Many people, especially fish owners, will toy with the idea of putting a pond in their yard at some point or another. Whether you decide for your fish, your home, or just for fun it’s a big step!
That decision brings a million more questions and decisions to make, and one thing you might be wondering is what exactly it takes to maintain a pond. In this article, we’ll answer questions about pond upkeep and explain the benefits of pond liners, so keep reading.
Understanding the Basics: What Is a Pond Liner?
Simply put, a pond liner is your pond’s first defense against the elements. It helps hold the water in place and acts as a barrier between your pond and the earth.
Think of a pond liner as being similar to a pool liner. The pool liner determines what your pool looks like, how big it is, and what kind of maintenance it will need. That is exactly what a liner will do for your pond!
Depending on the setup of your pond, there are different types of pond liners that are available. Each comes with its benefits and qualities.
Some of the main things that you should be looking out for when researching which type of pond liner is best are: size, price, durability, flexibility, aesthetic qualities, and ease of installation and upkeep.
We will discuss the different benefits that each has to offer and why someone might make each choice further below.
Types of Liners
There are three major categories of pond liners: preformed, flexible, and concrete floor. First, we’ll talk about the performed style of liners.
A preformed liner is a preconstructed pond shape that can be placed into the ground and filled with water. One of its biggest drawbacks is that it limits the size and creative design capabilities. However, there are many reasons that a preformed liner might be considered a great choice.
One of the main reasons why many people decide to use preformed liners in their ponds is for simplicity. Preformed liners are the easiest to buy and install. This is a particularly important factor for those who have never had a pond before.
Preformed liners are composed of a hard plastic or rubber material and are purchased in the exact shape they will be installed in. This is both good news and bad news for buyers.
The good news is that it makes installation a breeze! All you need is a hole that is deep enough for the liner to fit in and any excess space can be filled in afterward. That means no measuring dimensions!
The bad news is that many of the shapes are dull and unimaginative, so you might be stuck with a basic-looking pond if you opt for this type of liner.
Another hugely important benefit of preformed pond liners is the price. While they are a bit more expensive than flexible liners, they beat concrete flooring by a mile.
They often err on the side of affordability with the cheapest options being less than fifty dollars and the average price being one to three hundred dollars.
Overall, preformed pond liners are our recommendation for beginners. They are cheap and easy to install and require low commitment, as they will need to be replaced every few years.
However, f you feel ready to move on to a more sophisticated design, you can always change to a flexible liner, which we’ll discuss next.
A flexible liner is not purchased in the condition it will be installed. Rather, it’s purchased similarly to a tarp in the sense that it can take any shape or size that is desired.
A flexible liner is a sort of step up in sophistication from a preformed liner. This is because a flexible liner can take any shape or size you desire. In fact, the most elaborate and unique ponds use flexible liners!
Most materials used to make flexible liners are thin and cheap, which enhances the customizability. The price range for flexible liners is almost entirely dependent on the size of your pond, as they are sold for 40 to 60 cents per square foot. One thing that might make a flexible liner more appealing is having an uneven landscape.
While it may be difficult to install a preformed liner or concrete floor in an uneven landscape, the adaptability of a flexible liner is perfect! You can create a unique shape that will fit the aesthetic of any yard.
Aesthetics are always changing, so flexible pond liners are perfect for those who want to keep their ponds looking unique or trendy. Their shape or size can be altered at any time with just a little effort and material.
For those who are still considering which type of pond liner best suits their needs, the most common turn-off from flexible liners is their installation process. It’s a very precise process as they must be cut and shaped to perfection.
This requires taking accurate and precise measurements of the pond, as there can’t be any excess liner. You must also ensure that you cut enough liner to cover the entire pond.
Another downfall is that, similar to the preformed pond liner, flexible liners will also need to be replaced every few years.
Lastly, we have concrete flooring.
Concrete flooring is a very unique style of pond liner. It involves pouring and shaping concrete into the pond you desire.
Concrete flooring is the most expensive but long-lasting type of liner that one can use. Concrete mixer is also complicated to install, and most often requires professional services.
While price can sometimes be a barrier in the use of this style of liner, one can easily make the argument that the benefits far outweigh the cost!
The biggest benefit that concrete liner has to offer is that it can last an entire lifetime without so much as a crack, let alone needing to be replaced.
It also offers the benefit of creative freedom, as concrete can be poured into any shape of your choosing. Just keep in mind that once it’s laid, it can’t be as easily redone as flexible and performed liners!
Now that you know a little bit more about what a pond liner is and the benefits that each type of pond liner has to offer, let’s talk about something else; are pond liners really necessary?
Are Pond Liners Necessary?
Yes! Well, they aren’t technically necessary, but they sure do make your life as a pond owner a lot simpler.
A pond liner’s basic function is to prevent the water in a pond from leaking out into the earth. Some people find that ponds dug into soil that is rich with clay have a better chance of retaining water.
However, this isn’t a viable option to replace a liner, as water will still leak, just at a lower volume. This means that if you decide to construct a pond without a liner, you will be faced with many challenges (however, some people use clay as a type of pond sealer).
One such challenge is that to keep your pond from being just a hole in the ground, you would need to constantly refill it. By constant, we mean every couple of days.
Another problem you would inevitably face would be keeping your aquatic life happy and healthy. If you plan on keeping fish in your pond, it’s of utmost importance that you use a liner!
