DIY Network

How To Excavate for a Water Garden

Once the pond for the water garden has been designed and marked off, you're ready to start digging with a backhoe.

More in Outdoors

excavate for a water garden
  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Learn to Use the Backhoe

The first thing to master is the use of the control levers (Image 1). On this machine, the rear arm is controlled by the left-hand lever, while the forward arm is controlled by the right lever. The forward and backward motion of the forward arm are controlled by the forward/backward motion of this right lever, while the curl of the bucket is controlled by the left/right motion of the same lever. With a little practice, master the control of the forward arm that will be used for digging out the pond (Images 2 and 3). Using the backhoe like this saves many hours of back-breaking work when building a large-sized pond like the one in our project. If you're thinking of building a large pond, rental of a backhoe may well be worth the relatively small investment. Be sure to follow any instructions or safety precautions provided with the equipment and/or by the rental center.

Step 2: Displace the Dirt

A key consideration when excavating a water garden is determining what to do with the excavated soil. In this example, the soil was used to build up a berm behind the pond to serve in landscaping with plants and creating a natural look for our waterfall. Use the backhoe skillfully to pile the dirt into a berm as you dig out the pond (Images 1 and 2). Using the backhoe, the major excavation portion of this project was completed in just about 2 hours. If you don't feel comfortable with using this type of equipment yourself, you might consider hiring a professional to complete this portion of the job for you. Whether you do it yourself or subcontract the work out, a backhoe will save you a great deal of work and lots of sore muscles.