How to build a pond – What to know before you dig

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Tips for building your own Ecosystem Pond!

Ponds can be a beautiful addition to your backyard landscape. Ponds can create a surreal environment that will provide countless years of entertainment and relaxation! Living on Long Island we are surrounded by water, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a property right by the ocean, so why not create your own waterfront property by building a pond! However, before you begin your project, we recommend that you do some research and prepare yourself.  While Youtube videos can make pond construction look easy, trust us it’s not, it can be very grueling lifting all those heavy rocks. But if you are up for a challenge, it can be a very rewarding experience and you can save yourself some money! 

Step #1: Location

First you will want to pick out the location for your pond. Remember this is an important step, there are many factors to consider! A lot of people think of using an unused area in the back of their yard for their pond location, this is the worst mistake you can make. We recommend that when choosing a location for your pond you bring it as close as possible to your backyard living areas you spend time at such as patios, decks, pavilions, fire pits etc. We also recommend you make sure the location of the pond is visible from inside the home, if possible. This will allow you to enjoy your pond and waterfalls while you’re inside your home. 

Step #2 Size and Design

Once you have figured out the location where your pond will be going, it is time to determine how big of a pond you want to build. We recommend figuring out how many fish you envision having that will dictate how big of a pond you should have as overcrowding fishes in a small pond can create water quality issues! A good rule of thumb is every 1” of fish is equal to 10 gallons of pond. So if you want 10 fish that are 2 foot long then you’ll need a minimum of 2400 gallons. Remember that fish will also grow very quickly as they will sometimes double in size every year! Once you have figured out the size of your pond, spray paint the shape of your pond. Make sure to give your pond a nice design by giving it some nice curves, avoid a circular or square look, as those shapes make it appear man made. While designing your pond, make sure to keep in mind where your biological filter and skimmer will go. Try to create a design that avoids creating dead zones with poor circulation within the pond if possible. 

Step #3 Buying your pond components (Filtration, pumps, liner, etc!)

Once you have determined the size of your pond, you will need to purchase the right filtration system for your pond. This includes the appropriately sized biological filter and skimmer based on your pond’s dimensions and average depth. Choosing the correct pump is important as well. The pump is determined by pond size, waterfall spillway width and desired look to be obtained, dynamic head pressure, operating cost/ energy efficiency, cost of ownership etc. So do your research!  You will also need to purchase a 45mil EPDM liner, geotextile fabric to protect your liner, flex pvc pipe, pipe glue, silicone, rocks, gravel, etc… We highly recommend Aquascape products as they are one of the best in the industry. 

Step 4- Excavation!

Now that you have your pond design spray painted onto the ground and purchased all the necessary components you can finally begin your excavation. On Long Island fish winterize perfectly fine in ponds with water depths of 2 feet. You can make it deeper if you want of course, but keep in mind that you will need to install circulation jets within the pond for deeper depths! We build our ponds with shelves, make your first shelf 12 inches deep then make the second one 24 inches deep. 

Step 5- Product installation

Once you have your pond fully excavated with your shelves created and cleaned up, you can place your filter and skimmer in their appropriate spots. Next you will lay your geotextile fabric followed by your liner. Attach your skimmer and biological filter to the liner (Take your time and be careful!). 

Step 6- Get rocking’ and Rollin’

Once you set the liner in the pond and your biological filter and skimmer have been installed you can begin rocking your pond in! Start at the lowest shelf and work your way up the pond. Once you have rocked in the pond, you can line the bottom of the pond floor with gravel. At this point you should add any LED lights, aerators, fish caves, potted lilies, etc to your pond.

Step 7- Waterfall construction

This is perhaps the hardest part of building a pond. If your waterfall doesn’t look like a professional’s waterfall don’t be hard on yourself, it takes a lot of experience to build a nice-looking waterfall!

Step 8- Fill and clean!

Once you’re done building your pond, you can begin filling it up while cleaning the mess you made during the construction process. 

Step- 9 Enjoy!

If you made it this far… go grab a drink, sit back, and admire your hard work. You deserve it! 

Pond building can be hard and grueling work especially when done by hand, but it can be a highly rewarding experience if you are up for the task. Before you start your project, we highly recommend doing a lot of research which can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. If you’re located in Long Island, New York it may be a wise choice to hire a professional like us, TranquilityScapes, to build you the perfect Oasis you deserve the first time around!