Nothing beats the tranquility and attractiveness of a beautiful backyard or garden pond. Before you grab the shovel, it's a good idea to add up the costs first, and then decide how much of the work you want to handle yourself to meet your budget. If you prefer someone else build your pond from start to finish, plan to pay a landscaper or contractor about $2,000 for a 6-foot by 8-foot pond.
Excavating a hole for your pond requires either digging by hand, which costs nothing other than potential trips to a chiropractor, or hiring an experienced excavator. If you go the professional route, a small backyard pond costs from $400 to $600 for a day of digging with a backhoe, according to the Mid-Atlantic Koi Club.
Before you begin staking the area for excavation, get someone from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (nrcs.usda.gov), a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to consult with you. Your tax dollars make this free consultation invaluable in determining the feasibility of adding a pond to your property. More importantly, the consultant tells you about any permits required in your area to start digging. If you skip the permit-acquiring process, you may need to spend some money in court. Your local county extension office may also offer this service for free.
Once you dig your pond, you need to use a liner to help keep water in the pond. Liners run from .50 cents to $1 per square foot of liner, depending on the type you buy. If you’re building a small backyard pond complete with fish, you must install bottom drains and a filter system to keep the water flowing. Drains range in price from $99 to $140 each. One of the better filter systems runs about $1,200, although you’ll find them for less money. You also need a pump to keep the water moving through the filter system. Pumps cost up to $400 each, depending on the brand you purchase. If the pond will hold fish, you may need air pumps at about $350 each. If you live in an area where water temperatures may drop below 45 degrees, you will probably want to invest in a heater that will cost between $500 to $2,400.
One option for keeping costs down requires buying a do-it-yourself kit that includes all the components required for a small pond. A kit that sells for about $600 includes a 10-foot by 15-foot liner for a shallow 6-foot by 8-foot pond. You also get a filter, tubing and fittings to put it altogether. You still need to dig the hole, so invite some friends over on the weekend, provide them with shovels and cold beverages and the hole may be dug in no time.
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