Installing a Professional Water Garden on a Budget

By: Gerry Fung

Both purchasing a pond kit and installing a water garden yourself can save you a lot of money. Landscapers usually charge thousands of dollars to install professional liner ponds. In fact, even the supplies that the landscapers provide you with are marked up! Why not purchase the supplies online at significantly discounted prices? With the advent of the Internet, you can now gain access to the same pricing that the landscapers have access to. For further savings, all you need are some friends and family, and some time, you can even complete most, if not all, of the installation yourself.

Purchasing Your Materials

If you're thinking about a water garden for your backyard, the first thing you need to do is to layout your design. Take a good look at your yard and make sure that the location of the pond can be enjoyed from any decks and windows. Pull out the garden hose and create the shape of your pond right on the lawn. Experiment with it for a few days and observe how both the sun and slope of your yard will effect the space you have chosen. Most importantly, get your ideas on paper!

After designing your pond, you should take the materials required into consideration. Use your design to compose a list check-list of all the things that you require. Do you need a waterfall? How many tiers do you want in your pond? Do you want a stream leading into your main pond? Are you willing to install extra filtration to support your fish? How do you plan on landscaping the pond? Do you require underwater lighting? How powerful of a pump do you need?

Once you are sure about your material requirements, the most affordable way to proceed is to check online for professional pond kits that meet your requirements. Liner pond kits usually provide most or all of the basic materials required to install a pond, at a discounted price. Purchasing a pond kit also reduces the risk of mistakes that are often associated with purchasing the incorrectly-sized equipment. Have you ever tried to return liner, after it's been cut up? Or a pump, after you have run water through it? Good luck convincing a retail outlet that it came like that!

Installing Your Pond

After purchasing your pond kit, you may have to visit a garden center and/or a hardware store to pick up the items from your checklist that you still require. Keep in mind that one of the most highly recommended and comprehensive pond kits available is currently offered by Algreen Products. Unlike other kits, whereby extra filtration and lighting must be purchased separately, at retail prices, they include everything in one single kit for a low price. You cannot go wrong with their professional pond liner kits because they include everything you might possibly need, including liner, liner underlay, a skimmer, biofalls filter, all your charcoal/mechanical/biological filtration media, a properly-sized waterfall pump, underwater lighting, and all your tubing and construction materials.

After you've arranged all the materials together, it's time to get your friends together to start excavating a hole. At this stage of the game, a backhoe rental may be required for larger ponds. Ensure that the excavation is dug according to the dimensions that are laid out in your initial design. Make sure that a cavity for the biofalls filter and the skimmer are excavated on opposite sides of the pond, with the biofalls cavity being situated next to the highest pond tier.

After the excavation has been completed, the skimmer box can now be installed into the hole at the end of the pond, with the drainage hole facing out toward the pond. The skimmer should be set so that the top of its mouth is no less than 1 inch above your intended water level. Make sure that the skimmer is level and secure. The biofalls filter should be inserted into the hole at the opposite end of the pond.

Before laying the pond liner, cover the pond area, extending over the pond shelf, with underlayment and tuck it into pleats to conform to the shape of the pond. Cover the fabric with the heavy-duty (45-mil-thick) pond liner. Use caution, because even a small tear can result in a leak. You can use stones to weigh down the pond liner in the center of the pond.

Try to minimize the folding and pleating of the liner, because folds have the potential to trap dirt and debris. If you are worried about debris collecting in the folds, you have the option of sealing the folds with seaming tape. To do this, form each fold as a large triangle, and secure it with double-sided seaming tape. Sealing the fold makes it less obvious, keeps debris out, and prevents small fish from being trapped.

Cut a rectangular hole in the pond liner with sides that are 1" shorter than the rectangular opening of the skimmer. Connect the hole in the pond liner to the skimmer, using PVC tape.

The bulk of the pond installation is now complete! Now, all that remains to be done is to backfill around the edges of the pond with topsoil, and fill the pond with water. The pond is now ready to be landscaped.

As opposed to paying a landscaper for a pond installation, there are savings to be had from purchasing the supplies yourself. Since materials from landscapers are usually marked up, you are paying a premium for the materials right off the bat. You can obtain these supplies yourself, over the Internet, for significant savings (E.g. Algreen's Pond Pro Kits). And if you're really adventurous, you can even complete the installation yourself!

Congratulations on your first professional water garden!

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