Decoding Pond Installation Costs and Budgeting

pond installation costs

Ponds are a great addition to your property, adding habitat for wildlife and creating a soothing atmosphere for your backyard. When building a pond, it’s important to determine the pond installation cost before starting your project. Learn how to install a pond and stay within budget by building the right-sized pond for your yard.

The Basics of Pond Installation 

Several factors affect the cost of pond installation. Before taking a closer look at the costs, discover the basics of pond installation to understand everything involved better. 

Essential steps

Ponds vary in size and shape, but no matter how big your pond is, there are some basic steps you’ll need to take to construct it. 

  1. Choose a location and take measurements.
  2. Select a size and shape for your pond.
  3. Dig the hole.
  4. Prepare the sides of the pond.
  5. Place the pond liner.
  6. Install a pump or filter if desired.
  7. Install a heater for colder climates.
  8. Add other water features, like waterfalls and fountains.
  9. Fill the pond, and add plants and fish.
  10. Finish landscaping and edging your pond.

Key factors influencing the pond installation process 

Several factors influence the pond installation process. 

  • Size
  • Location
  • Liner style
  • Soil type
  • Permits and local regulations
  • Pond equipment
  • Edging materials
  • Pond plants and fish
  • Water features and other extras


The size of your pond is the main determiner of cost because there is a big difference between installing a 150-square-foot pond and constructing a half-acre pond suitable for fishing. Not only are excavation costs higher for large ponds, but you’ll also need a larger liner.


pond liner

There are several types of pond liners. Choose between PVC (polyvinyl chloride), HDPE (high-density polyethylene), EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), rigid liners, and active liners. Of these, the first two are the least expensive options, but they are less durable. You’ll need to choose an active pond liner for large ponds, like concrete or bentonite clay liners. 


The amount of groundwork you must do to install your pond affects the final cost. It is less expensive to install a pond in a flat, unobstructed location than on a hillside with trees and vegetation, for example.

Soil type

Your soil type can make excavation difficult or easy, depending on how many rocks or tree roots are in your soil. Also, if you’re making a large farm pond in sandy soil, you must use a liner, whereas a similar pond in heavy clay soil might not require one.


The average cost for a pond permit is $150 to $500, but the actual costs vary depending on local regulations. Check with your local and state authorities to determine if you need a permit.

Pond equipment

Some pond installations don’t require equipment, but if you’re building a koi pond or fish farm pond, you’ll need equipment to keep the water clean. Some of the different types of pond equipment you can choose from include pumps, skimmers, drains, filters, water agitators, UV lights, aeration systems, waterfalls, and fountains.

Edging materials

You can choose from many types of edging materials, including rock, gravel, boulders, bricks, pavers, and various types of mulch. 

Pond plants and fish

koi fish

The cost of pond plants and fish can vary significantly depending on what you choose. Several types of pond plants make your pond more attractive, from bog plants like irises to floating plants, like water lilies. You can also stock your pond with various types of fish, including koi , goldfish , and catfish species. 

Water features and other extras


Waterfalls and fountains can make your pond more interesting and visually appealing. When calculating the cost to install a pond, consider which features you want to include because they can impact the price. 

Diving into Pond Installation Cost 

What does pond installation cost? That depends on the type of pond you choose, where you live, and the materials you select. Learn more about the average cost of pond installation.

Average costs associated with pond installation 

When you build a pond, you have a lot of decisions to make that will affect the cost of your pond. The average cost to install a pond is about $7,500, with costs starting around $800 for very small ponds. 

The cost of a pond with custom features, like a koi pond with waterfalls, aquatic plants, filters, and water agitators, can go up to $80,000 or more, depending on which options are selected. 

Cost breakdown

pond installation costs

The average cost to build a pond is about $50 per square foot, but since there are so many variables, your costs may vary. Smaller ponds typically cost more per square foot. 

When it comes to calculating the cost of a pond, it helps to understand the costs associated with different aspects of installation and features. To give you a better idea, here are the average costs associated with pond installations, including labor and materials.

