With a little imagination almost anyone can build a garden pond inexpensively. As most garden ponds have water lilies or koi in them, it's important they don't leak and leave these water-dependent plants and fish high and dry. Pond builders may find they have a inexpensive pond liner lying in the garage or shed or might find it by checking newspaper or online classifieds ads.
All prices are based on spring 2010 estimates.
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Heavy-duty Tarp: Less than £32
For shallow ponds, a heavy-duty tarpaulin can work very well. It needs to hang over the edge at least one foot all around because it has been pressed to the floor and walls of the pool, then trimmed and held in place with rocks or by any other preferred method. Because tarps deteriorate over time, this is not a permanent solution.
Sheet of Plastic: Less than £16
Heavy-duty plastic sheeting is sold inexpensively by the yard. It makes an attractive pond liner as the earth beneath the water is visible, giving the pond a natural stream visual effect. As with the tarp, the plastic needs to extend well past the pond border once in place. Plastic sheeting is relatively easy to puncture, so it needs to be handled with care. It, too, deteriorates over time and will need to be replaced.
Waterbed Liner: Less than £32
Waterbed liners are very durable, but they can be punctured. Care should be taken to remove any sharp rocks, sticks, or roots from the pond well before lining. The lifespan of a waterbed liner should be longer than plastic sheeting or a tarp, but it is not an indefinite solution.
Children's Pool: £13 to £32
A child's paddling pool is quite durable and should last many years as a pond liner. The more expensive pools are heavier duty and longer-lasting.
Plastic Storage Container: £32 to £65
These containers come in all shapes and sizes and are often sold as a set. A set of four 70-quart containers could be used as cascading pools connected by troughs. A single one would make a nice small lily or water grass pool. These containers should last for many years.
Half Barrel: £16 to £97
Wooden (some come pre-lined with plastic) or metal half barrels work well as in- and above-ground water features. The wood does rot over time, if buried. The metal barrel will rust, so this material is not ideal for fish, but is fine for water plants.
Trough or Stock Tank: £32 to £65
New, large stock watering containers are not inexpensive (a big 900-gallon polyurethane tank is about £227), but a 100-gallon tank can be bought at retail for about £52. With a bit of patience, even the biggest used tank or trough can be found in the classifieds for less than £65. The poly tanks will last for decades.
Discarded Items like Bath Tubs and Satellite Dishes: Free to £9
Any sizeable item that can be sealed and sunk in the ground will make a nice pond. These items are without cost and any holes can be plugged with a good marine caulking compound, available for less than £9.70.
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