December 01, 2019 7 min read

Learning how to build a pond for your backyard is not as daunting of a task as it may seem. Imagine, sitting there enjoying the limelight from the sun gently setting in the background of a summer evening.

The only noise you have is the warm humming sound of your waterfall streaming down and into the pond that you built.

Everything is alright, no worries in mind and possibly a cool drink in your hand. Here, we’re going to explain the exact steps it takes to build a pond.

At the end of the day, your neighbors will be jealous.

How to Build a Pond As an Overview

In this Pond Building Guide We Will be Covering the Following:

Table of Contents:
1. Marking the Appropriate Area
2. Placing Filters, Skimmers, Piping
3. Excavating Your Pond Area
4. Installing Pumps and Pond Skimmers
5. Installing Pond Underlayment and Pond Liner
6. Attaching Liner to Pond Skimmer
7. Adding Rock Formations
8. Attaching Liner to Waterfalls
9. Adding Gravel to Your Pond
10. Pond Lights and Where to Place Them
11. Plants and Filling Your Pond
12. Applying Waterfall Foams
13. Biological Media
14. Additional Actions and Final Tweaks
15. Water Treatment and Fish Ready Pond Status

Let’s get started with building your very own Backyard Pond!

Marking the Designated Pond Area

It’s important to decide the right area for a pond to be not only excavated but built. The shape you choose is important as well as the dimensions.

Keep in mind the slope or grade of your yard. Unpack your pond kit and begin drawing the outline of your backyard pond.

When the shape and size of your pond is decided, if you are including a waterfall then demarcate where it will be placed.

When a pond has an irregular shape (as opposed to square or round/oval), make note of the curves.

Each curve of your outline should be wide. This will allow for pond water to circulate efficiently when the pond is ready.

How to Build a Pond: Placing Skimmers, Pipes and Filters

Take the skimmer that came with your pond kit as well as the water fall and make sure they are standing on opposite sides of the pond area you drew out.

Take the tubing or piping that came with your kit that is related to the waterfall and line it from the waterfall around the pond to the skimmer.

Don’t forget to cement the tubes with the provided adapters!

Excavating My Pond Region

Before you begin the exciting job that is excavation for your backyard pond, it’s important to review the layout of your yard and it’s underlying pipes.

To avoid any trouble and accidents that will no doubly cost you thousands in potential damage, reach out to your local authorities to locate hidden pipes and/or cables.

Begin by digging the pond area about 6 to 8 inches deep. This will act as a plant shelf and then use the additional dirt piles to build a retaining wall for the waterfall box (if your kit came with one).

Once the pond area is completely excavated, it’s recommended to use marking paint to make an outer line to house a deeper area of the pond.

It’s entirely up to you as to what shape or girth your backyard pond will have but don’t forget that the deeper area will be lined with rock.

Avoid sharp curves if you can. Dig the deeper are of your pond to be a healthy 2 feet in depth.

As the final step of the excavation process, excavate a designated region for the pond skimmer box.

The thing to keep in mind here is that your skimmer opening needs to be at about 1 inch above the water level.

Installing Skimmer and Pumps For Your Pond

Once the excavation portion of your pond building is complete, stamp and level the soil. When that is complete, place your provided backyard pond skimmer.

Push your pond piping through the grommet and place into the skimmer. Next, assemble the check valve assembly on the pump and place it in skimmer.

Attach your check valve to the flexible tubing.

Lastly, connect an overflow pipe to the back of the skimmer when you build your pond.

Installing Underlayment and Pond Liners

At this particular stage of our pond building tutorial and guide, you will begin by laying underlayment across the entirety of the pond.

It’s vital to install the underpayment completely into all corners of the excavated area.

A pro tip here is to start by placing yourself in the middle of the excavated area. Then, slowly work to the perimeters.

Leave room for movement in the underlayment. Make sure it’s loose which will provide for adjustment and settling.

Finally, lay the pond liner over the underlayment itself, and follow the same steps beginning in the middle and working your way towards the edges.

