You’re going to need a hole. A big one. It's free if you do it yourself. If you need the dirt hauled away, you’ll have to pay. Prices typically range from a couple hundred dollars to several hundred, depending on the amount and other factors.
Leidner prefers deeper holes, but it’s up to you what aesthetic you’re going for. Both shallow and deep ponds have their benefits and disadvantages.
Less excavation means less work and fewer materials, so you’ll save money on construction costs and backaches.
Fish will grow only in relation to how big the space is that they’re in. In shallow water a koi fish, which can reach 3 feet in length, won’t reach its full potential, as it would in a 5-foot-deep pond.
Fish tend to get sicker in small ponds, because they’re swimming around in water with higher concentrations of their own waste. Deeper ponds mean more water volume and cleaner water. The fish are healthier, making it easier to maintain the right chemical balance.
Deeper ponds make fish harder targets for predators like birds, raccoons and cats, which can easily swipe, swoop and make dinner of fish in shallower ponds. Letting predators make dinner of your fish obviously wouldn’t be cool, especially if you drop $5,000 on one koi fish.
Surprise: Dirt holes don’t retain water very well. You'll have to line your depression. The three most popular methods are concrete spray, rubber liners and plastic tubs.
Pros: Gunite is long lasting and durable. Creative lighting and other nifty design elements are easy to include.
Pros: They are common and fairly inexpensive. You can purchase a prepackaged pond kit with rubber liners for $850 to $1,500, depending on the size and other factors.
Expert tip: If you do go with a rubber liner, Leidner recommends buying a few bags of concrete, poking holes in them and using the bags to line the hole. Then spray the bags with water and put the rubber liner on top. The bag will dissolve and the concrete will harden, creating a barrier that rodents can’t get through.
Premade plastic tubs are a good alternative. They start at around $800 but come in limited shapes and sizes.
Pump equipment can be purchased at most local pool and pond supply companies, with complete installation instructions. You can hide it under rocks or plants, or purchase extensions to conceal it on the side of your house.
Having a hole with water won't do anything for your chi. Make sure you budget for rocks, plants or decking. Once you've got everything looking pretty, add water. You'll want to check the chemical balance and temperature before adding fish.
While koi are the most popular choice for fish ponds, Leidner recommends fancy goldfish. In addition to having ornate patterns and colors almost identical to those of koi, they're less aggressive and less expensive.
Koi can range from $200 to $7,000 each, while fancy goldfish go for around $35 each.