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The Costs Of A Backyard Pond

A backyard pond. Via ReJoyce Photography/Flickr

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Q.

Having gone on several house tours that were charity events, we saw some wonderful garden ponds. They must be very expensive. What kinds of costs are we looking at for a modest-sized pond with some colorful koi? We particularly enjoyed the ponds that included the sound of moving water, like a stream makes. Is this a do-it-yourself project?

A.

Garden ponds can be very expensive, but they need not be. A 1000-gallon (3800-liter) garden pond with fish, plants and a waterfall (and not requiring a biological filter) can cost as little as $300 or as much as $5000. It all depends on what you want and how much of it you are willing to do yourself. In my experience, I have seen just as many superb garden ponds at the low end of the price range as at the high end.

Let’s consider the low end. First, we will assume a basic 1000-gallon design. Using a standard kidney shape, the hole might be 15 feet long, 7 feet wide, and 2 feet deep (4.6 meters by 2.1 meters by 0.6 meter). You can dig it yourself or get some friends to help (it should cost you some pizza and a few beers). Hiring a crew with a backhoe might run $50 dollars an hour.

Next there is the liner. The liner for this size pond should be 21 feet by 13 feet (6.4 by 4 meters). Depending on the material you select and the dealer’s markup, this can cost anywhere between $70 and $300.

If possible, you can collect stones to edge the pond from building sites — the price is your time and energy. Some construction outfits will gladly use your yard for a rock dump if you ask. Alternatively, you can purchase stones from a quarry supplier. This can cost several hundred dollars.

The pump to power the waterfall will cost between $50 and $150 depending on the design specifications. Simple submersible pumps work fine.

Lastly there are the fish and plants. Some folks collect plants from local ponds. This is not a good idea because the very process of tearing them out of their original location may doom them. Moreover, removing plants from wetlands may violate local conservation laws. Purchasing water plants can be expensive, sometimes $50 or more for a special variety waterlily. I always tell beginners to start with the least expensive plants they can find. These are usually around $20 for waterlilies and $5 for iris. Once you’ve learned how not to kill them, you can move up to higher-priced plants.

The price of nice-quality young koi will shock you. Even marine hobbyists will suffer from sticker shock. I have seen quality yearlings priced near $1000. Not for me!

You can get koi with good colors and nice shapes for far less if you check with local koi clubs. Members always have fish for sale. Even spending $100 for an average specimen is considered inexpensive by many koi enthusiasts. Here again, I recommend starting out with young, ordinary pond-quality koi. These still have beautiful colors and might cost $10 to $20. Learn how to take care of them before you consider trying to match the pictures you see in books. There is nothing like coming out to your pond and seeing your $7000 prize koi floating belly up on the surface to ruin your interest in koi keeping.

Depending on your options and choices, the costs for the setup I listed range between $230 and $1350. Think of this pond project as a long-term effort that will see continuous improvement over the years. If you resist trying to do everything at once, start out simply and have patience, the costs can be kept low and the experience can be wonderful.


Posted by: Chewy Editorial

Featured Image: Via ReJoyce Photography/Flickr