Create a DIY Garden Pond

Build a basic garden pond in your backyard.

| March/April 2001

  • Build a basic garden pond in your backyard.
    Photo By Philip Beaurline

You can create a pond in your yard similar to the one Hanuman Bertschy built outside her Virginia straw bale home, with your own personal touches. These instructions for a basic, one-tier pond will get you started.

Materials and Tools

Preformed pond (3 foot by 4 foot, reinforced plastic or fiberglass)
Two straight boards, 3-foot and 5-foot long
Tape measure
Carpenter’s level
Three 50-pound bags of sand
Submersible pump (200 to 30 gallons per hour capacity) with filter
Assorted stones, rocks, and plants for landscaping edges
Aquatic plants

1. Place the preformed pond right side up on the selected site. Trace the perimeter of the pond’s top rim onto the soil by dribbling handfuls of sand to make an outline. Set the preformed pond aside. (Trace the outline of the top rim and not the bottom of the pond; the rim will be larger in diameter.)

2. Carefully begin removing soil from within the traced lines, digging two inches deeper and two inches wider than the actual pond form. Pond forms often include ledges, and so they have a smaller diameter at the bottom than at the top. With this in mind, shape the hole as closely as possible to the contours of the pond form, leaving shelves of soil to support the built-in ledges. Reserve some of the soil that you remove; you’ll need it to backfill the hole once the pond form is in place. To check the depth of the hole, place the five-foot long board across the top of the hole. Measure the distance between the bottom of the hole and the board. (Do not continue with step three until the hole is at least two inches deeper than the depth of the pond form.)

3. Using shovel and trowel, scrape the bottom of the hole to make it level. Remove large or sharp rocks and any roots or debris. Check whether the bottom of the hole is level by setting the three-inch long board across it and placing the carpenter’s level on top of the board. Reposition the board and level several times to check for level all the way across the hole’s bottom.



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