The Tool Barn

Layout and Preparations

The first thing to do is to layout your pond. Take into account the available space and how much you want to spend on a liner. Bigger liners are more expensive and bigger ponds require more labor to excavate. Another consideration can be the surrounding terrain; if you are going to install a filter, it is sometimes best to place it on the high side of the pond.

The easiest way to layout the pond is to take a garden hose and outline the shape of the pond that you want. The more popular shapes resemble kidney beans or rectangles. Some things to consider when laying out how your pond will look:

a In most areas of the country it is a good idea to make part of your pond at least 2' deep. This helps to moderate the water temperature.

aIt is a good idea to put a 6" deep shelf around the outside of the pond in order to help conceal the liner.

aTry to pick a spot in your yard that is relatively level.

aA multi-tiered design: these are especially good as different plants sometimes need to be submerged at different levels.

aA sloping floor is also good. Many ponds have most of the pond at 2' deep but part of it might step up to 18" or so.

Start by putting the point of the shovel just inside the hose and push the shovel in. Move the shovel over a bit and keep going until you work your way around the entire perimeter of the pool. From there, start digging from the middle out or the edge in. An ax or mattock will come in handy to chop out the roots that you will inevitably encounter.

In our experience, it takes about 8-10 hours to dig a 5x10 pond, 2 feet deep. It will take less time if you have help or particularly agreeable soil.

Interactive pond sizer provided by Little Giant

Layout hose for pond liner

Layout hose for pond liner


Dig perimeter of pond first

Dig perimeter of pond first


Level for shelf

Note the multi-tiered design in this picture.  This allows for a stone shelf around the outside as well as a "shelf" for plants.

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