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5 Pond Liners Tricks of the Trade

Pond Liner Tips That Can Bring Tranquility
and Natural-Looking Beauty To Your Yard

Just like you want a solid foundation when building a house, your pond needs one too. That comes in the form of the liner. While you can use a preformed or rigid liner, we're going to explore the ins and our of flexible pond liners as those are usually the option of choice when it comes to backyard ponds. Preferred in part because you can dig a pond deep enough so that your fish can over-winter safely and you can free from the design.

Basically you're draping huge sheets of plastic or rubber over some type of protective underlayment. Much like when installing carpet. In fact felt carpet pad is one material you can use as the underlayment.

Tip: Make the bottom of the hole you dig out as flat and even as you possibly can. Then give it a final once over to get out any rocks and roots that could eventually puncture your liner.

Place and tamp down a 1/2 inch to one inch layer of fine, damp sand. Damp so it will stay in place? Cover that with carpet pad, carpeting, even layers of newspaper which will act as additional cushion for the liner and protect if from any stones or roots. When laid over such an underlayment you can expect your liner to be quite durable.
Tip: You want to take pains to make sure the top of the pond perfectly level, so that no leaks develop over time.

Spreading the membrane is easy or hard depending on how big your pond is. You may find you have to call in some favors and have some friends cover over and help you lift the liner and get it put in place. To give you an idea if it's big enough the roll may weigh in at 500 pounds. The idea is to mold the liner to the curves and ledges you've dug out. This is hard work as the liner just lays there. So you'll want to have plenty of pizza and adult beverages on hand to reward your crew - after the job is done.

Tip: When installing the liner, smooth out as many wrinkles as possible.

The edges of the liner must be covered with rocks or soil in order to protect it from the sun and to help hold it in place. Usually rocks are back filled with soil. Then you can plant some bog plants (grasses and cattails) along the border to create a natural look.

To hide and offer a bit of protection for your liner you might also want to cover the bottom and any ledges with rinsed, pea-sized gravel. It will give your plants' roots something to grab onto. And the gravel will create a favorable environment for the water purifying bacteria you want to develop.

Types of Flexible Pond Liners

You will find many liner options available for purchase. Since it is usually the case that your liner and submersible pump are the most expensive items on your must buy list let's briefly look at four of the more common choices.

EDPM, also known as a butyl rubber, is likely your best bet when it comes to pond lining membranes. Considered to be the ultimate pool liner it's virtues include being extremely puncture resistant, yet it patches very easily and offers you a long lived liner even when used where sunlight exposure will be nearly constant.

Priced by thickness this heavy-duty liner is not toxic to fish which is why it's both the most popular and the most trusted choice for backyard water features. This is also not surprising given it comes with a 10-to-20-year warranty. So you may find that 4.5-mil thickness should give you enough flexibility yet be strong enough to last a minimum of 20 years - again depending how much direct sunlight it is exposed to.

So that's the best what about the rest?

A PVC sheet liner would be your next best option. It's stronger than rubber however you can expect to find that this is more expensive than EDPM liners. For two reasons. For one, although widely available in garden centers, oftentimes such liners are sold by the box rather than the linear foot. That means you could end up buying more than you need. And two it simply costs more per foot.

Tip: Let the liner settle for a week or more before trimming back the edges to create a 6 to 8 inch lip. Don't skimp with that lip. In fact always error on the side of leaving too much rather than too little liner on the edges. If not you risk the weight of the water dragging your liner down below the surface in places giving the water a way to drain out.

Two of the lesser used choices would be low and high density polyethylene. With the former think a thick garbage bag. The drawback with this is it will puncture easily. That means you have to take extra care that no rocks or tree roots exist in your dug out area. And you can't put any rocks into your pond either. The remaining option would be a high density polyethylene liner. Don't be shocked if you find that high density material costs four or five times as much as the low density variety. Both of these come in 24 foot widths typically. And both should be considered also rans in the flexible pond liners line up.

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