How-to Guide for Building a Pond for your Garden

Gardens with ponds seem so luxurious, comfortable and serene. Believe it or not, it isn’t hard to build your own pond and bring your garden to the next level. Building a pond lets you add a custom feature you can use to house water plants, or even fish, add that sound of bubbling water and fill in an otherwise boring space.

Before you start this project, make sure you have the proper tools and safety equipment. Read the directions for equipment and make sure you fully understand how to use it correctly and safely.


Most of these supplies are available at a hardware store and you can hire tools and equipment if you don’t already have it.

Container to Hold Water or Pond Liner

  • Shovel
  • Trowel
  • Skip
  • Sand
  • Garden Hose
  • Water Pump
  • Stone or Brick
  • Plants or Fish
  • Safety Glasses and Gloves

Always wear safety equipment when working with tools or digging your pond.

This guide will help you build a basic pond and you can alter the steps as needed to customise your water feature for your garden.

Step 1: Dig the Trench

 First, decide where you want the pond to be and use the shovel to dig the trench. If you are using a container, like a tub, barrel half, or trough, for the pond, dig the hole to size. You can make the pond any size or shape you want if you are using a pond liner.

All of the sides should be as vertical and straight as possible. Sloping sides will make it difficult to retain water and add landscaping. It’s also a good idea to dig the trench at different depths throughout the pond. This way you can install the pump correctly and allow for some variation when you add water plants that may need various water depths.

If your pond is large, hire a skip to make removing soil, rocks, branches and even roots easier.

Step 2: Add Sand

Use the back of the shovel and the trowel to make sure the soil is as smooth as possible and that there aren’t any sharp rocks that will get in your way or puncture the pond liner.

Lay down a layer of sand, about 2.5 to 3 centimetres deep, to cover the entire pond bottom. This will help protect the lining or container you are using and can make it easier to make sure it is level where it should be.

Step 3: Line the Pond

Now it’s time to add the liner. If you are using a container, place it in the trench and use sand to fill in any gaps between the container and the sides of the trench. With the sand base, you should be able to push the container and settle it into the hole until it is level.

If you are using a pond liner, use a piece that is bigger than the hole and add it to the trench. The liner should lay flat and smooth along the bottom and there shouldn’t be any slack.

Pull the liner up over the edges of the trench and hold it in place with a single row and layer of bricks or rocks.

Step 4: Install Retaining Wall and Secure Liner

Once the liner is in place and everything is how you want it, add the rest of the rocks or bricks to form a retaining wall. Add another layer on top of the initial one and then more rows that come out from the perimeter of the pond.

The idea is to create a sort of border between the edge of the pond and the rest of your garden. You can use as many stones or bricks as you want to make the feature look the way you want it to. Cover the liner that protrudes out of the pond and trim off any excess.

Step 5: Install the Pump

A water pump is optional, but it can help complete your pond. It will add the natural, relaxing sound of water bubbling in a stream and is actually good for the life of your pond.

Moving water can help prevent mould growth and even deter mosquitoes and other insects. A pump will also aerate the water, which will promote healthy plant and fish life.

Read the directions that came with your pump and install it as directed. Some pumps need to be installed after the water has been added, so it’s important to read the directions.

If possible, use a solar powered pump so you won’t have to worry about connecting your pond to electricity.

Step 6: Fill the Pond

Finally, it’s time to fill the pond! Use your garden hose to fill it completely and let the pump begin to circulate the water. Follow any guidelines that came with your pump so that you don’t overfill the pond.

Step 7: Add Plants or Fish

Now that the pond is full, you can add landscaping, water plants and even fish! Talk to a local nursery to find out what water plants do well in your area and consider adding things like anacharis, cabomba, cattails, irises, lotuses and water lilies.

You can also add some plants around the edges of your pond to make it look more natural and cover up parts of the liner or the pump.

If you want to add fish, talk to a pet store to find out what kind of fish do well in outdoor ponds in your climate. In most cases, you will need to let your pond circulate and the plant life settle in before you can add fish.

Keep things like water temperature, seasons, feeding needs and the size of your pond in mind when you consider adding fish. If you live in a cold climate, you may need to bring the fish indoors during the winter.

Installing a garden pond is a great project that brings something unique and calming to your yard. A pond can complete your landscape and makes it possible to bring in some unique plants that require water to thrive.  For a bit more wildlife inspiration around your pond, check out our latest piece detailing the pond creation cycle.

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About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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