The Cost of Building a Pond

How much does it cost to build a pond?

The cost of building a pond varies greatly depending on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional contractor. The size of the pond also comes into play along with what electrical equipment you choose to add on. The total cost of building a pond ranges from a few hundred dollars to 25k.

Okay, sooner or later it had to happen. We have to discuss money. My twenty-ninth post and I’m finally going to throw some numbers out there. Keep in mind my history with pond construction. I worked with three different pond contractors and built five of my own. Six if you count the one at my first house but that was a preformed liner. Still, I guess it counts because some choose that direction and there’s nothing wrong with it.

The Cost of Building a Pond

Personally, I like bigger projects. The bigger, the better. So, allow me to go ahead with the various costs of pond construction and all that goes along with it.

Hiring a pond contractor versus doing it yourself

The first thing that came to mind as I typed out that subheading is a pond contractor out in Arizona. I can’t say what kind of work he does but his website pretty much sums up the general attitude of pond contractors. It read something like this.

“Don’t contact us if you don’t have the money or if you’re a do it yourselfer.”

If I was a “do it yourselfer”, why would I be contacting them in the first place? I eventually became someone who did the work myself because I couldn’t pay anyone to do the job correctly. As I said, I can’t say one way or the other if his company is good but he has the typical attitude of all pond contractors I’ve worked with in Florida. They also don’t like it when you offer design ideas.

Well, I don’t like paying someone for shabby work and throwing thousands of dollars away. Raccoons tearing up an EPDM liner isn’t an act of God or even something you can blame on nature. It’s simply because the pond contractor failed at properly secure the liner.

Here’s what it boils down to. If you build the pond yourself, you’ll pay less than 1/4 of what a pond contractor charges. I think I’m being somewhat conservative with that statement. My first pond contractor charged a total of $8000. The hole was already dug. All he had to do was drop a liner in, set up a really cheap automatic fill valve made from a toilet bowl flush kit, add some river pebbles, some plants (very few actually) and some fish. I admit, he did add a lot of fish. The problem was they were invasive tilapia which caused more problems for me down the road. That’s another story for another time.  All that for 8k. I could have done what he did for about $1,100.

It gets even better

My second pond contractor was even worse. After the first pond failed due to raccoon damage, the liner had to be pulled. It basically had to be done over again, but by properly securing the liner. He refused to give me a guarantee that raccoons wouldn’t damage the liner. Instead, he said he would place large stones completely around the perimeter of the pond which hopefully would discourage the raccoons from entering it. All I wanted was the liner buried. Here’s the kicker, it took him over two weeks to draw up a plan on a piece of paper that was simply a circle written in pencil. He then quoted me 23 thousand dollars. I escorted him off my property.

Finally, the third guy I brought in claimed he had experience installing ponds at golf courses. That is believable because there are dozens of golf courses around here, most having ponds. All he had to do was restructure the pond, drop a liner in and bury it. No more than that. He charged $6000. While I must admit, he properly buried the liner so no animal could get to it. The problem was, he had one side of the pond lower than the other.

This caused over a foot of water loss. It took him a month to finally return and do the job correctly. To prove the water loss was due to his mistake, I dug a hole at each opposite end of the pond down to the liner. I then draped a rope across the center of the pond showing the walls weren’t level. What a nightmare. He did finally get it right though. Was it worth it? Heck no! I should have rented a bobcat and did it myself.

More pond contractor prices for you

Now granted, these include waterfalls and all of “the works”. If you have the money, and you can find someone competent to do the job, it could be worth it. Check his prices out HERE. It’s not cheap to hire a pond contractor. I’m not trying to sway your decision one way or the other, but here’s my advice to you. If you’re going to pay that kind of money, make sure you get exactly what you pay for and don’t let them upsell you. If you have a specific vision like I did (which was rather simple), they should honor it. If you’re open to whatever their vision is, that’s okay too. The point is, know exactly what you’re paying for and what it’s going to cost to keep everything working on an annual basis.

If you do choose to go with a pond contractor, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope you’re satisfied with your new water feature.

Building a pond on a budget

Now you’re in my territory. The pond you see on the right is forty-one feet long and sits right off my back patio. I built it myself for under $1,200. After I laid the liner, I placed sod around it. The reason the grass is a little high in the picture is that the sod was new. I needed grass to take tightly to the ground because it reaches the waterline.

How to Build a Natural Pond | Natural Pond Lover

The sod protects the liner from raccoons and other nuisance animals. A simple idea, really. The water is crystal clear and has been ever since the first bacteria bloom which lasted two weeks.

Admittedly, I did have an algae problem because of the time of year I built the pond which just before winter. The hornwort and anacharis didn’t get a chance to take. I corrected the problem but if I had tackled it earlier with a product like Nualgi, it never would have gotten that far.

Besides the liner and sod, I bought two bags of river pebbles for the overflow. I already had the flagstone. I used my native soil for the bottom of the pond which works great because it’s mostly sand. The final cost was buying a $40 inline hose filter to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals from the water. This is for when I top off the pond.

That’s a pretty good example of building a pond on a budget. I added mosquito fish, snails, hornwort and anacharis from my other established ponds. The other ponds didn’t suffer from what I took.

Related questions

What are the yearly maintenance fees for owning a pond?

I have six ponds which all function completely on their own ecosystem. This past season, I spent less than $50 on my ponds although I do have a small job replacing some sod off what I refer to as “the canal”.

If you’re talking about fixing a pump, filter, and other electrical add-ons, it depends on what’s wrong with them. You could be looking at a couple hundred to a couple thousand depending on the situation.

I’m not saying a pump, filter, skimmer, automatic fill valve, or other electrical add-ons go bad every season, but they do have a short lifespan. After all, they’re exposed to the weather elements all year-long. I did have an automatic fill valve on my first pond which broke after three months. My water ran continuously for the entire night. This is why I suggest topping ponds off manually.

Is it necessary to have a pump or filter in a pond?

No, a pond does not need a pump or filter to work properly when a strong ecosystem is in place. If your pond suffers from overcrowding and you’re overfeeding your fish, a pump and filter may come in handy. Also, if your pond is small and you simply can’t get enough quality oxygenating plants in it, you’ll need a pump and filter. It’s also a matter of personal preference to a certain extent, along with how much money you’re willing to pay.

How do I get around buying electrical equipment to run my pond?

By building a proper and strong ecosystem starting at the bottom. Then, slowly work your way up to the top. You’ll also need at least six hours of sunlight for most submerged plants to take off. It’s a long process and requires patience. In the end, it is totally worth it.

Build a Pond Ecosystem

Does owning a pond require a lot of work?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on what luck brings you. You may have problems with nuisance animals. If your pond liner is properly secured, animals won’t be a problem. If it’s left exposed, such animals will tear it to pieces because of the smell of fish, snails, and other pond inhabitants which they feed on.

A tree could fall into your pond after a storm. Situations like these are known as “acts of God”. There’s all kind of things that can go wrong in life, but that doesn’t stop us from living it. Life itself is a gamble, just take the right precautions to cut the chances of bad things happening to you and you’ll be okay.

Is getting a pond really worth it?

Absolutely! I thank my lucky stars every day when I look out my window and see a large pond with all the frogs. It makes my day. Sure, there are hardships, especially in the beginning, but once everything gets going, it’s not much trouble at all. I have no regrets, although I know some who do. That’s because they gave up after one failed attempt.

To be successful in life, you can’t give up after being knocked down the first time. You have to stand back up and try again. Keep trying until it works. You’ll see the results you want if you work hard enough at it. Good luck, always be careful and happy ponding!

The Cost of Building a Pond