How to make a small garden pond

Written by barbara freeman
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How to make a small garden pond
Choose floating plants like water lilies to beautify your small pond. (small decorative pond image by Tolbxela from

You can make a small pond quickly and easily in your front yard or backyard by using a preformed pond liner. This pond liner is made from hard plastic resin or fibreglass and keeps its shape. Digging the hole for your preformed pond liner will be the heaviest work you will have to do to install your garden pond. After you have installed your pond, you can help keep it free from algae by selecting aquatic pond plants like Elodea and Anacharis.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Preformed pond liner
  • Water hose
  • Chalk spray
  • Grass edger
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Large, flat stones
  • Ready-potted emergent and submergent aquatic pond plants with fabric pots and aquatic soil
  • Floating aquatic pond plants

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  1. 1

    Choose a flat area that is large enough for your pond. Turn the preformed pond liner upside down and place it on your chosen spot. Use a garden hose to make an outline of the pond liner in the dirt. Use chalk spray to trace the outline of the pond liner.

    How to make a small garden pond
    A flexible garden hose or a rope works best for outlining items. (tuyau 4 image by Nathalie P from
  2. 2

    Remove grass inside the chalk spray line with a grass edger and a shovel. Use the grass edger to outline sections of the grass, then use the shovel to dig up the sections. Dig out the inside of the chalk line with your shovel. Dig down 2 inches deeper and 2 inches wider than the pond liner; some pond liners may have shallow and deep areas that you will have to measure and dig out.

    How to make a small garden pond
    Use the shovel to dig up sections of grass to be used for other areas of your yard. (shovel image by Gudellaphoto from
  3. 3

    Remove stray rocks or roots. Use a level to make sure the bottom of the hole for the pond liner is flat. Place your preformed pond liner in the hole to check the fit. Take out the liner and if the fit is not correct continue digging the hole to fit the pond liner. Add 2 inches of sand to the bottom of the hole when the fit is correct, then place the pond liner back into the hole.

  4. 4

    Use your level to check whether the pond liner is flush with the ground around the pond. Rock the pond liner back and forth until it fits correctly into the hole. Add water to the pond then back fill any empty spaces between the liner and the hole with sand. Pack dirt beneath the pond liner lip to help support it.

  5. 5

    Cover the lip of the preformed pond liner with flat stones. Add gravel to fill in any holes. Use ready potted emergent and submergent plants that are potted in fabric pots with aquatic soil; the soil and plants can't float out of these pots. Plant emergent pond plants like water lilies, arrowhead and cattails around the edges of the pond. Stack a few flat rocks beneath the plants so that the tops of the fabric pots are only one inch below the surface of the water.

    How to make a small garden pond
    Let most of the weight from the flat rocks on the pond liner lip rest on the ground. (Stack of Stones image by Gary Chorpenning from
  6. 6

    Place submergent pond plants like Elodea and Anacharis below the water in the pond and surround the bottom of each pot with flat rocks to keep the pots from floating. Place floating leafed plants like duckweed, water lettuce and water hyacinth on the water's surface and let them float freely.

Tips and warnings

  • Submergent plants add oxygen while removing carbon dioxide to keep your pond water clear.
  • Floating-leafed plants can quickly cover up to 70 per cent of water surface to block the sun that makes algae thrive.
  • Do not use pots with drainage holes.

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