Before you Start
Things to Consider
Always dig with caution. Call 811 or your local utility company before you begin digging to locate buried pipes or power lines on your property.
Consider how the water garden will enhance your landscape. Examine all potential sites while considering economics, accessibility, and safety.
Your pond should not be built on a slope or grade. If it is located at the lowest elevation of the yard, you will have rainwater run-off that can muddy the water, wash away fish and destroy plants.
If you wish to include plants that require moderate to full sunlight, you will need to choose a location with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. Shade is good, but note that trees do drop leaves, which can fill up your pond and cause organic decay.
The size, scale and layout of your pond should complement the other features of your yard, including your landscaping and terrain.
Mapping & Digging
The pond should be made as large as possible, especially if you wish to add fish and/or plants. Larger ponds are more stable ecologically, require less maintenance and are less costly per gallon. If you have the space available for a pond, then use it. The biggest complaint from first time pond builder is that they didn’t make their pond big enough. They are also safer for fish and can hold more lilies and other kinds of plants. Usually depths range from about 18 inches to 36 inches for water gardens and 3 feet to 6 feet for koi ponds. You should always check local codes for depth allowance and any fence requirements. Ponds that hold plants require sunlight so they should be kept in shallow areas.
Once you’ve selected the perfect location in your yard, mark the area with rope and create the shape you want for your pond. When that’s complete, start digging out the grass and dirt to a depth of 1 foot deep. Haul away excess dirt in a wheelbarrow but save some for leveling if necessary. Dig out a deeper second tier to create a deeper middle portion of your pond for fish and create a shelf for plants and accessories around the edges of the pond.