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How to build backyard ponds
from concrete

how to build a concrete pond
A 'natural' backyard pond made from concrete

You can build your backyard pond, water feature, patio water garden, Koi pond or whatever you like to call it, from a variety of materials, including EPDM liners, rubber liners, rigid plastic or fiberglass liners or from concrete. In this article we look at using concrete for building backyard fish ponds. Other articles address using a preformed liner and a flexible liner for pond building.


To build a garden pond you will need the following supplies:

Portland cement
Waterproof cement
Marble dust
Wire mesh
Cement mixer or mixing pan
Line level
Mason's line
2' level


  • Excavate for the pond, allowing about twelve inches extra all around the pond to make up for the concrete shell and the stone which will go over the shell. No need to build in much detail at this point as you can create shelving and such on the concrete shell itself. Just try to get the general contour as you would finally like it to be.

  • With this amount of concrete (about twenty one cubic feet for a five foot by three foot by two foot pool) it is probably worthwhile renting a small gas or electric powered mixer. Mixing concrete by hand is a very difficult job. Make your concrete mix about two parts Portland cement, two parts gravel and four parts sand. Cut and lay in your wire mesh (how thick this should be will be determined by how cold it gets where you are. For consistently freezing temperatures use as heavy a grade as you can work with.)

  • Shovel the cement in, making sure it is at least eight inches thick where the sides meet the bottom and six inches at least everywhere else. Trowel it smooth but do not over-work the cement. You can use the float if you find that tool easier than the trowel. If it is necessary to stop the job for continuation the next day, deeply scar and rough all the edges that will be binding to the next days batch. Before applying the new cement to the old, apply Weldcrete or some other agent for binding green to fresh cement. Keep the work covered with plastic after each days work and continue to let it dry covered. After the cement is hard it can be filled with water and let to sit a few days. This makes a harder shell.

    backyard ponds of concrete - construction details

  • Drain the shell and mix up a batch of marble dust and waterproof cement (follow the directions on the marble dust bag). This is the watertight, plaster coating that will go down in two or three coats over the concrete shell. Keep this moist too by covering until it is hard. Alternatively, there is a material called ‘Wet-Seal’ which has given good results. It is mixed as a slurry and painted on, over the concrete surface. When this (marble dust plaster or ‘Wet-Seal’ is dry the shell holds water. Fill it and let it sit for several days to be sure it does. Mark the water line, cover it to lessen evaporation, then check it. If the water is where it was, construction can continue. If it has dropped significantly, re-plaster and check again. (But this is unlikely if you have followed these directions.)

  • Once this is done, you have completed the Mammoth’ s portion of the labor for building a concrete garden pond - the concrete work. The rest of the work is aesthetics with a few practical considerations.
  • Because you are using cement for your backyard  pond you can do a lot of nifty things not easily possible with a liner built pond. You can build in stone planters using cement, build, (as mentioned) a housing for the pump and filter, build stones over the water line from the pump to the outflow, and mortar stone to the bottom and sides and make it look as natural as possible. You can also build a dramatic waterfall. Just be sure to make this look as it should. There are a lot of badly done waterfalls. Click here to learn about waterfall  construction.

    If you have questions on any of this, feel free to contact us. If we have the answers to your questions, they're yours to have. If we don't, we'll research it and post the answers for you.

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