Attaching Pond Liners to Pond Skimmers

To attach the pond skimmer, begin by attaching the pond liner to the front end of the skimmer box by using the faceplate.

Make sure you have a sharp object readily available for the next step. Next, you’ll use the sharp end of your object to create two holes for two bolts.

Here, you are going to have to temporarily remove the pond liner and place a large bead of silicone over the created holes.

Next, reattach the pond liner and faceplate. Then, install the remaining bolts and tighten as best you can.

Finally, you will need to trim your pond liner from the internal portion of the skimmer. We suggest using a razor.

Adding Rock Formations to Ponds

If your pond kit came with rock formations or boulders, now is the time to place larger boulders first for structural support.

You need to starting with the pond's vertical walls.

Following the pond’s vertical walls when finished, fill in with smaller boulders and rocks starting at the very bottom and in a stacking fashion, work your way from the inside or inner portion of the pond formation.

This is where a little bit of imagination and creativity takes place.

Go for anything you feel is best! Make sure you get the look and feel that you want. After all, this is your pond!

Attaching Pond Liners to Waterfall Boxes

If your pond kit came with a waterfall, you will begin this step by taking the waterfall box and placing it level and side to side as well as tipping forward.

Make sure the forward lean is gentle and not overly exaggerated. We suggest leaning about an inch towards the pond itself.

Next, hold the pond liner at the front of the waterfall box. Then, mark the top bolts on each side.

Once marked, begin by removing the pond liner and applying silicone over the holes used for mounting.

As before, you will reposition the pond liner, attach the water weir using the bolts provided and trim the pond liner with a sharp end (razor use is OK here).

Adding Gravel to Backyard Ponds

Here at Garden Pond Supply, we know that the addition of gravel to your backyard pond signifies being almost done!

Begin by filling the gaps between the boulders you placed and layer the bottom of the pond with gravel.

Some of you might wondering why we are using gravel in this scenario and that’s because gravel will actually protect the pond liner as well as give the pond an entirely new and natural look.

The ideal gravel in these backyard ponds is about 1 inch in diameter and contains smooth edges.

Pond Lights in Your Structure

Nestle your lights between the boulders. Be sure to wrap about 1' of power cord around the lights so you can extend it out of the pond for maintenance in the future.

Place your lights so they shine out, away from the viewing area.

Foliage, Plants and Filling Your Pond

If you haven’t considered using pond lights for your backyard pond - we really suggest it!

The pond lights act as a awesome conduit to accentuating your pond’s look and feel!

Take the plants or foliage that came with your pond kit on the shallow shelf. If you have lilies then place them at the bottom of your pond.

Lilies tend to grow very quickly so it’s not a problem if they don’t completely cover your pond surface area.

Here is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Begin filling the pond with water!

Pay close attention to the pond skimmer and backfill around any areas that look like they will need support with the available dirt.

Waterfall Foam Application

If you’re wondering what in the world the foam ingredients is in your pond kit, rest assured first that it’s safe for fish.

It’s actually designed to fill in the gaps between rocks in the waterfall area.

Waterfall foam will This will keep water flowing above the rock’s surface.

Adding Biological Media to Your Pond

As we round the corner to completing this how to build a pond guide, you’ll need to add pond filter media to your pond skimmer and waterfall box.

Make sure to use low or even medium density pads in the pond skimmers and high or super high density for the waterfall box.

Some filler media will provide your pond with beneficial bacteria a place to colonize.

Completing Your Pond Before Water: Last Step

A backyard pond building trick or strategy at this point is to simply trim the liner and underlayment, leaving about 6 to 8 inches.

Take care to roll the remaining edge under the pond liner. Cover areas with gravel to secure the entire project into place and finish at the pond's edge.

Adding Water Treatment to Your Pond

Once your pond is filled, the very last step in building a backyard pond is to start up the waterfall if you have one and add water treatments.

At this stage using water conditioners and natural bacteria will definitely get the pond that you built yourself, ready for fish.

Garden Pond Supply
Garden Pond Supply

Sign up for our Newsletter