Pond Placement Tips: Where Should I Dig My Pond?

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a building a pond in your yard, filled with gorgeous waterfalls, koi and waterlilies. But where, exactly, would be the perfect spot to create this relaxing retreat?

Before you pick up a shovel or schedule an appointment with a pond contractor, you’ll need to carefully plan where you want to put every component of your pond. The most important thing to consider isn’t the amount of sunlight the pond will receive, or how close it is to your trees, but rather where in the yard you’ll get the most enjoyment out of your backyard oasis.

At a Glance: Where to Put a Pond

  • Make sure you can see the waterfall from the kitchen (or living room, or bedroom) window. You’ll want to see and hear it year-round.
  • Place the pond somewhere you can easily access and enjoy it – preferably right next to a patio or wherever you spend the most time outside.
  • Ponds can be built in full sun, full shade or anywhere in between. Just know that certain plants, like waterlilies, prefer sun.
  • The pond’s location won’t have a significant effect on the amount of algae that grows there if the pond is designed correctly.
  • It’s usually OK to build a pond under trees.

Where Can I Put a Pond in My Backyard?

You have all kinds of factors to consider when picking out the perfect spot for your pond: sunlight, access to electricity, local regulations, etc.

But the most important question we ask when deciding where to place a pond is, “Can I see the waterfalls from the kitchen window?”

Your pond should serve as a relaxing oasis, a place where you can unwind with a glass of wine or lemonade after a long day. And you can’t really enjoy your pond if you have it tucked away in a seldom-visited corner of your property that you can’t see from inside the house.

When we build a pond – either with our own crews, or if we’re helping a DIY builder – the very first thing we do after we sketch out the pond is unpack all the components and place them on the ground. We’ll lay out the skimmer, lay out the plumbing and lay out the BioFalls.

Then we’ll step back and look at everything. Can we see the BioFalls from the kitchen window? How about from the patio? How about this other sitting area? If I open a window, will I be able to hear the waterfall?

Unlike a swimming pool, your pond can look gorgeous and provide enjoyment year-round. All you need to do is place the pond – and especially the waterfalls – in a spot where you can see it from inside the house.

With the waterfalls visible from your preferred window, think about where you want to place the pond itself (the deep part where your fish will soon swim). Ideally, you’ll want it right up against a patio or sitting area, where you can see and feed your finned friends while you lounge.

The pond needs to be the center of attention in your yard. If it’s way back in a corner, then you’re not going to enjoy it.

Sometimes, the best spot for the waterfall is a few feet back from the best spot from the pond – but that’s OK! Just connect the two with a nice bubbling stream. Streams are a relatively inexpensive way to add to the enjoyment of the pond and make it a more dynamic feature.

Should Ponds Be in Sun or Shade?

You can build a pond in full sun, full shade or anywhere in between. Just remember that certain plants need certain levels of light in order to thrive.

Waterlilies, lotus and lots of other popular pond plants require full to part sun to produce big, beautiful flowers. So if you plan to get into water gardening, you may want to choose a sunny spot.

Lots of other plants, though, will do just fine in shade. As long as you have reasonable expectations about the kinds of plants you can use, you don’t have to worry about putting a pond under your favorite shade tree.

> Related: 16 Best Pond Plants for Shade

Will putting the pond in full sun cause more algae? The short answer: It shouldn’t.

If you build your pond with adequately sized filtration (skimmer and BioFalls), keep an appropriate number of fish and keep up with regular doses of Beneficial Bacteria, the pond should stay crystal-clear to the bottom, regardless of how much sun it receives.

Sunlight also won’t affect how much string algae grows in the pond. Every pond will have some string algae; it’s a normal, natural and beneficial part of a healthy pond ecosystem. The best way to limit the amount of string algae isn’t to build the pond in shade, but to instead add plenty of plants. Your waterlilies, cattails and other plants will consume excess nitrates in the pond, taking away string algae’s favorite nutrient source.

Can You Put a Pond Under a Tree?

Yes, you can build a pond under a tree. Or even several trees.

While trees will add to the amount of debris in the pond, your skimmer will take care of most of it. Just make sure your skimmer is big enough to handle all the falling leaves.

You can also prevent excessive debris build-up by installing a leaf net in the fall and adding regular doses of sludge cleaner.

The only place where we wouldn’t recommend installing a pond is in a heavily wooded area. If you have lots of mature trees around the pond, the dense root systems could make digging difficult.

Other Things to Know Before Digging a Pond:

  • DIY Pond Kit York PA

    Use a DIY pond kit if you plan to dig the pond yourself.
    Most kits offer everything you need in a single box – including skimmer, BioFalls, liner, underlayment, pump, pipe and fittings. Kits are usually significantly less expensive than the cost of buying everything piecemeal, and you don’t have to worry about running around mid-project to find what you need. (If you purchase a kit from Splash, we’ll deliver it to you if you’re local and help you plan your project. Learn more here.)
  • Or consider professional installation. It’s more expensive, but a lot easier on your back. Learn more about professional design and installation here.
  • PLAN BEFORE YOU DIG. Seriously. Really. We mean it. Do not start digging or rent a backhoe until you have all the components you need for your pond purchased and laid out in your yard. You don’t want to dig a big hole, then realize you don’t have enough pipe to connect the skimmer and the BioFalls. If possible, consult a professional before starting the project to make sure you’re on the right track.
  • Don’t skimp on materials. Investing in high-quality liner, filtration and a pump early on will save you the headache of dealing with repairs in the years to come.
  • Learn about Ecosystem Pond Design. Ecosystem ponds work with nature – not against it – to create crystal-clear water and happy, healthy fish. Check out our beginner’s guide here.
  • Remember that your pond should be at least 18-24 inches deep if you plan to have fish. This depth will prevent the pond from freezing solid in winter. Bigger fish – like koi – need even more space. Learn more here.