Making Pond Liners

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When making pond lines, you must get the rim level. If one part of the pond ends up lower than the rest, the water will run out at that point, leaving huge expanses of liner showing all around the rest of the pond. Level the site roughly by eye before starting to dig the hole. Use a spade to scrape soil off the bumps and into the hollows. Then check it with a spirit level in both directions - lengthways and crossways. Use a long spirit level and rest it on a straight edge.

Once you are certain the ground is level, you are ready to dig the pond. When you have finished, get rid of the soil and leave a clear 1-1 1/2 wide strip all around the edge of the hole. Check the level again, adding or removing soil as needed. The beauty of the flexible pond liner is that it is still possible to tuck a little extra soil under the edge or remove any surplus even after the liner is in place and the pond is filled with water.

To avoid leaks later, pick out visible stones or large roots from the sides that could perforate a butyl or PVC liner, once the weight of the water presses it down. It is also advisable to cushion the liner more, so spread a 2-inch layer of damp in the bottom. Where the ground is stony, use a special pond underlay (ask for bonded fiber). This will stop flints and roots from getting through. Put a layer of sand on top of this also. Use the bonded fiber on its own in places where you cannot "plaster" the inside of a pond shape with sand.

Use the underlayment to protect your pond liner from rocks, roots, or debris. We offer the underlayment in 8 oz. thick sheets. Chose from the products below.

When purchasing your underlayment, be sure your underlayment is as large as your pond liner. You can easily overlap more than 1 piece of underlayment listed below with another piece of underlayment. This will ensure optimal protection for your pond liner. After all, you want to do whatever you can to prevent any tears from happening to your pond liner BEFORE you install your pond. Making sure there are no rocks, roots or anything else sharp under your pond liner (and under your underlayment) will provide better protection and create less chances of a leak happening later on.
As they say, an 'ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure'! Do yourself a favor and make sure you have plenty of underlayment!

The goal is finding some way to shape the pond and contain the water safely.

A way to cut costs with the liner is to call a few swimming pool companies and ask if they have old swimming pool liners to give away. While not as heavy as commercial pond liners, I think by using two layers they are just as safe. We built a pond in our back yard with one and direct sunlight tends to break it down, but indoors you should have nothing to worry about.

You will find, of course, you still need fish, and the means to take care of them. My first time around, I bought Comets, which are a black and orange type of goldfish-looking thing (obviously I don't claim to be an icthyologist) and they were relatively cheap. They are supposed to be a hardy fish, and with the exception of the one who jumped out of the pond and wasn't hardy enough to jump back in, (I am not making this up, I wasn't told they were jumpers) they are doing fine. We feed ours flake food, and when they get bigger, we'll move up to stick food. This year, I may go with goldfish just because they will show up better in the water against the dark pond liner, and because they may not jump as much. I thought we would need a filter, but was told it wouldn't be necessary; just keep an air pump running with an air stone on the end of the tubing. I was told to remove about a fourth of the water every week and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water. This not only helps to keep the water looking and smelling clean, but also keeps ammonia from building up.

Locating Leaks

The one hardest thing for us to do is locate a leak. It's not profitable for us and can be very expensive to the homeowner if we try to find them to repair them so we've adopted the policy of simply not offering leak locating services. Most times the homeowner, because he sees his pond everyday, has the best idea of where the leak is occurring. Once the leak is found the liner can either be patched or a new liner installed.

A little leak is one that goes down less than an inch a day and may not be worth repairing. In fact, a slow leak can simply keep the plants watered around the pond. A more serious leak, however, can mean tragedy if the pond leaks dry and cannot be ignored for long.

Here are some tips to help locate a leak:

Make Sure You Are Truly Leaking. It could be splash from an over-zealous pumping system. Is the water splashing out of the waterfall area? Turn down the flow and see if your " leaking " stops.

Isolate and Rule Out. Most leaks occur in the waterfall or streambed. Reroute the water if you can so that it bypasses the waterfall. Note the water level. Let the pump run all night then notice if you've lost any water. If you haven't, you know the leak is in the waterfall. If you can't bypass the waterfall turn off the pump. If it doesn't leak you will know that it's either in the plumbing, pump or waterfall.

Clear the Streambed. Tree limbs and accumulated fallen leaves will back up a waterfall or streambed and cause water to rise and leak out from the edge of the liner.

Look for a Wet Spot. Water leaves a tell-tell sign. Inspect all ground around the perimeter of the pond, including waterfall areas. Don't be fooled by what looks like water seeping from the lowest part of the pond. Water seeks the lowest levels and run underneath the liner until it reaches the " bottom of the hill " .

Look for Fallen Objects. Did a jagged rock fall in the pond recently? Before you move it check underneath to see if it punctured the liner. If you notice where a dog jumped in to retrieve a ball you might be able to locate a small toenail tear that is easily fixed with a patch.

Check All Hoses and Fittings. Follow the path the water takes through your system. It may be as simple as a loose fitting!

Triple-Check Any Seams. If you seamed two pieces together (we discourage this practice) check that seam! Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time it will be there.

Normally, if the leak can be located and if it's small enough it can be fixed with a patch. Even if you isolate and know that the leak is in, let's say, the bottom pool part of the pond, unless you know exactly where the tear of hole is located you cannot place a patch. In that circumstance, the only way we know to stop the leak is to replace the liner.

About The Author

Timothy Landford has been designing and building garden ponds for over 20 years. He is a garden pond enthusiast and has gained a wealth of experience since he started his hobby 20 years ago.

You can find out more about pond liners such as how to avoid the mistakes most people make when building their garden ponds and how to select the right pond liner from his following website click here