How to build a fish pond

Create the garden pond correctly

As soon as you create the garden pond, you create the conditions for the water to later house a rich flora and fauna. With the right planning, a beautifully planted garden pond becomes an atmospheric oasis of calm, but at the same time invites you to observe and discover. Here a water lily is just opening its flowers, there a pond frog lies in wait for careless mosquitoes in the midst of duckweed and a dragonfly that has just hatched from its pupal shell waits for its wings to dry on the leaf of the iris.

Creating a garden pond: the individual steps
  1. Mark and stake out the area
  2. Dig out the pond (create different pond zones)
  3. Lay out protective fleece and lay pond liner over it
  4. Secure the pond liner with stones and gravel
  5. Fill with water
  6. Plant the garden pond

Where is the right location for a garden pond?

If you want to have a good view of your garden pond, it is best to create the water near the terrace or a seat. Animal-friendly garden ponds or near-natural ponds, which are supposed to attract many animals, are better off in a more secluded place in the garden. If your property is not level, but rather sloping, you should create your garden pond at the deepest point - this looks more natural than a body of water that was built into a sloping slope.

The right mixture of sun and shade also plays an important role, because on the one hand the aquatic plants need a certain amount of light so that they can thrive, but on the other hand the water should not heat up too much in order not to unnecessarily promote algae growth. A good guideline is five hours of sunshine per summer day. However, place the water in such a way that it is shaded by larger trees or structures or a sun sail during the hot lunchtime. Maintain sufficient distance from cables for electricity, gas, water or sewage and make sure not to build over them with the water. If that doesn't already lead to problems during the earthworks, it will at the latest when maintenance work on the lines becomes necessary.

Trees with shallow roots (for example, birch or vinegar trees), as well as bamboo of the genus Phyllostachys and other types of runners should not grow in the immediate vicinity of the pond. Especially the sharp, hard bamboo rhizomes can easily pierce the pond liner. Trees near the garden pond are not fundamentally a problem as long as the wind blows the autumn leaves in the direction away from the garden pond - the trees should therefore grow as east of the pond as possible, as westerly winds prevail in our latitudes. By the way: Evergreen deciduous and coniferous trees are also constantly renewing their foliage and their pollen can also cause considerable nutrient input.

Shape and size of the garden pond

The shape of a garden pond should match the garden design. If curved, natural contours predominate in the garden, the pond should also have this shape. In architecturally designed gardens with right-angled lines, on the other hand, rectangular, circular or elliptical water basins are preferable. Otherwise the rule applies: the bigger the better! On the one hand, larger garden ponds usually appear more natural and radiate more tranquility and elegance, on the other hand, with larger amounts of water, an ecological equilibrium is established more quickly, so that the maintenance effort is kept within limits. Please note, however, that depending on the desired size, you may have to obtain a building permit. The regulations vary from state to state. In most cases, garden ponds only require a permit from a volume of 100 cubic meters or a water depth of 1.5 meters. Such dimensions are exceeded quickly, especially in a swimming pond, so you should contact the responsible building authority in good time - violations may result in construction freezes, removal procedures and fines!

What technology does the garden pond need?

With every pond project, the question arises whether you need a water filter or not. In principle, a garden pond that is not too small can be kept in biological equilibrium without complex technology, if the location is right and there is no excessive nutrient input.

As soon as you use fish or other water dwellers, however, the problems begin, because excrement and leftover food inevitably increase the phosphate and nitrogen concentration in the garden pond, which can quickly lead to algae bloom at appropriate temperatures. In addition, a lack of oxygen often becomes a problem when the water is very hot. Therefore, if in doubt, you should install a filter system straight away, because retrofitting is usually more complex. If you find that your pond water remains clear even without the technology, you can simply program the system so that it only runs a few hours a day.

A classically structured garden pond consists of different zones with different water depths and step-like transitions. The 10 to 20 centimeter deep swamp zone is adjacent to the bank, followed by the 40 to 50 centimeter deep shallow water zone and in the middle there is the deep water zone with 80 to 150 centimeters water depth. The transitions can be made flatter and steeper depending on your taste. Tip: If the subsoil is stony, dig the hollow about ten centimeters deeper and fill in a suitably thick layer of construction sand - this will prevent damage to the pond liner from sharp stones.

Step by step: create the right garden pond

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Mark the outline of the garden pond
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
01
Mark the outline of the garden pond

First, mark the outline of your pond with short wooden pegs or simply mark it with a line of light-colored sand.

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
02

Then excavate the entire pond area down to the first depth. Then mark the area of ​​the next lower pond zone and excavate this too. Continue in this way until you have reached what will later be the pond floor. Tip: For larger ponds, it is worth borrowing a mini excavator for the earthworks.

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
03

Before laying the pond liner, you should first cover the pond basin with a special protective fleece. It protects the film from damage.

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
04

Two to three helpers are welcome when laying the liner, because depending on the size of the pond, the liner can be quite heavy. It is first laid out on the surface and then adjusted so that it rests all over the floor. To do this, it must be carefully folded in a few places.

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
05

Then weigh down the pond liner with stones and line it with gravel. This conceals the somewhat unsightly pond liner.

Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
Place aquatic plants
Photo: MSG / Elke Rebiger-Burkhardt
06
Place aquatic plants

When the construction work is completed, you can plant the pond and the bank. The finished garden pond still looks a bit bare, but once the plants have grown in well, it will not be long before dragonflies and other water dwellers appear.

Practical video: Creating a mini pond for the garden and balcony

You don't have space for a large pond in your garden? Then a mini pond is just right for you! In this practical video, we will show you how to put it on correctly.

Mini ponds are a simple and flexible alternative to large garden ponds, especially for small gardens. In this video we will show you how to create a mini pond yourself.
Credits: Camera and Editing: Alexander Buggisch / Production: Dieke van Dieken