How to Build a Low-Cost Pond

Learn how to build a low-cost pond for fishing to beautify your homestead property, includes tips on location and pond construction and materials.

| March/April 1971

  • Discover how to build a low-cost pond for the homestead.
    Discover how to build a low-cost pond for the homestead.
    Photo by Fotolia/Iriana Shiyan

  • Discover how to build a low-cost pond for the homestead.

Get great advice on how to build a low-cost pond and maintain it on the homestead.

How to Build a Low-Cost Pond

The reasons for building a homestead pond are many and varied. I originally built mine because I wanted a plentiful supply of good fish for food; I wanted the convenience of catching those fish right on my own farm; and because raising fish sounded so downright interesting. Once our two "mini-lakes" were finished, however, I found they contributed much more than fish to our life: many more animals, wild ducks and other birds now come to visit and sometimes stay on our place; the edible wild plants that grow around the moist edges of the ponds add much "free for the picking" variety to our diet; the little lakes form an extremely convenient water supply for the chickens and game birds we raise; the reservoirs give us a place to swim and practice, canoeing in the summer and are our own private skating rinks in the winter; the steady sources of water — always handy for fire department use, if necessary — cut the fire insurance premium on our house.

There are other considerations too, such as the beauty that the ponds add to our homestead . . . the satisfaction I get from just sitting on a rock and watching the fish . . . or the visiting fisherman (a ten-year-old. sage) who knows what water spiders eat, where turtles go in the winter and why a coonhound will never bark "treed" on Halloween night.

When I started my reservoirs I didn't have a water supply nor a particularly good place to build a pond. I didn't even know where to go for helpful information. Gradually, by "feeli ng" my way along, I not only successfully established our two ponds — one managed for trout and the other stocked with bass and panfish — but I learned several methods of building small lakes for very little or absolutely no money at all. I now feel that anyone with a half-acre or larger homestead — and armed with the knowledge in this article — should be able to build and maintain a successful fish pond regardless of his resources or geography.

Selecting the Pond Site

I suppose the ideal location for a pond would be a half-acre (or larger) gulley or valley with clay soil, located on a gentle, grassy slope directly below a spring or artesian well. All a builder would have to do, in such a situation, is build an earth dam (with a spillway or drain pipe to control the water's depth) across the lower end of the depression and let it fill.

If you've got the gulley and slope but not the spring or well, you may still be in luck. As long as you have five acres drainage for each square foot of water that is six feet deep in your minilake, you can build the dam and let the rainwater runoff from the hillside fill your pond. As a matter of fact, you can get by without the galley and slope. Even if your homestead is flat as a pancake you can still have that "private fishin' and swimmin' hole" . . . by excavating.

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