Step Three Ė Dig In 

Believe it or not, I found steps one and two to be the hard part. Once I actually began digging, it went surprisingly easy and fast. Granted, I did have help with the grunt work. My wife, and her sister and brother-in-law were a great help in moving dirt. Even with the four of us, I was surprised that we installed the pond and did some landscaping in one day. I did remove the grass the day before which made for easier digging the next day.

Removing the top couple of inches of grass and dirt is hard work but I wanted to remove the grass in sections so that I could transplant it in some more barren areas of my front yard. I slid a spade under the grass roots and removed sections much like you would buy sod.

Two of us dug while the others handled the wheelbarrow and hauled the dirt away. This gave us a few minutes to rest between wheelbarrow trips.

  1. We dug out pond and shaped our underwater shelves.

  2. We built our burm around the pond using some of the dirt we dug out. I recommend building a burm 2-3 inches above the ground level around the pond to help control water, leaves, etc. that may run into or out of your pond. (see drawing). We built up about 1-2 inches of dirt, laid our liner overlap on top of it, and then buried the liner overlap with another inch or so of dirt and sand.

  3. We covered the bottom of the hole with sand.

  4. We put the carpet on the bottom AND THE SIDES for padding to protect the liner.

  5. Lay the liner in the pond and carefully shape it to the hole. Donít forget to leave at least 1 foot of overlap all around the outside of the pond.

  6. Begin filling the pond with water. Do this before you put your anchor stones on the edges of the liner. The water will force the liner into all of the nooks and crannies and draw the liner into the pond as it fills. As it fills, shape it to the pond. You will need to tuck and fold it in the corners. Stop when you get it about ĺ full.

  7. We put our anchor stones on the narrow shelf around the inside edge of the pond.
  8. We then buried the liner overlap in the burm around the pond. NOTE: It is important NOT to leave any of the liner exposed. The sunís ultraviolet rays will break down the vinyl over time, making it brittle. The underwater part of the line will develop a coating of algae that will protect it.
  9. Finish filling your pond. Stop filling about 2-3 inches from the edge. The water level will fluctuate some with evaporation and rain.

  10. If you are making a waterfall (highly recommended) stack your rocks so that the water cascades down the face of the rocks. Make sure the rocks are stacked and angled so that the water runs into the pond and not off of the back of the rocks. Make sure your liner extends under the rocks and is slightly elevated so that any splash or runoff is directed back into the pond.

Waterfall Hints: The slightest angle will work. Water will follow the easiest path so you donít need a steep angle to direct the water where you want it. If you find that you still have a problem with water running the wrong way, you can buy cans of spray-on foam insulation that you can spray into the cracks between the rocks to block off the unwanted path of the water. You can get the foam insulation in black so that it doesnít show as much. 

Make sure the rocks are level left-to-right so that the water drips evenly across the face of the waterfall and doesnít all run to one side.

Make a little concave area under the bottom rock of the waterfall. This makes a little ďecho chamberĒ that greatly enhances that wonderful ďgurglingĒ sound that the water makes as it falls back into the pond.

You can buy pre-formed waterfalls but they are expensive and, in my opinion, donít look nearly as nice as natural stone.

You are now ready to install your pump and filter.

If you are using a submersible pump, put it in the deepest part of the pond. This does a better job of circulating the sediment that naturally settles to the bottom of the pond through your filter for removal. However, make sure you can reach the pump because you will occasionally have to clear debris from the pumpís inlet. I recommend setting the pump on a rock or a brick so that it is not sitting directly in the sediment that settles to the bottom of the pond. Remember to make sure that you power cord will reach your electrical outlet. Some submersible pumps have a fountain made into them with a plastic pipe that rises above the water. Others use a discharge hose that you will run to your waterfall or fountain. In either case, it is important to have the water go through the air at some point to replenish the oxygen in the water. Just follow the instructions that come with whatever pump(s) that you buy. 


Itís still rather simple and plain, but time, plants and landscaping will take care of that. Next Iíll describe the finishing touches that really made it all work. Donít overlook the maintenance section below.

WARNING! DO NOT put fish in yet! Your pond needs to stabilize before fish will survive. You need to let it stabilize at least a few days before introducing fish. This gives time for the chlorine in the water to dissipate and the ecology to get started. Ask your pet supply store about how to get started with your fish. See more about fish under the "fish" section.

Next: Finishing Touches



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