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  Pond excavation
Pond with shelves, filter and skimmer

How to Build an Inexpensive
Back-Yard Pond and Waterfall

Supply List:

Liner and underlayment
Filter and Skimmer
Pipe and fittings
Plants, fish, etc

Links on the left are companies with discounted pond supplies. The online selection is much better than what you can find in your local stores and the prices are usually lower.

We have installed many ponds using commercial products, biological filters, skimmers, etc., however the pond being installed on this page is Sun Gardens' private experimental pond.

The skimmer and biological filter were fabricated from large trash cans and other expensive items were replaced with less expensive or free items.

If you don't have much to spend and you are a "handy" kind of person, this may be the pond for you! If not, factory-made skimmers, filters and other items are available at discounted prices from the advertizers on this page.

Let's get started!

Choose your spot and decide on size, shape and whether or not you want a waterfall. Also, you will need electricity supplied to the area.

Pick an area far away from large trees, their roots will quickly find your pond.

The larger the pond, the happier you will be, larger ponds mean more plants, fish and other fun things.

Choosing a shape.....

Use a garden hose for outlining the shape, peanut, oval, round or whatever you want. Then mark it with spray paint.

Now that you have an outline, you need to buy a liner that will fit your pond. Measure the area, length x width x depth, the depth should be at least three feet deep if you plan on having fish.

Dig, dig, dig.....

Dig the entire area down about one foot, throwing excavated soil in the area where you want the waterfall.

Go in about a foot and dig down another foot, see first photo, making two shelves then dig the center down to the three foot level. The first shelf is for shallow water plants, like cattails and iris and the deeper shelf for lillies.

Next, dig holes for the skimmer and biological filter and trenches for the piping.

Forming the waterfall.....

Form steps in the waterfall mound, raising the sides with soil to keep the water inside the steps. Line the steps with underlayment and liner.

Place large flat flagstones on the shelves and use expanding foam between the cracks and on the sides to make the water flow from one shelf to the other, and not go under the flagstone. Add small colorful rocks and pebbles all over the waterfall.

The pump.....

Install an energy eficient submersible pump in the skimmer 'trash can' and run PVC pipe up to the biological filter 'trash can' and out to waterfall. Use bulkhead fittings for the connections to the filter and skimmer. Remember to make the water go in the bottom of the filter can and exit at the top.

Liner and underlayment.....

Lay pieces of carpet padding or old carpet down in the pond hole as underlayment, to protect the liner from rocks or other sharp objects. Then place the liner over the underlayment making sure there are no wrinkles. Liner should overlap the top edge at least a foot all around.

Contact a local carpet installer for used padding and old carpet, he would be taking it to the dump anyway and will probably be more than happy to have you haul it away for him. If you want to buy commercial underlayment, the link on the left has some really good stuff at a good price.

Rocking the pond.....

Place nice looking rocks around the pond's edge, covering the liner. Add a mixture of small to medium rocks inside the pond to simulate a natural pond bottom and to cover-up the liner.

Fill it up.....

Fill the pond with water and add filter media to the biological filter and filter material to the skimmer.

Plug in pump and sit back and marvel at your creation!

Now you can have fun adding plants, fish, lighting, ornaments, a bench or whatever to your new pond!


Homemade pond skimmer
Homemade skimmer
Homemade biological filter
Homemade biological filter
Finished pond
Finished pond and waterfall
Pond and garden
Garden with pond in background

Photography © www.martymoore.com

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