Build your own koi fish pond
In: Landscape Tips

Koi ponds are great for creating an ambiance in your backyard landscape. The gentle water flowing and beautiful fish will put you and your guests at ease while you relax outside. Even better, you can build a koi pond in your yard by yourself in just a few hours.

12 Steps To Build a Koi Pond In Your Yard

1.Pick your fish and plants

18214036 - several carp in a pond

Koi fish and goldfish have different requirements. Koi fish need certain plants and get bigger, while goldfish are more flexible with their surroundings.

2. Map it out

Decide the dimensions, location, shape, and the style of your fish pond.

Note: If the pond is going to be deeper than about 12 inches, you should take a look at your local code to make sure it does not need to be fenced. Most koi ponds are 3-5 feet deep and should not be less than 3.

The location is more important than you think. Consider these factors in your decision-making process:

  • Can you see and enjoy the pond easily?
  • Will leaves or debris fall into the pond often
  • Is it near a spot where runoff or fertilizer will run into the pond
  • Is it in an optimal spot for the sunlight that the plants need
  • Will children be playing close to this area? Would it be a hazard?

3. Fountain or no fountain?

14591520 - koi fish, fancy carp, cyprinus carpio linn

Fountains are both aesthetically pleasing, aerate the water to give the fish a better habitat, and help to keep the pond cleaner because it is moving the water. So although this is an additional step to your project, it is worth the time and money.

4. Dig the pond

Now it’s time to pull out your shovel and dig. It is a good idea to use a rope or garden hose to lay out the shape and size of your pond for a guide. If you are planting plants around the outer edge, only dig a small shelf where those plants will be located. Then, dig the center of the pond at a slight slope starting at the side with the waterfall and then getting deeper.

5. Position the skimmers

If you are using a pond skimmer to remove the debris off of the surface of the water, now is the time to dig the ditch for the skimmer and plumbing that will be running to the pond.

6. Line the pond

First, you should line the pond underlayment which can be cut with scissors. You can get this at your local home development store for pretty cheap (about $30 for a small pond). Then, you should place the rubber pond liner which should be thick. Try to avoid folds and wrinkles as much as possible.

7. Add in the waterfall or fountain feature

The next step is to excavate the waterfall tank. It can be placed to directly spill into your koi pond or to flow into something and then go down a stream to the pond. Make sure that this is included in your design for digging and material purposes.

8. Lay the stone, landscaping rock, and other decorative features


Now is the time to plant the plants, edge the pond with stones, and fill it with rocks for decoration. Depending on the size of your pond, small to large sized boulders work well for lining the pond. Then, you can fill the pond with river rock or buckshot.

9. Fill the pond with water

10. Add dechlorinator

Add dechlorinator to remove any chlorine that would harm the fish.

11. Fill the pond with fish and aquatic plants

water lilie

Now it’s time to add the fish and aquatic plants. It is good to add the plants as soon as possible because most of the plants will feed on the nutrients that would grow algae. If your pond is in full sun it is good to add water lilies to protect the fish. Then add the fish a few at a time over the course of a few weeks to let them get acclimated.

There are 3 groups of plants that you can add to your fish pond:

  • Floating plants: water lilies, water lettuce, water hyacinth, lotus, etc.
  • Shallow-water marsh plants: umbrella plants, water iris, horsetail, etc.
  • Submerged plants: fanwort, elodea, ludwigia, etc.

All of these plants come with their own benefits and are acceptable for use in your koi pond. Just make sure the ones you pick will have the proper sunlight and note if they need pruning.

You can get these plants from your local home improvement store or pond store for an affordable price (about $5 each).

12. Enjoy!

After you finish your koi pond, sit back in your lawn chair and enjoy the serenity! You deserve it.

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