Are you considering building a koi pond in your backyard? Koi ponds have a reputation of being expensive and difficult to maintain. However, with proper planning, doing your research ahead of time, and using the right supplies, you can have a beautiful koi pond that won’t drain your bank account or your motivation to care for it.
Koi ponds are a beautiful way to add a peaceful and attractive body of water to your backyard. Filled with beautiful plants and exotic fish, koi ponds often serve as the main feature which the rest of a backyard is built around.
If you’re ready to build a backyard pond, there are several things you’re going to want to think through before you begin. This guide will help walk you through the steps and also help you avoid problems with some of the major elements when building a backyard fish pond.
Things To Know Before Building A Backyard Pond
Consider The Size
Most people think you have to build an enormous koi fish pond. This is not true, which gives you more flexibility with your design. The most important thing to keep in mind is that one inch of fish should have about 10 gallons of water. A traditional koi pond will hold a minimum of 1000 gallons of water. This helps avoid overcrowding and making sure your fish can thrive!
Visualize Your Design
It’s extremely important to make sure you have a clear, well thought-out design plan for your koi pond. Often, your initial idea or picture in your mind is not realistic or the best choice for your yard. You’ll want to measure multiple times before beginning construction in order to avoid major issues.
The best way to truly visualize your design is to physically map it out in your backyard. Use posts, rebar or any type of stake and place them around the area where you’ll build the walls of the pond. Try to follow the exact shape that you’ll want the walls of the pond to be. Then, use string to map out the height of the walls. This will allow you to actually see an idea of what the pond would look like. Walk around your yard and view it from different locations and angles to make sure you like the shape and design!
Collect Your Supplies and Tools
Building a backyard pond is an exciting venture but it requires a large list of tools and supplies if you’re going to do it yourself! While every koi pond is different, there’s a general list of tools that each person will need in order to construct a successful pond.
This list may vary depending on the design of your pond, but these are necessary for most standard backyard fish ponds.
Concrete and concrete dyes
Rocks and plants
While each pond will require specific tools based on design, making sure you have access to everything on this list will ensure you have most if not all of the tools you need.
Spade, shovel, tamper or other tools to dig with
Impact drill and cordless drill
Hydraulic rebar cutter
Lay the Footers and the Base
Once you’re ready to actually start construction, you’ll need to prepare the site. One of the biggest challenges with this is making sure you have a level area to work with. Laser levels tend to work best for working with the grading in your backyard.
You’ll next need to excavate for the footers of the pond and then fill the base with stone. This provides a strong and solid foundation for laying your concrete.
Best Koi Pond Kits
There are many pre-packaged koi pond kits that come ready for you to install yourself. This takes out a lot of the design planning and collecting of supplies. If you’re wanting to build a koi pond but don’t feel comfortable with designing it yourself, a koi pond kit could be a great option for you.
American Pond Freedom Series Kit
If you’ve never built a koi pond before, this could be a great kit to consider. American Pond is known for their high quality materials, lifetime warranties and excellent customer service. This kit includes everything you need to operate your koi pond including a waterfall, pond skimmer, waterfall pump and tubing.
The pond liner is made of 25% thicker material than the average koi pond kit. This kit is built to last and make your life easier with the installation process.
The entire Freedom Series is available in a variety of sizes, categorized by mini pond kits, small pond kits, or medium-sized so you can find one to fit your space perfectly.
Atlantic Water Garden Oasis Pond Kit
The Atlantic Water Garden Oasis Pond Kit is a professional grade kit. However, it’s still available at an affordable price and is simple to install and maintain. This makes a great option to consider if you’re looking for a DIY project.
This kit is designed for someone who might be less experienced than the average koi pond builder. If you’re new to backyard ponds, you don’t need to worry about needing a lot of expensive equipment to install this kit. You’ll only need a screwdriver and small handsaw to get the pond up and running.
In addition to ease of installation, this kit is built of high quality, durable materials that will last for a long time.
