Build a backyard pond: we show you how

Whether it’s small, serene and surrounded with lush plantings, or large, flowing with running water and filled with exotic fish, there’s no doubt that a pond adds a sense of peace, calm and vibrancy to your garden. Plus, it’s easier than it looks to build.


Obviously, the bigger the pond, the longer it will take, but if you keep it contained, as here, you’ll be enjoying the soothing sounds of running water, and the wildlife it attracts, within a weekend.

Gather your supplies

• Preformed poly pond n Flat bush rock

• 12mm x 3m flexible irrigation tube

• Small pond pump

• Inline barb tap flow reducer

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You’ll also need

Set-out paint; brickie’s sand; cement; river gravel; black pebbles; wheelbarrow; spirit level; shovel; trowel; scissors; mulch; garden mix; selection of lush plants (we used tree ferns, mondo grass, variegated mondo grass, White Double madeira daisies, pansies waterlilies, Spathiphyllum ‘Sensation’, Banksia ‘Birthday Candles’, Blechnum ‘Silver Lady’, Acanthus mollis, Leucanthemum ‘Daisy May’, Aspidistra elatior, Lewisia ‘Little Fairies’); small native fish such as rainbow fish (optional)

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1. For safety reasons, an installed pond cannot be deeper than 30cm. If the depth exceeds this, fencing is required. You can fill the pond with pebbles or rocks to reduce the depth.

2. If you’re using a standard voltage pump (240V), you’ll need a qualified electrician to help with installation.

Here’s how

Step 1) Choose an area that receives a few hours of sun daily and is big enough to accommodate a pond and planting beds on each side. Remove turf and level area. Position pond on ground, then use set-out paint to mark around it for pond outline.

Step 2) Excavate to depth of pond. Allow pond lip to sit proud of soil to prevent run-off flowing into pond. Check pond fits, then level.

Step 3) Remove any debris, then add a 30-40mm layer of sand to base of hole

and tamp down with shoes. Position pond in hole, check level and adjust, if necessary.

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Step 4) Fill around pond with sand and use hand to compact.

Step 5) Position rocks around pond edge, ensuring rocks cover edge and allowing a few to overhang for a more natural look.

Step 6) Cut irrigation tube to 2.7m and attach 1 end to pump and other end to tap flow reducer. Put pump in pond, run power cord and tube towards back of pond and cover with rocks to hide from view.

Step 7) Mix 4 parts sand to 1 part cement in wheelbarrow. Blend thoroughly and slowly add water until stiff. Remove 1 rock, shovel mud-mix in its place. Put rock on top and gently tap into position. Repeat with remaining rocks, then haunch sides.

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Step 8) Position a large rock (preferably flat, and tip it slightly towards pond) on top of base course, which is where waterfall will be. To determine where tube will sit, turn on hose and allow it to trickle gently down rock. When you’re happy with position, turn off water and remove hose.

Step 9) Fix tube offcut to other end of tap flow reducer. Put tube in desired spot, so it sits just shy of rock edge. Arrange smaller rocks on top to conceal and secure tube.

Step 10) Spread more mud-mix along back of rocks to hold them in place.

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Step 11) Fill bottom level of pond with river gravel. Position waterlilies (in pots) in pond and top dress with black pebbles. Fill pond with water, plant up side beds, then mulch. Add fish to pond, if you like, acclimatising them first.

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