Add life to your backyard with a small pond and fountain

During the warm summer months, you're likely going to spend a chunk of time enjoying the sunny outdoors and entertaining guests. Why not jazz up your yard with a pond or fountain?

Add life to your backyard with a small pond and fountain

Starter tips

A small pond with running water will fit even the smallest backyard and won't cost much to build.

  • To start, use an inexpensive preformed pond shell.
  • A metre-wide (three-foot-wide) pond will take up a roughly circular 1.5 x 1.5-metre (5 × 5-foot) area after flagstones are laid around it, and will need a grounded outlet nearby for the pump.
  • Before you do any digging, it's important to have your electrical, gas, phone and cable lines marked.

What you will need to install a pond and fountain

  • spray paint or flour
  • preformed pond shell
  • large ceramic pot with drainage hole
  • sand
  • submersible pond pump
  • 1.8 metres (six feet) black tubing
  • silicone caulk or plumber's epoxy
  • 1 20-centimetre (eight-inch) concrete deck pier
  • 2 30-centimetre (12-inch) concrete pads
  • shutoff valve
  • flagstones to ring pond
  • urethane foam (optional)
  • rocks

Prepare the ground

  • Set the pond upside down on the ground and outline it with spray paint or flour.
  • Put the pond aside, then cut out and remove the sod.
  • Start digging a few centimetres (an inch or two) in from the circular outline.
  • Dig the hole the depth of the pond plus five centimetres (two inches).
  • Remove protruding roots or stones that might puncture the pond.
  • Check to ensure the pond fits, then remove it and pour sand to a depth of five to 7.5 centimetres (two to three inches) into the hole.
  • Push the pond down onto the sand base, then walk in it to compact the sand.
  • The rim of the pond should be roughly even with the highest point of the surrounding ground.

Site the fountain

  • Build the fountain by running a tube from a submersible pump up through the drainage hole of a ceramic pot.
  • The pot can sit below or above the water surface, but it will be heavy when it's full of water and needs a level, stable base.
  • To make one, lay a pair of 30-centimetre (12-inch) concrete pads where you want the fountain to be, then place a concrete deck pier on top.
  • Fill the pond partway with water so it fully settles, then level the pier with galvanized washers.
  • Cut a metre-long (three-foot-long) length of tubing and push 0.3 metres (one foot) of it through the hole in the bottom of the ceramic pot.
  • Seal the hole with silicone caulk or plumber's epoxy and set it aside until it cures.
  • Install a shutoff (or backflow preventer valve) between the pump and the pot to stop water in the pot from siphoning back into the pond and overflowing it when the pump is turned off.
  • To pump water out of the pond for cleaning, just pull off the tubing from the shutoff and hang it over the side of the pond.

Add flagstone edging

  • Surround the pond with irregular flagstones, laying them on a bed of sand and lapping them over the pond's black plastic rim.
  • Fitting the stone is like working on a jigsaw puzzle, so buy a few extra pieces.
  • Cut the stone to fit with a circular saw or grinder equipped with a dry-cutting diamond blade (wear eye protection!).
  • A few hidden squirts of urethane foam help keep flagstones in position.

Finishing touches

  • Cut the tube inside the pot to half the depth of the pot, then prop it up with rocks so it points straight towards the centre. Or leave the tube long, if you want the water to spout higher.
  • Lay large rocks in the bottom of the pond for decoration and to hide the pump.

Basic maintenance

Keep the pond clean by pumping it out every few months and refilling with fresh water. Empty it in winter.

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