EasyPro Eco-Series Pond Kit
For those who are on a tighter budget but still want a reliable, efficient and well-functioning pond kit, the EasyPro Eco-Series can be a great choice. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, so you’re able to choose which one best suits your backyard space.
While these kits do sport a much more affordable price tag compared to many pond kits, you won’t be skimping on quality. The kit includes a rubber liner, pond skimmer and filter, pond pump, PVC piping and other things that are necessary for the pond to thrive.
Four Great Pond Liner Options
Regardless of how large or small your koi pond is going to be, you must have a good liner. If you don’t have a high quality liner, you run the risk of leakage and constantly having to repair your pond. Spending a little bit of extra time researching and a few extra dollars will go a long way towards keeping your pond full and healthy.
A pond liner is nothing fancy, but it’s extremely important. There are several types of pond liners, so you’ll want to consider your choices and what will be best for your pond.
Rubber Pond Liners
Rubber liners have the reputation of being the best type of pond liner for your backyard pond. They are strong and durable, making them a very reliable choice. There are two types of rubber pond liners that you can consider.
Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) Pond Liners
EPDM is considered to be the lower end of the rubber liners. They’re made of strong rubber materials but will be a little kinder to your bank account. While there is a difference in durability, you won’t notice a huge difference in the design and function of the liner.
Butyl Pond Liners
If you’re looking for the best of the best, you’ll want to consider a butyl pond liner. They’re pricey because of how strong and durable they are, but they’re extremely reliable liners. If your pond is properly designed and maintained, these liners will last for many years.
Preformed Pond Liner
Preformed pond liners are made of materials that are made of hard plastics and other materials. They are not customizable and are designed to simply sit inside a hole that is designed to fit the liner. You’ll want to make sure you have properly measured the hole you’ve dug in order to fit the preformed pond liner. These are a good option if you don’t want to deal with installing a flexible liner.
PVC Pond Liners
If you are building a smaller backyard pond, a PVC pond liner might be a good option for you. You can purchase PVC liners in varied thickness but 0.5mm tends to be a standard choice. They’re stretchy which gives you flexibility with installation. However, they are able to be punctured. So you’ll want to be careful that the liner is not pulled too tight. These are a more budget-friendly option for a pond liner if that is something you’re looking for as well.
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Pond Liners
Low Density Polyethylene pond liners are popular because they’re long-lasting, affordable and flexible. This material is tearproof and will last you for years. The flexible material is easy to install. If you have a pond with multiple little areas or oddly shaped alcoves, this could be a good pond liner option for your pond.
Pond Liner Installation Tips
Once you’ve got your backyard pond area dug out to your preferred dimensions, you can begin the pond liner installation process. This is one of the most important aspects of the pond construction process so it’s important to make sure you get it right before moving on to the rest of the pond.
Install a Protective Layer
If you are installing any sort of flexible pond liner, you’ll need to add a layer of protection between the ground and your liner. You can use a variety of materials to do this including sand, fiber matting or concrete. This will help protect the liner from any damaging objects like rocks that are in the dirt.
Purchase a Large Enough Liner
One mistake that many people make is not purchasing a large enough pond liner. This will cause you to need to stretch the liner. You’ll not only be frustrated with trying to make it fit the space, but you’ll run the risk of tearing or puncturing the liner.
When measuring for how much liner you’ll need, add extra length so you can anchor the liner properly. You also may need extra liner in order to fix ill-fitting spots. You’ll also want to add in an extra 2 ½ feet (or more if possible) in order to cover the entire rim of the koi pond.
Cover the Edges of the Pond
As we mentioned, you’ll need an extra 2 ½ feet or more in order to cover the edges of your pond properly. This helps to allow your liner to stretch as it fills with water. It’s better to have too much extra liner than risk overflow which will cause a mess under your liner.
How To Choose The Best Koi Pond Pumps
Deciding on the best koi pond pump can be an overwhelming task, as there are so many different options available. Consider these questions to help you determine which type of pond pumps would be the best for your koi pond.
