How much does it cost to build a pond?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to build a pond?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to build a pond?

$2,900 – $15,600average cost to build a pond
$3,000 – $15,000cost per acre (ponds less than 10 acres)
$1,200 – $6,800cost per acre (ponds larger than 10 acres)

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$2,900 – $15,600 average cost to build a pond

$3,000 – $15,000 cost per acre (ponds less than 10 acres)

$1,200 – $6,800 cost per acre (ponds larger than 10 acres)


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tom Grupa

Cost to build a pond

The cost to build a pond is $2.50 to $9.00 per square foot or $2,900 to $15,600 on average. Digging a large pond costs $1.50 to $4.00 per cubic yard. Building a 10-acre lake costs $1,200 to $6,800 per acre. Ponds less than 10 acres cost $3,000 to $15,000 per acre.

Cost to build a pond by acre & square foot
Pond size Average installed cost
200 square feet $500 – $1,800
500 square feet $1,300 – $4,500
1,000 square feet $2,500 – $9,000
⅛ acre $1,000 – $3,700
¼ acre $1,800 – $8,100
½ acre $2,400 – $11,600
1 acre $3,000 – $15,000
2 acres $6,000 – $30,000 
4 acres $12,000 – $60,000 
10 acres $15,000 – $70,000 
20 acres $24,000 – $136,000 
50 acres $60,000 – $340,000 

Smaller backyard ponds may cost more than large farm or fishing ponds due to their differing characteristics:

  • Small pond installations typically include consultation, design, synthetic liners, more complex layouts, and decorative water features like fountains, cascading waterfalls, and aquatic plants.

  • Most larger ponds have simpler layouts, no liner or a natural clay liner, and minimal landscaping.

Average pond cost

The following table shows the average cost to build a small backyard pond.

Average cost to build a pond - Chart
Average cost to build a pond - Chart
Average cost to build a pond
National Average Cost $9,700
Minimum Cost $300
Maximum Cost $55,000
Average Range $2,900 to $15,600

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Pond add-ons installation cost

Pond add-ons cost $50 to $5,000. Add-ons like waterfalls and fountains serve an aesthetic purpose but also oxygenate and circulate the water, reducing algae growth and improving fish habitats. Bottom drains, pumps, skimmers, and filtration systems work together to maintain the water quality and ecosystem.

Pond add-on installation costs
Pond feature Average price range Description
Waterfall cost $500 – $5,000
  • Facilitates aeration
  • May be one level or cascading
Water fountain cost $100 – $2,700
  • Facilitates aeration
  • Aesthetic element
Pump $100 – $1,500
  • Circulates water through the filter
  • Reduces maintenance
Filtration system $100 – $2,000
  • Filters debris
  • Reduces overall maintenance
Bottom drain $120 – $450
  • Filters debris
  • Reduces maintenance
Skimmer $50 – $450
  • Removes debris from the water surface
  • Reduces maintenance
Lighting $150 – $2,000
  • Adds safety and aesthetic appeal
  • Improved fish and wildlife visibility
Pond heater $50 – $3,500
  • Enables year-round pond functioning in cold climates
UV sterilizer $180 – $600
  • Controls algae / keeps the water clear
  • Best for ponds with full sun exposure

Cost to dig a pond by type

The cost to dig a pond is $2,500 to $100,000, depending on the location, size, type, and features. A small backyard pond costs $2,500 to $15,300, while a large man-made swimming pond costs $60,000 to $100,000+. Depth, design complexity, and add-on features affect the total construction cost.

Cost to dig a pond by type
Pond type Average construction cost
Farm pond $3,000 – $23,000
Fishing pond $7,000 – $59,000
Koi pond $3,500 – $17,000
Small garden pond $1,800 – $15,300
Man-made swimming pond $60,000 – $100,000+ 

Fishing pond cost

Building a fishing pond costs $7,000 to $59,000, depending on the size, location, and site conditions. Fishing ponds are 6' to 8' deep on average and have a balance of prey and predator fish like bluegill and largemouth bass. Including a drain and spillway allows water to be redirected as needed.

