Building a Nature Pond Part 2: Getting Started

Getting Started

Measuring out

This guide is about building ponds with flexible liners. Although the flexible part of its name comes from the flex in its material you can also be quite flexible about measuring out the shape and size your pond is going to be. If you are planning a small oval shaped pond, then measuring out is so simple as to almost not be required. You can just start digging with your spade, being mindful of the size of liner you are planning to purchase or have purchased. If you are creating a larger complex shape or perhaps a more rigid shape like a neat square shape then you need to measure out with some guides.

What do I use for guides? Well, if you are planning on digging a straight square or rectangle pond then 4 tent pegs or small 6 inch pieces of wood make good guides. One hammered in upright at each corner with a length of string connecting them to form a square or rectangle in the ground. For example, if you wanted to make a 2 metre square shaped pond, then its just a case of hammering the pegs in 2 metres apart.

Digging Tools

If you plan to do a more natural shape then a hose pipe or length of rope laid in the shape you choose, this will provide the guidance for digging. Alternatively, take a can of paint and mark out the shape you want.

Digging Tools


The width of the pond is dependent on several factors:

  • How much room you have and are preperared to dedicate to your pond. Go too small and you are going to have regrets later on especially if it dries out quickly in our hotter summers. Go too big and you might think…what have I done?!
  • Will you need to fence it off for health and safety reasons or perhaps to help keep foxes or pets out? Too big and fencing becomes more arduous.
  • What kind of animals do you want to attract? Of the likely amphibians you might get in your UK pond, Common frogs, Palmate and Common Newts will breed in a small sub 1 metre square pond but Toads and Great Crested Newts tend to prefer wider and deeper ponds.
  • Soil removal. You will likely want to get rid of the soil you dig up and soil has a habit of expanding when it is dug out of its compacted ground state.


Not much in the way of preparation is needed - however there are a couple of things to consider.

  • Where will you put the excavated soil whilst you are digging. You need to put it sufficiently far enough away that it doesn’t get in the way of digging and gives enough clearance for laying the liner. A mentioned previously uncompacted soil eats space up very quickly.
  • The weather. Fairly obvious really but the weather has a bearing on your pond digging. If it is mid-summer then the ground will be hard and there may be no rain water about to fill the pond with. Neither are show stoppers, but worth considering. The same if it is very wet, the ground will be soggy and once you start digging it will get to the stage where you can invite some friends round to re-enact the Battle of the Somme. Well, perhaps that is a overstating it a bit but you will get muddy!

Continue to Part 3