How to install a plastic moulded garden pond

Updated July 20, 2017

There is nothing more soothing than sitting in your back garden on a warm breezy day and listening to the trickle of water or watching the fish in your own back garden pond. Installing a pond can be a challenging task, but with plenty of careful preparation and planning it can be a very rewarding experience. After the initial installation, adding features such as fountains, ornamental plants and fish is a breeze and it greatly enhances your landscape.

Place pond liner on the ground upside down and use marking paint to outline the general shape of your pond. Keep in mind that the hole will need to be several inches larger than the pond liner, so a general outline is all you need. Also be sure to keep the paint off the liner, as it may harm any fish you put in your pond later. Alternatively, you may use a garden hose or a powdered chalk as a guide.

Using a garden mattock and a sharp shovel, begin digging from the outside edge of the painted line. Be sure to dig several inches deeper than the depth of the liner. This extra room will help you when you level the pond liner.

Make sure the bottom of the hole is reasonably smooth and free of rocks and sharp objects, then fill hole with at least 5 cm (2 inches) of dry sand.

Place liner in the hole and adjust the liner until it sits 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) above soil level. You may have to backfill in some spots to achieve this.

Drive stakes across the widest and longest points of your site.

Attach string to one stake at the widest point, and attach the other end of the string to the stake directly across from it (again at the widest point). Repeat the process for the length of the hole. You should have the string in a crisscross pattern. If you have a very large or uniquely shaped pond form, you may need another set of stakes to ensure accuracy.

Adjust the strings so that they lightly touch the surface of the plastic liner, and attach the string level to determine if your liner is level in all aspects: front to back and side to side. Adjust the liner until all aspects are level.

Backfill until the pond sits solidly in the hole, making sure there is adequate support under any moulded shelves in the pond form. The hole should be about halfway filled with soil.

Begin filling the pond slowly with water, continuing to backfill with soil and checking the level until the pond is completely full of water and securely seated in the hole. Make sure there is at least a 10 per cent grade from the pond edge toward the landscape to ensure that rainwater will not drain into the pond.

Place the submersible circulating pump in the pond, burying or camouflaging the cord. Be sure the cord is protected from damage and is plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.

Add rock and landscape plants as necessary to camouflage the edge of the pond.


Add a fountain jet for the sound of trickling water. In order to reduce stress on the pump, elevate it from the floor of the pond by using a flat rock no greater than 5 cm (2 inches) in height. Add plants such as elodea canadensis to naturally prevent algae growth.


Make sure your pump is plugged into a GFCI outlet. Make sure your pump's electrical cord is well protected from cuts and nicks by weed eaters and lawnmowers. Do not add fish to your pond right away. Allow your pond to "cycle," which will allow chlorine to evaporate and good bacteria to build up, providing an optimal environment for fish. This process can take a few weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Marking paint
  • Garden mattock
  • Sharpened shovel
  • Four to six stakes
  • String
  • String level
  • Submersible pump
  • Landscape rock
  • Elodea canadensis or other starting plant material (optional)
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About the Author

Margaret Vogt has been writing for more than 20 years and has has been a reporter, a social worker and a mom. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a master's degree in education. Vogt is currently working on her first children's book.