There are quite a few articles on this site about how to improve your outdoor living space by adding outdoor furnishings and amenities that are already available inside your home, such as outdoor kitchens and loungers. One great backyard amenity that can’t be easily created indoors is your own backyard fish pond. Now, if you’re not interested in fish or caring for pets, you don’t need to add them to your backyard pond, but they can add a focal point to your yard and hours of enjoyment.
Choosing the right Location
So what are the steps in creating your own backyard fish pond? First, there are some questions you should ask yourself. Take a walk around your yard and assess the areas that could be made into your new fish pond. You want a spot that isn’t in a low-lying area, when it rains the water will run downhill into your pond, possibly carrying chemicals and debris with it.
If you want to add water lilies to your pond they will need about 5 hours of sunlight per day, if not, fish will do fine in a shaded area. Locating your fish pond beneath deciduous trees or bushes will mean more work on your part to clear leaves off of the surface of the pond come fall.
Sizing your pool
Once you have chosen a location for your pond it’s also important to consider the size, depth and shape. If you want your fish to be koi, they will need at least 1000 gallons (3.785 Liters) of water to live in and at least 4 feet of depth. In general, the larger the pond is, the more fish and plants it will support, and the less cleaning you will need to do.
Other types of fish, like gold fish, can live in more shallow ponds of 18′ – 2′ depth, but if you live in a climate that will freeze the pond in winter you will want a deeper pond that can sustain your fish over the cold months. You will also need to slope the sides of the pond so that the ice pushes up and not against the liner. The alternative is to bring the fish inside in the winter months, either into a fish tank or some other set up, such as an unused basement bathtub.
Water lilies need between 3’ – 5’ of water while other plants like lily pads need only between 1’ – 18” and a shallow pond will give you a better view of your fish. The downside to a shallow pond is that your fish will also be easier for birds to see and you may end up having to install a metal wire grid over the water to protect your investment. For these reasons some pond-owners chose to create many levels of depth within their ponds, a deep end for koi and a shallow end for lily pads for example.
The shape of your backyard fish pond can be anything you’d like but the most common shapes are square, circular, or organic curvilinear free form. Regardless of the shape you choose the perimeter of the pond must be built up with brick or rocks that are secured, so that they will prevent run-off or pets (and kids) from rolling into the pond and will not accidentally come loose and fall into the pond themselves.
Maintaining your pool
As far as the actual backyard fish pond construction the process goes as such: select your location, size, depth and shape, and dig the hole for the pond preferably with sloped sides. Install the pipe that will bring water to the pond and pack the earth down. The pipe should be 1 ½” for up to a 1500 gallon (5678 liter) pond, 2” if over 1500 gallons (5.678 liters) and 3”- 4” if over 2.500 gallons (9.463 liters). Install a drain in the bottom of the pond, with an anti-vortex cover if you’re including fish, and add an underlayment of newspaper or sand to cushion your pond liner.
The liner should be at least 45 mil EPDM in order to last about 20 years, check with you local pond supply company for other options. Then consider adding jets that keep the water from stagnating and a skimmer that will rake up any leaves and debris for you. A bead filter can also trap debris while housing good bacteria and a UV clarifier will destroy algae blooms ensuring clear water. For the water return you can go with a stream, waterfall area, or fountain.
Enjoy your new backyard fish pond and the fish pond gallery below: