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How to build a garden pond

You will need

  • 60cm-long wooden pegs
  • 2cm-thick retaining boards
  • Timber for edging
  • Spirit level
  • Protective underlay
  • Butyl pond liner
  • Decking planks x4
  • Drill, residual current device
  • Long brass screws
Do it: all year round
Takes just: a weekend


Our towns and cities have become pocket-sized safari parks for insects, amphibians, small mammals and birds. In many parts of the UK, a number of amphibian species - such as frogs, toads and newts - are facing serious decline because of the loss of ponds in the wider countryside. So, gardeners can do their bit by creating their own wildlife pond, which will also look great and provide a year-round focal point.

Make a start by marking out the position on the ground. Use a garden hose for an informal-shaped pond, or canes and string for formal designs, as in our example, below.

When calculating the size of liner for your pond, measure the length and multiply it by twice the depth, adding on 15cm for an overlap. Repeat this for the width to get the size required.

How to do it


Dig a hole to 45cm deep. Knock in 60cm-long pegs around the edges and screw 2cm-thick retaining boards to them. Frame the edges with timber, screwed to the top of each peg.


Use a spirit level and long plank to check that all sides of the hole are level. If they aren't, the liner will show and spoil the look.


Add extra soil to one side of the hole to create a long, sloping marginal shelf. Firm this down using your heels to make sure it is compacted, then rake level.


Check the depth of your marginal shelf with your potted aquatic plants. The surrounding edge of the pond should be around 2-3cm above the pot's rim.


Remove any sharp stones from the soil, then line the hole with protective underlay, such as the geo-textile liner or offcuts of carpet.


Lay the pond liner over the hole and, with shoes off, climb in and push the liner into every nook, pleating it for a neater finish. Allow a 15cm overlap at the edges.


Fill your pond, preferably with rain water, left to fill up naturally, or from your water butt. If you need to use tap water, leave it to stand for a week, to allow the chlorine to evaporate.


When filled, trim liner and underlay together leaving 10-15cm of overlap. Fold over the corners ready to fix on the planks.


Lay lengths of decking over the four edges of the pond, parallel to the sides. Mark and cut where the planks overlap.


Cut to size then drill through the decking edge and liners into the edging frame, beneath. (Use a residual current device for safety.) Pull the liner taut to creat a neat finish then, using long brass screws, fix the planks in place.

Our tip

Bear in mind that a pond will seem much smaller once it has been planted, so make it as large as you can

Avoid building your pond near trees. It will be easier to look after if leaves from overhanging branches can't fall into it

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to build a garden pond
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Sindbad 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Item three is only necessary to correct your failure to consider the bottom profile at Item one. On a large pond this is a lot of unnecessary work.

sjoerdie 04/02/2012 at 16:35

how do I build a stream ending in a pond. It is a fairly steep slope ending in a fairly flat area. It would be lovely to have a "stream". I cannot find any info on the type of pump needed and how high a ump will pump water uphill, the length of the strem ould be about 15 meters. with one or two possible "drops". Any advise would be appreciated. thanks.

fletchrf 24/04/2012 at 08:35

Bradshaws offer various guidanc you mention on all the issues

EnigmaticGuppy92 24/04/2012 at 19:38

the hieght of the drop is the thing that needs to be worked out a regular pump will do but it will need a high lph rating youi will then need to construct the slope and the pond then purchases some plastic tubing that will fit the outlet of tyhe pump and lead this from the pump which will be placed in the pond to the head of the stream then disguise the piping and turn on the pump ensure that the pond can take the excess water that will be in circulation when the pump is turned off so that the pond doesnt overflow

Lucy3 18/07/2012 at 06:21

This would be more helpful if the picturres were bigger to enable a better view of the process - thank you :)

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