There are generally three types of ponds:




Columbia Water Gardens specializes in the construction of Aquascape ecosystem watergardens. In fact, that’s our roots, and it’s in our name. We began as most homeowners do - well researched but lacking hands-on guidance.

Our installation team began that way too. You should see our first pond. The work we do today is a far cry from our roots. Today, our experience in pond building has catapulted us to California’s most successful Aquascape pond installation company since 2014.

We want to share our knowledge, DIY, building tricks, and installation techniques with homeowners that want a pond but can’t afford professional installation.

That’s where we came up with the “Build a Pond Workshop”.

To build the perfect pond, we strongly suggest that you follow our steps in this DIY. We are genuinely here to mentor you, and even offer the opportunity for us to come to you for a “build a pond day”.

Before we begin, we need you to be able to speak our language. You can do this by following these three steps:

Step 1. Familiarize yourself with Aquascape's 20 step process here.

Step 2. Watch this installation video.

Step 3. (Optional, but strongly recommended). Complete the basic and intermediate training at the Aquascape Academy by clicking here.

<<< Enter the Workshop >>>

Step 1. Design your pond.

We are presuming that you have found the perfect location, so we’re not going to talk too much about that. Here are a few tips, though. Locate the pond in the most focal area of your yard and use common sense. If you need help, please call us and email a few pictures. We can help you select the perfect spot.

How to size liner.

Pond liner is sized simply like this. Maximum length + Twice the maximum depth + 2 foot, rounded up to the nearest 5 foot increment x Maximum width + Twice the maximum depth + 2 feet, rounded up to the nearest 5 foot increment.

For example, an 8’x11’ pond that will be 2’ deep requires a pondliner size of 14’ X 17’, rounded up to a 15x20. So….. Increase your pond from 8x11 to 9x14. You just gained approximately 421 gallons and up to 38 square feet of surface area (that’s the more than the size of a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood).

We refuse to build a pond without underlayment. Period. 50% of our work is remodeling other people’s work often times performing a complete tear out and re-build. We have seen it all. Carpet remnants, decomposed cardboard, carpet padding, and even weed barrier cloth. When we install a pond, we only use thick felt underlayment. It holds up over time (yes we have seen this used in remodels - and it’s still good often after 10 years or more).

We cannot stress to you enough never to skimp on pondliner and liner underlayment. It is the most critical part of your DIY pond project.

How to size a pond skimmer.

Pond skimmers are the heart of an ecosystem pond. The pond skimmer holds your pump, the check valve which holds the water and muck in the biofilter when the waterfall is turned off, pond skimmers house the automatic fill valve, offer pre-filtration for large and fine debris, can have a port for overflow to maintain water levels, house probes for ion-generators, and the dosing tube for an automatic dosing system.

We size skimmers in two ways: Square footage of the pond surface area and flow rate for the desired waterfall. The most common pond skimmer that we install is the Aquascape Signature Series 400 Pond Skimmer. This skimmer is capable of skimming up to 400 square feet of pond, but more importantly, it can attain a flow rate of 4,000 GPH (gallons per hour). We have found that a waterfall that has 4000 GPH is excellent in both turnover rate and aesthetic appeal.

Please refer to the charts below to select your pond skimmer and match it up to the maximum flow rate of your biofalls.

How to size a pond BioFalls waterfall filter.

When we design a pond, we are purpose driven. The purpose of a pond BioFalls waterfall filter is to facilitate the nitrogen cycle in the most efficient way possible while filtering the water to clarity. It is in the biofalls when ammonia from fish waste is converted (using beneficial bacteria) into nitrite which further breaks down into nitrate. Nitrate is a plant food that will feed your plants in your stream and in the pond thereby robbing algae of it’s food - keeping algae in check.

A properly designed filtration system is necessary for fish health and overall pond water clarity.

