How to Build a Pond

I always wanted to have a backyard pond so I decided to learn how to build a pond. And since I had a turtle which outgrown my turtle tank I just had to build a pond for my turtle. I liked the idea of having my own pond full of fishes swimming around and my turtles bathing in the sun.

So I did a little research on topic on how to build a pond. I read a lot of pond building articles, watched some YouTube videos and finally I had enough info to make a pond myself. I combined all pond building information and made a plan on how to build a turtle pond.

In this article I will try to give you some tips and ideas so that you too can make your own pond. All by yourself. Of course I am still far away from being expert or anything close to that. I simply made a small pond for my turtle. And I think I did it really good and  I am happy with the results.

So let’s start and look how to build a pond!

How to Build a Pond – My way of building a turtle pond


Decide where to build a pond
Find good place to build a pondFirst thing to do is to find a good place for your pond. ideally you should look for a place that gets some shadow during the day. It is not recommended for your small pond to be on all day sun exposure. You can quickly get  problems like algae growth,  too warm water, and animals also need a shadow. You can control sun exposure later on with plants like water lilies or lotus.

I didn’t really have much choise where to build a pond. This was only place available so I needed to make a smaller pond. I was also limited in depth of the pond (plumbing installation under).


Mark shape and size
Next I marked the outline of the pond with a garden hose. You can use a rope (much better suited for outlining the pond). Here you can experiment and try different shapes and sizes. Anything goes. As long you have enough space available.


Dig a hole
Once I had outlined my pond I started to dig. Yeah. There was a lot of digging. I started from outside in. I digged in layers so that pond would have slopes.

Start diggingPond slowly getting its shapeDigging turtle pond

Make pond slopes

Digg and make slopes. Very important for a pond.

Almost finished with digging the pond Final pond shape






Clean the hole from sharp objects
When done making the hole I made sure there are no sharp stones left in the pond. You don’t want anything sharp to tear pond foil later on.

Lay down some sort of soft materials to protect the pond foil
Next I laid some old sheets, curtains and other soft material. For pond foil protection. I guess I did overdo it.

Didn't spare with the material Old curtains for protection

Even more layers of soft material











Pond Foil
Now it’s time to put pond foil over the hole. I recommend to get foil specially for ponds (pond foil is thicker and more resistant). Normal foil can quickly tear or gets damaged. And you don’t want foil damaged once you have pond full of fish or other animals.

Pond foil

Fill in the water to evenly stretch the pond foil.
Finally I started to fill my pond with water.  Before you go to next step be sure your pond foil is not damaged (mark the water level and check back in a few hours). If foil is damaged you need to patch it up or replace. Better to do that now when just starting. It’s kinda hard to go and tear your whole pond down once you finished it just because foil had a tiny hole and was leaking.

Fill water to get ponf foil in place

Use stones to cover the foil
In this step I got a lot of stones from nearby river and one by one I stacked them up so the pond foil was not visible anymore (without slopes I would not be able to do that). Looks more natural this way. I did that with water in the pond but I guess it would be much easier to empty it before laying stones.

River stones It took a lot of stones to cover all of the foil






I wanted to have some kind of water fall so I stacked some larger rocks together and installed water pump. I used rocks to hide electrical cable and hose connected to pump. Nothing hard. Just make sure when working in water to turn off water pump. Safety first.

Plant Plants
All I needed to do know was to plan some plants inside and around the pond. I mainly used plants from a swamp nearby. Such plants are not hard to maintain and are nice addition to your pond. I also planted some larger bushes for partial sun protection. Remember, you don’t want your pond to be exposed to sun all day long.

River plant

Pond lotus

Fence for turtles
Before I let my turtles into the pond I also installed a fence. So that my turtles don’t get any silly ideas. If your pond has only fishes then you don’t need the fence.

Pond fence

how to build a pond - finished

That’s basically all you need to know how to make a simple backyard pond. It is really easy to make, fairly cheap and you can make it in no time.

What About Pond Cleaning?

After the first winter I decided to clean my pond. How did I do that? Simple! I just pumped out the water, cleaned the pond surface with garden hose and shovel and filled the pond with new water.

Of course, first I had to catch all the fishes and my turtles and remove them from the pond.

First you need to pump out the water

Pond cleaningPond cleaning 1Pond cleaning 2Pond cleaning 3

Pond cleaning 4









Then clean the pond and refill with water

Clean the pond and refill with water

Cleaning is easy Once cleaned return the fish back in






Before you start cleaning your pond, make sure to remove all fish and other animals

My turtles Gold fish Fish from nearby river





Now you know how to build a pond and how to take care of it. I hope this article helped you and that you learned some new stuff. If you have any questions or you think I did something wrong while building a pond – please leave a comment.

More pictures of my pond:

Happy turtles in a new home
red ear sliderturtle sunning






Turtles in a new homeJust finished pondPond for my turtles





Winter time
Winter sleep Turtle pond at winter






This spring
Pond in spring






This is how my turtle pond looks now ( 1 year after I build it)

Pond all in greenTurtle pond after a year

Thanks for reading my “how to build a pond” guide.  You like it? Please comment.

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3 Responses to How to Build a Pond

  1. Judy Angel says:

    Thank you – super easy advice. What kind of pump do you use to pump the water out. Also should I put pebbles on the bottom of pond.
    Live in Florida so no fear of snow!!!

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