While backyard swimming pools can certainly be beautiful, their precise shapes and use of hard surfaces may not appeal to homeowners seeking the more natural appearance of a pond. With irregular borders, areas of vegetation, and perhaps even some fish, backyard ponds are becoming a popular alternative to traditional swimming pools for both spending time in the water and creating a relaxing backyard space. If you have fallen under the spell of these beautiful water features, the following tips will help you successfully plan and create your very own backyard pond.
Check for any existing regulations that will apply to your project
Like in-ground and above-ground pools, many communities have regulations on backyard ponds. While in most cases these regulations are designed to ensure that the excavation does not interfere with any underground municipal service lines, such as water, sewer, and electric lines, proper safety fencing to prevent children from accessing the water is also often required.
To avoid problems, fines, or delays, make sure that you check with your local zoning board for any regulations, permits, inspections, or fees that may be required. Once you have chosen a location, you will also need to dial 811 or contact your state's agency in charge of overseeing and authorizing excavation work to ensure that underground telecommunications, utility systems, and pipelines will not be disturbed or damaged during your project.
Decide the size and usage of your pond
If your pond is to be purely ornamental and small in size, you may be able to perform the excavation work necessary for this project with shovels or hand tools. Since the exposed water area will be small and unable to provide adequate oxygenation to the water for goldfish or other ornamental species, you will likely need to include some type of bubbler or pump to move the water and help to provide the correct oxygen level to support fish, as well as some type of filter to help keep the water clean.
If your backyard pond will be larger, will be constructed with both shallow and deeper areas, and will have sufficient water surface area to provide oxygenation, you may be able to use certain types of vegetation to assist with filtering the water. Adding a small school of fish to the water will help to keep mosquito larvae and algae growth under control as well. Achieving the proper ratio of vegetation and fish to the surface water area of your pond requires careful planning to create zones with appropriate depths of water that will remain healthy through years of use.
Shallower zones planted with one or more varieties of water grasses will act as a filter to remove sediment and foreign particles from the water as it washes through them when disturbed by activity in the deeper areas or by wind action. These areas can be left exposed or located under piers, boardwalks, or decks that extend out over the water's surface, depending on your preferences.
Line your pond to prevent potential problems and to help keep the water cleaner
While it is possible to construct your backyard pond with a packed dirt floor, much like a typical farm pond created for watering livestock or providing a place to fish, choosing to install a high-quality pond liner will help prevent it from leaking, seeping, or becoming eroded over years of use. If you plan to use the pond for swimming, a pond liner will also help to keep the water from becoming muddy and dirty and help to reduce the amount of sediment in the water. To create a beach-like experience, consider placing several inches of clean sand around the edges of the pond, especially in the areas where you will be walking into and out of the water.