Our most commonly installed BioFalls waterfall filter is the Aquascape Signature Series 2500 BioFalls. We choose this because it is suitable for filtering ponds up to 2500 gallons with flow rates up to 5000 gallons per hour. Remember the skimmer we go to, the Signature Series 400? It’s a perfect match!

The most common question we are asked is how many koi can this filter accommodate. While there are many opinions out there, we agree with the following ratios:

250 gallons of filtration per every adult male koi and 500 gallons of filtration for every adult female koi. So, with the Signature Series 2500 Biofalls, you can expect success with 6 adult male koi and 2 adult female koi. When planning your pond, it’s not uncommon to have 2 or more biofalls to facilitate more koi and have more drama. In fact, when we design ponds this way, we will have one pump in the skimmer, and the other (an Aquascape Aquaforce) on the bottom or inside a koi cave running to the secondary waterfall. We have found that ponds designed this way are super efficient, extremely clean, and very healthy for large fish loads.

How to select the right pump.

Let’s start with some basic math. You will need to know this. Water flows at an average rate of 100 GPH per horizontal inch in a waterfall spillway at approximately ¼” tall. So, if you have a waterfall, and the WIDEST spillway is going to be 24”, then you will need AT LEAST 2400 GPH, but preferred would be 40% more. So, 2400 divided by .60 equals 4000 GPH.

Our most common pump is the Aquasurge 4000. It mates up perfectly with the Aquascape Signature 400 Pond Skimmer and the Aquascape Signature Series 2500 biofalls. In fact, most of our ponds are built with this combination. We can create a really nice looking waterfall that is very well filtered this way. The Aquascape PL and PN series as well as the Aquascape PRO pumps are solids handling pumps that are designed for colder climates where ponds will freeze over in the winter. These pumps are manufactured with stainless steel and composite resin for strength and corrosion resistance in harsher climates. Here in sunny Southern California, we are more moderate in our temperatures which allows us to use the Aquasurge pumps. We have been installing them for many years and have nearly zero warranty call-backs. They work excellently in our region. If you are in the midwest, the Atlantic Northeast, or in a cold mountainous area, we strongly recommend the use of the PL, PN, or Pro Pumps.

Pleaser refer to the charts below for 2017 pump stats.

Select your plumbing.

Just run 2” flex PVC. That’s what we do. Here’s why: It’s fast, simple, and reduces water friction and head pressure. Bottom line, your pump runs more efficiently, your waterfall looks better, and you don’t spend half a day cutting and coupling hard pipe.

Did you know that pipe size matters? Think about it this way. You can get far more water flow through a 2” pipe than 1 ½”. 38% more, as a matter of fact. Have a look at this flow chart below:

Pipe / Hose Size

Max Flow in GPH (Gallons per Hour)







1 ¼”


1 ½”








2” flex pvc is compatible with common fittings you can find at your local hardware store, it is our most commonly used pipe, and is very easy to work with. Be sure to prime your fittings with pipe primer before gluing. Hold your fittings together for 30 seconds to get a good “weld” on your pipe when gluing.

What accessories should I add.

  1. Lights - We like subtle lighting, so here’s how we normally install your lights. Lights always face away from you towards the pond and waterfall. We would add 3 one watt underlights, one from the left, offset of the middle opposite of the waterfall, and on the right. We add one 1 watt light at each waterfall (usually behind the fall so it illuminates the waterfall by backlighting - it’s really nice), and a 3 watt light partially submerged facing the waterfall from the pond’s edge furthest from the waterfall.

  2. Iongen - The Aquascape Iongen is designed to radically reduce if not eliminate string algae from your pond. String algae is very hard on pumps, robs the pond of oxygen at night, and is frankly, unsightly. We have great success with the iongen with our customer’s ponds.

