Planning Your Pond

Getting Started

Building a water garden should be a fun, creative and enjoyable process. You will be creating an Ecosystem which when created properly will eliminate lots of the hassle of maintaining a water garden.

When you purchase a complete pond or pondless kit, which means items from the same manufacturer, you will save yourself lots of anxious moments as these parts are meant to fit together well.  Remember to keep it simple. Everything you would need to build a water feature comes complete and ready to assemble.  Just call our customer service and we can custom out any size of water feature.  877 780-1174

There are a number of things to consider before purchasing a pond kit.

Plan before you dig. We get many calls from people who have dug these very large ponds and did not create shelves or sloped sides and need the pond equipment.   They have not thought about this project before digging.

Plan for …Budget…Size…Depth…Location…Equipment Cost…Stone Cost….Location 

Also call 811 to mark the utilities.


Your location should have a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of sunlight. Ponds can be built in the shade but you will not get as much flower bloom from your plants. Four hours are the minimum to get bloom from water lilies. However, there are plants that do well in the shade.

The View
Check out the view. Where do you want to place the waterfall? It should be easily viewed from both outdoors and indoors. Water gardens should be enjoyed year round.

If possible, it is probably best not to locate under trees. However, if you have to use a location under trees, make sure the tree is not one that drops debris all season long. Install a pond net to catch leaves in the fall.

Low Area
Many people think that if they already have a run off area then this area would be a great place for a water feature.

Not so….DO NOT locate pond in a low area of yard where runoff will end up in the pond.

Run off from fertilized lawns or mulched areas pollute the pond and can cause problems with extreme algae. You want to build a re-circulating water feature which is a closed system with no run off water.

Lay out design with a garden hose
In the area where you want the pond,  lay out a garden hose the size and shape you desire and leave it there for a few days. Live with it and imagine what it would look like.  Visualize.

Check all local codes and ordinances. Make sure you have called all local utilities and have them locate and mark all underground obstructions. Call 811 to have your utilities marked. This is a free service from most utilities.

Interior of pond
The interior of the pond should be designed with a gradual incline like stepping down a set of stairs. It is safer for children and pets. This stair effect will also give you shelves to plant different kinds of plants. Lilies require deeper water than the marginal plants and usually are planted on the second shelf.

Wait to dig your pond
Do not dig before receiving your pond supplies. Wait for instructions and manual.  Make sure you have consulted with someone about the liner size and pond equipment.  Liner must accommodate the depth.

Watch the Video (just click on the subject)

How to Build a Pond

How to Build a Pondless Waterfall

Study this and plan well.

Have a qualified electrician install your electrical outlets. GFI outlets are required. Match the wiring that is recommended for your pump wattage.   Let the electrician know what type of pump you plan on using.

Depth Requirements in your Community
Check out depth requirements in your community. Recommended depth is two feet in all areas of the country. We are not saying you can’t go 3 feet, we just believe it is not necessary for survival of your fish.

Follow the formula – rocks….plants….fish
An Aquascape system is a balanced system requiring you to rock your pond, stock it with plants and fish. Leaving out any one of these will cause an imbalance in your ecosystem.

Install the Pond Yourself
You can install a pond yourself. It takes approximately 40 man hours to install an 11 x 16 pond. Waterfalls with stream will add 8 to 30 hours to this.
Do not overload the pond with fish. Formula is one inch of mature fish per square foot of surface area of the pond. A 10 x 10 pond will support 100 inches of mature fish which would be three koi or 8 to 10 comets.

Recreate nature.
Use this ratio of rock:
1 part small rocks (6-12 inches)
2 part medium (12-18 inch)
1 part large rocks (18-24 inches)

Set large rocks first on bends, create a path of least resistance. You need 1500 to 2000 GPH of water for each foot of width of your stream when it enters the pond basin.  And you will need more if your elevation is higher than 5 feet or your pipe run is more than 25 feet.

The sound of the waterfall is very important. What kind of sound do you want to create with your falls?

  1. Deep tone – waterfall must fall into deep water.
  2. Echo Chamber – create hollow space behind falls.
  3. Crashing sound – then mix them up.
  4. To create white water effect, choke down the stream to a smaller waterfall. Your pump will need to put out 3000 to 4500 GPH per one foot of stream to create this effect.
  5. To create a large waterfall you will need 3000 GPH per one foot of width of stream.

Remember your goal is to create a work of art. No two ponds are alike.
Be patient and follow instructions and you will succeed!  Now read on for more details on the equipment.

Planning: What is a BioFalls and a Skimmer?

Pond filtration is one of the most misunderstood functions that we undertake to maintain our pond environment.

You should remember that our backyard water features are not only enjoyable for us but also necessary for the well being and functioning of our environment.  Most people think the only kind of filtration they need is a mechanical filter that will take care of floating debris and suspended debris in the pond water. They think that this will improve the clarity of the water. But that is wrong….

