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How to Renovate your Pond: Full Step by Step Guide

Backyard ponds are a great addition to anyone’s home if you can maintain them properly. However, if your pond hasn’t seen use in a while, or you moved to a new property with an unused pond, the next best thing is to renovate it. Renovating your backyard pond might seem like an enormous project, and you might not even know where to start. Here are some steps and guidelines to help you through it.

Renovating, constructing, and fixing ponds are three completely different things, but they do all have some steps in common. The first step is to plan your project, the second is to prepare and clean the area you need, and the last is to implement the plan.

Though there are three broadly defined steps mentioned above, renovating your backyard pond is more intricate. There are a lot of steps that you need to follow to ensure you do the job right and without damaging the pond. Each of the steps you see above has many smaller steps you need to complete for the renovation to succeed.

This article will guide you through how to renovate your pond in the most efficient way possible…

What Does It Mean To Renovate A Pond?

Though most of us have a broad idea of what renovation is, there are some things to consider. The first thing to consider is that renovation is not the creation of a new pond, nor is it fixing a broken pond. Renovating your backyard pond means “upgrading” or changing the pond to suit your liking.

With the definition above in mind, renovation can still fix broken things if the pond needs repair to function. However, the main focus of the renovation is to change the pond and make it look better than before.

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For example, if your pond has a broken pipe, fixing it is not considered renovation but repair. However, if you want to add a water feature to your pond, that is renovation.

The steps on renovating your pond can still be beneficial if you are looking to repair or create a new one, as many of the steps apply to all pond-based scenarios. Just be sure to use your understanding to know when an effort is irrelevant to your needs.

Renovating Your Backyard Pond: Step-By-Step Guide

The steps for renovating your backyard pond can differ depending on your pond use. If the pond is purely decorative, the steps will vary compared to having a pond for fish. With this in mind, I’ve added in some extra measures to ensure they are easy to use, and understand under most conditions. Let’s go through each step…

QUICK TIP: It’s always a good idea to start your project at the right time of year. Usually this would be in the fall, but it will depend on your situation. Check out my article here, to learn about what time would be best for you.

#1: Plan Your Pond Renovation

Before you start making your backyard pond look like you want it, you need to plan it properly. It would be best to plan a few different aspects, and I’ll discuss these aspects as steps to follow below…

  • Make A Building Plan – The first step in planning your pond renovation is planning what you need to do and making a rough sketch plan. This step will ensure that you don’t waste time or money on the project, and will help you make the pond look precisely as you want.
  • Plan The Materials – The next step is to plan the materials you will use to renovate the pond. Doing this will prevent unnecessary complications or material shortages once you’re busy.
  • Other Things You Need – Once you have the basics planned out, you can start looking at decorations like plants, little statues, etc. Planning these before you buy them will allow you to make a mental image of what you want and help you renovate the pond to look perfect.

#2: Clean And Prepare The Pond Area

Now that you have everything planned, you can start with preparing and cleaning the area. If you already have a pond, this will include draining it and taking care of any fish you have, etc. If you are building a new pond, this includes ensuring the area you need is open and ready for work to be done.

  • Clean The Area – The first thing you need to do to prepare the area where your pond is (or will go), is to clean the area around it. If you need to put in a pond and lay the foundation work, you naturally also need to clear a space where it will go and mark the area with something like degradable spray paint.

    The process of cleaning and preparing the area includes moving any fish or wildlife in and around the pond to ensure that they do not go through too much shock with the new changes. In addition, you should also mostly drain the pond itself and clean it if there are any weeds or unwanted plant life.

    It’s also essential that you thoroughly inspect the pond while cleaning it to ensure there are no leaks, cracks, or any other damages that need repairing. This part of the process is essential to ensure you have enough materials to keep your pond in good shape and fix what is required. (I’ve got specific information about replacing a pond liner in this article).
  • Get The Materials – Next, you’ll need to get the materials to make the changes or do repairs. If you are constructing a pond from scratch, you will need to ensure that you get more materials than required for a repair or renovation.

    If you want to build a pond from scratch, you need to ensure enough pond liner to cover the surface area correctly. To make sure you have the right amount of liner, use the following guideline for the depth of your pond: Depending on whether you have fish and the size of the fish you want, you need to make the pond a depth between 18 inches for small fish, and 3 feet for bigger fish.

