Building a pond is a complicated task. There are a lot of things that need to be considered when a pond is to be built. You can’t just dig a hole for your pond and be done with it.

There are plenty of reasons for a hole not being the only thing about a pond. You can violate the regulations regarding pond building in your area as well as threaten the wildlife over there. So, you have to keep a few things in mind.

Let’s take a look at the reasons for which just digging a hole isn’t enough for building a pond. We will also see what things you need to consider when you want to build one.

Why is just digging a hole not an option?

As mentioned above, there are quite a few things that need to be kept in mind while a pond is being built. Mindlessly digging holes here and there without any prior knowledge will only bring about other problems that will be too much to deal with. Pond building is a tiresome job in itself, one can do without self-created problems on top of that. Here are a few reasons why just digging a hole isn’t an option.

Can I Just Dig A Hole For A Pond

1. Choosing a place that is not safe

Electric and water lines go from place to place under the surface. There is a very high chance that you will damage these lines if you don’t research the area first, especially in a neighborhood that has too many people. Digging soil is a painful job. It will be more painful if you find out after all your digging, there is an electric or water line underground. But don’t dig too far from water lines as you will need easy access to water.

Also, if you plan to have aquatic plants in your pond, they will need enough sunlight for proper growth. So a place with too much shed will not do. So don’t dig a pond under large trees where there is never enough sunlight.

Another unsafe place is any place that is close to a ledge. When it rains heavily, sometimes these places are overflown or even cause mudslides. This is the last thing you would want to happen to your pond.

2. Harming the wildlife

Not all soil can be used to build a pond. Some soils have a low capacity to hold water, so it is not a good idea to build ponds on them. If you happen to build ponds on those soils, they have the potential to damage everything around them, like the plant and wildlife. Some of these damages could even be irreversible. You may face fines or even greater legal punishments for these.

Also, you will surely attract wildlife when you build a pond. Not all of them will be beneficial to the surrounding area. So you have to take measures so that unwanted animals don’t cause any trouble.

3. Absorbing Water

If you just dig a hole into the ground and pour water into it, it won’t serve the purpose of a pond. Yes, you can call it one for some time, but after some time the water will be absorbed into the ground. To prevent this from happening, you have to install pond liners into your pond.

There are many types of liners available in the market. But the most common and most popular kind of liner is the pond liners made of rubber. They are so popular because they are low maintenance and are extremely budget-friendly. These liners prevent water from soaking into the soil.

4. Not having the perfect depth

One of the most important aspects of a pond is its depth. If your pond is too shallow, it will get hot in no time. Extremely warm waters are very harmful to the fish living in your pond. Not only is the heat too much for them but the oxygen levels in these ponds are way too low.

Also, they will freeze in winter as quickly as they will get overheated in the summer. Frozen water will kill your fish if you don’t take care of things.

The temperature change is not the only problem you will face with a shallow pond. It will be too easy for the predators to prey upon the fish if the water is too shallow.

On the other hand, if your pond is too deep, maintenance can be a pain in the rear. Algae will have way too much room to grow, which is very harmful to the pond ecosystem. Also, the fish will die from the lack of oxygen if they happen to dive too deep. So the depth must be perfectly balanced, as all things are.

5. Not having the right size

Does size matter? It does in this case. But only the perfect size. A pond that is too small will be detrimental to the fish and plants in it. It will be very cramped as well as be very hard to maintain.

A very big pond will also have maintenance issues. A big pond will overflow if it rains too much.

6. Presence of legal restrictions

Building a pond in your own house doesn’t mean you are exempt from legal restrictions. Your insurance may go up if the land of your home is insured. Sometimes the insurance will not even cover the pond. You may also need permits in some areas. If you don’t acquire one before digging a pond, you may find yourself in deep trouble.

Do some research about what kind of legal restrictions you have in your area before building your pond.

6. Other reasons

Just having water in a hole will not be enough for a pond. Sometimes you will need your water to be circulated properly, for which you will need a pump. Again, you may need to make sure some bacteria don’t enter your pond, which will demand the presence of a filter. Or you will need direct access to the waterline.

These are the things you will need to think through before building a pond. If you build a pond without considering these, you will only invite more trouble for yourself.

What are the steps to build a pond

Now that you have known that you just can’t dig a hole and call it a pond, you will have figured out that certain steps need to be followed to make a perfect pond. They are :

1. Choosing the location

The very first thing you should take care of is the location. When you are choosing a location for your pond, you have to keep a few things in mind. First, if you have enough room in your garden for the size of the pond you are willing to build. Second, if there is any place that has enough sunlight. Third, whether the pond has any chance of being overflown.

