When I was 17 in the summer of 1998, my twin sister and I dug a fish pond in front of our house. I thought I’d share a little bit about it since it wasn’t that difficult to construct. It sits in the front yard and has about 3 kiddy pools worth of surface area (yes, that’s a unit of measure).
To start, we connected the ends of of a garden hose together and then massaged the shape till we were happy with the look and location. We staked the hose down and started digging. The liner is actually what I like most about this project; it’s “ice guard”, a rubber sheet product used under roof shingles. It’s way cheaper than commercial pond liners and very puncture resistant. I think the sheet is ~15 feet wide. The borders are held down with river rock. We had originally used salvaged flagstone, but without a proper foundation, it didn’t last. We also found out that you shouldn’t put any rock in the bottom of the pond. It will just become a bacteria breeding ground as decaying plant matter builds up.
I believe the pond is over two feet at its deepest. Goldfish do just fine in the winter, even with ice on the pond, but you have to make sure they have room. Big goldfish ponds are also nice because the goldfish get BIG in response to having so much space.
The pond is almost zero maintenance. Throw the lilies in and they just take off. There’s a pump for aeration and an overflow pipe. Both the lilies and goldfish were brought in from a friend’s pond. The pond will turn green occasionally, but that usually disappears when the lilies get more coverage and the fish population increases, reducing the amount of food.
I think this was a great addition to our home and I hope this post shows just how simple it is.
Aside: The town I’m from, Beaver Crossing, Nebraska, was known for its large number of free flowing artesian wells in the early 1900s. Fed by the Ogallala Aquifer, the town claimed to have the World’s Largest Swimming Pool. One of the most well known businesses during this period was Smiley’s Water Gardens which raised many varieties of lilies and trout. This all disappeared with the rise of deep well irrigation though; the water table dropped and artesian wells have become a rarity. You can read more about the town’s history here.