What Type of Pump?
There are two main categories of pond pumps that you can choose from.
External Pond Pumps
As the name suggests, these pond pumps are installed outside of your pond. They’re typically in a small shed or pond house close to the pond. They can also be hidden in a bush or other folliage that surrounds the pond. Because they are located outside of the pond, they tend to be more powerful and more energy efficient. However, this extra power and efficiency will cost a bit more and will be louder when it runs.
You’ll want to read reviews of whatever pump you decide on to make sure that the pump won’t be overly loud and distracting. A loud pond pump can significantly take away from the beauty and peacefulness of a backyard koi pond.
It’s also important to note that an external pond pump will require water pipes in order to carry the water back and forth from the pond to the pump. Be sure to factor this into your plans in the preliminary stages.
Submersible Pond Pumps
Submersible pond pumps are installed inside the skimmer or the pond itself. These are a popular choice because you don’t have to worry about disguising the pump outside of the pond or installing extra pipes. They’re also significantly less audible since they are under the water. However, they tend to run on a higher amount of energy and some have a tendency to become clogged more easily.
In order to avoid high energy costs, make sure your pump is large enough for your pond. Knowing exactly how many gallons your pond can hold should be factored into whatever pump your purchase. Submersible pond pumps tend to work best in smaller ponds.
What Size Pond Pump Is Best?
When shopping for a pond, you’ll want to look for one that can circulate all of the water in your pond one time every two hours. If you are planning on hosting koi in your pond, you’ll want an even more powerful pump. For example, if you have a pond that holds 100-200 gallons of water, you’ll want a pump that can run a minimum of 100 GPH.
Most koi pond owners install a filter in the pond, which should also be factored into the pond pump decision.
We touched briefly on this, but it’s one of the most important aspects of properly selecting pond pumps. Your pump is going to be running around the clock, 7 days a week. This can make a significant impact on your energy bill every month. In general, higher priced pond pump models tend to be more energy efficient which saves you money in the long run.
You can use the watts rating that is listed on the pump to help do the math based on how much you pay per watt of electricity. It’s highly recommended to do this before selecting a pump, in order to make sure you are able to commit to the cost of running it constantly.
5 Tips To Avoid and Get Rid of Pond Scum
Pond scum is one of the most annoying recurring problems that many koi pond owners experience. If you have an overabundance of pond scum, it means that you have too much algae in the pond. This is usually caused by an imbalance in proper nutrients in the pond water. While it’s annoying, it can be solved with a few steps and regular tweaking to keep the growth of the algae at a minimum.
Adding aquatic plants to your pond will make a huge difference in the amount of algae that grows. Water plants help to clean the water of the waste materials that cause algae to grow. They also block the water from sunlight which makes it harder for algae to thrive.
There are many different varieties of aquatic plants that will work but popular choices are water iris and taro. These plants both consume the nutrients that algae needs in order to grow. If you’re looking for plants to cover the water surface, consider water lilies. They’re beautiful and can cover a large amount of your pond’s surface area.
Add Organisms To Eat The Algae
Creatures such as snails and tadpoles will help to cut back on algae growth. They love to eat the algae and will thrive on all of the pond scum that develops over time. They are pond cleaning machines and make a huge difference in your pond’s overall health. Another benefit to adding these creatures to your pond is you may notice it becomes something of a frog pond! Frogs can contribute to a healthy pond environment, keeping it an active area.
Don’t Overstock Your Pond
One of the easiest pond cleaning strategies you can implement is simply not overstocking your koi pond. Adding too many fish to your pond will not only be unhealthy for your fish, but will allow algae to thrive. The more fish you have in your pond, the more waste will be created which causes the algae to grow.
Also avoid overfeeding your fish, as this unused food will add too much waste to the water as well.
Building a koi pond in your backyard is a beautiful way to add something unique to your backyard space. Taking the time to do your research and thoroughly plan will pay off to result in a beautiful, peaceful water feature for you to enjoy for many years.