Reflect on the best backyard pond building options

By: Eric Czarnik | Metro | Published May 22, 2024

 Rocks surround a pond outside The Pond Shop, an online business located along Mound Road in Sterling Heights. is a website affiliated with The Pond Shop.

Rocks surround a pond outside The Pond Shop, an online business located along Mound Road in Sterling Heights. is a website affiliated with The Pond Shop.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


METRO DETROIT — With spring in full bloom and the summer drawing near, more people are feeling the urge to head to the water. But for suburban homeowners, is it possible to gaze upon some calming aquatic scenery without living along a lake or taking a trip to the beach?

Pond maintenance experts say yes.

Matt Niemiec, aquatic manager at AguaFina Gardens International in Sylvan Lake, said a typical backyard pond could fit in a space as small as 10 feet by 10 feet.

“And obviously, you can go as big as you want,” Niemiec said.

Nick Salvatore, owner of the Sterling Heights-based online business The Pond Shop, said in an email that ponds can be constructed to fit almost any space.

“That’s the great thing about decorative ponds,” he said. “They can be small to quite large depending on the customer’s wants and yard space.”

Salvatore explained that it’s important to consider a pond’s size and function before building one.

“If a customer wants to have beautiful plants, fish, or to just hear the soothing sounds of water, they can easily create it with a little vision and getting their hands dirty,” he explained.

Salvatore said The Pond Shop offers pond kits that include a pond liner, pump, filtration equipment and more. He said the kits let their owners “use their visions and creativity to create pieces of visual and functional art, by mimicking Mother Nature.”

Niemiec said it’s common to incorporate rocks into a pond — including putting them on the bottom and along the sides — to provide a natural look. While such a setup may be harder to clean, he added that “muck and debris isn’t always bad.”   

He explained that “there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free pond.” Besides installing a filter and a pump for circulation, he also recommended a special device that he believes should be installed in every pond: a skimmer that collects surface debris for removal. It’s better than using a net, and regular use of a skimmer can cut down on pond maintenance later, he explained.

Another way to tend to a pond is to introduce beneficial bacteria, which keeps the water clean while keeping algae under control. Keeping the pond aerated with an aerator, along with the pump and filter, also helps fight algae, Niemiec said. He also recommended some algaecides such as GreenClean and Algaway — the latter especially when algae is more widespread.

“Most of the time, I like to first combat the algae by using more natural systems like using bacterial or barley products,” he said.

Salvatore said ponds should be cleaned annually and maintained on a weekly to monthly basis to keep the water clean and clear.

“Although ponds are a great addition to a landscape or backyard, they do come with a fair amount of maintenance,” Salvatore said. “There are many products available that will assist with this, from natural water treatments to filtration, which is a big part of the design and build process.”

A pond’s location can also affect the level or type of required maintenance. For instance, a pond that is under a bunch of trees with falling leaves or buds may require more surface skimming, Niemiec said. He also said adequate filtration is all the more important if a pond is in full sunlight, since that encourages algae to spread.

Niemiec said that if someone is looking to stock a pond with fish, it’s important to have a filtration system in place that will suit the number of creatures living in it. He also said any fish pond should be at least 2 feet deep or deeper so fish can survive the winter.

“It also keeps wildlife from catching the fish easily,” Niemiec said. “Putting in some hiding spots in there too — a little cave you can build out of rocks, plants like lily pads — also help out. They create a little bit of shade.”

Salvatore also pointed out the problem of predators.

“If pond owners are going to have a pond with fish, they will need to be aware of predators,” he said. “Even in urban settings, predators can cause havoc on their fish and also create issues with damage to their pond liner, pumps and filters. This is another reason why some regular maintenance and proper planning of their pond build is important.”

Find out more about The Pond Shop, which does not conduct walk-in business, by visiting or by calling (800) 527-9420. Learn more about AguaFina Gardens International in Sylvan Lake by visiting or by calling (248) 738-0500.