Choosing the Perfect Liner for your Pond & Water Garden

The reason we build and install a koi pond or water garden is to place a piece of nature where we want it. Chances are a pond will never develop in your backyard next to your deck.

The fact is, if you want that koi pond or water garden you’ll have to build it yourself. That’s really good news because most natural ponds are not suited to hold koi, goldfish and flowering water lilies. They’re either too deep, too shallow, too wide or too small to keep our fish and plants alive and healthy.

That’s why we build our own backyard ponds and water gardens. When we design it ourselves, we get to choose everything from where it will be positioned in our yard to how deep and wide.

Sure, you could buy a pre-formed plastic pond liner but those certainly limit your creativity and choices. Pre-formed ponds only come in small sizes and shallow depths. You’ll have to dig the hole in the exact shape and depth of the plastic shell or else the pond shell will buckle from lack of support. Pre-formed pond liners often have raised plant shelves molded into the shape of the pond.

Unfortunately, the shelves are often not wide enough to support large potted aquatic plants. With a pond liner, you can even design a beautiful stream that flows into the pond.

There is no limit to what kind of pond or water feature you can create! When you use a flexible pond liner, you get to decide where you want the raised shelves, how many and where. Flexible liners conform to the shape of the hole in the ground. You can dig any shape pond you want.

Common shapes include:

  • Round
  • Egg-shaped
  • Kidney bean shape
  • Oval
  • Square
  • Rectangle
  • Freeform

What to look for in a pond liner?




Don’t forget the underlayment

Pond liner calculation

Top rated pond liners list

1. TotalPond EPDM Pond Liner

TotalPond is manufacturer of economical, high quality pond accessories and pumps. The liner comes in a variety of sizes (approximate):

  • 10’ x 15’: (6 x 9 x 1.5-foot pond),
  • 15’ x 15’: (9 x 9 x 1.5-foot pond),
  • 15’ x 20’ (9 x 12 x 1.5-foot pond),
  • 20’ x 20’ (12 x 10 3-foot pond).

TotalPond EPDM lines are 45-mil think for extra strength and durability. Its UV and weather resistant allowing it to withstand challenging environments. This liner is made in China and has a 20-year warranty.​

2. Beckett Pond PVC Liner

Becket has been manufacturing pond liners, pumps and filters for over 15 years.

This PVC liner has a 20- mil thickness.

The low weight and economical cost make this an attractive option for new water gardeners starting out with a smaller pond.

The UV-resistant PVC has a 15-year warranty.

The 12’ x 17’ liner will make a maximum size pond of approximately 945 gallons.

3. Firestone EPDM Pond Liner

Firestone liners are considered top-of-the line. These EPDM liners have 45 mil thickness.

Their life expectancy is about 75 years. EPDM has a high flexibility even in cold weather.

Although heavier than PVC, it can be shaped to fit the contours of any pond.

Firestone liners have outstanding resistance to UV radiation, ozone and other environmental conditions.

EPDM has a high tensile strength and resists punctures. This liner has a 20-year warranty.

4. Aquascape EPDM 45 Mil Rubber Liner

Aquascape Designs is a supplier of pond supplies including water pumps, fountains, treatments and pond liners.

They offer EPDM liners in a variety of pre-cut sizes from 8’ x 10’ to 20’ x 25’.

The rubber is 45-mil thick and highly resistant to punctures.

The liner can also be used to line streams and waterfalls. The material is easy to cut and seal if you want to add a skimmer box or bottom drain.

Aquascape Designs offers a 20-year warranty on their EPDM liners.

5. Geotextile Underlayment

Don’t forget to protect your liner with underlayment. This professional geotextile is easy to use and install.

Just roll it out and cut to fit. Nonwoven geotextile fabrics are made for stabilizing soil, preventing rocks and roots from penetrating pond liner and for creating ’rock pads’ to cushion large rocks and boulders placed in the pond on top of the liner.

Just lay the pieces next to each other and install the pond liner. Use any leftover underlayment to create pads for large rocks and boulders placed inside your pond.

Final recommendations

Any of these pond liners are suitable for creating a beautiful pond or water garden. As discussed, PVC is lightweight and easy to handle but has a shorter lifespan.

EPDM is the choice of professionals, especially for larger ponds.

If you’re creating a small water garden or pond (200-400 gallons) and have a tight budget, an economical PVC liner will get you started in the hobby.

For larger ponds, especially in locations with rock and root puncture potential, EPDM is the way to go. The extra weight and expense will be outweighed by the longer warranty and peace of mind knowing you’ve used the best pond liner available.

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