DIY Backyard Garden Pond

Creating a garden pond is not rocket science. Nevertheless, good planning is important before the first groundbreaking in order to achieve the desired result without expensive rework.

As soon as you create the garden pond, you create the conditions for the water to later house a rich flora and fauna. With the right planning, a beautifully planted garden pond becomes an atmospheric oasis of calm, but at the same time invites you to observe and discover. Here a water lily is just opening its flowers, there a pond frog lies in wait for careless mosquitoes in the midst of duckweed and a dragonfly that has just hatched from its pupal shell waits for its wings to dry on the leaf of the iris.

Creating a garden pond: the individual steps

  • Mark and stake out the area
  • Dig out the pond (create different pond zones)
  • Lay out protective fleece and lay pond liner over it
  • Secure the pond liner with stones and gravel
  • Fill with water
  • Plant the garden pond

Where is the right location for a garden pond?

If you want to have a good view of your garden pond, it is best to create the water near the terrace or a seat. Animal-friendly garden ponds or near-natural ponds, which are supposed to attract many animals, are better off in a more secluded place in the garden. If your property is not level, but rather sloping, you should create your garden pond at the deepest point – this looks more natural than a body of water built into a sloping slope.

The right mix of sun and shade also plays an important role, because on the one hand the aquatic plants need a certain amount of light so that they can thrive, but on the other hand the water should not heat up too much in order not to unnecessarily promote algae growth. A good guideline is five hours of sunshine per summer day. However, place the water in such a way that it is shaded by larger trees or structures or a sun sail during the hot lunchtime. Keep enough distance to lines for electricity, gas, water or sewage and make sure not to build over them with the water. If this does not lead to problems during the earthworks, it will at the latest when maintenance work on the lines is required.

Trees with shallow roots (for example, birch or vinegar trees), as well as bamboo of the genus Phyllostachys and other types of runners should not grow in the immediate vicinity of the pond. Especially the sharp, hard bamboo rhizomes can easily pierce the pond liner. Trees at the garden pond are not fundamentally a problem as long as the wind blows the autumn leaves in the direction away from the garden pond – the trees should therefore grow as east as possible from the pond, as westerly winds prevail in our latitudes. By the way: Evergreen deciduous and coniferous trees are also constantly renewing their foliage and their pollen can also cause considerable nutrient input.

Shape and size of the garden pond

The shape of a garden pond should match the garden design. If curved, natural contours predominate in the garden, the pond should also have this shape. In architecturally designed gardens with rectangular lines, on the other hand, rectangular, circular or elliptical water basins are preferred. Otherwise, the rule applies: the bigger the better! On the one hand, larger garden ponds usually appear more natural and radiate more tranquility and elegance, on the other hand, with larger amounts of water, an ecological balance is established more quickly, so that the maintenance effort is kept within limits. Please note, however, that depending on the desired size, you may have to obtain a building permit. The regulations vary from state to state. In most cases, garden ponds only require a permit from a volume of 100 cubic meters or a water depth of 1.5 meters. Such dimensions are exceeded quickly, especially with a swimming pond, so you should contact the responsible building authority in good time – violations may result in construction freezes, removal procedures and fines!

What technology does the garden pond need?

With every pond project, the question arises whether you need a water filter or not. Basically, a garden pond that is not too small can be kept in biological equilibrium even without complex technology, if the location is right and there is no excessive nutrient input.

As soon as you use fish or other water dwellers, however, the problems begin, because excrement and leftover food inevitably increase the phosphate and nitrogen concentration in the garden pond, which can quickly lead to algae bloom at appropriate temperatures. In addition, a lack of oxygen often becomes a problem when the water is very hot. Therefore, if in doubt, you should install a filter system straight away, because retrofitting is usually more complex. If you find that your pond water remains clear even without the technology, you can simply program the system so that it only runs a few hours a day.

A classically structured garden pond consists of different zones with different water depths and step-like transitions. The 10 to 20 centimeter deep swamp zone is adjacent to the bank, followed by the 40 to 50 centimeter deep shallow water zone and in the middle is the deep water zone with 80 to 150 centimeters water depth. The transitions can be made flatter and steeper depending on your taste. Tip: If the subsoil is stony, dig the hollow around ten centimeters deeper and fill in a suitably thick layer of construction sand – this will prevent damage to the pond liner from sharp stones.

Step by step: create the right garden pond

Mark the outline of the garden pond
First, mark the outline of your pond with short wooden pegs or simply mark it with a line of light-colored sand.

Dig out the pond hollow
Then excavate the entire pond area down to the first depth. Then mark the area of the next lower pond zone and excavate this too. Continue like this until you have reached what will later be the pond floor. Tip: For larger ponds, it is worth borrowing a mini excavator for the earthworks.

Lay out protective fleece
Before laying the pond liner, you should first cover the pond basin with a special protective fleece. It protects the film from damage.

Lay the pond liner
Two to three helpers are welcome when laying the liner, because depending on the size of the pond, the liner can be quite heavy. It is first laid out on the surface and then adjusted so that it lies everywhere on the floor. To do this, it must be carefully folded in a few places.

Weight down the pond liner
Then weigh down the pond liner with stones and line it with gravel. This conceals the somewhat unsightly pond liner.

Place aquatic plants
When the construction work is completed, you can plant the pond and the bank. The finished garden pond still looks a bit bare, but once the plants have grown in well, it will not be long before dragonflies and other water dwellers appear.

Have we piqued your interest and would you like to know more details about planning and execution? We have put together a great archive for you in which everything is described in great detail, including detailed plans. In this package you will not only find plans for pond construction, but also many other great ideas for your backyard.
We have already helped many readers with this collection. You can also save a lot of money in this way, just do the projects yourself with our detailed plans, without hiring an expensive specialist company.

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