Build a Backyard Fish Pond Without Moving Belly Up

Among the most memorable occasions of my entire life was the week that I spent in Hawaii for my brother’s wedding. The hotel on the shore, the sunshine, the warm weather, the mai tais and Lava Flows, morning swims in the ocean, sitting near a waterfall, watching the sunset as a grass-skirted man danced and chopped coconuts with a giant machete — it was all so serene and enchanting.

But maybe what finished the tropical experience most was the abundance of glistening koi ponds nearly anyplace I stepped. Glimmering white, orange and black fish the size of party subs were right at my hands. To that effect, for me anyway, I discover that the most peaceful, serene, relaxing and inspiring home landscapes are those that incorporate a fish pond.

So I wondered: What does it take to put a fish pond in a backyard? Harold Leidner was able to offer guidance. The Dallas landscape designer has assembled dozens of fish ponds in every shape and size, all the way up to a lavish $40,000 koi pond the size of a swimming pool.

The takeaway isalso, like indoor tanks, fish ponds aren’t for the faint of heart. They take a lot of effort and time, love and care. They may be time consuming, budget draining and, at times, heartbreaking (losing some pet is tough). But just like most difficult things in life, the payoff is worth it. And if you’ve got time — even just one free weekend — Leidner says you can construct your own backyard fish pond for about $2,500.

Here is what you’ll have to consider.


1. Dig

You are going to need a hole. A big one. It’s free if you do it yourself. If you will need the dirt hauled away, you are going to have to pay. Prices typically range from a few hundred dollars to several hundred, depending on the quantity and other things.

Leidner prefers deeper holes, but it’s up to you what aesthetic you are trying for. Both shallow and deep ponds have their benefits and pitfalls.

Exedra Architects

Advantages of Shallower Ponds

Less excavation means less work and fewer substances, so you are going to spend less on building costs and backaches.

Laidlaw Schultz architects

At 1 foot to 18 inches, a shallow pond will allow you a better view of your fish.

GM Construction, Inc..

Water plants like lily pads will flourish at this depth also. They can’t increase in deep water.

The Design Build Company

Smaller ponds obviously take up less space and may lend themselves to little design flourishes that make a big statement.

Ami Saunders, MLA

Advantages of Deeper Ponds

Fish will grow only in relation to how big the space is they’re in. In shallow water a koi fish, which may reach 3 feet in length, will not reach its entire potential, as it would in a 5-foot-deep pond.

Fish often get sicker in tiny ponds, since they’re swimming around in water with higher concentrations of their waste. Deeper ponds imply more water quantity and cleaner water. The fish are fitter, which makes it easier to keep the perfect chemical equilibrium.

Deeper ponds make fish harder targets for predators like birds, raccoons and cats, which could quickly swipe, swoop and make dinner of fish in shallower ponds. Letting predators make dinner of your fish obviously wouldn’t be cool, especially if you drop $5,000 on a single koi fish.

Teri Fotheringham Photography

2. Line the Hole

Surprise: Dirt holes don’t retain water really nicely. You are going to have to line your depression. The three most well-known approaches are concrete spray, rubber liners and plastic bathtubs.

Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Gunite is a spray concrete commonly used to line swimming pools. Leidner used it for this particular expansive fish pond in Dallas, constructed for approximately $25,000.

Experts: Gunite is long lasting and durable. Creative lighting and other nifty design elements are easy to contain.

Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Disadvantages: Price. You’re going to require a professional to set up gunite. Leidner says a viable budget for a professional setup of an average-size pond is $5,000 minimum, which includes pump parts and labour but not fish.

Garrett Churchill Inc..

Rubber liners are also common. Strips are rolled out, sealed together and used to line the excavated hole. Rocks and other layout elements are added on the top and then filled with water.

Experts: They are common and quite inexpensive. You are able to purchase a prepackaged pond kit with rubber liners for $850 to $1,500, depending on the size and other aspects.

Disadvantages: Rubber liners are rather difficult to set up; not all homeowners will know how to paste and seam the liners together. A little mistake could lead to a big drainage problem, and you’re going to lose your fish and water. Burrowing rodents also can nibble throughout the liner. “You would be surprised how fast a koi pond will drain in the ground,” Leidner says.

Pro tip: Should you go with a rubber liner, Leidner recommends purchasing a few bags of concrete, poking holes in them and using the bags to line the hole. Then spray the bags with water and put the rubber liner on top. The tote will dissolve and the concrete will harden, making a barrier that rodents can’t get through.

Premade plastic bathtubs are a good option. They start at about $800 but come in limited shapes and sizes.


3. Install the Pump Equipment

Pump equipment can be purchased at most local pool and pond supply businesses, with full installation instructions. You may hide it under rocks or plants, or buy extensions to hide it on the side of your house.


4. Add Landscaping

Having a hole with water will not do anything for your chi. Make sure you budget for rocks, plants or decking. Once you’ve got everything looking pretty, add water. You’ll want to confirm the chemical equilibrium and temperature before adding fish.

Behr Construction Company

5. Add Fish

whilst Collars would be the most popular choice for fish ponds, Leidner recommends fancy goldfish. In addition to getting elaborate patterns and colors nearly similar to those of koi, they are less aggressive and less expensive.

Koi can range between $200 to $7,000 per, while fancy goldfish go for approximately $35 each.

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