It was a lot of hard, sweaty work, but every member of my family helped at least a little, and I love my backyard pond. The only thing missing is a solar-powered pump. (Patience, darlin’, patience…)
Pond installation can be back- and time-consuming work, and a long-lasting one like mine can cost over $1000.00 (liner, pump, filter, rocks). But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can purchase inexpensive, small-pond kits, or you can build a pond out of a plastic toddler swimming pool simply by letting rain-water collect there and placing appropriate potted plants inside (though if you don’t use a filter and/or fish, you’ll want to put in one those mosquito-preventing ‘dunks’ from your home improvement store: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Mosquito-Dunks-6-Count-Organic-Mosquito-Killer/3047384).
The benefits of your own pond include:
1) Naturally filtering stormwater on your property rather than adding to your city, county and state’s stormwater issues.
2) Low-to-no-maintenance family pets. <$1.00 ‘feeder’ goldfish and minnows, available at your pet store, can survive year round (with filter turned off in winter) and eat mosquito larvae and other insect pests (though you may need to supplement their diets with goldfish food). Spiders like to build their webs over water, providing a second line of defense.
3) Your pond will provide much-needed habitat for local wildlife, particularly frogs, butterflies, lizards, birds, and sometimes turtles. (You’ll definitely want to put a birdhouse or two nearby.)
4) A pond, particularly one with running water (which requires a pump), adds a calming atmosphere to your yard. I often visit our pond with my 7-year-old to collect my/his thoughts and reboot; and ‘Feed the Fish, Make a Wish’ is always a fun game to play.
5) Most importantly, having a pond, no matter how small, provides excellent learning opportunities for the whole family. Ecology, Biology, Botany, Geology, Environmental Science, Civil Engineering, Stormwater Management… you can’t help but get a lil’ bit of everything just by noticing the pond from time to time.
Rain and cool weather in the Fall make this the perfect time to install your pond. There are heaps of YouTube videos out there demonstrating complete step-by-step instructions, but I’ve included a few below to get you started.
Here’s a link to a small waterfall pond kit that gets good reviews for ~$70. I don’t think you should put any fish in this one, unless you want to get some guppies or similar small fish and remove them at the end of the summer. But you don’t need fish to see Nature in action. You are sure to house tadpoles, frogs, lizards and other wildlife as soon as they realize safe water is nearby.
Here’s an easy way to build a temporary pond (I’d expect one or two seasons) using a plastic toddler pool, which can be left above or dug into the ground. If you are going to house fish, I recommend using a small filter (at least from time to time) in this pond, either one made for an aquarium (which can be bought at a pet-store) or a solar-powered one (which can be bought online). I love the solar-powered pumps for small ponds, though they usually only last for 2 seasons:
And here are some great installation instructions for a full-fledged above-ground (minimal digging) pond like mine. Note that you can use landscape stones rather than wood around the outside; and, in either case, you can increase the depth of the pond by adding more stones/wood; just be sure you have enough liner to cover the depth.
** Before building your pond, please seriously consider the following:
1) Never put tap water in your pond, as the chemicals and minerals in the water can harm aquatic life and leave deposits on your pump and filter that will shorten their lifespans.
2) You should house no more than 1 goldfish per 10 gallons of pond; those little things can get much bigger (and more beautiful) than you expect. You can house more minnows and smaller native fish; and even large plecostomus (usually available at pet stores) can live through the winter.
3) Remember never to release your fish into the natural waterway. These fish are not native species and, if released to compete with our native animals, can cause drastic biological and ecological imbalances in the long-term.
4) Please do not build a pond if you have an outdoor cat, as ponds are excellent traps for lizards and other animals that cats just love to play with and that, unfortunately, get killed in the process.
(Note that the white pipe is condensation from our air conditioning unit, which makes clean, filtered water.)