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Pond Building - Let The Hard Work Begin

Before you start digging, you should have already done a lot of work designing and planning. If you haven't then you may like to read our page on Pond Design. If you have done this, then you will have your plans ready and know how your construction is going to take place.

If you are still unsure of your design, then you could try reading one of the many good pond books on the subject.

OK, so now we assume that you have done the design work, know what your pond is going to look like and you are ready to start construction. That means that you have decided on whether to build a concrete or a liner pond. The following pages will guide you through the various stages of building depending on your choice of pond type.

Marking out

The easiest way to mark out an irregularly shaped or informal pond is to lay out some hose or rope on the ground and move it around until you are happy with the size and shape. You can then dig round this or peg round it until you are ready to start digging. If you are marking out a formal square shaped pond, then pegs and string can be used to mark the shape.

Preparing the ground

If you are digging a very large liner pond, maybe with a view to keeping koi, then you are best off creating a concrete collar around the outer edge. To do this, dig a trench around the outline of the pond and fill with concrete or blocks. This will stop the edges crumbling inwards as you dig the rest of the pond. It will also enable you to ensure that the ground is level before digging too much further. Remember though that if you are using a digger with which to carry out the main excavation, it will need access to the centre so leave a gap!

Digging the pond

This one is fairly self explanatory, either a mechanical digger or spades, shovels and elbow grease. Again, if using a mechanical digger, make sure that you have access to the pond from outside and that you can get the soil out to skips if need be. Also, when digging deep ponds, remember that sides can cave in. Shore up deep excavations where necessary and keep children and pets away when you are not there to supervise them.

Butyl Liner Construction

A reinforced concrete collar may, as mentioned above, have been constructed around the perimeter of the pond. This should be approximately 4 - 6 inches below the surrounding ground level. This enables the edging to have a permanent and level footing to sit on.

If you wish to do so, now is the time to install a dome covered bottom drain at the lowest point of the pond and all necessary 4" pipework to take this water out to the filter area. The pond is then lined with soft sand and an underlay followed by a good quality butyl liner. This should carry a manufacturer's 'lifetime' guarantee to ensure that it will never go brittle or perish.

The pond is finished off with a brick, slab or rock edging, whatever your choice, or a double thickness brick wall finished with coping for raised ponds. The liner can be sandwiched in between the courses of bricks so that it cannot be seen from above water level.

Pond Plumbing

Pond plumbing may sound complicated to the un-initiated, you may think of plumbing a pond in the same way as plumbing a house. However, it is a much simpler job with much fewer complexities.  There are two basic types of pond plumbing systems – one for gravity filter installations and one for pump fed. For more details, see our page on pond plumbing.


First of all, whatever type of electrical equipment that you use, make sure that all of the pond electric circuits are protected by an RCD. This device will detect electrical leakage and protect you from fatal electric shock if a fault should develop in any of your equipment. If you are not confident in fitting electrical equipment, especially outdoors and around water, get professional help. It is not that expensive and may save a life. For more information, see our pond electrical equipment page.