Pond Installation

Building a pond is not quite as easy as it looks. It requires careful planning and awareness of safety regulations and local bylaws, as well as the locations of underground services. Once that has all been taken care of you can assemble your tools and get started. We will tell you all you need to know, and more, about installing flexible pond liners and pre-formed ponds.

If you are planning a concrete pond than this section will be of little help to you. This is not something that the average person should attempt by her or himself, and we suggest to get in touch with a contractor specializing in concrete pond construction.

After you have determined the location, size and shape of your pond mark the proposed water area using a rope outline. Take a few steps back, or better yet, have another look from inside your house, preferably from upstairs. Now is the time to make some changes, assuming of course that you are using a flexible pond liner that you have not yet ordered or already purchased. Once you are satisfied with your choice you can continue.

Pond Installation

If you are installing your pond over an existing lawn and you might want to re-use the grass somewhere else on your property, carefully remove it to a depth of approx. 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). Use your spade to get underneath and try to cut it into equally sized pieces.

Begin to dig the hole as per your plan. You can save the excavated soil for future landscaping. Good topsoil can always be used somewhere, and the rest will come in handy in case you decide to add a small waterfall to your pond later.

If you are using a pre-formed pond, excavate the hole to the exact contours, depth and dimensions of the insert you have purchased, allowing for a layer of sand to be put between the soil and the insert to act as a cushion. The sand layer will also allow minor adjustments and levelling of the insert.

Once you are satisfied with your excavation, remove all roots, stones and all other sharp objects from the soil. Roots that can not be removed should be cut back as far as possible. Consult a tree specialist before digging near trees or disturbing their root system.

Then, put down a 2 to 4 inch (5 to 10 cm) layer of sand, making sure to achieve uniform coverage. Drop the pre-formed pond into the excavated and properly prepared hole, lay your 2 x 4 across and check the level all the way around. Then fill the pond with water.

If you are using a flexible pond liner to waterproof your pond, put in the first ledge as planned, making sure that it is level and wide enough to hold things like plant baskets and edging stones or boulders. It goes without saying that the edge of the pond must also be level around the entire circumference. To check, put a long board across the excavation in several spots and use your level.


Pond Installation

Continue down to the required depth, constructing as many ledges as desired. Instead of digging straight down we recommend to taper the sides down. This will provide more stability and help prevent the sides from caving in.

Pond Installation

Once you are satisfied with your excavation, remove all roots, stones and all other sharp objects from the soil. Roots that can not be removed should be cut back as far as possible. Consult a tree specialist before digging near trees or disturbing their root system.

Then, put down a 2 to 4 inch (5 to 10 cm) layer of sand, making sure to achieve uniform coverage. In lieu of sand, you can also use a non-rotting polyester felt. The cushion layer should also be applied to the sloped sides. Polyester felt will work better than sand in those areas. Do not use cardboard or newspaper as a cushion. They will both rot and eventually disappear.

As there will be quite a bit of foot traffic on the liner during installation we recommend to wear soft bottom shoes or running shoes during the actual liner installation.

Warning
Pond liners are extremely slippery when wet.

Pick a nice, warm and sunny day for installing your liner. As the liner might be a bit stiff in cold temperatures it will be harder to unfold and will not conform to the substrate as easily.

Carry the folded or rolled-up pond liner into the excavation and unfold or unroll it.


Pond Installation

Smaller liners can also be unfolded outside of the pond. Do not leave it unfolded outside of the pond for too long, though. The sun will heat up the liner quickly, and your beautiful lawn will be burned in no time.

Carefully carry the liner, with one of your friends or friendly neighbours holding it on each corner, into the pond. Do not pull the liner into the pond. First of all, it is heavy, and secondly, you might damage it by scraping it over the soil or getting caught on a sharp rock.

Once the liner is in place allow it, and yourself, to relax. Depending on your chosen shape the pond liner will show wrinkles in some areas. These wrinkles are caused by the fact that the liner is not pre-formed to your excavation but is merely a flat sheet. These wrinkles have no effect on the performance of the pond liner and will later be pressed onto the substrate and sides by the water pressure. You can also eliminate some of the wrinkles by pulling some of them together into one and making a fold in the liner instead.


Pond Installation

Make sure that you have sufficient overlap (mininum 12 inches or 30 cm on all sides) around the perimeter of the pond to allow for anchoring of the liner.

Now comes the fun part. You can finally begin to fill the pond with water. It is best to put the garden hose into the deepest spot and fill the pond slowly.


Pond Installation

As the pond fills with water you can still manipulate the liner to some degree and smooth out any remaining wrinkles.

Once the pond has been filled to the top we recommend to wait two or three days for the water pressure to fully compress the sand and soil underneath and press the liner into all crevices and corners of your excavation. Only after this period of time can you be relatively sure that the liner is in its final position and will not move or pull on the sides. In the meantime, put some bricks or other semi-heavy objects on the liner overlap. This will prevent it from being blown into the water and draining your pond part way.

After the liner has settled into its final position you can start burying the excess overlap. To prevent run-off from entering the pond and possibly washing lawn fertilizer into the water, make a small mound of soil all the way around the pond, drape the liner over it and then bury the rest.

If you are planning to use edging materials that are rough or have sharp edges or corners use a cushion layer between the pond liner and your edging materials. A non-rotting polyester felt is suitable for most applications. If you are worried about puncturing your pond liner you can always use two or three layers of felt. The same goes for heavy edging materials, such as boulders, for example. In this case we recommend using a heavy-duty rubber mat in lieu of felt.

To prevent capillary action and inadvertently draining the pond, terminate the felt or other cushioning materials below the water line or, if extended past the water line, make sure that the pond liner is high enough all the way around to keep the water within the pond.

Make sure you use an appropriate cushion/protection layer if you use concrete blocks or other sharp-edged or heavy materials to raise planter pots.

Pond liner repair kits are available in case your pond liner does get damaged or punctured during installation or afterwards.

Please allow your pond to stabilize for two to three weeks before adding plants and fish. You can, however, add a recirculating fountain pump, underwater lighting, etc. at any time.

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