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Is a Backyard Pond Worth the Investment? A Look at the Numbers

Is a Backyard Pond Worth the Investment? A Look at the Numbers

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Ponds are an exquisite water feature to landscape in your backyard. By building one, you’re creating a new ecosystem and oasis for other wildlife to habitat.

Now, you’re likely wondering, “How much does it cost to build a pond?” Well, building a pond can cost as low as $800 to as high as $50,000.

Prices are heavily dependent on the type, quality, size, location, and equipment used when constructing the landscape feature.

Stick around to learn more about the costs involved in creating a pond based on these factors.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Fishing Pond?

Fishing ponds are exceptionally expensive to create. Building the fishing site can cost approximately $3,500 to $52,500.

Several factors can impact the price, such as size, type, and location. That said, here’s a breakdown of some components that go into building the pond.

Digging Costs

Since fishing ponds are a relatively large project, a professional excavator is your answer, rather than hand digging. The tool, along with the labor, can be for about $100 per hour.

A six-foot deep pond can take around five hours to finish, so you’ll pay about $500 in digging costs.

Equipment Costs

Multiple pieces of equipment go into fishing pond construction, and they can accumulate in rental and purchase costs. Items can include pumps, liners, filters, bricks, pipes, and lighters.

Liners can average between $250 to $6,500 for a 12 x 12 square-inch pond. The equipment’s material primarily affects its price.

A fiberglass liner can fetch $3.50 to $6 per square foot. On the other hand, a rubber liner can cost about $0.35 to $2.50.

A pond pump can cost $260 to $1,200. The item pumps out large debris and solids swirling around the pond. Running the pump can value $36 per month, and they sometimes have issues.

Fish Stocking Costs

You can integrate sundry species into your fishing pond, from largemouth bass to black crappies.

In terms of cost, a typical farm fish like a copper nose bluegill is $0.65 per 1 to 1.25 inches. A channel catfish is about the same price but per 4 to 6 inches instead.

Other pond fish are priced per pound, such as the fathead minnow, which can go for $15 per pound when exceeding 10 pounds.

A Mozambique tilapia is around $16 per pound if the fish overgrows 10 pounds. When adding the fish, be aware of the food chain.

For example, a fathead minnow is preyed upon by other pond fish like largemouth bass and crappies.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Koi Pond?

Koi ponds are a fan-favorite among various pond owners in the country. The feature offers exquisite scenery of vividly-colored fish swirling around the dark waters.

That said, these ponds can run between $5,000 to $16,000. The main factors affecting the cost are size, fish stocking, and maintenance.

Digging Costs

Excavations take up a large portion of the price when building a koi pond. A cubic yard dig can cost around $60 to $200.
Nevertheless, prices can also increase if the site has an irregularly shaped design. Plus, digging costs can run higher when digging through a rocky region with clay soil.

Additionally, manual digging can raise prices. In these cases, powered equipment may not be able to fit on your premises.

Living on a sloped region can require extra heavy-duty digging tools, which increase costs to around $40 to $180 per hour of usage.

Another cost worth considering involves issuing a permit for excavating your ground.

These permits can cost approximately $150 to $485, depending on your location and the size of the dig site.

Fish Stocking

Koi fish range in price based on coloration, size, and shape. One of the most expensive is the Kōhaku kind, ranging in the thousands.

When stocking the pond, you can add other friendly varieties like the goldfish to maintain diversity.

Amount-wise, one square foot can accommodate every inch of fish. For example, a 24-square-foot pond can house over 24 inches of fish.

Alternatively, you can calculate it per gallon, where every inch of fish requires 10 gallons of water.


Fortunately, koi ponds are relatively low-maintenance projects. You need to feed the carp swimmers and clean out the filtration system.

Maintenance includes collecting some fallen leaves and branches floating about the pond. That said, you can ask for professional help.

Pond specialists undergo an extensive check-in for your koi pond by repairing any issues, checking the filtration, replacing lamps, and reinforcing it for winter.

For the latter case, they’ll likely install a pond heater to keep a part of the pond’s surface unfrozen. That way, air and gases can circulate.

Liner Costs

A liner is a material used to encase your pond’s bed and walls. It prevents water from seeping out of the structure.

Pond liners can come in various materials, which affects their prices. The most budget-friendly options are plastic, such as High-Density Polyethylene liners.

They can cost around $0.30 to $0.70. Aside from that, pricier liners like concrete options can go for as high as $64 to $114.

We suggest avoiding PVC pond liners that can become toxic to your koi fish.

Filtration Costs

Besides liners and stocking amounts, a pond filter is an essential installation. The pricing relies on the amount of water that needs to be filtered.

Overall, a filter can cost anywhere between $150 to $5,000. A 56-square-foot pond will require a 2,520 filter capacity rate, which can cost around $150 to $400.

Besides filters, you can maintain the cleanliness of your pond by installing a pond skimmer, UV lights, and bottom drains.

The skimmer can range between $100 to $700. The device will collect large debris floating around the pond, such as twigs and leaves.

Drains are approximately $170 to $255. They’re not as necessary as filters, but they help suck in sediments and bottom dirt from the pond bed.

Lastly, UV light protection may cost around $55 to $600 per piece of equipment. They’re an algae prevention method.

Factors That Affect Pond Costs

Before you build a pond, you need to understand the factors that may impact the costs. Here are some prominent points to consider below.

1 – Size

Size is likely the most impactful factor on a pond’s price. Typically, landscapers calculate pond prices based on the number of square feet.

It primarily relates to the digging costs since more square inches translate to deeper waters. A square-foot dig can cost anywhere between $2.50 to $7.15.

Besides that, smaller ponds usually cost more per square inch than larger ponds. For example, an 88-square-foot pond can cost $83 to $114 per square foot to create.

Meanwhile, a 176-square-foot pond can go between $50 to $82.

2 – Landscaping Features

Adding more landscape features to the pond, such as waterfalls and streams, can accumulate a higher cost.

A small 24-square-foot pond with multiple aquascaping features like a waterfall can add a $500 to $12,500 extra fee.

Despite the smaller space, the pond is costlier than a 676-square-foot pond per square.

3 – Type

The type of pond you decide to build can vary in price compared to other options. For instance, a luxurious natural swimming pond can set you back a whopping $50,000 to $80,000.

The soaring prices likely originate from the structure’s two features, a swimming region and the green area where the decorative plants and gravel are.

Meanwhile, a more reasonable garden pond costs around $1,200 to $6,500. This type is the most convenient since it can fit into compact garden spaces.

Plus, it doesn’t need as much digging, decorative vegetation, and fish stocking levels.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re planning to DIY the pond or hire a professional, ponds are a hefty investment.

In turn, you’ll want to ensure the best practice and quality when building it to avoid additional repair and maintenance costs.

That being so, you can begin your pond project with a budget-friendly backyard pond before growing it into a pristine fishing or koi pond.


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