October 13

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So now it's time to address the elephant in the room. You’ve made up your mind that you want nothing more than to create a wonderful retreat at home. Now the next question is… how much is it going to cost me. 

That’s quite a loaded question! So to be clear we are comparing apples to apples let’s break it down into a few smaller categories. Number one is pond size, and then the choice becomes Do It Yourself, or find a contractor that can share your vision. 

Now keep in mind that because of the infinite variations, the price is not set, there is a range. Similar to going car shopping. There is the base model at the low end, and the “Limited edition” that has all the bells and whistles at the high end.

We will only be discussing ornamental ponds in this article. Ponds used for livestock, irrigation, or water collection have their own regulations. 

Check out the USDA tip sheet for installing a backyard ponds.

The type of stone used, the use of large boulders, and adding a path or seating area add to the overall cost of the project.

DIY

Features listed for each size are for the low end price. They do not include the cost of surrounding landscaping. Running power to the project will also be an additional cost.

Stone for in, and around the pond will be estimated at $200 per pallet. This will vary by region and type of stone used.

Let's Break It Down

So here is a breakdown of average sizes, and the two ways they can be installed. Keep in mind that every situation is different.

Labor costs may be significantly higher or lower depending on your location. This is a ballpark figure to give you an idea of what you are looking at before you dive in (pun intended).

To be clear the price for the DIY does not include any heavy equipment rental costs. You will need to include that if renting a backhoe or some other type of heavy machinery.

*** Pond liner size listed in the pond kits is not the size of the pond it will create. Use our pond calculator to determine the finished pond size.

**** We also recommend using a EPDM liner vs a PVC liner

Building A Pond Yourself

small

6' X 8' Pond

Starting Base Price

$


950

  • Small pond kit
  • Waterfall
  • Filtration
  • Submersible light
  • 2 pallets stone

High End Price

$1,500

large

13' X 23' Pond

Starting Base Price

$

3,200

  • Large koi pond kit
  • Waterfall
  • Filtration system
  • Submersible lighting
  • 8 - 10 Pallets of stone

High End Price

$5,000

Cost Using A Contractor

***Features listed are what is typically included at the base price. At the base price, the homeowner provides the electrical service, and finishes surrounding landscaping.

small

6' X 8' Pond

Starting Base Price

$


6,500

  • Waterfall
  • Filtration system
  • Submersible light

High End Price

$13,000

large

Custom Size

Starting Base Price

$

25,000

  • Multiple Waterfalls
  • Filtration system
  • Submersible lighting
  • Stream
  • Large boulders

High End Price

$100,000

***Contractor prices based on an average estimates from New Jersey, Florida, Tennessee, California, and Texas.

Pros and Cons

Now let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of the DIY vs the Contractor installation.

Do It Yourself

Pros

  • Save on labor costs doing it yourself.
  • Work at your own pace and budget equipment over time.
  • Create exactly what you want
  • You have complete control over the project.

Cons

  • Limited "how to" knowledge
  • Large time commitment to complete project.
  • Limited resources and equipment.
  • You are held accountable if something goes wrong.

Using a Contractor

Pros

  • Has vast knowledge of pond installations (hopefully)
  • Will get the job done in a timely manner
  • Can be held accountable if something goes wrong
  • Will make recommendations for your situation
  • Brings new design ideas 

Cons

  • The cost of labor
  •  Pay a premium for pond equipment
  • Must fit the job into their schedule

Three Options

Let’s discuss each category further. Breaking them into three categories by size: small, medium and large.

Small - 300 to 1500 gallons

The small pond is generally more DIY friendly for the simple fact that it isn’t as labor intensive. This category includes preformed liner ponds as well as the typical pond liner and underlayment types. 

preformed liner fish pond

With a small pond you are limited to the type of fish you can keep. Although this article is about koi ponds, this smaller size limits the fish to sarasa comets and shubunkin goldfish.

Medium - 1500 to 3500 gallons

At this size, koi can be kept. The limiting factor here is your geographic location and how deep you make your pond

medium size koi pond

Large- 3500 gallons and up

The sky’s the limit here, go as big as you can afford, you wont regret it! Your only limit is your imagination (and your checkbook).

large koi pond

Periodic Maintenance

Besides feeding your koi and rinsing out the filter media from time to time, there isn’t much maintenance involved on a regular basis. To keep things running their best it does require a few minutes of “work” on a daily basis. Not much different than having a pool. Check your skimmer box to make sure everything is flowing properly and feeding your fish.

Seasonal Maintenance 

Closing down your pond (link to our pond closing article) in the fall and starting it up again in the spring is a little more labor intensive. For this you may want to call in some help. For around $60 - $150 you can get pond cleaning and season opening services depending on your location.

Don’t be intimidated, this isn’t too large of a task. If you are a pond hobbyist and not just a pond owner you may find great joy in closing and opening your pond on your own.

Other Accessories And Add On's

Getting your pond in place is one thing. The landscaping surrounding your pond is another project all it’s own. It's all in the details. That's what separates some water in your backyard from an amazing oasis getaway!

Your pond seamlessly blending into the landscape. If you don’t have an “eye” for it, get professional help to point you in the right direction.

Even going the DIY route, use a professional to draw up some plans for you to follow. This can really help if landscaping isn’t your strong suit.

***Other considerations before you get started is the location of your power source. To run your filtration system or waterfall, you will need electricity. Bear this in mind before you start out on your DIY project if this is the route you choose to take.

Conclusion

Every situation is different. The scope of this article was to give a good idea of all the costs that go into building a koi pond. By now you should have a good idea about what your project will cost.

There are two main reasons to build a pond / waterfall in the first place. One is to create a relaxing retreat right in your own backyard. A place isolated from the world to relax and reflect.

The other is that you love to create things, and this hobby is a perfect fit for you. If that’s the case, check out our how to build a pond guide to walk you through it step by step. There is something satisfying about digging in the ground, getting your hands dirty. That’s kind of what we live for here!

~Jeff

About the author

Jeff

I love being outdoors and hands on DIY. If you share my passion, you are in the right place. If I can help one person surprise themselves with the success of a project, then this website is a success.

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