Building a mid-sized backyard pond costs $3,680 to $14,500 per project, with a nationwide average of $7,400. You can install a small garden pond starting at $800, while natural swimming pools cost up to $80,000. For vast man-made lakes and large farm ponds, construction prices range from $6,700 to $17,735 per acre.
As you can see, pricing varies widely. This is primarily due to pond size but also to the:
- Pond type
- Equipment (water pumps, filters, aerators, etc.)
- Aquatic life
- Decorative features
We talk in-depth about all relevant cost factors in this article.
Read more about:
- Average Pond Building Costs
- Pond Building Cost Estimator by Size
- Cost by Type of Pond
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Pond Building Costs in 2024
|National Average Cost||$7,400|
|Typical Price Range||$3,680 – $14,500|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$800|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$47,500|
The national average cost for pond construction is $7,400, ranging from $3,680 to $14,500. We estimated prices for mid-sized ponds with digging, liner, equipment, and landscaping.
You can install a small pond DIY using a pond kit for about $800. Artificial lakes, natural swimming pools, and large fishing ponds can cost up to $47,500 or more to build.
Looking to put in a low-cost pond on your property? Consider the following:
- Go for a small, pre-formed pond liner that is easy to install DIY.
- Use affordable edging such as pea gravel, mulch, or plants.
- Decorate with reclaimed rocks and boulders.
- Buy native, small aquatic plants.
Setting up a pond can become expensive when the project is:
- A few acres large (i.e. artificial lakes or farm ponds)
- Medium-sized but with a complex structure (i.e. ecosystem koi ponds, natural pools)
- Harder to build (i.e. difficult soil, atypical shape, etc)
Pond Building Cost Estimator by Size
The larger the pond, the more expensive the digging and the liner you need to install. Other elements such as pipes, water pumps, filters, and landscape features also vary with the size of the pond.
For example, you’ll pay $2,350 to $5,000 for a small pond of 4 x 6 square feet and $8,670 to $14,500 for an 11 x 16-foot installation. Here are the average price estimates for the most common backyard pond sizes.
|Pond Size||Installation Cost Range|
|4 x 6 sq. ft.||$2,350 – $5,000|
|8 x 11 sq. ft.||$7,350 – $10,000|
|11 x 16 sq. ft.||$8,670 – $14,500|
|16 x 21 sq. ft.||$14,165 – $20,335|
|26 x 26 sq. ft.||$19,335 – $27,000|
Average Cost to Build a Pond by Square Foot
Small to medium backyard ponds can be installed for $40 to $60 per square foot. With a smaller pond, the cost per square foot is higher and typically raised by landscape features. For example, a custom-made 4 x 6 pond can reach $100 to $200 per square foot with extensive aquascaping, while a 26 x 26 pond can cost as low as $30 to $40 per square foot.
Think of it like buying in bulk: the more square feet your pond has, the lower the cost per square foot (even though overall costs are higher for a larger project).
Average Cost to Build a Pond by Acre
With vast properties and big projects, pond construction costs are quite different. Building an artificial lake, farm pond, or fish pond is priced by acre. A pond of 10 acres or more is $1,400 to $4,800 per acre, with digging and lining as the main installation costs.
Cost by Type of Pond
All the above cost factors mix differently depending on the type of pond you install. The most common are:
Most backyard ponds have less than 1,000 square feet. They fit into a regular yard and cost as low as $1,900 or as high as $80,000. Depending on your budget, available space, and how you want to use it, you can choose between the following:
|Type of Backyard Pond||Average Overall Cost|
|Garden Ponds||$1,900 to $6,500|
|Koi Fish Ponds||$5,100 to $15,875|
|Natural Swimming Ponds||$50,000 to $80,000|
Building a decorative garden pond requires a budget of $1,900 to $6,500. Most of it goes to landscaping features such as rockery, plants, and waterfalls. Garden ponds are very popular because they fit perfectly in small outdoor spaces where you can’t dig deep but also in large backyards.
The average koi pond cost is $5,100 to $15,875, with part of the price going into:
- A non-toxic, durable pond liner
- A high-quality filtration system
- Colorful koi fish
What are koi fish ponds? They are beautiful and calming water features, built to raise koi fish. They are great for urban backyards but must be at least 7 x 8 feet large and 4 feet deep, so they may not fit in small gardens.
Natural Swimming Pond
With a cost of $50,000 to $80,000, a natural swimming pool is quite an investment. It’s more expensive than the classic in-ground pool, which costs $32,408 to $60,873. Why is it so pricey? Natural pools mix two different water features:
- A green zone, with plants and gravel, that filters the water
- A swimming area
The construction is complex and takes time and various materials, but it’s worth it to swim in naturally filtered water without chlorine.
Often built over several acres of land, these ponds can cost thousands of dollars. Size is their main cost factor, affecting digging fees and pond liner prices.
