How to build a garden pond

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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.


You Will Need

  • Wooden pegs (60cm long)
  • Retaining boards (2mm thick)
  • Timber, for edging
  • Spirit level
  • Protective underlay
  • Butyl pond liner
  • Decking planks (four)
  • Drill
  • Residual current device
  • Long brass screws

Step 1

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.


Step 2

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.


Step 3

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.


Step 4

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.


Step 5

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


Step 6

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.


Step 7

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.


Step 8

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


Step 9

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


Step 10

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.


Kate Bradbury says

The greatest amount of wildlife, including tadpoles and other aquatic insects, is found in the shallows of the pond, so give greater priority to the shallow areas than the deeper parts. A gentle, sloping side is also better for birds, which will drink and bathe in your pond. Shallows also make ponds safe for hedgehogs, enabling them to enter and exit safely.

Kate Bradbury