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Flexible Liner-Build Backyard Pond

How To Build A Liner Pond - Part I

Constructing the liner-built, backyard pond

You will need the following supplies:

Liner
Underliner or underlayment
Pump
Hose
Filter
Shovel
Mason's line
Line level
Chalk, garden lime or marking paint

How to build a pond with a pond liner

Most garden ponds are built with flexible liners of either Butyl, which is a synthetic rubber, or more commonly from an EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) liner. There are both reinforced and unreinforced versions of both, the reinforced more resistant to puncture or tearing but harder to work with.

The primary differences between Butyl and EPDM are in flexibility and cost, the Butyl liner being the most flexible and the most expensive. Both are durable, under water and under soil, and both are puncture resistant though the thicker EPDM will take more mechanical abuse, ie., dragging around, walking on, etc. EPDM can sometimes be found in 65 mil which is good to use because it is self-sealing when small punctures occur. It is much more widely available in 45 mil. (A mil is a thousandths of an inch.) Nothing less than 45 mil should be used. The Butyl liner comes in a variety of thicknesses, usually of 30 or 40 mil. Both are excellent for constructing backyard ponds and water features, with unreinforced EPDM being the most commonly used.

  1. Once the site has been determined (see placing the pond), the garden pond must be designed on the ground. Most sources recommend using a garden hose to lay out the shape but if powdered chalk, bagged lime or marking paint are available (check your local hardware or building supply store, they work well too. When laying out the pool on the ground, make it about a foot wider and longer (and make it a little deeper) than the body of water you wish to see as space will be taken up by materials. It is also a good idea to exaggerate the curves as they tend to flatten out in construction. If you're making a stream, however, avoid the tendency to make it too curvy. A stream that ends up flowing into the final pool at a ninety degree angle from its main course almost always looks contrived.

  2. Although a few 'authorities' recommend making the sides steep, most professional pond builders like to build shelves into the sides, in part so they will not be steep. A short vertical distance is much easier to place stones over than a long steep side and most pond builders who want a natural looking pond advocate lining the entire inside with river stones. The other purpose of the shelves is they provide places for margin plants.
  3. To dig the hole, excavate from the outside line to about a foot or so inward, digging down all the way around to create your first shelf. Remember that if you are going to put rocks on the shelves to dig deep enough to allow for them. You may choose to put sand or small pebbles on the horizontal plane of the shelves, in which case, you need only about as deep as you want the shelf to be in the final pond, and this should be only deep enough to take your margin plants without submerging them more than they can tolerate. Give the shelves a slight pitch upward from the outside to the inside and make them wide enough to take pots and stones. This makes it easy for plants in pots to sit on them without falling over. Make the vertical sides of the shelves as short as possible so the liner is easily hidden by fewer and smaller stones. Depth should be such that the water does not freeze to the bottom. With about a foot of water, fish will survive beneath the ice, and during winter temperatures, requiring no feeding. (If you don't have too many.)
  4. If you'd rather not see pots in your pond, you can dig holes in your shelves and plant them. To do so, make the holes larger than they will need to be because you will be putting underliner and liner in it, which will take space. Once made (and this isn't easy if your soil is loose or too soft) and the underliner and liner are in, the holes are filled with a good, fairly planting medium, planted and covered with small river stones or washed, rounded gravel or pebbles before the pool is filled with water, once construction is done.
  5. When doing the excavating, plan for the pump and filtration system you intend to use, making sure that you have plenty of space for the pump, its cord and the tubing without any of it showing, and that you will be able to access whatever components are going to need accessing easily. This will be determined by what filtration system you use. (See Pond Filtration Made Easy and Filtration and Pumps). It is best to place the pump on the end of the pond opposite to where the waterfall or return line, will be. This will provide maximum circulation of the water and contribute better to aeration.

    A two-pool, pool excavation - level from side to side,
    with shelves for rocks

    how to build a pond

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