This is a common question people have when looking to build a pond or hire a contractor. The actual cost to dig a pond is very minimal in the overall cost of building a pond.
Dig by hand
If you dig it by hand you’ll save a few dollars. I dug 2 of my ponds by hand one is a larger pond with a stream. The other a much smaller 1m wide by 2m long by 60cm deep.
The larger one took me quite a few weekends to fully dig out but I quite enjoy digging and the ground is easy to dig on my block.
The small one I was done in a few hours!
To save time and money on both I used the dirt that came out of the ponds around the ponds.
On the larger one I used it as a berm on the low side. This allowed me to not dig so deep as I was able to bring the water level up my raising the ground level.
I spread the dirt out evenly behind the berm this made it blend in naturally with the existing slope. Once all the rock and plants went in it looks very natural.
The smaller pond I just spread the dirt out into a garden bed that the pond sits in. Its come up quite nice I think.
My latest pond build was quite a decent sized ecosystem pond 3 x 4m. I dug this out in 4 hours. It then took me another 4 hours to move the excess soil though 😉
If your not up to digging yourself offer a young neighbour or relative the chance at a few extra bucks.
If its a small pond you can hire a mini digger for around $220- per day. These are really easy to use. Ever hire place will give you a quick crash course before you start.
Pro tip: Book it for the weekend. Most hire places only charge for 1 day to keep it for 2 on the weekends!
Using an excavator
For those bigger ponds or ground thats a mongrel to dig. I’d defiantly hire an excavator with operator.
We have a large pond down the back which I hired a professional earth mover to dig for me. He had his own equipment and charged me $100 per hour. It only took him 5 hours to dig that pond which is 16m long by 8m wide and 1m at it’s deepest point.
He also excavated out a stream bed for me. Which is about 20m long and 2m wide.
So $500 for a quite a decent sized pond.
Oh and if you don’t know where your services are remember to dial before you dig! Particularly in residential areas.
The pond liner will be the biggest expense if you use epdm which you should! Check out this article on selecting the right pond liner.
Every pond should have a water pump. The pump will add water movement and oxygen to the water. This is important for both the fish and beneficial bacteria living in the pond. Check out this article on selecting the right pond pump.
Rocks are an optional ingredient for a pond but in my opinion every pond should have them. They provide extra surface area for good bacteria to grow on which will ultimately leads to better water quality.
You’ll also want to add plants, both around the pond and in the pond.
Landscaping around the pond will help it look more natural. Aquatic plants within the pond will provide important habitats for all the fish and critters living in the pond.
Plants will outcompete algae, thus keeping your water clearer!
Sometimes its necessary to add power to the area where the pond will be. This can be a significant expense.
I like to use low voltage pumps so that I can run the power myself without the need for an electrician.