    Though the materials you need for the pond itself are pretty substantial, you also need to ensure that you have sufficient resources for the rest of the project. If you want to renovate your pond area and lay some pebbles around the pond, you’ll also need to buy enough tarp or lining to cover that area. Doing this will ensure you can easily remove the stones if required.
  • Get Anything Else You Need – Once you are sure you have all the materials you need to make the pond or renovate the pond and the area around it, you need to look at the other things you need.

    If you want to add a water feature like a waterfall to your pond to liven it up, you’ll need to buy one before starting the job. In addition, you’ll also need to buy whatever pond plants or decorations you need to make the pond look the way you desire. If you have no fish but have a tank to keep them for now, you can also purchase some.

    To use the previous example, if you want to line the area around the pond with pebbles, you would already have gotten the tarp or lining by now. However, what you also need to buy is the pebbles themselves. You can choose any decorative stones or items you want; just be sure that you are pleased with what you purchase to avoid wasting money.

#3: Implement The Plan And Start The Project

Pebbles and rocks bordering a pond is a nice touch and adds interest

With everything planned and all the materials needed being round-up, it is finally time to start the hard work. This part of the renovation process is the most physically demanding and requires you to work with your hands. The steps below will explain how you should create a pond since some might want to expand and then transition into other renovation parts.

  • Dig Out The Pond – If you don’t have a pond yet, or want to renovate and expand the pond, this is probably the best place to start. Using your planning and the guides you have set up, dig out a big enough hole to accommodate everything you want to put in the pond. You should ensure that the pond is big enough while still sticking to your planning.

    If you drastically change the size of the pond compared to what you planned, you might need more materials and may even need to redo your planning completely. I also advise you to ensure the pond walls are steady and hard. If they are not, the pond might collapse later.
  • Layout And Prepare The Pond Liner – You can prepare and insert the pond liner once you have the perfect sized hole for a pond. The pond liner will ensure there’s no place for the water to leak or seep into the ground instead. Be sure to secure your liner with something like bricks that you can steady even more later on. (My article here goes through the specifics of replacing a pond liner).

    If you’re expanding your pond, I recommend taking out the old lining and redoing it all from scratch, but if you’re happy with your pond, you can leave the lining where it is. If the pond has sustained some damage, you can also take this time to do some repairs and ensure no leaks in the lining or cracks in any pipes.
  • Add Water Features etc. – Now that the liner is in, you can prepare any more sizable decorations or additions like water features to the pond. Doing this now will ensure that any dirt that has to be moved and falls into the pond can get taken out quickly.
  • Fill Up The Pond With Water – Once the pond is ready and the liner has been added and is securely in place, you can start by adding a bit of water to the pond. It’s best to begin with a smaller amount of water before filling it, and this will ensure you can check the pond as it fills up and fix any possible problems.

    If you plan to have fish in the pond and have moved them to a different container temporarily, you can also add some of the old water to help them adjust to the new and improved pond. Once you are sure there are no problems with the pond, you can continue filling it to the appropriate level.
  • Decorate And Finish The Pond – You can add the planned decorations once the pond has water inside. This time is also the best time to add the water filters, pumps, and other mechanical aspects that you need. Once you have added any mechanical elements, you can proceed to add any more miniature decorations like plants or ornaments to the pond.
  • Decorate And Renovate The Rest – Now that the pond is complete and operational, you can continue to the rest of the area surrounding the pond. If you’ve followed the steps correctly, you’ll also know what to do for the pond area, as it would be part of the plan.

    Now is the best time to add pebbles around the pond or add some seating arrangements if you wish to do something like that. You can also arrange other bigger plants around the pond to make it look natural and complete the look. Any further decoration details you have planned can also get added now.
  • Double-check Everything – Before standing back and admiring your handiwork, it’s best to have a last look and ensure that everything looks perfect and in good working order. This step allows you to fix any last-minute changes or issues and helps you ensure that no damage is being done or extended more than is necessary.

If you want to renovate your pond but are unsure how to do so, many professionals can help you make your pond look the way you want it to. Alternatively, if you come across any issues during your project, calling a professional might be the right thing to do.


Renovating your pond, or making a new one, can be an exciting project to tackle. If you take pride in your backyard or yard, a pond can be a brilliant way to boost aesthetic features. Though there are many steps to follow, and the process can take a while, few matters bring as much joy as being able to appreciate what you’ve done.