Designing and building a fish pond for your background can give you a creative outlet and a landscape feature that will provide many years of enjoyment. Building your own fish pond is fairly easy and can be done in just a day or two.
First, design your pond. While you can buy a ready-made pond shell, many are too shallow and too small for a healthy pond. Your best bet is to dig your own pond and use cut-to-shape pond liner. Always make your pond bigger than you think it should be. For some reason, ponds usually turn out smaller than you imagine.
Once you have settled on a pond design, use ropes or garden hoses to lay it out in your yard. Remove any sod about four to six inches deep and compost it or use it elsewhere in the yard. Dig the pond, saving the soil to mound up around the pond. This is especially important if your pond is lower than other parts of your yard as you will want to build a berm to prevent runoff from the yard entering your pond. Runoff can carry fertilizer and other chemicals that can affect the health of your pond and kill your fish.
As you dig your pond, start out shallow around the edges and dig deeper as you go. Consider using a series of steps to provide areas for setting pots of water plants. The deepest part of your pond should be between two and five feet deep, depending on the type of fish you plan to use. Koi can grow very large while goldfish don't need as much depth.
Also take into account the winters you have. If you have freezing temperatures, you will want at least two to three feet of unfrozen water under the lowest ice.
Once your hole is dug, cut a piece of pool liner to fit. Extend the liner at least a foot or two larger than the pool. Put the liner in the center of the pool and unfold out. Use stones or pots of water plants to hold the liner in place. Buy a good pool filter and install it as instructed if you plan to have lots of fish in the pool. Use the saved dirt to cover the exposed liner outside the pool and add decorative stones if desired. Build a good-sized berm on the uphill side of the pool to catch runoff.
Fill the pool with water and treat with dechlorinators available from your garden pool supply store. Use healthy bacteria, available at pond stores, to create a healthy environment for your fish. Wait a few days before introducing fish. You can put plants in as soon as you get the water in. Put only a few fish in at a time. Wait several days, and add a few more.