DIY Above-Ground Pond


How much do you admire quaint backyard ponds, but dread the thought of digging up your backyard, lugging dirt around and heaving rocks all in the hot sun? Make a above ground pond! It is practically instant to do, super easy and you can take it with you when you move!

Growing up at my parent’s house, my favorite place was sitting beside the pond and watching the fish happily swim about and hearing the water trickling. *ahhhhhh* So peaceful! My favourite thing about my backyard here in my own home was our water garden that I had made myself, but it was too small to hold any fish. My husband had no interest on tearing apart the limited green space in our backyard for a traditional pond, so I got creative.


I lucked out. I got my cattle trough for free from my father in law who has a farm that used to have cattle. It is meant to hold water so I knew it was made of galvanized steel. To find one, check kijiji, craigslist or ask around at farmers markets. I think the repurposed look is really neat. If you can’t find a cattle/horse/pig trough, you can really use any large container.  Just ask someone at the pet store who has a knowledge of fish how much space you will need for however many fish you want.


The cattle trough was free, the fish were actually feeder fish that were $3.99 for a dozen, the water plants I got from a local greenhouse and I picked up the pump at a hardware store. When you buy feeder fish, they sometimes give you a little more than a dozen because they don’t expect them to live. I actually received 14 and had 2 deaths so I ended up with 12 for the pond. Make sure when you buy fish, you can commit to caring for them in an indoor aquarium over the winter. Pond fish will only survive outside in a deep in-ground pond.


The pump cost me $35. I googled cattle troughs to get an idea on how many gallons they hold and got a pump big enough. My pump is 130GPH (gallons per hour). I estimated that my trough can hold about 150-200 gallons but I didn’t want the pump too strong or it may kill my fish. I figured if it can cycle through about half the water content per hour, that would be enough to aerate the water without disturbing the fish.


The water plants were the most expensive. If you buy them at the beginning of the summer season, they are pretty pricey. I just did this project this past week (early August) so I was able to get my water plants at half price. I will make sure to store them in deep buckets inside for the winter so I will have them for next year.

So without further adieu, here is the super simple picture tutorial!

STEP ONE: Get your hands on a cattle/horse/pig trough or a very large container made of galvanized steel or durable plastic. Rinse thoroughly.

step 1

STEP TWO: Decide on placement BEFORE you fill with water! Because once it’s fill, it won’t budge.

step 2

STEP THREE: I used old bricks stacked up to allow the pump to reach just under the surface.


STEP FOUR: This is the part that makes it almost an instant pond. Turn on you pump and let it run for at least 2 or 3 days before you add any plants or fish. This allows the chemicals in the tap water to evaporate.


STEP FIVE, SIX & SEVEN: Add more bricks to make tunnels and shelters for the fish to hide and rest in. Add you water plants. Make sure you have a good mix of floating plants and tall plants, both for good visual effect and for the health of the fish and water. Then add your fishies! (Don’t forget to buy fish food.)


Check out my video here of what goes on under the water in my pond!

Now you can relax in your backyard with you beautiful above ground pond that not only will be a relaxing and stunning addition to your backyard landscape, it will make for a great conversation piece!

Also check out the DIY on a smaller container water garden here!

diy water garden

About Chelsey Pear

Chelsey Pear Charm Jewelry Co. Founder & Designer
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2 Responses to DIY Above-Ground Pond

  1. Pingback: What Goes On Underwater in my Pond | Newlywed Me with Chelsey P

  2. Pingback: Sunday Funday! ~ wintering the pond fish | Newlywed Me with Chelsey P

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