There are quite a few articles on this site about how to improve your outdoor living space by adding outdoor furnishings and amenities that are already available inside your home, such as outdoor kitchens and loungers. One great backyard amenity that can’t be easily created indoors is your own backyard fish pond. Now, if you’re not interested in fish or caring for pets, you don’t need to add them to your backyard pond, but they can add a focal point to your yard and hours of enjoyment.
Choosing the right Location
So what are the steps in creating your own backyard fish pond? First, there are some questions you should ask yourself. Take a walk around your yard and assess the areas that could be made into your new fish pond. You want a spot that isn’t in a low-lying area, when it rains the water will run downhill into your pond, possibly carrying chemicals and debris with it. If you want to add water lilies to your pond they will need about 5 hours of sunlight per day, if not, fish will do fine in a shaded area. Locating your fish pond beneath deciduous trees or bushes will mean more work on your part to clear leaves off of the surface of the pond come fall.
Sizing your pool
Once you have chosen a location for your pond it’s also important to consider the size, depth and shape. If you want your fish to be koi, they will need at least 1000 gallons (3.785 Liters) of water to live in and at least 4 feet of depth. In general, the larger the pond is, the more fish and plants it will support, and the less cleaning you will need to do. Other types of fish, like gold fish, can live in more shallow ponds of 18′ – 2′ depth, but if you live in a climate that will freeze the pond in winter you will want a deeper pond that can sustain your fish over the cold months. You will also need to slope the sides of the pond so that the ice pushes up and not against the liner. The alternative is to bring the fish inside in the winter months, either into a fish tank or some other set up, such as an unused basement bathtub.
Water lilies need between 3’ – 5’ of water while other plants like lily pads need only between 1’ – 18” and a shallow pond will give you a better view of your fish. The downside to a shallow pond is that your fish will also be easier for birds to see and you may end up having to install a metal wire grid over the water to protect your investment. For these reasons some pond-owners chose to create many levels of depth within their ponds, a deep end for koi and a shallow end for lily pads for example.
The shape of your backyard fish pond can be anything you’d like but the most common shapes are square, circular, or organic curvilinear free form. Regardless of the shape you choose the perimeter of the pond must be built up with brick or rocks that are secured, so that they will prevent run-off or pets (and kids) from rolling into the pond and will not accidentally come loose and fall into the pond themselves.
Maintaining your pool
As far as the actual backyard fish pond construction the process goes as such: select your location, size, depth and shape, and dig the hole for the pond preferably with sloped sides. Install the pipe that will bring water to the pond and pack the earth down. The pipe should be 1 ½” for up to a 1500 gallon (5678 liter) pond, 2” if over 1500 gallons (5.678 liters) and 3”- 4” if over 2.500 gallons (9.463 liters). Install a drain in the bottom of the pond, with an anti-vortex cover if you’re including fish, and add an underlayment of newspaper or sand to cushion your pond liner. The liner should be at least 45 mil EPDM in order to last about 20 years, check with you local pond supply company for other options. Then consider adding jets that keep the water from stagnating and a skimmer that will rake up any leaves and debris for you. A bead filter can also trap debris while housing good bacteria and a UV clarifier will destroy algae blooms ensuring clear water. For the water return you can go with a stream, waterfall area, or fountain.
Enjoy your new backyard fish pond and the fish pond gallery below:
This backyard fish pond includes a statue of a heron to keep other predators at bay. Image Source: Pontoveg
You don’t need to create just one pond, if you want different fish species that normally are predator to each other you can build a series of ponds. Image Source: Pontoveg
Bridges or other special decorative objects make the pond feel more like a part of the landscaping around it. Image Source: Pontoveg
This pond is shallow enough for lilly pads to flourish, but that means that it also requires metal netting to protect the fish. Image Source: Pontoveg
The water return on this pond is it’s own focal point, more of a stream than a fountain. Image Source: Pontoveg
A backyard fish pond doesn’t have to be huge if it won’t be home to fish. Image Source: Pontoveg
The way this pond is constructed, the blue liner can be seen at the edges, consider this when designing your pond. Image Source: Pontoveg
Using a waterfall as a water return can be almost as enjoyable to watch as the fish themselves. Image Source: Pontoveg
This pond is huge, but it’s integrated beautifully through landscaping. Image Source: Pontoveg
You’re pond is going to attract attention from animals, a deeper pond will give your fish some room to hide. Image Source: Pontoveg
If you are looking forward to enjoying your time with your new fish, consider placing the pond closer to the house so it’s easier to interact with. Image Source: Pontoveg
Even without fish, ponds are areas of great interest for children as well as adults. Image Source: Pontoveg
Koi are very beautiful, but can be expensive and can grow to 5’ long. Fancy goldfish often have similar coloring and are less expensive. Image Source: Pontoveg
This fish pond takes residence in the far back corner of the yard to draw guests through the yard. Image Source: Pontoveg
Shallow ponds are great for growing lily pads but are less attractive for fish. Image Source: Pontoveg
If you’re looking for a pond that’s just full of fish please research at your local garden center or pet store for the amount of space they each need to live comfortably. Image Source: Pontoveg
This netting protects the fish from predators and leaves, which will rot and sour the water, if you can’t locate your pond away from trees you will need a net. Image Source: Pontoveg
Nets protect the fish from predators and if they are strong enough they protect your pets and children from falling in as well. Image Source: Joyce Taron
Some algae and moss can build up on your pond over time and add character, but if you have fish in the pond too, much algae will choke off their oxygen supply. Image Source: The Maisonette
This pond is raised above the level of the yard to prevent run-off. Image Source: Digsdigs
This rectilinear koi pond is located right off the back patio and gives an entirely different look to the more common, curvilinear organic pond surrounded by stones. Image Source: Lomets