Here are the most popular large ponds with cost estimates for each type.
|Type of Pond||Average Cost|
|Farm ponds||$3,750 to $13,000 per project|
|Fishing Ponds||$8,625 to $52,500 per project|
|Man-Made Lake||$3,500 to $11,000 per acre|
Farm ponds cost about $3,750 to $13,000 and are built to provide water for cows, horses, cattle, and other animal farms. Most don’t use any liner, so the budget is mainly spent on digging services and removing dirt.
Building a fishing pond or hatchery costs between $8,625 to $52,500. Most of the money goes into digging since they are large and deep ponds. Filters, aerators, and other equipment that keep fish healthy are also required. Some landscaping is typically added along the pond walls to reduce erosion risks.
Artificial lakes are vast and costly projects ranging from $3,500 to $11,000 per acre. They are typically built for:
- Creating a habitat for wildfire prevention
- Improving property value
Liners are rarely used for artificial lakes, but digging and shaping them takes a long time and can be pricey.
Other Factors That Affect Cost
All said and done, when estimating your pond budget, you need to consider other factors besides size, such as:
You typically need a permit to excavate the ground, costing $150 to $485. Other permits might be necessary depending on the following:
- Where you live
- The size of the project
- If you use a natural water source to feed the pond
- If chemical treatments are planned
Cost to Dig a Pond
Make room in your budget for pond excavation costs of $60 to $200 per cubic yard. Some landscape contractors also charge by the hour, with fees ranging from $55 to $150 per hour.
Pricing depends on soil type and can be higher for properties:
- With rocky dirt or clay, which is harder to dig
- Where powered equipment can’t enter, and shovel digging is required
Most ponds need a liner to hold water, with liner material costing $0.30 to $7.40 per square foot without installation. You can choose between:
- Preformed liners
- Flexible sheets
- Active liners
Preformed drop-in tanks are the easiest to install DIY. They are also excellent for affordable ponds built above the ground. With a tight budget, HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) options are the way to go. Fiberglass is the premium category with the highest durability.
|Pre-formed Pond Liner||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|HDPE pre-formed tank||$3.40 to $7.40|
|Fiberglass pre-formed tank||$10 to $80|
Flexible sheet liners are more suitable for custom-made ponds. They are also better installed by professional pond builders.
- HDPE is a good mix of affordable cost and good quality material.
- EPDM rubber liners are soft, flexible, and easier to mold on small ponds with corners and curved walls.
- RPE is light and stiff, better for large artificial lakes and fish ponds.
- PVC liners are affordable, but some are toxic to aquatic life.
Here’s the pricing for the most popular pond sheet liners.
|Flexible Pond Liners||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|HDPE||$0.30 to $0.70|
|PVC||$0.50 to $0.75|
|RPE||$0.45 to $1.65|
|EPDM rubber||$0.65 to $2.30|
You can also opt for active pond liners, such as bentonite or concrete. Bentonite clay works well in large fish ponds to keep them all natural. Concrete is preferred for swimming pools and raised koi fish ponds.
|Active Pond Liners||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|Bentonite clay||$1.05 to $2.50|
|Concrete||$64 to $114|
Pond equipment costs can be zero for a farm pond or thousands of dollars for a koi pond or a fish farm. Among the pond devices you’ll need are:
- Pond pumps that circulate water
- Skimmers and bottom drains to capture debris
- Filters to clean solids and neutralize toxic waste
- UV lights for keeping algae under control
- Aeration systems to add oxygen to the water
- Water agitators to keep water moving and prevent it from becoming stale and murky
Here are some estimates for various pond equipment based on Lowe’s, Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot’s prices.
|Pond Equipment||Average Cost|
|Pond filter||$150 to $1,300 per filter|
|Circulation pump||$50 to $2,000 per pump|
|Pond skimmer||$100 to $700 per skimmer|
|Return jets||$10 to $50 per jet|
|UV light||$55 to $600 per light|
|Waterfall||$500 to $2,500 per item|
|Fountain||$1,100 to $4,300 per item|
Keep in mind these are only estimates. The cost of pond equipment varies with the water volume it needs to work with.
Besides pond construction costs and the price of the equipment it might need to function, you also need to factor in beautification elements such as:
- Pond edging and rockery
- Aquatic plants
Pond Edging and Rockery
Edging costs about $12 to $33 per linear foot, and it defines the ponds’ shape and style. For ponds, edging hides the liner and blends the pond into the surrounding landscape. You can use the following for pond edging:
- River rock
Avoid limestone for ponds with fish since it can change water pH and leak toxic chemicals.