  3. Aquascape’s Automatic Dosing System - We call it the “Auto-doser”. The Aquascape Auto Doser delivers a controlled drip of the nutrients that your pond needs using technology derived from medical IV drip systems. Here’s why it’s effective: Simply put, the Auto Doser eliminates the peaks and valleys of shock treating your pond’s ecosystem with water treatments. When you shock treat the pond with a weekly dose, things are good for a few days, then the water treatment loses it’s potency and is no longer as effective as when it was first applied. The principle behind the Aquascape Automatic Dosing System is on of consistent application, and it’s very successful. Replacement water treatments are less expensive than stocking up on all the stuff that’s in the cocktail, and the water treatments are fresh, potent, and effective.

  4. Bottom Pump - We talked about this when adding a secondary biofalls. I’ll make this simple for you: add a bottom pump for circulation, to power a spillway bowl, or an additional BioFalls. We recommend the Aquascape Aquaforce.

  5. Spillway Bowl - We’ve been adding the Aquascape Spillway Bowl for the last year to select ponds that we install and our customers love them. They are a perfect way to add a touch of formal to your pond and hook up easy to the Aquascape Aquaforce 1000 via 1 ¼” kink free tubing. If you want additional height, add a Spillway Bowl Stand - they come in sets of 2, we usually use one, but if you want a higher drop - have at it!

  6. On-Site consultation where we come to you:


Cost Per Person

Within 25 miles of our retail store


Up to 50 miles of our retail store

$300.00 Trip Fee + $150.00/hour

We fly to you and direct a “Build a Pond Day” at your home - anywhere in the continental United States and Hawaii

$2795.00 Trip Fee covers the first 5 hour day + $240.00/hour for each consecutive day (not to exceed a 5 hour day at your location).

Our “Build a Pond Days” are an excellent value for the homeowner that has a lot of strong friends and family member that want to work. We will coordinate with you directly before we arrive and make sure that all the pond equipment is on site as well as everything you’ll need to install your pond. We know how much labor you’ll need and we will let you know how much people power you’re going to need to knock this out of the park in one day.

We have led successful “Build a Pond Days” here in California, have flown to job sites in Florida, Illinois, Arizona, and Nevada. Because of the success of these projects, we are one of the very few (if not the only) professional pond installation companies that will come to you and help you with your DIY project. In many cases, if you do the math, this option is far less expensive than having your landscaper install the pond for you. Here, we take our talent and experience and make building your pond a memorable experience not just for your family, but for all involved.

You want a party? This is one way to have more fun than imaginable and have the lasting effect of a beautiful pond after we are gone.

Aquascape’s Standard Pond Project Chart

Pond Size

Square Feet

Rock and Gravel

Professional Man Hours



½ ton 6-12”

1 ½ ton 12-18”

½ ton 18-24”

½ ton gravel




1 ton 6-12”

1 ton 12-18”

1 ton 18-24”

¾ ton gravel




1 ton 6-12”

2 ½ ton 12-18”

1 ton 18-24”

1 ton gravel




2 ton 6-12”

2 ½ ton 12-18”

2 ton 18-24”

1 ton gravel




2 ton 6-12”

4 ½ ton 12-18”

2 ton 18-24”

2 ton gravel




3 ½ ton 6-12”

6 ½ ton 12-18”

3 ½ ton 18-24”

3 ¾ ton gravel


Aquascape’s Standard Stream and Waterfall Chart

Description or Size


Rock and Gravel

Professional Man Hours

10’ Stream


¼ ton 6-12”

1 ton 12-18”

¼ ton 18-24”

¼ ton gravel


15’ Stream


½ ton 6-12”

1 ton 12-18”

¾ ton 18-24”

½ ton gravel


20’ Stream


½ ton 6-12”

2 ton 12-18”

½ ton 18-24”

¾ ton gravel


Boulders used for the face of a Mini or Signature Series BioFalls Filter 2500

½ ton 12-18”

½ ton 18-24”

No Gravel


Boulders used for the face of a BioFalls Filter 6000

¼ ton 6-12”

¾ ton 12-18”

½ ton 18-24”


Boulders used for the face of a Grande BioFalls Filter

½ ton 6-12”

1 ton 12-18”

1 ½ ton 18-24”