How To Build A Backyard Koi Pond You Can Enjoy For Years

The only Master Aquascape Certified Contractors in Iowa

How To Build A Backyard Koi Pond You Can Enjoy For Years

This Is How Every Pond Contractor In Des Moines Should Install A Pond

How to build a backyard koi pond starts with planning the area, digging, installing equipment, adding rocks and additions, then the finishes.

Read more about our process below-

Can We Trust Them?

“I’m not sure who we can trust to build our backyard koi pond,” says Angela.

“Out of the pond contractors near us? Why do you say that?” asks Adam. Angela sighs. “We see the end results and the before-and-afters, but what about the in-between? I would like to know how these contractors build their client’s ponds.”

Adam taps his chin thoughtfully. “That makes a lot of sense actually. Let’s go see if we can find their process on their website.” He unlocks his phone and starts looking at pond contractor’s websites near them. Angela does the same.

“Here we go!” says Angela excitedly. Adam scoots over as Angela turns so they can both read what’s on her phone.

Here are the steps they read:

Building A Backyard Pond In 7 Steps

Here’s a video of us building a pond for a client:
This is our process for installing backyard koi ponds:
  1. Plan your backyard koi pond design
  2. Mark and dig out the area
  3. Install the filters, pipes, and pump
  4. Lay down the underlayer and liner
  5. Add rocks and gravel to the bottom, sides, and waterfall
  6. Install any additions like underwater lights
  7. Fill up your new backyard koi pond with water
It’ll take a few days to a week for the filters to clear the water fully. The reason it looks cloudy is because of the dust on the rocks.

Designing And Marking Your Pond

As for design, we can work together to create a design. You can bring us ideas and we can try to put them together and form a beautiful koi pond. Or, you can let us create the design for you.

You can use a hose or spray paint to outline any design you have in mind. That way you can more easily picture how it’ll look and fit.

The best place for a pond is where it can be seen the most. Open areas are ideal and you can also put it next to patios and decks. Putting a pond under trees has pros and cons. The pond will have shade and be cool, making it harder for algae to grow. This does mean you’ll need pond netting as a part of the fall pond maintenance process to catch falling leaves.

What Happens During Digging

Here come the shovels and possible a backhoe (a smaller seated digging machine). It’ll look worse before it gets better and then you’ll have a beautiful koi pond!

For most ponds, we dig down 12 inches and create a shelf. It’s great for certain aquatic plants and makes it easier to get in and out of the pond for maintenance. Then we dig another 12 inches down. A 2-foot deep pond won’t freeze all the way so any koi will be safe during winter.

Below 24 inches there tend to be a lot of tree roots, making digging harder.

More About The Installed Equipment

The two main pieces of equipment are filters and pumps.

The filters help clear the water and keep it clean of algae. There are two types. You have a biological waterfall filter (aka biofalls) which uses beneficial pond bacteria to keep the water clean. The other type is a mechanical filter (aka skimmer) to catch sticks, leaves, and other debris.

The Importance Of The Liner

The underlayer and liner help keep the water in the pond and out of your yard.

Laying it down incorrectly or damaging it can cause a leak, which costs more money to fix. Liner installation usually takes a while since it has to precisely attach to the skimmer and filter. 

Some tips to keep in mind when laying the pond liner are to:

  • Use 45-mil EPDM line
  • Extend it over the edge by one foot
  • Anchor it with rocks
  • Make sure it isn’t very wrinkled
  • Extend the liner behind your waterfall

Why Rocks And Gravel Are Great

Rocks and gravel have 2 important jobs in koi ponds.
Firstly, they just look good. They have a more natural vibe than a black liner bottom. Rocks and gravel also house beneficial bacteria. These bacteria help filter the water, keeping it clear of algae.

Additions You May Want

Additions can make your pond look better, help you enjoy it more, and lower the amount of maintenance you may have to do.

Ion Gens, filters, and auto-dosing systems help purify the water. Auto-fill devices, aerators, and de-icers can make it easier to own a pond. LED lighting, more aquatic plants, and fish can make it more fun!

You May Also Like To Read

“How’s that sound to you?” asks Adam. Angela frowns as she thinks. “I think it sounds good! It makes me want to learn more about koi ponds before we put one in our backyard. What else is on this blog?”

Who We Are

Just Add Water is a locally-owned company that serves the state of Iowa for over 17 years. Our team is very enthusiastic about upgrading the yards and properties for all of our fellow Iowans, and we have the experienced crew to do so!

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I’ve worked with Just Add Water for two water features. They have always been good listeners and eager to get the work up to my specs. The Just Add Water Team is very creative and loves what they do! They take on any challenge, find a solution and get it done!

If you are looking for a professional approach to beautify your yard, I highly recommend Chris, Will, and their team for the project!

John Olsen


The crew & office staff at Just Add Water make the perfect team to create a water feature that enhances your life. If you are just looking for advice, or if you need repairs to an existing water feature, or if you want something totally new for your landscape… Just Add Water is the place to go.

They removed our old pond and invented a beautiful fresh look with a pondless system of 3 waterfalls. We’re very pleased and truly impressed with their artistry and sincere demeanor. Give them a chance. You’ll be glad you did!

John Gray


We hired Just Add Water to create a waterfall feature in our backyard. What we didn’t expect was the overwhelming beauty that happened when they were finished! Chris came to our house on a Sunday, no less, to plan our design, and his crew worked on a Saturday after a long week to do our project.

Amazing, stunning, and much more than we ever dreamed! Professional, and over-the-top design, you won’t be disappointed!!

Joan Campbell