Farm pond cost

Building a farm pond costs $3,000 to $23,000 on average. Farm ponds are typically ¼ acre to 5 acres, 6' to 12' deep, and have an earthen embankment, emergency spillways, and little to no landscaping. These ponds supply water for livestock, wildlife, and irrigation. Some farm ponds are also fishing ponds.

Koi pond cost

A koi pond costs $3,500 to $17,000 on average with professional installation. Koi pond kits cost $550 to $6,100, depending on the size, and include everything needed to build an in-ground koi pond except fish. Koi ponds should be at least 3' to 5' deep with continuous filtration and circulation.

Backyard garden koi pond surrounded by flowers and greenery.
Backyard garden koi pond surrounded by flowers and greenery.

Small garden pond cost

A small garden pond costs $1,800 to $15,300 on average with professional installation. Size, depth, design, and features impact the price. Most ponds less than 4' deep do not need a bottom drain. Still, installing a bottom drain reduces overall maintenance and allows for easy draining when needed.

Garden pond cost
Pond size Average cost*
4' x 6' $1,800 – $6,900
6' x 8' $3,000 – $11,000
8' x 11' $6,200 – $15,300
11' x 16' $10,400 – $21,600

*Includes professional design and installation.

Recreational or swimming pond cost

Building a swimming pond costs $60,000 to $100,000+ for professional installation, depending on the size, materials, features, and accessibility. Recreational and swimming ponds are typically 3' to 12' deep, with a deep area to swim and a shallow area filled with plants and greenery for natural filtration.

An inground swimming pool costs $28,000 to $55,000 installed. Recreational ponds cost more up front but less over time. Swimming ponds are low maintenance, using plants for filtration, while pools use chemicals and need more frequent upkeep.

Swimming pool maintenance costs $2,500 to $5,000 per year.

Cost to build a lake

The cost to build a 20-acre lake is $20,000 to $160,000 on average. Location, vegetation, soil type, permit requirements, and whether the dirt removed is staying onsite or being dumped elsewhere affect the cost. Smaller lakes cost more per acre due to the equipment and material transportation costs.

Cost to build a lake
Size in acres Cost per acre
Less than 10 acres $3,000 – $15,000
More than 10 acres $1,200 – $6,800 

For better lake accessibility, building a dock costs $3,000 to $30,000.

Cost factors to make a pond

Pond size, depth, and design have the largest impact on the size. Larger, deeper ponds require more equipment, labor, materials, and more powerful pumps and filtration systems. However, small, decorative ponds often include waterfalls and other high-end aesthetic features.

Cost to make a pond by size
Cost type Average cost Uses
Per square foot $2.50 – $9.00 Small ponds
Per cubic yard $1.50 – $4.00  Deep ponds and lakes
Per acre $1,200 – $15,000 Large ponds and lakes

A backyard garden pond surrounded by a stone border.
A backyard garden pond surrounded by a stone border.

Many other factors also affect the cost of building a pond, including:

  • Consultation – Some pond contractors charge $80 to $450 for an on-site visit to assess and design the pond based on your location, soil type, intended use, and desired features.

  • Size, depth, & shape –Larger, deeper ponds require more equipment, labor, materials, and more powerful pumps and filtration systems.

  • Government funding –Building a larger pond or lake may qualify for a grant if the new pond provides environmental conservation benefits.

  • Location & vegetation – Sloped sites require more labor and excavation. Ponds built near trees require more maintenance due to falling debris and underground root intrusion.

  • Accessibility –Labor typically costs more if the new pond site is difficult to reach with a truck or other large equipment.

  • Extra features – Add-ons like a bridge, fountain, lighting, statue, or waterfall increase the total.

