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How to Build a Pond | A Bradshaws Guide

21st Nov 2019

Welcome to this, our first in a series of guides that will step you through the process of building a pond from the first shovel of soil through to filling your pond with beautiful fish. In this first blog in the series we'll guide you through preparing and digging your pond and installing the liner.

If you're putting in a pond liner then our guide will help make sure you get it right first time, avoiding the major hassles of having to re-do things later.

You'll Need:

  • Pond liner
  • Pond underlay
  • Soft sand (to cover the bottom of the hole)
  • Edging materials (rocks, sleepers, paving slabs)
  • A spade
  • A wheelbarrow
  • A skip (for the stuff you dig out)
  • A willing helper is optional but recommended

(And of course - your choice of beverage for during and after the digging!)


You already know where you want it right? We’d always advise drawing it out with sand (or a rolled-out hosepipe) on the lawn before you start digging.

Check that it looks good from all angles (including an upstairs window if you have one).

Check that you can get around it to trim hedges, paint fences or even wheel the bin out!

Avoid overhanging trees - dropped leaves and needles turn to sludge in the pond bottom

Avoid boggy areas too. As ground water levels go up, the liner can lift out of a pond in a boggy patch.

Ponds should have sun about half the day if possible, to help water plants to grow.

Can you bring power to the pond easily? This isn’t so important if you want a wildlife pond but is needed for most pumps and filters that help keep fish healthy.


Digging a hole is hard work - so enlist some friends if you can do it in stages, over a few days.

Cover the lawn or path with planks, an old tarp or old carpet, especially on the route you’ll use to move the soil.

You might be able to use some of the soil you dig out to make a slope for a waterfall or rockery, or maybe make some raised beds elsewhere in the garden.

Make sure the edges of the pond are level using a piece of wood and a spirit level. If one side is lower than the other, when you fill it up, there’ll be pond liner showing on the higher side.

Putting in the Underlay

Cover the bottom of your hole with 1” or 2.5cm of soft sand to protect the liner from sharp stones.

Cover flat shelves and the sides if they are not too steep.

Put your underlay in. This is usually in sheets or on a roll, it doesn’t have to be one piece - you can just overlap the pieces a bit.

Use parcel tape or Fixing Tape to stop it sliding around.

Putting in the Pond Liner

Put the liner in. Take off your shoes and socks and get in, it’ll be easier.

Depending on the shape of the pond you might need to fold the corners in. It’s easier to do this as the pond starts to fill up.

Trap the edges loosely under stones at this stage. As the pond fills with water the liner will settle a bit, and you’ll need to move the stones in a bit, or else they’ll make the liner too taut.

Need a liner but don’t know what size? Use our handy Pond Liner Calculator.

Edging Ideas:

Once the liner is full, leave it for a couple of days before edging. Take a look at our edging ideas above for ways to make this the best you can.

Finally, you can finish your pond off with a fountain, water feature or even some plants.

As well as improving the look of your pond no end, plants will become part of the delicate ecosytem of any pond and will contribute to the health and clarity of your fish and pond water.

As they are such an important addition to any pond, we will cover adding plants to your pondscape in the next blog in this series, which will be coming soon.

Obviously we can't cover everything you might need to know in the scope of a blog post or three. No need to worry though, should you encounter any problems we're only a Phone Call (01904 698800) or Email away. Just get in touch for some friendly advice form our expert staff who are always ready to help.

We also have a number of other blog articles about pond building:

Pond Designs...

Pond Location...

Waterfalls and Streams...

Fountain pumps...

Filter Pumps...

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