How to Install Garden Ponds with Flexible Liners

Garden pond

Creating and designing your own garden pond can be exciting, yet confusing at the same time. How to install garden ponds isn't the only question that requires an answer.

Where should the garden pond be located? Will your pond idea be in compliance with the building code of Canada? Is a building permit required? If so, you'll need a building permit application.

What works best for your yard; large or small garden ponds? And what about garden pond design; what would best compliment the landscape?

Will you include a pond fountain or waterfall; aquatic plant life or koi fish? What type garden pond liner will you get; molded, fiberglass, or flexible? And what about cost and pond maintenance?

These type questions can only be satisfied after making inquiries and thoughtful consideration. Once decisions have been made and materials purchased, you are ready to begin your pond.

Ensuring Garden Pond Landscape Compatibility

Water garden pond design should work with and compliment the contours of the landscape.

To ensure you'll be happy with the location, size, and shape you've selected, mark the outline of the pool using a garden hose or rope. Leave it in place for a week or so before beginning pond construction.

This will help insure the size and design truly fits into the landscape. It will also let you know whether or not you'll be happy with the location, and how it will affect traffic patterns.

Your pond will either be lined with a fiberglass garden pond liner, a preformed pond liner, or a flexible pond liner - rubber or plastic.

If using a flexible liner, the guidelines below will help ensure successful installation.

Flexible Pond Liner Installation

Garden water ponds have gained in popularity over the years. Many larger department stores and most garden supply and landscaping centers will have many if not all materials required for backyard ponds and waterfall or fountain features.

When making flexible liner selection, higher end, thick mil rubber works best. It is more durable, has a longer life span, harder to puncture, and is relatively easy to install.

Ground Preparation

As you prepare the ground for the pond, save any turf removed to fill bare spots in the lawn once the pond is constructed:

  • Cut the sod about 4-inches in from the outline of the pond. Remove sod inside the outline; peel back the 4-inch strip, but leave intact. Once the liner has been installed, you can flip the sod back into place.

  • Dig to the decided depth. Ponds with one end shallow and one deeper best meet the needs of wildlife and aquatic plants. Pools with big fish such as Koi carp should be a minimum of 30-inches deep on least at one end; ponds without fish between 18 to 24-inches deep.

  • If edging the pond with stones or other material, dig an outwardly sloping shelf about 8-inches wide by 2-inches deep around the circumference of the pond. If you prefer, dig the shelf deep enough to allow a double layer of flagstone, brick, or other edging.

  • If using a layer of damp sand as underlayment, dig 2-inches deeper than pond depth. Angle the sides of the pound slightly outward; about 20-degrees.

    As you dig, keep pond edges and shelves level. Otherwise, the liner will show. Check by resting a carpenter's level on a straight board laid across the pond.

  • If you live in cold areas and plan on having aquatic plant life or koi fish, make a spot at least 3 to 3 ½-feet deep at one end of the pond. This will serve as the “deep zone,” where fish and aquatic plants can “over-winter” without freezing. Be sure the area selected is not in the same spot you plan to place the pump or a pond fountain.

  • Create a shelf about 8 to12-inches deep on the sides to provide a shelf for plants to frame the pond.

    Once you have finished digging your pond, check for any sharp or protruding twigs, stones, or other objects that could puncture the liner.

Now, lay down 1/2 to 2-inches of “underlayment;” whether a layer of damp sand, old carpeting or one made specifically for use with a flexible liner.

Installing the Liner

Before installation, allow the liner to warm in the sun for at least an hour to soften before placement. Some lining materials are easier to work when wet.

Depending upon the size of your pond, spreading the liner may take more than one person. Do not drag or pull the liner across the yard where it could catch on something and tear:

  • Flap the liner over the pool like a sheet (up and down) to force air under and cause it to “float” into place. Smooth the liner out as much as possible; do not pull or stretch.

  • Leave small wrinkles in the bottom of the pond. This allows the liner to spread once the soil settles; particularly important in earthquake prone areas.

  • Tuck and fold the liner neatly to fit the contours of the pool. Be sure and leave a lip no less than 6-inches over the outside of the pond; 12 inches is preferred. Use bricks or stones to temporarily hold the liner in place.

  • Fill the pool with several inches of water. Readjust the liner as needed; pleat and fold excess material neatly. Move the bricks if required.

  • Continue filling the pond to halfway; adjust the liner and bricks again.

  • Once final adjustments are made, fill the pond to just below the edging shelf. Note: there is no way to get rid of all wrinkles and folds. Tuck and fold excess lining material as neatly and compactly as possible.

  • Trim excess liner using heavy scissors or a utility knife, but leave plenty to overlap and protect the edging shelf.

  • Cover the exposed lip of liner with soil or concrete, if edges around the pool must support heavy traffic or heavy edging material.

Final Steps; How to Install Garden Ponds

You can now install the edging, overhanging the pond by 2 to 3-inches; use flagstone, brick, cut stone, or other decorative or natural stone. Trim the liner one final time; use soil in behind the stone to conceal visible liner.

If you dug the edging shelf deep enough to allow a double layer of edging, lay one stone atop the lined shelf. Pull the liner forward over the top of the stone. Trim the liner just short of the outside edge of the stone; cover with a second stone.

Double layering the edging prevents the liner from showing, and the pond to be filled higher with water; to the middle of the first layer of edging. With one layer of edging, fill with water to just below the bottom of the edging.

The rest is up to you! Install a regular or solar pond fountain or waterfall; add exotic aquatic pond plant specimens or koi fish. You might decide to install an underwater pond light or even a pond bridge.

Consider Hiring a Landscape Contractor Designer

To ensure your garden pond UK is everything you dreamed it would be, consider hiring a landscape contractor designer or garden ponds contractor for the job. is the right place to start.

Membership and project posting online is fast and easy. Best of all, its free; without obligation. Reliable service providers, experts at how to install garden ponds, will bid competitively on your project. Providing great service at a great price. Ready to create a tranquil garden pond paradise. One you'll want to escape to, again and again!

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