Build Your Pond from Scratch
Planning your pond is a simple process of determining the size and filtration needs of your design. After determining the size and volume of your pond, you will need to determine the correct filter for your needs. Different ponds have different filtration requirements. Take some time to look through our pond filters to find the right one for you.
Follow these steps to planning your pond:
- Once you have determined the placement and size of your pond, outline its shape with a garden hose or with rope.
- Working from the edges, dig a hole to match the outline and depth of your pond. Remember to build in shelves around the pond for planting. We suggest a shelf 4″ deep for bog-type plants, and a shelf 8 to 16 inches deep for shallow water plants, and a final pond depth from 24 to 60 inches deep for deep-water planting.
- Remove all stones and roots from the hole and line it with an underlayment. This will help protect the liner from any roots or stones you may have missed or that are lying just below the surface and may be pushed up to the surface over time.
- If installing a pre-formed pond: Place the pre-formed pond in the hole and check to make sure it is completely level. Back fill around the edges making sure the soil is packed tightly all around the pond and under any shelves.
- Calculate the required size of your liner. For a precise calculation, use our Liner Size Calculator on the adjacent page.
- If installing a flexible liner: Drape the liner loosely into the hole and hold it in place with bricks or large rocks. See Page 2 for Pond Liners. (TIP: unrolling and laying your liner flat out in the sun for about an hour will warm up the liner and make it much easier to work with.) Slowly add water to your pond, smoothing out the liner as you fill. The liner will conform to the shape of the pond as it is weighted down by the water.
- Install your pumps and filters according to manufacturer instructions.
- Place decorative edging stones around the perimeter after your pond is completely full of water. Remember to allow gaps for pump hoses and cables and then trim off the excess.
- Add water conditioners to your pond before you begin planting. Let the pond run overnight before added your fish.
Spring Startup: Re-establishing Your Pond
Winter is a hard time for both the fish and plants. Many different materials may have been blown into your pond over the cold winter months. Most of the debris that found its way into the pond didn’t decay because of the cold water temperatures. Spring is the correct time to clean and inspect your pond. As water temperature approaches 42ºF (6ºC), your fish will start to eat. At this time, you should make a 15% to 25% pond water change over several consecutive days to eliminate the substances that are polluting your pond. After you have removed some of your pond water, remove dead leaves and debris that may have accumulated in the pond.
Resume filtering water through the filtration system and add biological bacteria starter to improve the development of the biological filter and keep your pond naturally balanced. Use filter pads and activated carbon in the filtration system to remove particles and to clear the water. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be tested at least weekly. It is recommended to purchase a Pond Test Kit to keep track of your pond’s water quality.
When doing spring startup water changes, don’t forget that you need to eliminate the toxic substances found within tap water. Fish also need electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium to maintain proper health.
Pond salt provides all the essential electrolytes fish need to survive. The level of salt that you add to the pond water is very low. You are not turning your pond into salty ocean water. For planted ponds, the level of salt is just 0.1% (1/10 of 1 %) and for fish-only ponds, the rate is just 0.2% (2/10 of 1%). This easy, natural, and inexpensive step is beneficial to your fish. As the salt stays in your pond when water evaporates, but is removed when you pump out water for water changes; use a Salt Level Test Kit to keep proper level of salt in the pond.