work best for controlling algea while keeping the fish healthy, but the barley pellets can be messy also.
This will be our first year with a filtering system, hopefully it will make the pond easier to maintain.
The Ponder's Bible - All You Need To Know To Build and Maintain Your Own Pond
Once the liner is in place it's time to start adding rocks.
Adding Rocks To The Pond - Having tiers creates more places to add rocks
Once all of the Rocks are in place it's time to add water.
Testing the new pump
Once the pond is filled it's time to cut the tarp and start the landscaping.
The Budget Pond
Using tarps instead of a pond liner saved a lot of money.
When we rebuilt the pond this time we chose to stick with the tarps rather than a pond liner, but we did change to a heavier thickness of tarp.
We also added sand and re-used the old leaky tarp for padding. After researching pond liners, we realised that the longer life of a commercial pond liner was due to the use sand and a pond padding liner placed under the pond liner. Withour those things, the life span of a commercial pond liner was about the same as the tarp.
Since the extra-heavy duty tarp was about 1/3 of the cost of a pond liner... and about 1/6 of the price of a pond liner with a pond pad... we chose to create our own version of padding and stick with the tarps.
Once you are done building the pond, adding plants and fish is the next step.