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When’s the Best Time to Replace Your Pond Liner?

A pond installation showing a pond liner placed in dirt dug for the pond.

Your pond liner is not something you often see once installed. The liner holds everything in place and protects the ecosystem of your pond. You must know when to replace yours because if you do it at the right time, you could be saving yourself a lot of effort and money.

Autumn and winter are the best times of the year to replace your pond liner. Yes, it may be cold for you. However, doing it during these two seasons will help avoid disrupting a thriving ecosystem that you typically find in a pond during the summer and spring months.

Regarding the best time to replace your pond liner, I want to explain as much as I can in detail in the rest of this article. I also want to answer as many questions about when to replace your pond liner. So, let’s jump straight into it.

#1: What Is The Best Time Of Year To Change Your Pond Liner?

If you notice that your pond liner needs to be replaced, don’t worry about the time of the year. You should do it because a damaged pond liner can wreak havoc on your pond. Not only can it cause a leak, but it can also harm the pond’s ecosystem.

If you want to replace the pond liner, but it’s not urgent, wait for the winter or just before. Spring is typically when a pond comes to life, while summer is when it thrives, and doing it just before winter is the best way to avoid disrupting a thriving ecosystem.

#2: Signs That Indicate You Need To Replace Your Pond Liner

Sometimes, there are obvious signs that you need to replace your pond liner. For example, you might see that it is damaged, which is easy if it’s on the sides. However, there are more subtle signs:

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  1. Your pond might be leaking.
  2. Regardless of how often you clean the pond, it always seems muddy.
  3. Your ecosystem is changing drastically.

Because pond liners are so durable, not many people have experienced one leaking, and the idea of a pond leaking might seem crazy. However, the water will trickle down into the ground. It’s a slow process, but it will happen.

While the water is seeping into the ground, sand might be pushing through the cracks of a damaged pond liner, causing the water to look:

  • muddy
  • murky
  • dirty

#3: Does Changing Your Pond Liner Affect The Pond Ecosystem?

Because you have to remove everything from a pond before changing the liner, you will be disrupting the ecosystem. The water will need to be pumped out before you change the liner, at least in most cases.

You can minimize this disruption by taking extra caution when removing the animals and plants. Here are a few great tips:

  1. Place all animals in a sizeable aerated tub.
  2. Do not pull rooted plants out of the soil; remove the plant with its surrounding soil, keeping the roots intact.

Remember, you must remove everything gently. When you place it back, try to do it so that everything looks almost identical to how it was before you removed it.

A pond with any plants and a thriving ecosystem.
Changing a pond liner does affect the ecosystem

If you’re looking to plant new plants in your pond, read my article on the best time to plant pond plants!

HOT TIP: Once you have removed everything from the pond act as quickly as possible. Don’t let the fish stay out of the pond for more than three or four hours.

#4: Replacing Your Pond Liner: Is It Safe For Fish?

Having a damaged pond liner is far worse than replacing it in terms of fish safety, regardless of the type of fish you have. For example, a damaged pond liner could cause microplastics to circulate in the pond, which is exceptionally unhealthy for fish.

#5: Can I Lay a New Pond Liner Over the Old One?

Replacing a pond liner requires quite a lot of work. You will have to remove pretty much everything, which includes:

  • fish
  • stones
  • plants (rooted or not)
  • sand

If you decide to try to lay a new liner over the old one, all of that work still needs to be done, so it makes sense to see through the entire project and remove the old liner.

With that said, you can throw a new liner over an old one, but you should not leave anything inside the pond when you do so.

#6: How Long Do Pond Liners Last?

Rubber and PVC pond liners typically come with lifetime warranties because they are built to last, and they can both be bought on Amazon. In some cases, you might have to replace it once every fifteen to twenty years, mostly with cheaper pond liners.

However, there are so many variables that will dictate how long a pond liner lasts; some of these variables include:

  • The weather: If you live in a harsher climate where you get a lot of hail, snow, or in some cases, too much sunlight, your liner won’t last as long as one in a more stable climate.
  • The quality of the liner.
  • The animals and plant life: Having bigger fish and bigger plants can cause your liner to start breaking quicker, but this is rare.

#7: Will Pond Liners Crack in Winter?

Most PVC and rubber liners do not crack in the winter. Instead, concrete-lined ponds are the most prone to damage during the winter.

If you live in very harsh conditions where your pond freezes during the winter, you will need to inspect the liner once the pond has thawed out.

NOTE: The ice in a frozen pond can damage the pond liner, but it is different from cracking. I like to think of it more as general wear and tear at some accelerated rate.

#8: Should You Put Sand Under a Pond Liner?

Adding a layer of sand before placing the pond liner down is one of the most critical steps to take. The sand creates a buffer between any sticks or stones and the pond liner.

This buffer will prevent the pond liner from being damaged by those objects.

A thriving backyard pond with plants, flowers, and a small waterfall.
Know what to look out for to change a pond liner


Replacing a pond liner is quite challenging if you don’t know what to look out for. Hopefully, this article has given you the confidence you need to get started.

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