Using any type of liner makes the most sense for both cosmetic and functional purposes. There’s no reason not to use one!
What to Consider Before Buying a Pond Liner
While there is no real reason to avoid using pond liners, there is plenty of reason to be careful about which one you choose to buy. Among other reasons, some materials used in pond liners can be toxic to certain fish.
Make sure the material used is safe for your fish.
The first thing that you should consider is always whether your fish and your chosen liner are compatible. As you already know from above, there are different styles of liner that you can choose from.
What you may not know is that from liner to liner, you might find different materials are used. The most common material that is toxic to fish that is used in pond liners is PVC. A PVC pond liner can be dangerous for fish and is something we recommend avoiding.
Some examples of materials to look for when building a fish-friendly pond are Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), reinforced polyethylene (RPE), and fiberglass.
How complex is your pond’s design?
The complexity of a pond’s design can help determine a vast number of things. The biggest thing is which type of pond liner to begin your search.
For example, if you’re only looking for a minimalistic design, you might not value the flexible design as much as the price of a preformed liner. Once you’re able to narrow that down based on your goals for your pond and its complexity, it should be pretty easy to make the decision that is best for you!
What is your experience with ponds?
This is perhaps the most crucial question to think over before making any decisions about your pond.
Because ponds require a commitment of time, money, space, and energy, making the choice that suits your specific needs is extremely important. Note that a pond liner isn’t a one-size-fits-all product.
Determining the Size of a Pond Liner
So, let’s say that you’ve decided that you do need a pond liner, and you’ve selected your liner type. Well, there are still many things that you’re unsure of. For example, how do you know what size pond liner you will need? How thick should the pond liner be? How can you tell if a liner has ripped or cracked?
In this section, we’ll answer all of those questions and more!
First, how do you determine what size pond liner you’ll need? This question usually arises for those who are using a flexible pond liner. Flexible pond liners require you to take measurements of your pond and purchase the liner by the square foot.
Luckily for you, there’s a well-known trick for determining this figure. To calculate what size pond liner you’ll need, we suggest following the advice of ‘Best Pond Liner reviewed (2022 Buyer’s Guide)’ on modestfish.com.
This website suggests that you “start by finding the widest, longest, and deepest points of your pond design, measured in feet. Double the depth of the pond and add one foot to that number. The sheet size you need is this number plus the length of your pond by this number plus the width of your pond.”
Using this trick, you’ll be guaranteed to purchase a liner that fits your pond every time and you won’t have to risk guesswork, which could result in too small liners and having to repurchase the material.
As for how thick your pond liner should be; well this one’s easy. It only needs to be as thick as the materials it’s made from. There is no need to double-line a pond. However, there may be benefits in adding protective layers of sodium bentonite clay or netting.
Sodium bentonite clay can help protect all pond liners from cracking, and it isn’t harmful to any aquatic life.
Netting is a strategy that can be used to keep fish predators away from your pond. It’s one of many strategies that fish owners use to ward off unwanted visitors.
What Is the Best Type of Pond Liner?
The best type of pond liner depends on the many factors that make up your unique pond.
For instance, the best type of pond liner for beginners is likely a flexible liner. But for someone who is looking for something more low maintenance and long-term, we recommend a concrete floor.
Further, for those who are building a pond on a budget, the performed liner might be your best choice!
Once you’ve decided what type of liner is best for your pond, you’ll likely realize that your search is far from over. This can be both exciting and overwhelming, which is why we’re here to help.
In the day of the online shopper, choices are abundant, making choosing the right liner all the more difficult. However, we’ve compiled a list of a few good pond liners out there to help guide your search.
Here, we’ll outline and explain our top picks!
Our pick for the best-performed pond liner would have to be the MacCourt 93-ft L x 66-ft W Black High-Density Polyethylene Pond Liner (175-Gallon). It’s currently priced at $393.22 and can be purchased on LOWE’s website. In general, MacCourt is a very reliable brand, but this liner is quite special.
For instance, the intricate design offers an aesthetic edge over many preformed liners. This design offers built-in plant shelves and can even be used as a foundation for a waterfall!
The material is non-toxic and therefore perfect for fish owners while being UV stabilized without much risk of cracking or leaking. In addition, it can still hold 175 gallons of water, which is much bigger than your typical preformed liner pond.
Our top pick for the best flexible liner is the Firestone W56PL451015 EPDM Rubber Pond Liner, 10-Foot Length x 15-Foot Width x 0.045-Inch Thick. This liner is currently priced at $196.99 and can be bought straight from Amazon.
The benefits of this liner cannot be overstated! From size and durability to creative freedom, this liner has it all! It also offers the benefits of being easy to install and safe for fish.
Alternative Pond Liners
The last thing we want to inform you about today is what options are available if a pond liner is not for you.
One other strategy that some people chose is to use what is called a pond sealer. This option is often much cheaper and more flexible, even than a flexible liner, but is also much riskier as it’s not a foolproof way to ensure that a pond will hold its shape without leaking.
In fact, pond sealers are more commonly used as a method of repairing a leaking pond than they are as a liner.
Of course, as with every other type of liner, each type of sealer has its pros and cons. They come in a wide variety of sizes and price ranges while using different methods to keep your pond from leaking.