How To Build A Small Backyard Pond? [Just 10 Steps]

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If you are thinking about enhancing the beauty of your yard, nothing can be better than building a small pond there. This doesn’t only enrich the environment and beauty of your backyard but also gives you a peaceful place to breathe and listen to the soothing and refreshing sound of the water running.

While you can find professionals to do this job for you, a DIY project will not only make it a fun work to do but also save some extra bucks of yours. In this article, I am going to guide you step by step on how to build a small backyard pond yourself with simple materials.

Things You Will Need

  • Pond liner or tarp
  • Soft Builder’s Sand
  • A fountain or waterfall
  • Pond filter
  • Pond heater
  • Rocks and stones for decoration
  • Fish and plants

10 Steps To Build A Small Backyard Pond

After you have collected all the necessary things needed to make a pond, let’s dive into the real fun! You are recommended to read the whole article at least once before starting to build the pond.

1. Choose a Location:

The first thing you need to decide is a nice location for your small pond. This place should be somewhere without any trees. Otherwise, tree leaves will fly away to your pond, or birds can sit there and drop their wastes in the water. If that happens, you will have to clean the water almost daily.

Also, avoid places where your pond is at the risk of absorbing runoff water from the rain. These waters can carry debris, dirt, or even fertilizers that will get mixed with your pond water. This will be not only harmful to your health but also damage the environment and plants in the water.

2. Design Planning:

Now that you have chosen a nice location, it’s time to design the place. Depending on the size of your yard, choose a proper size and dimension for your pond. Also, make a list of the money you will have to spend. Make sure it doesn’t exceed your budget or the ability to pay. Also, choose the shape you want -round or square or a customized one?

After choosing an appropriate size, decide the size of the lining you will need to cover the hole. Moreover, if you are planning to install any kind of powered equipment in the pond, make sure you have the right amount of power supply and security to execute the plan.

3. Digging a Hole:

After you are done with the planning and designing, you can start digging the place for a hole that you will fill with water. A diameter of 3-4 feet and depth of 2 feet is the ideal measurement for a small pond. Also, if you plan to have plants in the pond, dig a 1 foot deep and 1 or 2 feet wide shelf around the pond.

While you can dig the hole yourself, you can also hire a professional to do this for you.

4. Spread Sand:

After you have dug a nice and deep hole in your backyard, it’s time to fill it up with a sand layer. You can use the soft builder’s sand for it and a rake to spread it at a 1-2 inches layer as the base of the pond. This sand layer will save your pond liner from any kind of damaging element found in the soil.

If you are still not satisfied and think that the liner needs more protection, you can use a piece of old carpet and place it over the sand.

5. Lining the Pond:

In this step, it’s time to line your pond with a tarp or a waterproof material. Liners are generally made with polypropylene and they are very weather resistant. These will hold onto the water you fill the hole with so that the soil doesn’t absorb it.

First of all, buy a liner that’s the perfect size for the hole you made. A pond liner should be about 4 feet larger than your pond’s size. You can find these liners at local farms or hardware stores.

Place the lining properly on the hole so that it can sit firmly on the whole place. Gently drop it in the middle of your pond and then roll it all around the base, the sides, and within the edges. Make sure it’s perfectly pressed and covers all the corners. Don’t forget to cut down the extras with a scissor or knife.

With pond liners, you won’t have to worry about the wind blowing away the base. They are strong enough to withstand rough winds and still be firm. However, if you still have doubts, place a large stone or rock on the corners to hold it more firmly.

Note: If you are going to keep fish in the pond, make sure the liner is totally fish-safe.

6. Add a fountain or install a pond filter:

Adding water features like fountains can help you to aerate the pond. While they are a great material for pond landscaping, you also need them to keep the fish and plants healthy. You can just purchase a water fountain of your choice from the local pond store or the gardening center.

You need a pond filter if you are thinking of keeping fish in your little pond. Make sure to buy one that’s of the right size and fits perfectly in your pond. Read the instructions manual properly to place the filter in your pond perfectly.

After placing the filter, you will have to dig the filter box so that you can ground it to the side of the pond. Then, connect it to a power supply and your filter is ready to work. If you prefer to hide the filter box, try adding some plants around.

Pond filters are necessary for several reasons including keeping the pond water fresh, the fish healthy, and preventing any kind of bad smell.

7. Adding Pond Heater:

Pond heater is important if you are keeping fish there. Especially you need it if you are living in a place that freezes over when it’s winter. A pond heater will de-ice the pond water saving your fish from dying and ensuring enough oxygen.

8. Fill Up with Water:

Now, it’s time to fill up your pond with sufficient amount of water. You can use a garden hose to do that. In case your liner starts moving as you pour water, gently pull the sides of the liner to make it still. It will stop moving automatically once the pond is filled with water.

Note: Dechlorinate the water to ensure the safety of the fish.

9. Create a Border:

Making a border around the pond not only enhances the beauty of the area but also keeps your family members safe from slipping into the pond. However, in this case, you will need a little creativity along with the stones and rocks.

First of all, cover the edges including the areas of the liner beyond the edge with rocks or stones of your choice and design. The ratio of rocks on the water’s edge should be 1:3.

You can find different kinds of rocks in the market that comes in several sizes and styles. It depends on your personal preference whether you are going to use large or small rocks to design the whole area.

10. Adding Plants and Fish:

After building and decorating the small pond in your yard, it’s time to add some life to it. You can choose or choose not to add these since they are not totally necessary.

Whatever plant you choose, it’s ideal to place them around the rocks in the water. Then, add fish of your choice and maintain a nice and regular feeding schedule for them!


So, this is how you build a small backyard pond yourself in the cheapest way. Besides the things I have mentioned in the article, you can of course add decorations of your own.

Having a pond in your backyard has several benefits: it enriches the beauty of your yard, the environment becomes peaceful and if you are lucky enough, you can get a glimpse of some local wild lives too.

Moreover, a pond adds more value to your property. It will become desirable and you will be able to sell your home for a higher price than you bought it for.

I hope you had fun making this and your fish are swimming happily in their new home!


About The Author: Hi, this is Anne Thynne. Not the famous marine biologist but I love the fact that we both share a common interest. I have been keeping fish in aquariums since my childhood. Back in 2007, I was introduced with the amazing world of aquascaping and reef keeping. It still fascinates me. 

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