Cost factorsAverage cost
Size$2.50 to $9.00 per square foot
Excavating a hole, including dirt removal$60 to $200 per cubic yard; Average size pond costs $300 to $3,000
Underlayment (to protect the pond liner)$0.25 to $0.40 per square foot
Flexible sheet liners (HDPE, PVC)$0.30 to $0.75 per square foot
Synthetic rubber liner, EDPM$0.65 to $2.50 per square foot
Rigid pond liners$3.00 to $7.50 per square foot
Active bentonite clay liner$1.00 to $2.50 per square foot
Concrete liner$60 to $120 per square foot
Permits$150 to $500
Geological surveys (for large ponds)$1,000 to $5,000
Circulation pump$50 to $2,000 
Pond filter$200 to $1,300
Skimmer$100 to $700
UV light$50 to $600
Edging materials$1 to $15 per square foot, or about $12 to $30 per linear foot
Aquatic and bog plants$3 to $45 per plant
Waterfall$500 to $2,500
Fountain$1,000 to $4,000
Fish$1.00 to $55 per fish, depending on the species

Labor costs by type

Depending on the scope of your project, you may also need to hire professionals to assist you, such as plumbers, electricians, landscape workers, and designers. Costs for labor vary depending on the region you live in and the local cost of living, but here are some average costs per hour you can expect for these services:

  • Plumber- $45 to $150 
  • Electrician- $40 to $120 
  • Landscape worker- $50 to $100 
  • Landscape designer- $80 to $120 

How size, depth, and location affect cost 

The size, depth, and location of a pond have a direct effect on the installation cost. Large ponds for fish should also be deep, and since they require more excavation, you will have to hire someone with heavy equipment.  

Small garden ponds can be dug by hand, but it’s important to consider excess dirt removal. You might be able to find ways to use up the extra dirt so you don’t have to pay to haul it away, such as filling low spots in your lawn. If you plan on digging your own pond, consider making a landscape berm to use up the extra dirt from the excavation.

Types of Ponds and Their Costs 

pond budget

Ponds can be simple garden ponds with a few lilies or extravagant koi ponds with streams, waterfalls, and bridges. The type of pond you are building will determine the cost. It’s easier to choose when you understand the installation costs of different types of ponds.

Natural ponds and their installation costs 

Natural ponds used for swimming or fishing cost between $50,000 and $80,000. Most ponds are less than 6 or 7 feet deep, but you can make them up to 20 feet deep. A good size for a natural pond is one-quarter to one acre. The installation costs include heavy equipment excavation and an active pond liner, such as bentonite clay.

Koi ponds and their installation costs 

There are many types of fish ponds, but koi ponds are the most popular for the average homeowner. The cost of a koi pond includes a liner, a pump and filtration system, and koi fish. The average cost ranges from $5,000 to $16,000. You can DIY an inexpensive koi pond with a low-cost liner and a simple design, but make sure it is at least 6 feet by 8 feet and 4 feet deep.

Garden ponds and their installation costs 

Small backyard garden ponds are the easiest and least expensive option for the average homeowner. You can build this type of pond for as little as $50 when you DIY it or pay up to $6,500 for a larger garden pond. Installation costs include excavation, a pond liner, and landscaping.

What Goes Around the Pond: Landscaping and Costs 

After your pond is built, the landscaping that goes around it will improve the overall aesthetics, but it will also add to the cost of your project. Consider these landscaping ideas and cost considerations for your pond.

Landscaping options for your pond

Choose from a variety of landscaping materials for your pond area. For a cohesive design, match the materials to those already in your landscape, or choose natural materials like boulders and rocks that blend well with any surroundings. 

Many people use rock for edging material, and there are many types of rock to choose from. Select different types of flagstone, round rock, pebbles, or gravel for your edging material, or use a combination. 

Landscaping the area around a pond can have a big impact on the overall aesthetics. There are various options for landscaping around a pond, ranging from landscape edging to rocks, gravel, shrubs, trees, and plants. You can also install lights or water features to enhance the area further.

Cost considerations for landscaping around your pond 

When it comes to cost, landscaping materials and labor can add up quickly, so it’s important to plan a budget and stick to it when you’re installing landscaping around your pond.

Here are some of the installation costs to keep in mind when landscaping your pond:

Pond Installation Cost FAQs

How much maintenance does a pond require, and what are the costs?

The type of maintenance your pond requires depends on the type of pond you build. Some ponds need very little maintenance and will cost less than $100 per year, and other ponds require significant maintenance that can cost you thousands of dollars each year.

How does the type of soil affect pond installation cost?

Excavation is one of the most significant costs associated with pond installation, and some types of soil are harder to dig. Soil type can also determine the liner you need, especially for large ponds.

Can I install a pond myself to reduce costs?

You can save a lot of money by DIYing a pond. If you’re on a tight budget, you can build a pond with a few simple tools, including a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Purchase an inexpensive pond liner and source natural edging materials for a pond that costs you less than $100.

Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of in pond installation?

A basic pond is pretty straightforward, but if you’re building a pond for farming fish or raising koi, there are many details that you’ll need to learn about to do it right. Some hidden costs you could run up against include geological surveys, land surveys, and pond equipment costs.

How often will I need to invest in pond renovations or updates?

How often you need to update or renovate your pond depends on the size and how it is used. Large farm ponds can last 100 years or more before being cleaned out, while most pond liners only last about ten years.

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