Cost to Build a Pond Outside Your Home

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated November 19, 2021
Art nouveau villa, 1929 with a lily pond
Photo: Albrecht Weißer/Westend61 / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • A new pond costs an average of $3,360

  • The price per square foot generally falls between $2.50 and $7.15

  • Expect to pay between $250 to $2,500 to do the work yourself

  • Excavating generally is the biggest cost driver

  • The type of pond you can get ranges from a small koi pond to a lake

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Imagine if one day you threw open your windows and, rather than a bare patch of land staring back at you, there was a gorgeous pond with a waterfall. That reality is a lot more affordable than you might think.

It’ll cost you an average of $3,360 to build a pond, and the price typically falls between $1,250 and $5,480. However, the price you’ll pay will differ greatly depending on how big it is and what type of water feature you want. This guide breaks down the costs and helps you figure out how much you’ll likely pay for the pond you want.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Pond per Square Foot?

It typically costs between $2.50 and $7.15 per square foot to dig a pond. The larger a pond is, the deeper you will also have to dig, and that means you'll need to do more excavation. As a result, as you increase the pond's size, the cost per square foot also increases.

If you dig a deeper pond, a professional is likely to quote you by the cubic yard (volume) rather than by the square foot (land area). For these ponds, you can expect to pay $1.50 to $3.50 per cubic yard.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Pond Near You?

Trees and decorative trimmed bushes and rocks
Photo: white78 / Adobe Stock

The cost of building a pond isn't uniform across the United States, so where you live could make a difference in your final bill. Here are what the average costs look like for each of the eight main regions of the country.

CityCost
San Francisco$3,800
Boston$3,600
Philadelphia$3,600
Dallas $2,900
Denver$2,600
Atlanta$2,400
Chicago$2,300
Kansas City$2,000

What Size Pond Can I Get on My Budget?

You probably already have a budget in mind of what you’re willing to spend on a pond. Here’s what you can expect to get for each price level.

$500

If all you want is a small koi pond of about 150 to 200 square feet, you could reasonably expect to pay around this price for someone to do the job.

$1,250

This is at the low end of the typical range of pond installation. For this, you're installing something a bit larger than a koi pond, but probably nothing more than 300 square feet.

$3,400

This is about the average price you'll pay to get a pond installed, which includes the digging and liner material for about 500 to 1,000 square feet.

$5,500

For projects that involve larger ponds and more difficult locations to excavate, your project may end up on the high end.

$10,000+

There's virtually no limit to how high your project can go if you want a really big pond or need to do extensive excavation and leveling to make the property suitable for a pond. Some ponds can stretch multiple acres, and in that case you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $5,000 per acre.

How Much Does It Cost to Dig and Install a Pond Yourself?

If you did the job yourself, you can expect to pay between $250 to $2,500 for a day-long job building a small pond, which covers both equipment and materials costs. Considering the typical range is between two to four times that price, you could save a considerable amount of money doing the job yourself. However, this is generally a bad idea for this type of project for several reasons.

Digging your own pond isn't as easy as grabbing a shovel and a hose. You'll need to get an excavator to move a large amount of earth, and that costs between $150 and $1,500 per day (and usually requires a license to operate it). Then there's the cost of installing the liner, which ranges from $100 to $1,000. And if you don't install the liner correctly, your pond will leak and eventually be ruined, and all that hard work (and money) will be for nothing.

This is a big job, and therefore it's best to contact a pond installation professional near you for a consultation and quote. That extra money you're paying is to ensure that the job is done right and you won't have to do it again.

Pond Installation Cost Breakdown

With most pond installation projects, you're paying for four basic things: landscaping, liner, edging material, and a waterfall or fountain (if applicable).

Landscaping

Landscaping is typically going to be your biggest cost because it involves heavy equipment and hard labor. Depending on how much soil you need moved, it can cost you anywhere from $350 to $10,000 for this work.

Liner

The cost of the liner is also heavily dependent on the size of your pond, as well as whether you choose concrete, fiberglass, or plastic. The cost is generally from $100 to $1,000.

Edging Material

Edging will make your pond attractive, and it generally costs between $1 to $15 per square foot (on the low end if you want concrete, and on the high end if you want stone).

Waterfall or Fountain

If you want the sounds of splashing water in your pond, you'll need a fountain or waterfall, which requires the installation of some plumbing and electrical work. Generally, this feature will run you $450 to $1,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Pond by Type?

There are several types of ponds to choose from, and they each have their own separate price tags. Here are four of the most common.

Koi Pond

Koi ponds are attractive features that provide aesthetic value to a home. To install a koi pond, you'll likely need some electrical and plumbing work done to ensure a proper environment for your fish.

Typical price range: $450–$5,500

Backyard Pond

This simple pond just requires some digging and a liner, so it may be the most affordable for homeowners who aren't looking for a large water feature. 

Typical price range: $50–$5,160

Fishing Pond

If you want a water feature that's large enough to stock with fish, you'll need to build a pond that's suitably wide enough and deep enough for them to live. 

Typical price range: $1,500–$9,000

Lake

If you want to go even further and build an actual lake, you'll need to pay a premium for excavation to remove all of that earth, and at this point you're paying per acre. 

Typical price range: $3,000–$8,200 per acre

What Factors Influence the Cost to Build a Pond?

Generally, there are four main factors that will have the biggest impact on the final price tag for your pond installation project.

Size

The biggest wildcard when it comes to the cost to build your pond is going to be the size. Digging a 100-square-foot koi pond is going to cost a lot less than plowing through acres of earth to construct your own personal lake. Also, the larger the square footage of the pond, the deeper you must go, and the more earth you must move.

Location

Location matters because not all areas are suitable for ponds. If you have a nice, flat, low-lying location, installation is a lot easier than if you have to clear vegetation and level earth.

Liner

Different types of liner have different price tags. You can choose premium liner such as flexible, UV-resistant rubber materials, or just go with an inexpensive polyethylene pond liner.

Extras

There are always fun extras you can get for a pond that will increase the price tag. For example, you may want to stock it with fish, or perhaps you want a waterfall. You might also install elegant stone edging or a patio area so you can enjoy the pond.

FAQs About Building a Pond

Should I build a pond myself or get a professional to do it?

This is a big job that requires an excavator and perfectly installed liner, so this is not a project you should attempt if you aren’t fluent in the basics of how to build a pond. A pond installation professional can examine your land and give you a quote on what they can offer, and it will give you peace of mind in the end.

How do I build a pond?

To build a pond, you will need to take the following basic steps:

  • Take measurements of the land

  • Rent an excavator (note: you must have a license in most cases)

  • Dig the area to your specifications

  • Install the liner

  • Install edging

  • Install any additional features like a fountain or a waterfall

  • Fill the pond

What should I consider when building a pond?

The most important thing to consider before building a pond is what kind you want. Do you just want a nice aesthetic feature, such as a koi pond, or do you want a large body of water that you can fish and swim in? Your ultimate purpose for the pond will determine what the ideal size is, as well as what extras you will need to install, and that will help you to better determine your final price tag.

Are ponds safe?

To put it bluntly: any body of water 1 inch or deeper can cause drowning, especially for infants and toddlers. But there are ways to keep your pond safe and give you peace of mind, including building a fence, installing a net, and adding an alarm.

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