  • Equipment – Some ponds require a pump and filtration system. If needed, choose a pump big enough to circulate the full volume every 1 to 2 hours.

    • A pond pump costs $100 to $1,500+, depending on the size.

    • Filtration systems cost $100 to $2,000+ and may be biological, mechanical, or both. Some waterfall features double as filters.

    • An automatic dosing system costs $150 to $700 and treats the pond at regular intervals to maintain the water quality and reduce maintenance.

  • Bottom drain – A bottom drain costs $120 to $450 before installation. Bottom drains clear debris from the pond floor and add convenience to draining, cleaning, and maintaining the pond.

  • UV sterilizer – UV sterilizers cost $180 to $600 and maintain water clarity. A UV sterilizer is not always needed but is beneficial for ponds with faster plant growth from full sun exposure.

  • Heater – A pond heater costs $50 to $3,500 and regulates a pond's water temperature during winter months.

  • Permits / codes / HOA – Many cities require a permit to build a pond. HOAs may have other restrictions or fees. Contact local building authorities for guidelines and requirements before building a pond.

  • Fencing – Some cities require a fence around a pond.

  • Soil type – A geotechnical soil report costs $1,000 to $5,000 on average to determine the land's suitability for pond building. Rocky or sandy soils are not ideal for ponds and may require adding clay-heavy soil for a structurally sound pond or lake. Digging in rocky soil also requires more labor.

  • Underlayment – Pond underlayment costs $0.25 to $0.40 per square foot and protects the pond liner from punctures or tearing.

  • Pond liner – a pond liner costs $0.50 to $3.50 per square foot depending on the material. Liner materials include PVC, rubber, fiberglass, concrete, and bentonite clay. Clay and fiberglass are heavy, and transportation is often cost prohibitive if not locally sourced.

  • Labor costs

    • Excavation costs $2.50 to $15.00 per cubic yard or $300 to $3,200 to dig an average backyard pond. Most excavators have a $500 to $800 minimum project fee.

    • Dirt removal costs $140 to $230 per cubic yard or $1,400 to $2,300 per truckload (10 cubic yards).

    • Land leveling or regrading a yard costs $500 to $5,000, depending on the project size.

    • Land clearing costs $1,500 to $3,000 per acre for a lightly wooded lot and $7,000+ per acre for a heavily wooded lot.

    • Tree stump removal costs $80 to $250 per stump.

    • Building a retaining wall costs $40 to $300 per linear foot.

    • Plumbers charge $45 to $150 per hour to run a water line for the pond drain.

    • Electricians charge$40 to $100 per hour to install pond lighting, a new outlet, or new wiring for a water pump. Most electricians have a $75+ service call fee.

  • LandscapingLandscaping installation costs $4 to $12 per square foot. River rocks cost $85 to $310 per yard installed.

  • Filling with water – Pond and pool water delivery costs $200 to $600 per truckload.

  • Maintenance costs – Maintaining a pond costs $400 to $2,900 per year on average. The pond size, location, and condition impact the maintenance costs.

Cost of digging a pond by location

The cost of digging a pond is $300 to $3,200 on average for the excavation alone, depending on soil type and site accessibility. Excavator rates vary from state to state. The following table shows the average cost to dig a pond by location.

