Make Your Own Personalized Pond or Water Channel

Want to bring some new interest to your garden? Have a couple of days to dedicate to a project? If you answered "yes," a pond's the plan for you. Here, we show you how to make ponds and water channels, step-by-step.

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Planting Water Lilies in a PondEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Garden Design © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Designing a pond with a flexible PVC liner, rather than a rigid pre-formed type, allows you to create a water feature of almost any size and shape. To work out how much liner you need, add twice the depth of the proposed pond to its maximum length plus the width.

Do a little prep work before you break ground on your new water feature. Choose a location that's sheltered and sunny, avoiding heavy shade under trees. Make sure you have all the listed materials on hand so you don't have to interrupt your work. Remember, this project should take about two days if you don't make a channel, three if you do or one day for a stand-alone channel.

Once you're done installing your pond, wait a week for the mortar to set before placing plantings, such as water lilies and marginals.

Materials Needed:

  • garden hose
  • spade
  • pickax
  • level/plank
  • sand
  • pond or carpet underlay
  • flexible pond liner
  • waterproof mortar, bucket, trowel
  • sharp knife
  • decorative stone
  • pegs and string
  • plastic reservoir
  • plastic liner
  • sharp knife
  • bricks
  • waterproof mortar
  • submersible pump, flexible pipe, filter
  • gravel, cobblestones or river rocks
  • permeable fabric
  • metal grill

Dig an Informal Pond

Use a hose to mark the outline of the pond (image 1). Aim for a curved, natural shape without any sharp corners.

Before you start digging, skim off any sod for reuse elsewhere (image 2). Keep the fertile topsoil (which you can also reuse) separate from the subsoil. Loosen compacted subsoil with a pickax.

Dig out the pond, making the sides gently sloping. Leave a shelf 12–18 inches wide around the edge, then dig out the center to a further depth of 18 inches. If winter temps in your region drop low, consider digging a little deeper to prevent freezing.

Use a level placed on a straight piece of wood to check that the ground around the top of the pond is level (image 3). Remove any loose soil and all large or sharp stones from the sides and bottom of the pond.

Install the Lining

To protect the liner, line the sides and base of the pond with pond underlay (image 1). On stony soils, spread a 2 inch layer of sand over the base first.

Center the liner over the hole, letting it settle under its own weight into the base. Leaving plenty of surplus around the rim, pleat the liner to help fit it to the shape of the pond. Fill with water (image 2).

Edge the Pond

When the pond is full of water, trim the excess from the liner leaving 18 inches around the rim. Pleat the excess liner so it lies flat and bury the edges in the ground. Lay a bed of waterproof mortar for the edging stones (image 1).

Place the edging stones into the mortar, overhanging them by 2 inches to hide the liner (image 2).

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Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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