Designing and Building a Backyard Pond- Is it a Do-It-Yourself Project?

Backyard ponds are trendy these days, and for good reason.  They tend to increase the value and or resale-ability of your home.  They also encourage green-friendly eco-systems to develop, especially when a pond is developed in harmony with the surrounding environment.  They will attract wildlife too.  Depending on where you live, backyard ponds may become home to frogs and fish (koi fish are popular and fairly hardy.  Stay away from exotic species.  A sunfish wouldn't last long in a backyard pond), and may attract butterflies and birds too.  Installing one is a great way to make your yard a sanctuary for peaceful relaxation or an inviting place for a barbecue with friends.

Whether it is a do-it-yourself project is another question.  Its answer will depend largely upon your building experience.  It will also depend on how complicated a design that you want to build. 

The supplies for creating ponds are fairly straightforward, and can be purchased at most any hardware store.  Start by deciding where you want to place your pond.  Keep in mind that it needs to have good drainage, and should drain away from your home, not toward it.  Size is important.  A good rule of thumb: small yard, small pond.  Installing too large a one in a small yard can lead to flooding problems.  Once you've planned a location and size for your pond, you'll need a liner.  Rigid pond liners come in various shapes, such as round, rectangle, oval, and figure-eight.

For the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer, a small pond is probably achievable.  You won't need much more than a good spade and perhaps strong arms for digging.  However, larger ponds may require the use of heavier equipment.  Make sure you plan this into your preparations, in case you discover too late that your backyard won't accommodate a backhoe.

To install, you'll need to dig a hole that is slightly larger than your liner.  Your pond, and therefore your hole, will need to be level.  This may require you to do some landscaping to accommodate it.  Fill dirt may be necessary to build up one side which is lower than the other, or to create gentle slopes for proper drainage.

The construction of a larger pond should be attempted only if you consider your DIY experience to be fairly extensive.  Larger ponds can be lined with flexible PVC, giving you more freedom to design your own shape.  Heavier equipment will definitely be necessary to dig and landscape the area where you plan to install it.

Proper pond maintenance is very important once you're finished installing it.  Purchase a good pump to keep the water flowing correctly and not stagnating.  If a waterfall is in your plans, these can be a little bit trickier to put in and maintain.  Make sure that you understand how it works and how it should be installed before you attempt it.

Good landscaping around your pond is important too. This will help to maintain the integrity of your pond and minimize flooding problems.  Surrounding it with a garden containing native plants will encourage a symbiotic relationship between water and plants.  The more environmentally friendly your pond, the less extra care you will have to give it.

Many hardware and garden supplies stores offer 'how to' seminars on backyard pond installation.  If this is your first attempt at one, it would be helpful to take in one of these seminars.  They can give you step-by-step instructions, including what supplies you'll need.  They often have pictures or photos of ponds to give you ideas for designs.  Plus, you'll have support if you happen to run into problems in the middle of the job.

The bottom line: keep it simple for your first try.  Careful planning and creative designing can make it possible for even the novice do-it-yourselfer to install a backyard pond.

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