How to Build a Pond : The First Steps


Koi Ponds and Garden Styles

Garden ponds and waterfalls may be divided into two basic styles; formal and informal.  Formal follow specific geometric shapes such as a rectangle, square, circle or oval. This style typically has been seen for centuries in palatial gardens and courtyards of the estates of royalty in Europe and Middle East.  The pond was built in a way to enhance but not intrude upon the surrounding architecture. These ponds can be constructed to be flush with the ground but they are often raised with the water contained by a wall constructed out of materials that match the rest of the buildings. They also often contain statues or fountains which act as a focal point for the pond. Here are some examples of formal ponds:

formal pond11 150x150 How to Build a Pond : The First Stepsformal pond2 150x150 How to Build a Pond : The First Stepsformal pond3 150x150 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps


The second or informal pond style was developed in China and later in Japan. The informal pond is based on creating a natural sheltered haven which will bring the wonders of nature into your backyard.  This is type of pond is not limited to an Oriental style garden but it should blend into the natural flow of the terrain in your yard. Where formal ponds generally feature fountains to provide aeration and water movement, informal ponds utilize waterfalls and streams.Various plants and flowers are strategically placed around the borders and in the pond to add to the effect. The koi provide the viewer with an array of bright colors and stepping stones, bridges and wildlife statues also enhance the overall design.  The limit is only your imagination as can be seen in the pictures below!

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informal pond2 150x150 How to Build a Pond : The First Stepsinformal pond32 150x148 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps


What Shape is Best for Ongoing Koi Pond Maintenance?

Once you decide between a formal and informal style pond, the next step is to settle on a shape. This decision will be somewhat constrained by space available and the conditions of the surrounding terrain. If you buy a preformed pond this decision is made as part of that purchase. If you use flexible pond liner you have many available options. (The differences between flexible and preformed pond liner is explained further on the Pond Liner page.)

There are several considerations in deciding on a shape. Don’t construct a pond that is too complicated to lay the liner without creating unsightly and muck gathering folds.  More importantly, the shape of the pond must allow the water that is being returned from the filter to be distributed  throughout the pond.  Areas of stagnant water allow dirt to collect and encourage the proliferation of disease organisms. A very irregularly shaped pond can lead to these areas of “dead” water.  This will lead to ongoing koi pond maintenance problems and create a lot if unnecessary work keeping up the water quality. The pictures below illustrate examples of good and poor designs to be applied when building a koi pond.


pond water flow good3 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps

Open Pond Design Enables Water Flow


pond water flow bad1 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps

A Pond Shape that will Lead to Pockets of Stagnant Water



A Garden Pond and Waterfall Must Have Access to Electrical or Solar Power and a Fresh Water Supply

1) Unless you have the skill and experience, you will also have to pay an electrician to come out to run electrical power to your koi pond to run pumps, waterfalls, fountains, and lighting. The alternative is using solar powered equipment particularly in warmer climates and when the pond is located in a sunny location. Solar powered pond lights have worked well for me but I have never used a solar powered pump or fountain though I have read positive reviews about them when used in the right circumstances — lots of sunlight and small ponds (less than 500 gallons.)

 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps

Example of a Solar Powered Pump



Click on the link below to see prices and availability for these products:

Solar Powered Pond Accessories


2) You will also need access to a water supply for filling your backyard pond initially and adding water when evaporation reduces the water level below the skimmer. I have always found that this is something I was able to do myself. Digging a trench and running a hose from the faucet on the house to the pond has always worked for me and has never been a very difficult to do. You can also just run a hose across the ground and roll it up when not in use if you prefer. I also use an electric timer on the faucet so that the water will automatically shut off and I can walk away when adding water without worrying about overflow.


Okay time to start Digging the Pond

1 How to Build a Pond : The First Steps



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