Perhaps you encountered your first water garden while on a local home and garden tour. Maybe your neighbor installed a koi pond, or your best friend put in one of those disappearing fountains. They’re everywhere and for good reason! Water Gardens bring so many benefits to your outdoor living space. If you are still deciding to build a pond or are ready to go, read below for general pond kit installation steps.
Step 1: Unpack Kit & Mark Area
Decide on the location of your pond and unpack the pond kit components. You will want to use a garden hose or rope to decide on a pond layout. Once you decide on a shape you like mark the shape with a can of marking paint. Be sure to make wide curves and make special note of the direction you would like your waterfall to face.
Step 2: Place Waterfall Filter & Flexible Pipe
Put your waterfall filter in place next to the pond edge. Next lay out your flexible pipe from the waterfall around the pond to the opposite end for the skimmer. Connect the flexible pipe with the included adaptors and cement.
Step 3: Excavation of Pond Area
Be sure to contact local authorities to check the area for hidden cables or pipes before digging. Dig out the pond area roughly 6-8” deep or whatever depth you would like to construct your plant shelf. Use the dirt from this area to build a retaining wall for your waterfall box. Once the area is excavated mark out an inner ring to create a deeper pond area. This can be any size or shape you like but keep in mind this area will be filled with rock so avoid tight curves. This area should be around 2ft deep. You will also need to determine where the water level will be in the pond and excavate an area the size of your skimmer box so that it will sit with the water level about an inch from the top of the skimmer opening.
Step 4: Install Skimmer & Pump
Tamp down the soil to pack it, and then place the skimmer. Push the flexible pipe through the grommet and into the skimmer. Connect an overflow pipe to the back of the skimmer. Assemble the check valve assembly on the pump and place in skimmer then connect to flexible pipe.
Step 5: Install Underlayment & Liner
First lay underlayment across the pond working the underlayment into all corners of the excavated area starting from the middle and working your way out. Be sure to leave underlayment loose to allow for movement and settling in the future. Next lay the liner over the underlayment, again working from the middle towards the outside and pushing into the corners.
Step 6: Attach Liner to Skimmer
Attach the liner to the front of the skimmer box using the skimmer faceplate. Hold the liner flat up against skimmer while the other person makes a hole through the liner with something sharp like an ice pick or nail then put a bolt through two of the holes. Temporarily remove the liner and place a large bead of silicone over the mounting holes. Next reattach the liner and faceplate and install the rest of the bolts and tighten. After everything is tight, you can trim the liner from the inside of the skimmer using a razor.
Step 7: Add Boulders & Rocks
Place larger boulders first for structural support starting with the pond’s vertical walls, then fill in with smaller boulders and rocks starting from the bottom and stacking on the inside of the pond. Be creative, you may need to rework the area a few times before you achieve the look you want.
Step 8: Attach Liner to Waterfall Box
Your waterfall box should be level side to side and tip slightly forward, about an inch, towards the pond. Hold the liner up to the front of the waterfall box and mark the top bolt on each side. Then remove liner and apply a bead of silicone over the mounting holes. Now line up the waterfall lip, liner and waterfall box and screw in first two bolts. Attach remaining bolts. After everything is tight, you can trim the liner using a razor.
Step 9: Add Gravel
Add gravel between boulders to fill in gaps and across the bottom of the pond to cover and protect the liner and make the pond look more natural. You will want to use gravel that is about 1” in diameter with smooth edges.
Step 10: Add Lights
If you are adding lights install them now by nestling them in between boulders. Be sure to wrap a foot of power cord around the light so you can extend the light out of the pond for maintenance. Place lights so they shine out away from the viewing area.
Step 11: Add Aquatic Plants & Fill Pond
Plant bog plants on the shallow plant shelf and lilies in the bottom of the pond. Don’t worry if they do not cover the pond’s surface yet they will grow quickly. At this point you will also want to backfill around the skimmer and pond for additional support.
Step 12: Apply Waterfall Foam
Waterfall foam is expanding foam made for use in ponds. Use waterfall foam to fill in gaps between rocks in the waterfall area for support and to keep water flow above the rock surface.
Step 13: Add Biological Media
Add filter media to your waterfall box. Usually 1-2 layers of solid mat media, like Matala® Medium Density, and a media bag filled with additional media like, The Pond Guy® BioBalls™ on top. This will be used to colonize the bacteria that will filter your pond water.
Step 14: Add Finishing Touches
Trim liner and underlayment leaving 6-8”. Roll liner under and cover with gravel to secure and finish off the pond’s edges.
Step 15: Add Water Treatment & Review Owners Manual
Now that your pond is complete start the waterfall and add water treatments such as water conditioner and natural bacteria to get your pond ready for fish.
Now that you have the basics it’s time to get to work on your own backyard paradise. The most important thing to know about planning a pond is that you should have a great time doing it. You’ll enjoy this backyard feature for years, so do your research, think through these points, and spend time designing something that you’ll love!