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Water Gardens: Choosing a Pond Liner that Suits your Style

by Nellie Neal

Choosing a pond liner

When you put in a water garden, the liner makes a difference in how you’ll proceed. Take the time to consider what kind will work best for your water feature, then get out your shovel to dig that pond.

Why buy a liner?

Unless you have a spring in the backyard that can feed a natural pond, the liner will act as the reservoir for your water garden. Pond liners keep the water contained and dirt-free, prevent weeds invading and give goldfish a home.

Kinds to choose from

Pick the liner that you will find easiest to conceal – there’s nothing less attractive than a black rim around a pond. From a practical point of view, exposed plastics deteriorate over time while buried ones scarcely ever do. Look for products made specifically for garden ponds to prevent leeching of their materials into the environment. Pond liners are made of nonreactive black plastic. They are available as either rigid shapes or flexible sheets custom cut for lining any shape hole you care to dig. The rigid kidney or rounded shapes offer clear guidance for digging their holes and can be used aboveground with plants shielding them. Hardshell liners also come in different depths, ideal for waterfalls or multilevel water features, and some have shelves to hold potted plants. Flexible liners bury their edges readily in soil or under rocks along the pond’s edge and can virtually fill any space – you create shelves and dropoffs where you want them. Measure the space available in your garden for a water feature, then shop for liners. Rigid liners come in specific sizes, but be sure to buy enough flexible material for the size, depth and ground level skirt. Your pond supply dealer can make the calculations from your measurements. Be forewarned – most water gardeners soon decide their first pond isn’t large enough, so measure generously and consider a slightly bigger pond in the first place.

Keep it flowing

Every pond liner has the potential to leak, but you can lessen the hazards with careful handling and annual maintenance. Any rock or stick left in the hole can poke over time; clear the area completely while digging. Avoid pulling flexible liners into place to reduce stress – get a friend or two to help you unfold it. Siphon most of the water out once each year to examine the liner for wear. Should you have to patch it, the job’s easier done on a dry liner.  


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