Create a pond the smart way

Where to start

Building a pond can seem like a big DIY project to take on, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Prevent common pitfalls and start your project off the right way. It all starts with a good plan!

Step 1: Before the build


Always dig with caution. Call 811 or your local utility company before you begin digging to locate buried pipes or power lines on your property.


Where your pond is located in your yard is an important decision that can affect maintenance. It is best to avoid locations directly under trees because falling leaves can create debris that can clog the pump and cause water quality issues.

Consider power. Is the intended location near a GFCI outlet? If not, it is usually easy for an electrician to install one in the yard. It is best practice to plug equipment directly into the outlet. Failure to do so may void the warranty.

Consider how the water garden will enhance your landscape. You will want pond visibility from many areas, including a nearby window or living area, which is another factor to weigh when choosing the pond site.


Your pond should not be built on a slope or grade. If it is located at the lowest elevation of the yard, you will have rainwater run-off that can muddy the water, wash away fish and destroy plants.


How much sunlight do you need? If you are going to include plants that require moderate to full sunlight, you will need to choose a location with a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight. Some shade is important, but keep in mind that trees do lose their leaves.


The size, scale, and layout of your pond should complement the other features of your yard, including your landscaping and terrain.

Determine the size and shape of your pond based on your preference and landscaping. You can use rope or spray paint to map the shape and see what works best.

Consider any water features you'd like to add such as fountains, spitters, or potential add-ons (like waterfalls) and how they will fit in to the pond shape.

TIP! Pond liners are typically rectangular. To keep things simple, choose a shape that fits within a rectangle and within common pond liner sizes. The pond liner should have a recommended overhang of 12-18 in. Ponds should have a minimum depth of 1.5 ft., up to 3 ft. for Koi ponds. Calculate liner size here.

Step 2: Time to dig!

A woman is pictured throwing dirt into a blue wheelbarrow with a shovel. There is a dirt circle in the ground where the pond is being dug. There is a cedar fence in the background, and green grass surrounding the pond.

Once you’ve selected the perfect location in your yard, mark the area with rope or spray paint in the shape and size you've chosen for your pond. When that’s complete, start digging out the grass and dirt to a depth of 1 foot deep to create a plant shelf. Haul away excess dirt in a wheelbarrow but save some for leveling if necessary. Dig out a deeper second tier to create the middle portion of your pond for fish, at least 1.5 feet deep. This creates a shelf for plants and accessories around the edges of the pond, with a safe space for fish in the middle.

TIP! It is recommended that water gardens containing basic fish should be at least 1.5 ft. deep. In areas with colder winters, 2 – 2.5 ft. deep would be more ideal but Koi ponds require 3 ft. depth or more.

Step 3: Know the volume of your pond

A woman is pictured next to a pond trimming excess pond liner. The pond is decorated with landscaping stones and is filled with water. There is a cedar fence int he background and grass surrounding the pond.

Use our calculator, or the following formula to determine the volume of your pond.

For circular ponds, measure in feet the Diameter x Diameter x Depth x 5.9 = Total Gallons

For rectangular ponds, measure in feet the Length x Width x Depth x 7.5 = Total Gallons

Here is our sizing reference:

Small ponds up to 200 gallons

Medium ponds up to 600 gallons

Large ponds up to 1,600 gallons

TIP! If you’re looking for a no-dig option, try above ground ponds.

Select your products

Now that you’ve dug the hole and you know your new pond’s size, it’s time to  Select your products