Building a pond

Want to build a garden pond with foil and without the hassle of complicated equipment and chemicals?

With Simon's clear step-by-step guide, you will construct your dream pond in a natural and sustainable way. This provides you with a complete design plan for your pond, complete with personalized planting advice.
Pond construction step-by-step garden pond plan

Constructing a garden pond: your step-by-step guide

Without the right approach, ponds can be excavated incorrectly. I have often seen people who spontaneously dig a hole and want to put liner in it without a solid design. While digging and placing the liner usually works, problems often arise when setting up the pond. For example, a thoughtless pond without clear zones may not function properly. Take, for example, a pond without zones that is 1.50 m deep; such a pond can hardly accommodate plants. For example, water lilies, although they live in the water, can "drown" if placed too deep.

To avoid these and other pitfalls, I've put together this roadmap for you.

Do you have a specific pond?

If you have a specific pond we have additional tips for you. Select your type of pond or choose by water content if your pond is not listed. For a small pond of 500 - 10,000 gallons of water, the step-by-step plan continues below.

Building a swimming pond in your garden

Swimming pond

Mirror Pond

Mirror Pond

Constructing a koi pond in your garden

Koi pond

Plant filter

Plant filter

Mini pond

Mini pond

< 500 liter

Small pond

Small pond

500 - 10,000 liters

Large pond

Large pond

10,000 - 100,000 liters

Natural pond construction

Mega pond

> 100,000 liters

Building a pond 5 step plan: how to build a pond? (including tips from Simon)

Simon van der Velde

With the right combination of plants and smart planning, you can create a maintenance-free natural pond without the need for expensive pumps, filters or water improvers.

Simon van der VeldePond specialist and aquatic plant breeder

Step 1: Determine pond type and proper location

Constructing a swimming pond
  • Planning: Before you start digging, it is essential to think carefully about the purpose of your pond. Do you want a swimming pond, a koi pond or just a decorative pond?
  • Location: The location of your pond affects its health. A sunny spot with 4-6 hours of sunlight per day is ideal.
  • Permit: No permit is usually required to excavate a pond. However, special structures, such as a mirror pond, may require a permit.

Simon's tip

Always start with a clear plan before you start digging.

Step 2: Create a floor plan

Pond zones drawing pond planting plan
  • Zones: A pond can contain up to five zones. For smaller ponds, two to three zones are recommended for plants. The pond should be at least 80-100 cm deep to accommodate the different zones.
  • Key Zones: The marsh zone (-10 to -20 cm) is crucial because many plants will be located here.

Simon's tip

Make sure you don't make the zones too narrow or you won't have enough room for the aquatic plants.

Step 3: Excavate the pond, calculate pond liner and lining

Pond excavation and lining
  • Preparation: Before you start digging, check the groundwater level. This can be done by drilling a hole at the deepest point of the pond.
  • Digging out: If the hole remains dry, you can begin excavating. Keep in mind that a lot of soil will come out of the hole.
  • Pond liner: Once the hole is ready, it can be lined with pond liner. First remove sharp objects from the ground.

Simon's tip

Finish the edges of the pond neatly with stones or attach the liner to a wooden edge.

Step 4: Provide a good pond planting plan

vdvelde pond planting
  • Balance: It is important to have balance in your pond plants. This reduces the chance of algae growth and ensures clear water.
  • Natural balance: Simon's contention is that technical aids, such as filters, are not necessary if you have a good planting plan. The plants themselves can keep the pond clean and clear.

Simon's tip

By having a good planting plan, you will save an average of €200 to €300 annually on water tests and water improvers.

Step 5: Maintenance and further setup

Aquatic plants pond without pond pump pond filter
  • Maintenance: Like Sumpfpflanzen , aquatic plants contribute to clear water. Plants such as calamus, Japanese cave pipe and pikeweed are excellent choices.
  • Construction: The best time to build a pond is when it is not freezing. Keep in mind seasonal changes.
  • Cost: The average cost of constructing a pond with foil is around €200 per m2. With a good plan, you can avoid unnecessary costs.

Simon's tip

Put plants and substrate in the pond first, only then add water. And don't be tempted to buy unnecessary technical devices and water improvers.

Frequently asked questions about building a pond

If you want to build your own pond with foil, keep in mind an average cost of €200 perm2. Making a good plan can avoid unnecessary costs. Simons pond advice book gives you all the tips & tricks to save money and build a successful, clear pond in one go.

Building ponds can be done year-round, except when it's freezing. Weather conditions have changed so much from 25 years ago that the seasons have become less and less different. For example, we have our nursery stocked with aquatic plants year-round. Plants don't grow as fast in the fall, but they overwinter and sprout right away in the spring. They are hardy. Thus, you can dig a pond and plant pond plants all year round. The only exception to this rule is when it freezes, because then there is ice on the water. Then building a pond will be more difficult.

Part II. Setting up a pond in 6 steps

After your pond is dug and the liner is laid, it's time to start decorating the pond. Simon's step-by-step plan ensures that you can enjoy a clear, biologically balanced and low-maintenance pond year-round.

pond advice book

Want more helpful tips?

Learn about common mistakes and get a handy planting plan, along with plenty of valuable tips in Simon's Pond Advice Book.

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Simon van der Velde

Simon van der Velde: Expert on ponds and an advocate of biodiversity and sustainability

Simon van der Velde is an expert in ponds with more than 35 years of experience in designing dream ponds. He is the founder of "Van der Velde Aquatic Plants," a company focused on creating biodiverse and natural ponds without the use of pumping systems and filters. Simon's vision goes beyond creating beautiful ponds; he also wants to contribute to the restoration of biodiversity in the Netherlands, Europe and the rest of the world. In addition to his work as a pond specialist, Simon is a passionate nature lover and is committed to preserving nature and the environment. He inspires people to take a sustainable approach to their gardens and the natural environment. Simon's passion for biodiversity and natural lifestyle makes him an advocate for sustainability and a key player in restoring the natural balance in our world.

Tips, advice and substantial savings
I would like to share my experience with you, and advise you to solve any pond problems and reduce pond maintenance. As a result, you can easily save hundreds of dollars.
Tips, advice and substantial savings
I would like to share my experience with you, and advise you to solve any pond problems and reduce pond maintenance. As a result, you can easily save hundreds of dollars.
Tips, advice and substantial savings
I would like to share my experience with you, and advise you to solve any pond problems and reduce pond maintenance. As a result, you can easily save hundreds of dollars.
Tips, advice and substantial savings
I would like to share my experience with you, and advise you to solve any pond problems and reduce pond maintenance. As a result, you can easily save hundreds of dollars.