Pond liner: Materials, important quality features & installation tips

If the dream of the garden pond finally comes true, you first have to think about the pond liner. Because there is a lot to consider in this respect.

pond liner
© Jeantrekkeur – Fotolia.com

For many people their own garden is a true oasis of peace. Here you retreat after work and on weekends to escape the stress of everyday life. Many can only really switch off when they are gardening. Garden design is an important factor in determining whether you really feel at home in the countryside. A private pond in the garden is particularly idyllic. No matter if you decide for a small biotope with delightful water lilies and other water plants as well as goldfish and frogs or if you want to go swimming in the small lake in your own garden, it is important to consider a few points when creating the water. Only a perfectly sealed pond will bring years of pleasure.

What do you need a pond liner for?

A pond liner is a very special film that is used to cover garden biotopes. These models are also used for bathing ponds and some fish ponds. However, in order to cover a small or large water body, you should not simply order any tarpaulin or buy it at a specialist garden centre. The pond liner has to meet very special requirements.

Other tarpaulins are made to protect furniture, car tyres or other outdoor items such as bicycles from the elements. They have to withstand rain, snow and cold. Since it doesn’t rain every day, splash protection is also very important for these models, but a pond liner lies in the water day in and day out and must be absolutely watertight. The film forms a protective layer between the water and the subsoil beneath the pond. If you lay out the bottom of the water with high-quality models such as tarpaulin fabrics from planenlager.de, you can be sure of excellent quality.

What properties must a pond liner have?

Even at the planning stage, every pond constructor should be concerned with the subject of foils. If you take a look at the Internet, you will discover that there are many different designs, thicknesses and materials that all have the same purpose. But what criteria should you pay particular attention to? Especially on:

  • Absolute watertightness
  • Flexibility – the film must adapt to the nature of the substrate
  • Frost-proof – no cracks may form even at very low temperatures
  • Compatibility for plants and animals

The best way to compare different products is to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s specifications. In any case, it is worth investing a little more money in the pond liner. If you buy a cheap model, you risk the foil leaking after a few months. The plants and animals have to be removed from the water, the water has to be drained and you basically have to start building again almost from scratch.

Which materials are used?

❍ PVC pond liner:

Which material you choose depends not only on the budget, but also on the nature of the substrate. A PVC pond liner is usually offered as a standard variant. Models in these materials are available in various colours, including green, black and blue. To adapt the film to the size of the pond, hot air or a swelling welding agent is used. This allows you to simply attach several strips of PVC pond liner to each other.

❍ PE pond liner:

PE pond liners made of polyethylene are an alternative. Due to their very good elasticity, they are very suitable for large waters. Polyethylene is also lighter than PVC, making transport and installation easier. If you consider environmental protection when choosing the pond liner, you are also better advised to use a PE liner because no plasticizers are used in its manufacture. For this reason, PE is also stiffer than PVC and adapts relatively poorly to unevenness at the bottom of the pond. Since PE films are resistant to chemicals, they are even used in sewage treatment plants.

❍ EPDM films:

There are also EPDM films made of synthetic rubber that score points for their particularly long service life. The advantage of a PVC film is that holes can be repaired relatively well. The torn surface is repaired with a piece of new pond liner, which is attached with a permanently elastic power adhesive. To plug cracks in a rubber pond liner, on the other hand, you need a special component adhesive.

What preliminary work is necessary before installation?

Dig a pit, put the foil into it, fill it with water and the pond is ready? Creating your own garden pond is not that easy now. After all, you want to have a long time pleasure with the small water in your own oasis in the green. It is therefore advisable to take the time to lay out the biotope and to observe the following points:

  • after digging the pit, remove roots, sharp stones and unevenness
  • Apply a layer of sand to the bottom of the pond to level out any unevenness.
  • with a fleece for additional protection
  • pay attention to temperature: in cool weather below 15 degrees PVC films are less flexible, in any weather EPDM films can be adapted, which remain unchanged down to -40 degrees

When creating a pond, there’s no need to rush. You must not forget what a heavy load the water puts on the subsoil. Thorough cleaning and preparation of the pit therefore protects the film from damage.

What do I have to consider when buying pond liner?

The easiest way is to lay a foil from a single piece that fits exactly onto the pit. With smaller ponds this is relatively easy to achieve. It is important to determine the correct dimensions before buying. The following formulas are useful for this:

❍ For the width:
Multiply the width of the pond by twice the pond depth and add about one meter for the edge zone.

❍ For the length:
Multiply the length of the pond by twice the depth. Here, too, 100 centimetres must be planned as a buffer.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can also calculate the correct pond liner size online at www.blitzrechner.de, for example. With these size specifications you will then receive various foils developed for ponds in the garden market. The numerous online shops, which specialise in garden products and in some cases even ponds and biotopes, offer even more choice. Here you can order films in different thicknesses and from different materials. You may not be able to convince yourself of the quality of the products with your own eyes, but the descriptions of most suppliers are so precise that you can get a good overview.

In most online shops you can choose the desired length and width. Before sending the order you should however inform yourself about the shipping costs as with any online shop. After all, the pond liner is delivered to your home and you usually have to pay extra for it. Especially if you order a large film, it can be a heavy package. It is therefore worthwhile to compare not only the article prices, but also the shipping costs. It is also important to inform yourself about the return conditions before ordering if the film does not meet your expectations or is defective.

Tips for laying the pond liner

❶ Cut pond liner to dry size:

You will save a lot of time if you cut the film to the right size while it is still dry. Before that, it is of course important to determine the exact size.

❷ Plan connections in good time:

Already during the planning process of the pond it has to be considered where the connections for the floor drain and the pump will be located later.

❸ Lay pond fleece under pond liner:

Before you place the foil in the dug pit, you must lay a pond fleece and fix it to the shore of the water with stones or sand. The fleece then ensures an even surface and protects the film from stones and other unevenness. While in the next step the foil is rolled out, the fleece should not slip.

❹ Check pond liner for leaks:

After the work is done, you should not fill the pond completely with water, but only partially. This way you can check whether the film is really waterproof. If no water escapes, you can finish filling the garden pond. Now it’s time to design with aquatic plants.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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