How Much Does it Cost to Build a Pond?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 8, 2018

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A pond can be built for a variety of reasons.

For some, a pond is a way to attract nature and simply make their land more attractive.  Other people, however, may want to fill the pond with different types of fish and use it for recreation.  Another reason you may want a pond is to swim and enjoy the water.  Just as the reasons for building a pond can vary, so can the price.

digging front pond by jeffreyw, on Flickr
digging front pond” (CC BY 2.0) by  jeffreyw

How much does it cost to build a pond?

The first step to building a pond is to dig out the area.  On average, digging up a pond is going to cost anywhere from $2 to $4 per cubic yard of material that has to be removed.  Although it may seem odd, smaller ponds are often going to cost more than larger ponds because it will require smaller equipment.  Since all ponds are going to vary with sizes and depth, only a contractor can give you a true estimate.  If you don’t know where to turn for estimates, consider getting multiple quotes for free from HomeAdvisor.com.  Here, you can simply describe your job and licensed contractors in your area will contact you with bids.

According to AquaHabitat.com, a one-acre pond that is 10 feet deep will be around 16,133 cubic yards.  Taking the figures mentioned above, a pond such as this could cost $32,000 to $64,000 to accomplish.  A half of an acre could be half of the costs mentioned above.

Field and Stream says you should be prepared to spend $3,000 to $5,000 per acre, permitting and dam building, but by the time you excavate, obtain permits and stock your pond with fish, you could be closer to $25,000 per acre.  In some cases, it could be closer to $10,000 per acre.

Overall, in order to safely plan your budget, most will say plan on $8,000 to $15,000 per acre for the entire job.

Pond SizePrice Range
4' x 6'$2,000 to $5,000
8' x 11'$5,000 to $8,000
11' x 16'$6,000 to $10,000
16' x 21'$8,000 to $14,000
26' x 28'$11,000 to $15,000

Factors that affect the price

Pond liner

What kind of pond liner has to be installed?  What kind of material is going to be used?  There are a few types of liners that can be used.  For starters, a permanent garden pond, for example, could be made from concrete or fiberglass.  These liners, as long as they are installed properly, can last up to 50 years.  Flexible liners, which are usually made of plastic, can last up to 20 years.  The liner being used will all depend on your personal preferences and the size of the pond.

Shape

A simple rectangular pond will be the easiest to dig because it will involve a straight line and nothing else; however, if you were to want an oblong pond or one with a circular-like shape, then the costs could increase.

Excavation

Are there trees or any other types of debris in the way of the potential pond?  The more that has to be cleared, the more it can cost.  This is especially true for trees since the tree roots will need to be dug out completely.

Shipping

If you have to ship clay or soil away from the pond site, the shipping fees can reach well into the thousands of dollars.

Compacting

If clay soil has to be brought in for compacting the soil around the pond, the prices can go up.

Scenery

Adding a beach, shoreline or adding some sort of aesthetic value can bring up the price.  This will all depend on what you are going to want to have done.

Features

You can add many features to your newly dug pond such as a dock, a small boat or even a fountain in the middle, for example.

Fish stocking

If you are going to add fish and other wildlife to the pond, you will need to purchase the initial group.

Building a pond overview

Before a pond is dug, the entire area is going to be excavated and cleared of any debris.  Once the area has been excavated, the site will be worked to form a tight clay formation.  If no existing clay material is present, it may have to be shipped in.  The clay will be compacted and a pond liner will be installed to hold the water in place.

What are the extra costs?

If the land has to be cleared of obstacles, such as trees, the additional costs can rise into the thousands.  The average acre can cost up to $6,000 just to clear the area.  This will not even include the disposal fees.

For the excavating costs alone, plan on spending upwards of $3,000 to $6,000 per acre.

If the soil has to be removed from the property, additional disposal fees will be applied.  Most pond diggers will recommend taking that dirt and spreading it along the lake.  Many pond creators tend to create a beach or spread the dirt elsewhere.  Trucking the soil can cost $1 to $2 per cubic yard.

A pond will more than likely require maintenance on an annual basis.  This can include weed control, mechanical management, or fish related activities.  Experts claim that you should budget $1,000 to $2,500 per year to successfully maintain a pond.

Permits are going to be required for most cities and the prices will vary.

If you plan on adding fish to your pond, budget in any fish, eggs or whatever you want to plant.  The same can be said about trees, etc.

A waterfall or fountain feature, while optional, could cost a few hundred dollars or even as much as a few thousand if you wanted something extravagant.

Landscaping, once your pond has been installed, needs to be considered, especially if you want to liven the space.  The same could be said about outdoor lighting if you were to add lights around the pond or near a pathway leading up to the pond.

Stocking the pond with fish will greatly depend on the type of fish you’re looking to stock.  Catfish, for example, are very easy to care for and can cost as little as $1 per fish, while a koi fish can cost upwards of $50.

Just like stocking fish, some pond owners opt to plant plants.  Cattails, for instance, are well versed for shallow waters and can help improve the water quality as they grow.  Lillies, on the other hand, can be easy to care and can work very well in tropical climates.  Plants, depending on the variety being purchased, can cost anywhere from $3 to $50 each.

How can I save money?

The larger the lake is, the more it is going to be, of course.  As mentioned above, a lake that takes up an acre can cost upwards of $60,000.  Aside from the size of the lake, the depth can play a crucial role as well.  Talk with a professional in your area to see what they can do for your property.

Instead of paying to have the dirt hauled away, you can advertise that you have free fill dirt available.  You will most likely find someone who is looking for dirt and is willing to come pick it up from your property.


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