Cost to dig a pond by location
City, State Average cost
Atlanta, GA $340 – $3,600
Austin, TX $340 – $3,600
Boston, MA $410 – $4,400
Bridgeport, CT $320 – $3,400
Chicago, IL $350 – $3,700
Cleveland, OH $310 – $3,300
Columbus, OH $320 – $3,400
Dallas, TX $320 – $3,400
Denver, CO $320 – $3,500
Detroit, MI $320 – $3,400
Honolulu, HI $370 – $3,900
Houston, TX $380 – $4,000
Indianapolis, IN $310 – $3,300
Jacksonville, FL $300 – $3,200
Los Angeles, CA $320 – $3,500
Miami, FL $300 – $3,200
Minneapolis, MN $340 – $3,600
Mobile, AL $300 – $3,100
Nashville, TN $310 – $3,300
New York, NY $400 – $4,200
Newark, NJ $330 – $3,600
Oklahoma City, OK $300 – $3,100
Philadelphia, PA $330 – $3,600
Phoenix, AZ $310 – $3,300
Pittsburgh, PA $320 – $3,400
Portland, OR $330 – $3,500
San Diego, CA $320 – $3,500
San Francisco, CA $380 – $4,100
Savannah, GA $290 – $3,100
Seattle, WA $330 – $3,600
Tulsa, OK $300 – $3,200
Washington, DC $340 – $3,600

Cost to stock with fish and plants

The cost to stock a pond with fish depends on the pond type and size and the fish type:

  • Fish pond stocking costs $800 to $1,500 per acre for a large recreational pond with predator and prey fish like bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass, or catfish.

  • Stocking a backyard koi pond costs $10 to $60 per fish on average, depending on the age, size, coloring, and pattern.

  • Smaller backyard pond fish like goldfish, minnows, or red shiners cost $3 to $19 each.

The cost to stock a pond with plants depends on the pond size and desired aesthetics. A mixture of marginal, floating, and submerged aquatic plants contributes to a well-balanced ecosystem pond.

Pond plant prices
Plant type Average price (per plant) Details
Shallow water / bog / marginal $6 – $40
  • Best for lining the pond edges
  • Thrive in shallow water or slightly wet soil
Floating plants $4 – $20
  • Natural water filtration
  • Provide fish hiding spots
Water lily $20 – $40
  • Add color and fragrance
  • Day- and night-blooming varieties
Submerged / oxygenating $4 – $20 per bundle
  • Reduce algae and keep water clear
  • Create a balanced ecosystem

Pond maintenance and equipment

Pond maintenance costs $400 to $2,900 per year on average, depending on the size, type, location, and debris accumulation. Most ponds require regular maintenance, such as skimming debris from the surface, cleaning or changing the filters, checking the water quality, and cleaning the bottom of the pond as needed.

DIY pond cost

A DIY pond costs $550 to $6,100 on average for a kit with everything required to build the pond except for equipment to dig the hole. Building a pond yourself with individual components may cost more or less than a pond kit, depending on the features.

Planning is the most important part of the DIY process. Follow these steps for a successful and long-lasting backyard garden pond:

  1. Decide the desired size, location, features, and intended use. Ponds fed by groundwater should be in a level, low-lying area.

  2. Confirm the pond building plan follows all local, state, and federal building and environmental protection laws and HOA guidelines if applicable. Pull any necessary permits.

  3. Determine if the soil is adequate for building a pond.

  4. Clear the site of trees, bushes, rocks, and debris.

  5. Mark out the pond shape and any filter and feature locations on the ground with landscaping spray paint or string.

  6. Construct an embankment if needed. Sloped land typically requires an embankment or dam.

  7. Dig the hole, creating multiple levels if desired. Dig right-angle shelving at least 18" around the pond's perimeter for rocks and aquatic plants. For larger ponds:

    1. Renting a mini-excavator costs $200 to $700 per day.

    2. Backhoe rental costs $200 to $450 per day.

    3. A front-end loader may be used for ponds up to 1/8th an acre.

  8. Backfill as needed to set the skimmer and filters.

  9. Ensure the pond is level.

  10. Lay the underlayment down if applicable, followed by the pond liner, extending the liner at least 12" beyond the edges.

  11. Secure the liner to the filtration components with plant-safe sealant. Use heavy rocks to secure and conceal the liner around the pond's edge.

  12. Install the submersible pump if applicable.

  13. Fill the pond with water and test or have it tested professionally for safety before adding plants or fish.

Pond building FAQs

Does a pond increase property value?

