How To Start Digging A Pond By Hand (And What To Use!)

Digging a pond by hand is a challenging task, but it’s not an impossible one to accomplish.

You just need to have the right tools and a hearty mindset to get through the hurdles. As long as you stay committed to the task and have a plan in mind, the rest is going to work itself out.

There’s no reason to call in the professionals when you can start digging a pond by hand at home.

The benefits include:

  • Cost-efficient
  • Fully Personalized
  • Can Take Your Time

You are not going to be rushed when digging a pond by hand in your yard and that alone is a game-changer. Sometimes, you will want to make adjustments on the go and that’s not easy with the pros.

This is why you should start to create a plan at home and better optimize your setup for the pond.

This guide is going to teach you how to start digging a pond by hand and what to use so you can simplify the task as much as possible.

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Tips On How To Start Digging a Pond By Hand

Tip #1: Plan the Layout of Your Pond

Before doing anything else, you are going to plan the layout of your pond.

This means the pond needs to be located in a place where there’s shade, enough air, and remains accessible to you during the different seasons.

A lot of pond owners don’t think about this until the digging has started!

You need to have a plan including understanding the different factors at play. This is imperative when figuring things out and making sure you are not digging a fish pond in your yard that is inefficient.

The factors include:

  • Shade
  • Aesthetics
  • General Sizing

When digging a fish pond by hand, you have to consider where everything is going to go.

It’s not just about grabbing a cultivator and lifting a bit of soil out of the ground. Yes, that is going to be a part of the process while digging a fish pond but not the only step.

You have to think about placement, what type of fish is going to go inside the pond, and whether or not you are going to be using a specific set of pond decorations.

Yes, each of these factors will dictate the type of fish pond you dig at home.

Digging A Pond By Hand

Tip #2: Use the Right Tools

When digging a pond by hand, it’s essential to have the right tools by your side.

We recommend investing in a state-of-the-art cultivator such as the one pointed out above along with a pair of gloves, a shovel, rake, and a wheelbarrow.

These are the starting items to make sure you can create a sizeable hole for your pond.

Having the right tools such as a cultivator and shovel will go a long way in making sure the pond looks the way you want it to and meets all relevant safety standards.

Please note, you will have to make sure the base of your pond is also flat.

Don’t craft a pond that is going to have a bumpy bottom as it may become difficult to lay the gravel. Create a strong base so you know it’s not going to wither away.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Depth

How deep is your DIY pond going to be?

In general, you want to have it set up to be at least 4-5 feet deep. This is going to provide enough space for your fish and is going to allow you to fill it with a gravel base too.

The depth plays an important role especially if you are going to have certain fish inside the pond such as goldfish and/or koi fish.

The goal remains to ensure your fish have enough space to swim around.

This certainly applies to koi fish and goldfish that can become antsy in a small-sized pond. Be vigilant about this and plan out each detail in advance.

Digging A Pond By Hand

Tip #4: Consider the Different Seasons

Do you live in a place that has harsh winters?

This is possible, which means you are going to have to dig the pond by hand with winter in mind. This includes how you are going to keep the water warm, how you will keep the fish healthy, and how to make sure it doesn’t flood into the yard.

Yes, each of these factors will matter if you have a harsh winter to deal with.

This is why digging with natural cover in mind does help.

You can also consider heat as a factor too during the summer. If there’s too much sunlight in the yard, it might not be good for the pond.

This means you will want to have natural shade in place such as a tree or something similar.

Final Thoughts

When digging a pond by hand, you want to consider the depth, safety, and what you are going to be using.

This is a must as it is not going to be easy without the right tools by your side. Too many people take a shovel and start digging but that might not be enough!

You will require a cultivator to get a seamless finish that is good for the pond’s longevity.

Also, make sure your pond is in the shade and will remain safe as the temperature drops in the winter months.

Here are a few more articles on fish pond building and maintenance – how to find a good above ground pool pump for ponds, how to winterize a fish pond, how to set up a pre-filter for fish ponds, and tips for adding new fish into a pond.