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Best Time To Replace Your Pond Liner: Plus How-To Guide

If you’re new to using ponds in your backyard, you’re probably wondering: “When is the best time to replace your pond liner?” Luckily, I’ve done the research for you (Because I was in that position not so long ago) and have placed all the necessary information you need in the guide below.

A pond liner is used to ensure that water will stay inside your pond, but once you see the water line receding, it’s time to change the pond liner. The best time to do this is between late autumn to early winter when it’s easier to change them and animals are less active.

In this article, I’ll discuss in further detail why these particular seasons are the ideal time to replace your pond liner, along with step-by-step instructions to replace your pond liner, and more.

Why Winter is the Best Time to Replace Pond Liner

The time of year you replace your pond liner is pretty important, as it will have an effect on the ecosystem of your pond life. Replacement entails the removal of everything in your pond, including:

  • the water
  • the fish
  • the plants
  • any dirt and rocks

The existing ecosystem within your pond is at its most active during the early spring and summer months when animals and insects tend to breed.

Between autumn and winter, fish and wildlife get ready for hibernation and enter a more dormant phase of life, which means that pond replacement won’t be as stressful for them.

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During this time, there won’t be a lot of activity so the replacement can be done faster. You can also opt to change your pond liner right after winter since the stagnant ecosystem is just starting to come to life again.

Step-by-Step Guide for Replacing Your Pond Liner

As mentioned before, this can be a big task, so I’ve broken down everything you need to do in this easy-to-follow guide. If done properly, you should be able to enjoy your pond for years to come.

1. Remove Plants and Fish

The first thing you will need to do is to remove all the fish, plants, and other animals from your pond. Depending on how many fish you have, be sure to set up tanks full of pond water with minimal debris. Once ready, start transferring your fish from the pond using a net and place the plants and fish in separate tanks.

2. Drain Your Pond

Once you’re done with fish removal, drain your pond completely using a pump. Next, take a shovel to clear the liner of all sand, debris, and dirt. Pick up any bricks, rocks, or stones that have been placed on the old liner to make it easier to remove.

3. Replace the Old Liner

When you’ve cleaned and drained the pond, roll up your old liner and take it off the pond. This could be hard to do on your own, so be sure to enlist the help of others.

4. Prepare the Ground

After you remove the old liner, look at the ground and search for stones, rocks, or other kinds of sharp objects that could damage the new liner. Ensure that these are all removed, then place a few inches of sand — this will act as a cushion for the protection of your new pond liner.

5. Place the New Liner

A correctly installed pond liner will last for many years

Take your new liner and carefully place it on the pond’s floor. This process may take some time because you will need to ensure that there are no folds or wrinkles in the liner while you install it. As such, you will need help to do this part so ask your friends or family to provide assistance. Start pouring water into your pond using a hose — stand on top of the liner to see if any folds and wrinkles develop, then quickly fix them to avoid leaks.

6. Treat the Water

Oftentimes, newer water will have chlorine in it, which is dangerous for fish and plants. You can remove this chlorine by using a water dechlorinator. Once this is applied, turn on the pump and have it circulate the water throughout the pond to deliver the oxygen that your fish will need.

7. Release your Fish and Place the Plants

Before you release the fish back into their home, it’s best to wait 48 hours first to ensure that there are no leaks or holes in the liner. After this is done, release your fish into the pond one by one and place the plants back into the pond. Use a 15-minute interval to add one gallon of water gradually from the tanks you’ve been using into the pond. Doing this will equalize the water temperature to ease the fish into the new environment.


Does it matter what type of fish are living in the pond?

You will need to consider if the fish will be able to withstand a few factors, such as:

  • Water temperature
  • pH levels
  • Nutrient levels
  • Other fish

This is why it’s crucial to do research into different types of fish first before investing money in making a pond. Some fish that do well in outdoor ponds include:

  • Koi carps
  • Goldfish
  • Sunfish
  • Rosette

Does it matter where the pond is?

Yes. Choosing the right location for a pond will ensure that it stays healthy — ideally, it will get sunlight in the mornings and shade in the afternoons. This will help to discourage the formation of algae while helping the fish stay cool.

However, it’s also important to consider how far away your pond is from the house. Placing it too far away may result in the pond being neglected, but you also need to be aware of where lines run underground to avoid damaging them.

Can I lay a new pond liner over the old one?

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of removing the old one, you can simply put the new liner on top of it. While this can be done in most cases, you will need to ensure that there are no edged or sharp objects protruding from the old liner.

How long do pond liners last?

With proper care and maintenance, they should last up to 20 years or more.

Will my pond liner crack in the winter?

If the liner is made with flexible materials, it should hold up well against the cold, but rigid pond liners will always get damaged.


As one of the most essential parts of your pond, I highly recommend that you replace your pond liner once you spot signs of trouble. Doing this will save you from more work down the line, and will keep your fish and plants happy in their environment.

To effectively do this, be sure to start your preparations during autumn or winter, so you can enjoy a healthy and thriving pond by spring or summer.