The main purpose of the skimmer (mechanical filter) is to skim the debris before it sinks to the bottom of the pond. Ponds can, therefore, be installed under trees if they do not drop lots of debris all year long.

Skimmers have pre-filters and debris nets/baskets to catch the floating debris as it enters the skimmer. Behind the net is a filter mat that adds additional protection to the pump from smaller debris. This debris could shut down the pump due to algae and debris clogging the intake.  This happens frequently with pumps placed directly in a pond with no protection around it.

The maintenance of the skimmer is simple. Simply empty the net/basket once or twice a week. Once a month check the filter mat and clean if necessary. By cleaning this filter, which is resting on a support rack, you will increase the efficiency of your pump.

The pump is easily removed by loosening one hand-tightened fitting on the discharge piping connection about the water line. Water is pumped from the skimmer through the pipe to the biological filter.

While mechanical filtration reduces the solids in the pond water, biological filtration is the most important aspect when it comes to having a healthy pond.

Biological Filters
Biological filtration simply means using bacteria to clean our pond. The action of beneficial bacteria not only improves the water quality for the fish but also improves the clarity decreasing the amount of algae in the pond. Biological filters (BioFalls) also aerate and oxygenate the pond with falling water. This is necessary for the fish and plants in your pond.

There are several types of bacteria that work to our benefit in the pond. These bacteria will attach themselves to the filter media  and BioBalls  that will be located in the BioFalls and also will attach to any of the stoned areas of the pond.

We have now found that when using lava rock, the channels can become clogged and are recommending that you replace your lava rock with the BioBallsTM. There are 100 in each set. Use one set in MicroFalls, two sets in the Signature 2500 or Mini Biofalls and four sets in Standard or 6000 Series BioFalls.

The biological media mats located in the BioFalls allow the water to flow through and back to the pond.
The biological filter mats and any other media located in the top of the BioFalls will not need frequent cleaning. In fact, the BioFalls should be cleaned only once a year, in the early spring, when the pond is opened from the winter or in warmer climates in the cool weather of fall. Then it is left alone for one year. Mats have a 2 to 3 year life. Matala mats ( link) will have a longer life.
A Biofalls will serve several purposes.

What to look for in a biological filter?

  • Creates a perfect base for building beautiful, leak-free waterfalls. It requires only once a year cleaning when used in combination with a skimmer pre-filter.
  • A non-clogging swirl chamber allows even distribution of water, aiding filtration and increasing waterfall width.
  • Can be sunk into the ground for a spring effect or raised to create a greater water drop (but no more than 2 feet.).
  • The larger the biological filter the more bacteria it holds which means cleaner ponds.
  • A filter support rack holds filter mats and doubles as side supports.
  • A simple, uncluttered design with no moving parts to break is the best design.
  • A durable roto-molded polyethylene base that discourages leaks.
  • A large spillway, meaning more water can spill over your waterfall (23 inches on Standard and Mini).
  • A built-in rock ledge that allows you to camouflage the filter unit to fit into landscape.
  • A realistic-looking optional waterfall stone that also gives the installer an opportunity to use real rock in the design.


Pumps come in many sizes and shapes.   You must match the pump to the water feature.

Figure out the following items:

  1. Length and Width and Depth of Pond (at the widest point) – Length X Width X Average Depth X 7.48 = gallons in your pond
  2. Stream or no stream – If stream what is the length and width of the stream?
  3. Width of stream/waterfall water when it enters the basin located at the bottom of the waterfall. Use 1500 to 2000 GPH for each foot width of water.
  4. Multiple waterfalls require a custom quote
  5. Size of skimmer and biofalls is important that it matches capacity with the GPH of the pump and the interior diameter size of the pipe.

You have two choices in pumps. A high head pump is more the pro pumps and it may be needed for any feature 11×16 or larger and/or if there are streams or multiple waterfalls.

The low head pumps are used when your waterfall just drops into the pond with no stream, elevation of waterfall is under 5 feet and the width of waterfall is no more than 2 feet.  This choice is for small ponds and does not require a high head while matching the gallons in the pond especially if you are dropping the falls directly into the pond.

We also now have a variable rate pump in two sizes:  2000 to 4000 GPH with a remote and a 4000 to 8000 gph with a remote for easy control.

PVC Pipe

Always use flexible pipe.  Use a string from the site of the pump to the site of the falls.  Use this measurement.

1.5 inch pipe – 2200 GPH small features maximum flow rate

2 inch pipe – 4800 GPH medium size features maximum flow rate

3 inch pipe – 10500 GPH large features and/or multiple streams maximum flow rate

Remember to do your homework in sizing all your equipment.

Give us a call for a custom bid and we will save you the time in figuring what you need. 877 780-1174

PS Also remember when ordering a pond kit, we can order extra liner for adding a small stream to a kit.

Happy building,

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