A pond may increase property value by 5% to 10%, depending on the size, condition, and location. A well-established, low-maintenance pond with clear water, trophy-size fish, or high-end aesthetic features adds substantial value, but a neglected, overgrown pond requiring significant work may devalue the property.

How long does it take to build a pond?

Building a pond takes 1 day to a month or more, depending on the pond and crew size, design complexity, and excavation equipment used. Weather and installer experience also affect the timeline. Most small to medium size backyard ponds take 2 to 5 days for professional installation.

What do you need to build a pond?

To build a pond, you need:

  • Shovel – A shovel or equipment to dig the pond.

  • Liner – Keeps the water from seeping into the ground.

  • Large or heavy rocks – Conceal and secure the liner around the edge of the pond.

  • Pond pump – Moves the water through a filter.

  • Filter – Removes debris from the water being pushed through by the pump.

  • Skimmer – Removes debris from the water surface like a pool skimmer.

  • Electricity – A GFCI outlet at least 10' from the pond.

Many backyard ponds also include:

  • Underlayment – Extends the liner's life by protecting it from punctures from roots or sharp rocks.

  • Bottom drain – Removes debris from the pond's floor, reduces maintenance, and adds convenience when draining the pond.

  • Pond plants – Provides an aesthetic element and natural water filtration

  • Lighting – Improves safety and allows more visibility for fish and wildlife activity.

  • Waterfall – Provides agitation and an eye-catching feature.

Do I need a permit to build a pond?

You may need a permit to build a pond, depending on the size, location, and elevation. Check with local building and zoning authorities for the requirements in your area. Check with your HOA if applicable for guidelines or restrictions.

How much does it cost to remove a pond?

The cost to remove a pond depends on the size, type, and location. A pump to remove the water costs $50 to $150+. Fill dirt or topsoil costs $5 to $50 per cubic yard for the dirt and $200 to $400+ on average for landscapers to deliver and spread it.

Other pond removal costs to consider:

  • Relocating fish and wildlife adds time and labor.

  • Large stone or concrete liner removal may require a jackhammer.

  • Removing the pond may require a permit if the removal affects public property or a public water source.

Who builds ponds?

Pond contractors have the expertise to build a pond with structural integrity and a healthy ecosystem. Some landscapers offer pond design and installation. Small ponds may be DIY friendly, depending on the location, soil, and intended use.

Can I dig a pond in my backyard or property?

Whether you can dig a pond on your property depends on the location, soil type, elevation, pond size, potential environmental impact, and local regulations. The permit process determines whether your proposed pond improves or negatively affects the surrounding landscape and ecosystem.

  • Most areas have laws about a dam or pond's proximity to nearby creeks, rivers, or streams.

  • Consult your local National Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) extension and local building authorities to confirm whether your soil and property can support a pond.

  • Digging a pond on a slope requires leveling it or building a dam or retaining wall on the slope's downward side. An alternative option is using the slope to create waterfalls or tiered landscaping.

Getting estimates from pond installers

Before hiring a pond installer, be sure to:

  • Get referrals from friends or neighbors who have ponds.

  • Ask for local references.

  • Check their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Get at least 3 to 4 detailed estimates to compare.

  • Check with your local USDA National Resource Conservation Service extension office for available grants if your desired pond could help reduce downstream pollution.

  • Avoid going with the lowest estimate as quality may suffer.

Questions to ask

  • What experience do you have building ponds?

  • Can you supply local references?

  • Do I need a filtration system for my pond?

  • Do you recommend a bottom drain in my pond?

  • Do I need a fence around the pond?

  • Will the pond be fish safe?

  • What is included with the installation?

  • What add-on features do you offer?

  • How long will the installation take?

  • What maintenance is needed after installation?

  • Do you offer an ongoing maintenance program?

  • Is there a warranty? If so, what does it include?

  • Do you need a permit to build the pond? If so, do you pull the permit?


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