A Pond for Your Patio

This water garden is fairly inexpensive, easy to assemble, and movable, and there's no digging required. Follow these steps to create your own pond in a box.

Introduce pond plants and water creatures to you patio with this sturdy, long-lasting pond box project. After building and lining the box, you can paint the wood exterior to match existing outdoor decor and fill the reservoir with water, lily pads, and even fish and snails. The finished pond will be approximately 38 inches long, 36 inches wide, and 20 inches high.

Download the box building plan here.

  • Working Time 5 Hours
  • Start to Finish 5 Hours
  • Difficulty         Projects Kind of Hard
  • Involves Cutting Wood, Drilling

What you need

Tools

  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Hard-lead pencil or lumber crayon
  • Staple gun
  • Heavy scissors or utility knife

Materials

  • Corrosion-resistant flathead deck screws: 2-inch, 2 1/2-inch, 3-inch, and 3 1/2-inch
  • Wood shims
  • Pond liner, at least 66 inches square and 35 mm thick
  • Pond pump-and-fountain kit
  • Floating plants
  • Koi or other outdoor-compatible fish

Cuts

  • 1x2 board (x6)
    8 feet
  • 2x2 boards (x2)
    8 feet
  • 2x4 boards (x2)
    8 feet
  • 2x8 boards (x7)
    8 feet

How to do it

Step 1 Create Base

First, make the frame for the base. Cut 2x2s to size and assemble the frame with 3-inch deck screws. To prevent splitting lumber, drill countersunk pilot holes for all screws. To make the base, crosscut 2x8s to make five 36-inch-long pieces, and place them edge to edge. Mark the last board so the overall width of the base is 36 inches, and cut to size. Put the boards face down on your work surface, center the base frame, and drive 2-1/2-inch deck screws through the base frame into the base. Then turn the base assembly over.

Step 2 Place Base

Position the base assembly where you want the water garden. Use a level to check the base in both directions, and use tapered wood shims under the base frame to adjust it, if necessary. It's important to place the base toward the beginning of the build, otherwise the box will become heavy and difficult to move.

Step 3 Add Box Sides

The next step is to make two boxes that will stack to become the sides of the pond. Crosscut the eight 2x8 side pieces to lengths shown in the dowloadable illustration, and assemble them with 3-1/2-inch deck screws into two boxes. Position the first box on the base assembly, and miter the 1x2 banding to run around its perimeter.

Step 4 Attach Sides and Base

Center the banding on the joint line between the box sides and base, and fasten it with 2-inch deck screws. Make sure to drive some screws into the box sides and others into the base. Stack the second box on top of the first, and add two more sets of banding: one straddling the joint line, and the other flush with the top of the sides. Cut a 1/2 x 1/2-inch notch at one corner to provide a neat pathway for the pump's electrical cord.

Step 5 Add the Liner

Cut the pond liner to a manageable size. A 66-inch square gives you a 1-1/2-inch allowance on all sides. Put the liner into the box and roughly center it. You can divide the surplus into equal pleats on each side, or pleat all of it to one side. Then drive a few staples through the liner near the top of each side. Use heavy scissors or a utility knife to trim the liner flush with the top of the sides.

Step 6 Finish Box

Position the pump inside the box, and route its cord through the notch. Finish with top banding. Cut the 2x4 cap strips to size and screw them into place.Double-check the location and level of the completed box before adding water. Once it's filled, you won't be able to move the box without draining it, as the water alone weighs almost 600 pounds. Full sun is best.

Step 7 Fill Box

Fill the pond with water from a garden hose. Wait 24 hours after filling the container with water before adding the fish. Add water plants and plug in the pump.

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