Gardens - Water Gardening

Build a pond in four days

Dennis Eveleigh
Photography by
Dennis Eveleigh

Watch your garden come alive by adding this fish and water plant habitat

In just four days (one day a week), I built a small water feature in my garden: a natural-looking pond (one metre wide by two metres long by one metre deep) with a bog (one metre wide by 60 centimetres deep)—an aquatic ecosystem. And so can you.

A pond should be situated where it gets at least four hours of direct sun. In my case, that was about half a metre away from a wooden fence on the west side of my garden. To prepare, I drew a master plan of my 7.5-metre-by-7.5-metre backyard on graph paper, marking major features such as fences, walkways, trees, garden beds and buildings, along with underground gas lines. (Always check with your local utility companies before you dig.)

Next, I experimented with various pond shapes on tracing paper laid overtop of the master plan. After choosing a design, I copied it directly onto the plan. (Note: To overwinter fish, you need a pond deep enough not to freeze solid—at least 60 centimetres; more in very cold areas. Check local bylaws—deeper ponds may come under swimming pool regulations and require fencing.) Finally, I created a life-sized paper pattern (several large sheets taped together) of my pond and cut it out. Now I was ready to begin.

What you'll need

Garden tools

  • Round-mouthed shovel
  • Square-edged spade
  • Garden fork
  • Sturdy rake
  • Hand trowel
  • Old breadknife
  • Scissors or garden shears
  • Garden hose

Construction supplies
  • Two tarps (one for soil, the other to cover it)
  • Carpenter’s spirit level
  • Measuring tape
  • One 2x4, longer than the pond at its widest point
  • Wooden stakes or tent pegs, at least 15 centimetres tall (enough to go around the pond’s perimeter spaced 50 centimetres apart)
  • The highest-quality pond liner you can afford (I prefer rubber, which lasts the longest and is the most puncture resistant)
  • One-centimetre-thick foam carpet underpadding or commercial pond underlay
  • Grey fabric pond liner
  • Enough flat rocks, two to five centimetres thick, to cover the edges with two layers
  • Submersible water pump and length of plastic hose
  • Outdoor extension cord
  • Bog soil
  • Equal parts garden soil and peat moss

Additional supplies
  • Pond plants (for suggestions, see Pond partners)
  • Black plastic pots
  • Garden soil
  • Pea gravel (for potting 
water plants)
  • Fish (optional)


Top photo: A year after the pond is built, its healthy, clear water supports a variety of plants and fish.


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