How to Build Your Own Pond or Water Garden: The Complete Guide

water pond

There are several steps to take if you plan to build your own pond or water garden. You can check out our guide here to learn more.

Owning a water garden could open you up to a world of landscaping possibilities without too much work. There are several steps to take if you plan to build your own pond or water garden. You can start with small and hollow stones to catch rainwater or have a full-on coy fish pond — the opportunities are endless. 

Before you design your water garden, it’s important that you do your research. You want to determine how big you want your garden to be to figure out which layout is best for you. With regular gardening, you can guess and check your way through most things. However, a pond requires a greater amount of time and money to truly be done right. 

Our guide is here to help you learn how to build a small pond in your backyard without stressing yourself out!

Seats and Design

When you want to have an in-ground pond, speak with a professional contractor or research what the options and requirements are before you start. Poor planning will only cost you more money in the long run. There are a few things to consider before building a yard pond:

For a water garden that looks completely natural, you’ll want it to have sloped sides. It would also benefit you to have planting terraces to step down toward the deepest area of your pond. This will allow you to plant a variety of plant material and create multiple habitats. 

In northern areas, you could have a depth between 24 to 36 inches to ensure that the point will not be frozen solid during the winter months. If you’re living in a warmer climate and frost isn’t an issue, line the bottom of your pond with brick, concrete, or even clay. Most gardeners and professional landscapers use preformed liners made from plastic or fiberglass. 

You could also line with a flexible, cut-to-fit one made from butyl rubber or PVC. Preformed liners are much quicker and easier to install. However, flexible liners will give you more flexibility when building your own pond. 

Using Containers

If you want to learn how to build a small pond in your backyard so that it is easier to manage, consider having a patio water garden. There are plenty of water plants that you can grow in a tub of water right on your deck. You can even add a fountain or fish if you’d like. 

Use a traditional whiskey barrel or a plastic tub designed for water gardens. You can add miniature lotus, water lilies, and other water plants that can grow with little water. Have your container where it can receive 20 to 30 gallons of water and at least 6 hours of sun a day. 

Following these steps are sure to allow your plants to grow and flower with ease. In warmer climates, make sure to have enough afternoon shade. This is how you’ll preserve your plant life and avoid the costly task of replacing them. 

Choosing the Right Plants 

Build your own pond with a water garden if you like the look of floating plants, edge plants, and submerged plants. There are water plants that are invasive and should only be placed in growth containers. You can find reputable garden centers and places online to purchase approved plants where you live. 

You should always look into your State’s Natural Resources Agency to find out if there are any banned water plants. Once your growing season is over, discard any water plants in compost. You should also avoid placing them in streams, rivers, or lakes.

Floating Plants

Floating plants are great for shading the water and absorbing any dissolved nutrients. This helps to suppress algae and keep your yard pond clean. Some floating plants to look out for include water hyacinth, American frogbit, duckweed, water lilies, and water lettuce. 

Sturdy water lilies can be found in a variety of colors from yellow and pink to red and white. Many of them bloom from the end of Spring until frost and can also survive winter in deep ponds. As long as their roots aren’t frozen solid, you’re in the clear!

Be sure to plant them in hardy containers that you can submerge 10 to 18 inches deep. If not, remove the pots from the water by the end of Fall, place them in a bucket of water, and keep them in a protected area that won’t freeze over. For a winter water garden, choose a smaller variety that can spread around two to four square feet. 

Submerged Plants

These are great for building your own pond. They spend their entire lives blooming underneath the water’s surface. They’re also known as oxygenators. 

Submerged plants get their nutrients directly from the water through their stems and leaves. They do not need soil or any special fertilizer. Since they absorb nutrients, they also compete with algae and can keep your water clear as they consume the dissolved nutrients. 

Edge Plants

Edge plants grow on “shelves” that are 5 to 10 inches below the water’s surface. They can also grow in moist soil adjacent to backyard ponds. They provide shelter for frogs, fish, and other plant life. 

Shelf plants you can purchase include canna, marsh marigold, water plantain, sweet flag, cattails, sedges, pickerel rush, and arrowhead. Some of these plants, however, only thrive in very moist soil next to the pond. Those plants include Japanese and Siberian irises, Liatris, ajuga, Trollius, and filipendula. 

Adding Fish

Fish are a great addition to any water garden and can also monitor the mosquito population surrounding your backyard. Their wastes are also a great source of nutrients for plants. However, too many fish could also add too many nutrients that can lead to algae blooms. 

You should have at least a 30-gallon tub on your patio where there’s plenty of sunshine. Warmer patio tubs work best with tropical fish, like guppies, versus cool-water goldfish. Other native fish, such as goldfish and koi, can survive winter months in deep ponds as long as the water doesn’t freeze to the bottom. 

Not all water gardens need filtration or aeration systems. To have the best water quality, be sure to have the right blend of water plants, remove any dying plants, and be patient with water that isn’t clear. If you have loads of fish in your pond, however, you may need a pond aerator to help clean and oxygenate the pond. 

Build Your Own Pond Today!

Now that you’ve learned how to build your own pond, what are you waiting for? As long as you continue learning about water quality and what’s happening in the ecosystem, you’ll be more than prepared. Whether you choose a small water garden or a full-scale yard pond, it is sure to instantly bring serenity and peace to your home!

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