Building a Garden Pond – DIY or Not?

Garden pondPhoto: cliff1066™,

If you enjoy the outdoors and love sitting in your yard, consider installing a garden pond to add beautiful, tranquil note to the environment. A well-maintained garden pond also adds appeal and value to your home. But is this a project that you can do by yourself, or should you leave it to a pro?

What’s involved in DIY?

If you’ve always dreamed of installing a garden pond, you can make that dream come true. However, you should be aware of the planning, skills and hard work involved, including digging and hauling heavy material. For example, you’ll likely need to hollow out an area that’s at least 16 inches deep and at least 20 square feet, and then line it with sand and stones. You will also have to contact your local utility companies to find the location of underground pipes and wiring before you even begin excavating.

If you don’t have the tools, time, or strength for such a process, leave it up to a professional landscaper. If you choose to take on the project yourself, it’s still a good idea to consult with a landscaper in order to assess your property and see what options are best for your yard.

Factors to consider

Whether you decide to build a garden pond on your own or plan on hiring a professional, ask yourself the following questions:

Planning pond size

To avoid being disappointed with the size of your garden pond, keep in mind during the planning process that the area where the pond will be installed tends to look much bigger until the pond is actually put in. To get a real feel for the size, check out other ponds.

While an average garden pond is usually approximately ten feet by fifteen feet, you can choose any size and shape you desire -- within the limits of your property, of course. The larger the pond, the easier it is to maintain, but you’ll spend more on construction materials. If you’re considering putting fish in the pond, this will also affect the size you’ll need.

What about fish?

Goldfish and koi are common types of fish that live in garden ponds. If you plan on having either of them, be aware that they require certain dimensions. If you want to put in koi, make sure there are at least one thousand gallons of water (about 250 gallons per koi). Goldfish can survive in a much smaller pond, with approximately 20 gallons per fish.

Climate is also a consideration. If you live in a city with cold winters like Denver, for example, you will have to house the koi indoors during the coldest months. Goldfish can stay in the pond during the winter, but the pond will have to be deep enough to leave at least a foot of water below the frozen zone. A landscape designer who has worked with fish ponds can help you determine what you need to accommodate your fish.

What features would you like?

If you wish to install a waterfall, fountain, or other water feature in your pond, that will require more skill and planning.

Plants influence not only the look of your pond, but also water quality. Plants help get rid of fish waste and algae and keep the water clear. A landscape planner can help with the process by advising you about what plants best fits your budget and your yard.

A garden bench or other seating option is a great idea, since that will provide a spot for you to sit and enjoy the sight of your pond.

While a pond is a great addition to any yard, it needs to be installed correctly, preferably by a person with knowledge and experience. Unless you are a seasoned DIYer with the know-how and the tools for the job, it would be best to hire a professional landscaper.

Updated November 26, 2018.

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