More in Outdoors
Use shovels to refine the rough shape of the pond (Image 1). Rather than simply sloping the sides to create a rounded bowl shape, level off the inner perimeter of the pond to create a plant shelf (Image 2). Many aquatic plant species are sensitive to water depth -- with some preferring shallow water and other preferring slightly deeper underwater substrates. The terraced effect of the plant shelf will accommodate the growth and display of a variety of plants. The deeper area at the center of the pond will provide the fish with better protection against predators such as raccoons and cats.
Later a coping shelf will be dug around the outside the perimeter of the pond, creating a flat surface around the pond for framing it with flat rocks. This rock border provides a margin for transition from the water out to the soil, and is similar to the coping around a swimming pool. It will also allow the level of water to be brought up to a slightly higher level in order to conceal the top edge of the rubber liner that will be installed. When shaping the pond, it's important to create smooth edges and contours. When the rubber liner is installed later, it will need to conform to the curved shape of the pond. Having smooth edges will make that job simpler. Once the shelf and sides have been shaped, and the excess dirt removed, the first phase of this project is complete. Use a tape measure to check the overall depths of the plant shelf and the deeper sections of the pond.