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For many hobby gardeners, a garden pond is one of the design elements in terms of diversity, visual added value and also upgrading the habitats for insects and other beneficial insects. Since the costs for its creation are usually quite high, it is worth saving in the right places. One of these savings potentials lies in the pond soil, with which a liner pond is usually lined. We explain how you can make pond soil yourself in simple steps and what you should pay attention to.

pond soil

In the pond, as well as in the area of the pond edges, the pond substrate fulfills various functions:

  • Weighting down the pond liner to prevent it from lifting, e.g. when the groundwater rises after rainfall
  • Hiding place or habitat for aquatic animals such as snails, mussels and fish
  • Position security for aquatic plants
  • habitat for microorganisms
  • Contribution to maintaining the water quality through the cleaning microorganisms that settle there

The function as a nutrient supplier and store, which is of considerable importance with normal soil in the garden, can be neglected in the pond. Plants can extract minerals and other substances from the pond water much more easily and in larger quantities than could be the case with the best substrate.


Once it has been clarified which functions the soil should fulfill in the garden pond, the question of its composition arises. Because only with this knowledge can the right materials for your own production of pond substrate be selected in a targeted manner:


  • Should be high enough to weigh down the pond liner even when the groundwater level rises (heavy rain, etc.).
  • Ideally high enough to prevent buoyancy or turbulence from water currents


  • As compact as possible and with a low proportion of fines to avoid clogging of existing filters
  • Optimal with a very large surface as a habitat for microorganisms


  • Good resistance to decomposition in water, as otherwise the water quality would be poorer due to the high proportion of suspended particles
  • Low percentage of organic content, therefore low susceptibility to rotting and deterioration of water quality

Make pond soil yourself

Now that everything important about the tasks and the nature of the pond substrate is known, the question of how to get the optimal substrate naturally arises for the prospective pond owner. Of course, the market also offers a wide range of ready-made products from coarse pond gravel to special fine substrates to support water purification and transport the cleaning microorganisms. However, all of these products are comparatively expensive, so that the question arises whether you can make pond soil yourself with reasonable effort.

Yes you can. Because even less experienced hobby gardeners and breeders can easily produce the right substrate for their home garden pond. Below we show how:


The work begins with the selection of suitable materials. If you consider the requirements that are placed on the finished substrate, the suitable components result almost automatically.

Well suited:

  • Gravel, ideal as a composition of different grain sizes from coarse to fine
  • Sand, preferably in variable grain sizes
  • Soil, prefers loamy and compact

Not suitable:

  • Soil with a high proportion of humus and other organic content (plant parts, chaff, etc.) due to the high potential for water quality deterioration
  • Peat, because of floating components and high turbidity and pollution of the water in the pond

gravel or earth? - A decision aid

For the inexperienced pond builder, the question now legitimately arises as to which of the named substances should be used for their own pond. Gravel, loam, or would you prefer sand?

There is initially no generally applicable answer to this question. Because the selection of the optimal composition depends much more on the planned use of the pond. For example, sand is good for mussels, while aquatic plants often need some soil. Here it is worth taking a look at the needs of future pond residents.


Once suitable content has been selected for the substrate, the actual production begins. So that the work can be done easily, it is also important to have the right tools and aids:

  • Wheelbarrow and bucket for transporting the materials
  • Possibly a tub for mixing the substances, alternatively a large tarpaulin on which the mixing process can take place
  • shovel and garden rake
  • Fleece or thick foil to protect the pond foil
  • Sieve, bucket or large stones, as well as a garden hose for filling the pond

work steps

1. Preparation

  • Provide tools and components for the substrate
  • Prepare access to the pond, covering the pond lined with foil in the access area with fleece or a thick tarpaulin to protect against damage
  • Prepare your workplace, ideally near the garden pond
  • Avoid unnecessary transport routes

2. Mixing

  • Determine the components to be mixed and the proportions according to the requirements of the plants and animals
  • Place the individual components on a tarpaulin or in a mixing bucket and mix well with a shovel or hands
  • Mix smaller quantities several times until you have the desired final quantity, as the result is then more even and there is no excess that can no longer be used

3. Installation

  • Transport the assembled pond soil to the pond with a bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Insert the substrate over previously protected foil areas
  • Install substrate mixtures in an even thickness of about 10-15 centimeters
  • Provide a thicker layer at the bottom of the pond to prevent the edge areas from slipping
  • Cover soil containing substrates with a thin layer of sand or gravel to prevent sediments being stirred up by water movement
  • If necessary, form zones, e.g. planted zones with an earthy mixture, sandy pond bottom for mussel keeping, bank zones as shelter for insects etc. with coarser gravel
  • Remove the protective tarpaulin or fleece successively when installing the substrate

4. Planting

  • Plant plants in prepared planting areas
  • If necessary, leave out a protective layer of gravel or sand and only add it after planting
  • ALTERNATIVE: Put plants in their own plant pots with their own soil in the pond substrate and then fill them with gravel or sand and cover them
  • Lay out floating water plants in such a way that there is no obstruction during the filling process and the plant can float freely

5. Filling

  • Slowly fill the garden pond with a garden hose
  • Keep the filling speed low to avoid stirring up sediment and washing out the substrate
  • Let the water jet run over buckets, sieves or stones to break the direct jet effect

6. Rework

  • If necessary, use water filters and additional objects (fountain, watercourse, etc.).
  • Check the pH value of the pond water and adjust if necessary

7. Insert animals

  • Finally settle animals in the water body:
  • Ideally place the fish in the water-filled bucket and lower it slowly
  • Place mussels and snails gently on the pond floor in the intended pond area

Common mistakes

Again and again mistakes occur when making the pond soil for the garden pond yourself. If you know the most common of them, you can avoid them right from the start:

1. Too much organic matter in the substrate mixture, e.g. through a high proportion of compost or the use of pre-fertilized garden soil,

Consequences: Over-fertilization and intensive algae growth, impairment of existing animals

2. Damage to the pond liner during installation due to missing or inadequate protective measures

Consequences: drainage of the pond water

3. Excess amounts of substrate by mixing too high masses

Consequences: additional effort for disposal, unnecessary costs

4. Incorrect substrate composition for planned residents

Consequences: poor development opportunities, early death

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