Gravel and boulders are also beautiful choices for covering the bottom of the pond and its walls for a more natural look. Here are the prices for these two options.
|Pea gravel||$10 – $50 per ton|
|Boulders||$100 – $385 per ton|
Adding aquatic plants is not mandatory, but it makes any pond look amazing. With an average cost of $3 to $45 per plant, you can choose between the following types:
- Bog plants
- Marginal pond plants
- Floating aquatic plants
- Emergent plants
- Submerged pond plants
See below the prices for some of the most popular plants pond owners choose.
|Pond Plants||Average Cost per Plant|
|Corkscrew Rush Pond Plant||$11.60|
|Dwarf Horsetail Reed Pond Plant||$12.10|
|Iris Louisiana Blue Mystery||$12.60|
If your pond will be inhabited by fish, you’ll want to choose the best plants for koi ponds (or goldfish ponds, or any other pond that serves as a live ecosystem).
It costs $1.30 to $24 per fish to add goldfish, koi, or other decorative species to a backyard pond. Stocking large fishing ponds and lakes requires hundreds of fish, costing $500 to $1,000 per acre.
Here are some estimated prices for the most popular fish species chosen for ponds.
|Type of Fish||Average Cost per Fish|
|Goldfish||$1.3 – $6.9|
|Koi fish||$15 – $55|
|Bluegill||$0.6 – $1.7|
|Catfish||$0.7 – $1.7|
|Bass||$1.0 – $3.3|
|Black Crappie||$1.4 – $3.8|
|Blackmoor||$7.2 – $18.5|
Before drawing up a pond construction budget, you also need to consider some related services you may need, such as:
A geotechnical study costs $1,000 to $5,000 and checks soil quality. It’s necessary for large ponds and lakes, especially with no liner installed. Depending on the results, you might need to bring in clay to ensure the pond can hold water properly.
Professional land clearing costs $1.18 to $2 per square foot and removes trees, rocks, underbrush, and other debris. You might need to clear land on your property to make room for a pond or lake.
It costs $810 to $2,625 to hire a professional team for pond cleanup and maintenance, depending on the size of your pond. Prepare for higher pond maintenance costs if the water feature:
- Is surrounded by lots of foliage
- Houses many fish
- Has a generous size
A landscape designer charges $50 to $150 per hour or 10% to 20% of the total cost of the project. They will help you decide on the shape of your pond, rockery, plants, and other important details to build a wonderful pond.
Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
Limited by a tight budget? With some well-done aquascaping research and the right tools and materials, you can install a simple pond DIY. Small projects are the easiest to set up. You can see below what costs to expect for building an 8 x 11-foot pond.
|Tools for DIY Installation||Average cost|
|Backhoe (rental for a day)||$340|
|Total cost for DIY tools:||$625|
Most homeowners typically pay about $390 for just the tamper and backhoe rental since the rest of the tools are common in a household. The total cost is $625 if you’re buying everything from scratch.
As for the materials required to build an 8 x 11-foot pond, their total price is about $2,380. Here’s the detailed price list.
|Pond Materials||Average Cost|
|Basic pond kit (liner, underlayment, filter, pump, skimmer, pipes and fittings, installation kit)||$1,300|
|Boulders of Various Sizes||$330|
|Total Cost of Materials||$2,380|
You can expect to build a simple pond DIY for $2,770 to $3,000, including tools and materials. A professional installation typically ranges from $7,350 to $10,000 for an 8 x 11-foot pond.
Smaller ponds can be set up DIY without much risk and difficulty. But larger projects require a pond builder with experience to avoid errors such as:
- Installing a wrinkled liner or failing on the weldings between the liner sheets
- Positioning the skimmer too high
- Digging right into utility lines
Find a pond contractor in your area and get an estimate before starting on the DIY path.
Cost of Building a Pond by Location
The average pond construction price varies with the cost of living. Pond installation prices are typically higher in expensive states like New York, California, or Massachusetts but lower if you live in Mississippi, Kansas, or Oklahoma. Here are some examples of prices for different cities.
|City||Average Pond Installation Cost|
To make building a small pond more affordable:
1. Search online for a pond kit costing $500 to $1,300.
2. Dig the hole DIY, and use reclaimed rocks and pea gravel for the pond base, walls, and edging.
3. Seed your plants or buy small seedlings; they cost less than full-grown aquatic plants.
The most expensive backyard ponds are natural swimming pools. They cost $50,000 to $80,000 for a 30 x 20-foot installation. On the other hand, a beautiful garden pond can be set up for $1,900 to $6,500, so costs depend on the pond type, size, and features.
Installing a pond has the disadvantage of attracting nuisance wildlife and pests, like mosquitos. Also, ecosystem ponds are harder to modify if you don’t like the plants or the landscape.
You can open the window, and instead of a simple lawn, see a beautiful, crystal-clear pond with lush green plants that sends a fresh breeze into your home. Most homeowners pay $3,680 to $14,500 to enjoy this every day.
You can start with a small garden pond for as little as $1,900 or spend up to $80,000 for a pond you can swim in. Pricing varies with size, pond type, materials, plants, and equipment, so you can find the right fit for your budget. Contact a pond builder in your area and see how much it would cost to build the type of pond you want.
Main Photo by: PxHere