Having a water feature in the backyard is always nice, but there are some steps to maintain the feature that come along with any installation. If properly cared for the feature can last for years and give a nice touch to your house.

It all started after few years we put sod in my backyard. It is below grade, what means there is a slope from the front porch to the backyard, that makes it pretty much at the basement level. Because of this situation, the backyard doesn’t drain much, and it remains wet most of the year. It is usually good to keep the grass green all year long. The problem was that we didn’t notice the grass was wet naturally because we setup a timer with a sprinkler that took care of watering my backyard sod all summer long.

After two years, a big portion of the backyard was too wet and died, I guess you can stay it drowned. At that point we could either put more sod, but with proper cleanup first or build some water feature that could cover the area that was lost. It was not that bad, probably around 190 to 250 square feet needed some fixing. Also I have this fascination for fish tanks, which then took to the next level and finally decided to build a pond.

Deciding on the location was the easiest thing, because I explained above, the grass was already dead in a large area, and we needed to cover it with something. Then we opted for a prefab hard shell similar to the one shown below.

The process was more work than planning after that. It should start with digging a hole big enough to fit the pond, but in preparation for digging, having the shape in the ground makes the process a somewhat easier. What I mean is taking the liner and placing it upside down over the ground, then using some Rust-Oleum Marking Spray Paint to draw the shape and make the whole reach those edges.

As I mentioned before there is a slope that goes from the front of my property to the backyard and we used this opportunity to use the extra dirt and start shaping some stairs (that eventually completed) and that took care of the extra dirt. It took me and my son two days to finish digging the whole. Meanwhile my wife purchased a few bags of gravel from the local hardware store along with couple of decorative plants.

When placing the prefab it is important to check for proper leveling, otherwise the water will get out of the pond. It is just common sense. And then it is time to fill back all the edges of the prefab with some of the dirt that was dug out earlier. Place the plants near the edge of the pond, and put the gravel around the pond.

Before introducing any fish or plants into the pond, we decided to fill it with water to the middle, to kind of wash out all the dirt during the process. Then dumped the water out by using the hose as a syphon. I’m glad we did it because a lot of debris fell into the liner just by filling the holes around it and when doing the plants.

Next should be the filter. When visiting the hardware store, I asked about pond supplies and they have a good variety but boy those are expensive. Thankfully Amazon came to the rescue and found the same InPond 5 in 1 model but for about 80% of the store price, with next day delivery. We chose that because the guys at the hardware store recommended - that made it easier when navigating all the options in Amazon. It contains an ultra-violet lamp that gets rid of organic matter entering the filter and several biological and mechanical filters that require little maintenance. It also comes with a fountain and it just looks cool. Installing the filter was really easy. Just follow the included instructions and place it in the center of the pond.

At this moment, the next step was to let the filter run for a few days before introducing the fish. When visiting the pet store we didn’t really have any high expectations, therefore we purchased a dozen of comet gold fish like for 35 cents each. They were tiny - about half an inch. Also with the filter we started an amazon subscription for fish food, again after a recommendation from the pet store, but the price at amazon is just so much better and the subscription quite convenient. If you didn’t know, Amazon offers a “Subscribe & Save” option in several of their products, which for me works like a charm sending me the needed fish food every quarter and at the same time it reduces the price even more!

And that was it! The finished product is shown below: pond with fish

A short video

It has been already two years since we installed the pond. Half of the fish died during the first two weeks. But the other six survived and started growing at regular rate. Whenever we leave on vacation we ask some of our neighbors to feed the fish once a day.

The filter requires regular maintenance, every 2-3 months cleaning and changing the carbon filters. And so far after 1 and a half years we had to change the light bulb for a new one. And that is pretty much all the maintenance.