Picture of How to Build a Fish Pond or Garden Pond
I thought I would share how I built our pond in case you would like to replicate it yourself. I'm no expert on landscape design so I may not be able to answer questions if it isn't included here. I started off reading a lot of things on the internet and there is so much conflicting information and after one false start have created a beautiful garden fish pond.

Before you begin you will need the following things:

garden hose
plank of wood
spirit level
pond liner
sand/liner underlay/newspaper
landscaping rocks
fountain pump
[optional] black vinyl duct tape
[optional] cement & bucket

Note: I live in Australia If you live in an area where it snows you may have to take other things into account for your fish to survive. Koi fish also need specific habitats that I have not addressed in this tutorial.

My total cost for this project was around $100 as I only needed to buy the liner, sand and the pump. The pond liner cost me $40
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Step 1: Step 1: Digging the Hole

Picture of Step 1: Digging the Hole
First dig yourself a good hole. I had a look at pond liners that were available first and knew that I could get one that is 2.5x2m for $39, so that meant that I wanted to keep my pond less than 1.5x1m and no more than 50cm deep. You can use a garden hose as a guide to work out your approximate shape.

You want to dig the sides straight down, but be careful that you don’t break off parts of the wall as we want them nice and solid for later. You might want to start a little smaller than your ideal size and make it bigger as you go just incase you do accidentally collapse part of a wall. One point to realise is that once you have put on the rocks at the end it will seem smaller so don’t be afraid if it looks really big right now.

Take off the crumbly top soil to a width of 4-5 inches around the hole if this is an issue for you like it is for me. The top soil for us was only about an inch thick, which gives us a solid foundation for the bricks. Use a straight plank of wood and a spirit level to make sure your sides are reasonably in line across the pond. Use a hand trowel to shave off a little more if some areas are higher than others.

Create a deep part and a shallow part in your pond. The centre of my hole is about 15cm deeper than the small area at the top. This will allow us to put in a range of plants as we desire. Some plants can only be placed in up to 20cm of water, some like it a lot deeper. Think about the fish you are going to get when you are planning your size as well as Koi need a much deeper, larger area than other fish.

Check for rocks and roots that may puncture your liner. After scraping with the shovel and removing most of the rocks I used my hands to feel around all the areas of the pond and dug out any more small rocks with the trowel.

Next, place your underlay in the hole. I used about an inch of sand in the bottom and on the ledge. You can also use damp newspaper, carpet or special underlay that you can buy from garden centres.
Merri577 months ago

Thank you for such a great set of instructions and images! I'm really keen to get started ASAP. :)

Great job and thanks for writing advices. Hope your fishes are having fun :)
vkelly-12 years ago
nice, I especially like the 'wetland' part.
I would recommend adding some stones or anything to let any unfortunate critter (example hedgehog) to climb out of the pond if they wander in.
how do u install the fountain pump into your pond and what is its function?
george333 years ago
great pond, where abouts did you get the liner as it seems pretty cheap.
DragonX7774 years ago
My family builted large pond before like the ones on your instructions, and it turned out great.
it is good one
SinAmos4 years ago
I love it.  Great work.
silversony4 years ago
Hi metanoia,

I like your pond, you have made a very instructive video, and the picture/steps take anyone through this process easily, fantastic job, I love fish and ponds, I have a double pond feature myself, and I am currently also rebuilding another one, a raised one.
 Best and most authentic pond instructable I've seen today. Beautiful pictures and outcome!
Wasagi4 years ago
 That's pretty expensive for a linder, would there be any alternatives? Like, multiple layers of thick plastic sheets?

Otherwise, great Instructable, I hope that you're happy with your pond!

metanoia (author)  Wasagi4 years ago
The pondliner I got is like thick, waterproof tarpaulin material. I thought what I got was pretty cheap considering the "good" stuff which is solid plastic was $40/m. You want to ensure that whatever you get is waterproof, won't easily tear or rip, and won't degrade quickly in the sun.

Quite a reasonable price though considering a solid shell at about the same size was $300+

Still very happy with my pond. Our plants are growing like crazy and the fish are doing very well.
Wasagi metanoia4 years ago
 Ok, thanks! 

Great job!