Only after satisfying these requirements, can you build a pond in your backyard. It is not mandatory to dig a hole in the garden every time. You can also build ponds on raised platforms.

2. Making sure of safety

Safety is paramount for every walk of life. A pond is no exception.  You must make sure that your pond is safe for everyone, especially children.

3. Designing the pond

When designing the pond, there are a few rules you have to follow.  First, the shelving margins should be shallow to make sure any unfortunate animals that fall into the pond can get out of it alive.

Second, don’t make the ponds too deep. The deepest parts of the pond should be 5 feet at best.

When designing your pond, sketch it on paper. It will help you no matter what the design is.

4. Buying the right pond liner

Choosing the right pond liner is very important. Of course, you can line the pond with concrete, but it is better to use fiberglass or plastic liners. Plastic liners come in various types, such as PVC, EPDM, and Butyl liners.

Plastic liners are perfect for shaping the pond according to your will. They are better for curved ponds as they don’t bend at right angles. The liners should be a bit larger than your pond dimensions as they will also cover the depth as well as the length and breadth.

If your pond is 2m X 2m with a depth of 50cm,  you will need a liner of 3m X 3m. Liners have different prices according to their material and size. Fiberglass liners are quite costly while rubber liners are very cheap. A 3X3 pond liner will cost about 50 dollars while 10X10 liners can cost up to 600 bucks.

5. Digging the hole

Now we come to the digging of the hole for your pond. First, mark the place you intend to build your pond. You can do it with hose pipes or lines of sand. If you already have a liner, use cardboard to make a template of the outline of the liner. Now re-evaluate the design.

Digging a pond is tiresome work. If you dig a large pond, it will take a toll on your body. So use a mini digger for this purpose. Create horizontal shelves with equal margins on all the sides to plant aquatic plants.

6. Lining the hole

After you are done digging the hole, now it is time to line it. If the liner is already molded, first lower it into the pond to see if the shape is correct. Then dig into the hole a little bit more for it to have some wiggle room. After that, put a layer of sand at the base to protect the liner. Place the liner and put sand along the sides carefully.

On the other hand, for flexible liners, the hole should be about 50mm larger than the liner on all sides. Before placing the pond liner, make sure there you have removed rocks, metals, or any object with edges.

7. Protecting the liner

Pond liners are an important part of the pond which are meant to last decades. So it is mandatory to protect it properly. Use sand layers of about 50mm and underlays to protect the liner from things like roots, rocks, etc.

Then it is time to unfold the liner to fill the hole. It is better to have a couple more people helping you as EPDM liners can be very heavy. Push the liner into the contours gently. It is better to work barefooted so that your shoes don’t accidentally damage the liner.

You can use both gravel and soil on the base as protection. But if you decide to use soil, make sure to use special aquatic compost, which doesn’t have any nutrients at all. Otherwise, you will face problems related to algae.

8. Pouring water

Now comes the most important part, pouring water into the pond. While pouring water, rainwater is a better choice than tap water. Tap water has minerals such as nitrates and phosphates which only elevate the growth of algae. It doesn’t take much time to fill the pond with rainwater, you only need to wait for a week or two.

9. Edging the pond

Once you are done filling your pond with water, you will notice that there are parts of liners that are exposed. It doesn’t provide a good look at the pond. Although everybody likes them to be covered up, it is not an easy job to do. You can use rocks or concrete slabs to edge the pond.

10. Buying aquatic plants

Aquatic plants are a great addition to backyard ponds. But when buying them, you not only should take beauty into account but also their function. Don’t buy any plants that grow too large and/or are an invasive species. Some recommended plants are Rigid Hornwort, Starwort, Potamogeton,  Fringed water lily, water soldier, Marsh marigold, Flowering Rush, Water Plantain, etc.

11. Planting aquatic plants

Most of the time the plants will come in pots which will enable you to put them straight into the ponds. Some plants will need to be moved in a larger pot after a couple of years, in which case it is better to use special aquatic composts. These are low on nutrients and will not help in the growth of algae.

For stopping the compost from being washed up, put a gravel layer on the top of the pot.

12. Taking care of the pond

Sometimes you may get a small number of algae and blanketweed, but you don’t need to worry too much. You can just remove them with a stick.

In warmer weather, top the pond up with water regularly to stop it from being dried up.

Final words

As we have seen now, you can’t just blindly dig a hole for your pond. Building a pond needs detailed planning, thorough research, and proper execution. So go through every step properly to build a pond that you can be proud of.

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