The top three pond liners on the market today include EPDM, PVC, and Polyethylene. All liners are good in their own way but have certain limitations when it comes to size, durability, and longevity. Choosing a pond liner is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in constructing your pond.
It’s important to note that I have experience with all three of these pond liners. I’m speaking through experience and the following notations are of my own personal observations. Ultimately, they all make decent water containment membranes. It’s just that I have my own personal favorite.
1. EPDM as a water-containing membrane
EPDM doesn’t come in at number one because it’s my favorite pond liner. It comes in number one because it’s the most popular of the liners. There is a fair amount of reasoning behind this theory. EPDM has proven itself for many years as a pond liner that is both durable and lasts a long time. It’s resistance to ultraviolet radiation is also impressive.
I use EPDM in one of my six ponds and I have no complaints. This is a rubber liner as opposed to a plastic one. While it’s stronger and lasts longer than PVC, polyethylene is stronger than EPDM and lasts just as long. That’s not to say any pond liner is impervious to damage. EPDM, like the other two pond liners mentioned in this article, must be secured and properly buried to protect it from both nuisance animals and the elements.
I also highly recommended using an underlayment for your EPDM liner. Nowadays, this idea has gained much popularity.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when working with EPDM pond liner.
First, it’s the heaviest of pond liners. I installed a large EPDM liner myself one time that nearly killed me. It was very heavy so please make sure you have help when installing an EPDM liner. Especially a large one. Secondly, EPDM liner is the most expensive of the three discussed in this article. Most pond contractors refuse to work with anything but EPDM. I have a feeling this will change in the future as the new and improved polyethylene liner continues to gain notoriety.
2. PVC as a water-containing membrane
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is plastic not without advantages. It’s the cheapest of pond liners, although polyethylene is competitively priced with PVC. PCV has improved greatly over the past twenty years. These days, PVC is usually woven with fabric for extra durability. It’s also the best pond liner for wrapping around tight corners and turns. It leaves fewer folds and creases compared to EPDM or polyethylene. PVC pond liner is available at most local home improvement and garden centers. It also appears as the most available pond liner online.
Is PVC the right fit for you?
It depends on what you’re planning to do and what you expect from it.
On the downside, PVC liners are cut to size for medium to small ponds. If you’re looking to make something large, PVC probably won’t be available in such dimensions. I should also mention the same issue occurs with EPDM, only EPDM is much heavier than PVC.
Both PVC and EPDM liners are cut at about the same dimensions when it comes to size. If you’re looking to make a small to a medium-sized garden pond, PVC isn’t a bad choice. Plus, it’ll be easier to work around corners which smaller ponds are more likely to have. My only concern with PVC is long-term durability.
PVC – The lightest and easiest pond liner to work with
As I alluded to earlier, PVC is light. It’s probably the lightest of all pond liners although polyethylene isn’t too much heavier. As long as you’re in decent shape, most people lay PVC liners by themselves without help or too much trouble. Still, it’s always good to have an extra pair of hands around when it comes to pond construction.
Unfortunately, out of the six ponds I created myself, I had no help from anyone. It wasn’t a big deal. I’m a big, healthy guy although there were certain points I could have used help. Who knows what the future will bring for myself and pond construction. The last two I created were in March of 2018.
3. Polyethylene as a water-containing membrane
Polyethylene has been around for a long time. In my opinion, it’s currently the best modern-day pond liner. Polyethylene didn’t have the best reputations twenty years ago but things have changed since then. Unlike EPDM, which hasn’t changed over the past twenty years, polyethylene has undergone massive ones. This includes adding to its longevity, durability, and flexibility. Unlike PVC and EPDM, polyethylene is a plastic welded to whatever your specific needs are. This means you can have a very large pond or even a lake lined with polyethylene.
Polyethylene is without question the most durable of liners mentioned in this article. It’s tough to punctuate but easy to cut. No, it’s not completely impervious to all rips and tears but it’s still the toughest one out there.
Polyethylene liner repair
Polyethylene liner repair is also easy. There’s a specific tape which works exceptionally well for cuts or scrapes. While I haven’t had a leak in any of my polyethylene pond liners yet, I’ve run a few tests with some scrap pieces I had left over from one of my ponds. I’m very impressed with the results. I’m even considering getting a welder specifically designed to work with polyethylene should I ever need to repair major damage. While damage is unlikely to occur, I’m the type of person who likes to be ready for anything.
Similar questions often asked
Will a tarp work as pond liner?
Over the years I’ve seen many different kinds of tarps and none of them would qualify as a pond liner. At least, nothing that I would consider using. Do tarps hold water after the rain? Sure, they’ll hold rainwater for a little while, but I certainly wouldn’t expect them to hold water as long as the three pond liners mentioned above. Not even if you double them up.
Most likely, you’ll pay the same amount of money for a tarp that you would for a PVC liner specifically designed to hold pond water. Tarps are also sometimes interwoven with fabrics. While pebbles of rain may hold in a tarp for a day or two, eventually the water soaks through rendering them useless in the field of water containment.
Will a pool liner work as a pond liner?
Above ground pool liners are not designed for the same amount of abuse from the elements than a liner designed specifically for ponds. Plastic pool liners are also very thin. It’s designed with the expectation of bare feet being the most stressful object it deals with. Pool liners often last a long time, but sometimes they also get torn up. Another weakness is its poor UV resistance. Along with plastic tarps, I’d steer away from using pool liners as pond liners. These two alternatives only lead to wasted time and frustration.