Tips For Choosing The Right Pond Liner – PreFab, EPDM, Puddling Clay?

What’s The Best Pond Liner?

A water feature such as a water garden, pool or pond, can add a great deal of visual appeal to your garden setting. Still or running water provides an element of relaxation, and an ecologically balanced pond provides habitat for beneficial local fauna.

selecting a pond line is one of the first steps in adding this landscape featurePin

What is the best way to set up your pond? Should you use a prefab molded pond, a synthetic liner, or a natural clay liner? Because the liner serves as the foundation of your pond, it appears as the first and most important aspect of planning.

In this article, we will discuss popular choices in pond liners and provide good tips to help you make a wise choice when selecting a pond liner. Read on to learn more.

Go All-Natural With Puddling Clay

Puddling clay exists as one of the oldest forms of pond liner. This clay mixture cures but does not ever completely dry.

This eco-friendly form of pond liner takes quite a bit of effort to install. However, it works as a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Once in place, puddling clay is self-sealing and maintenance free.

To install puddling clay, you must first prepare your excavation carefully and then spread or roll the chosen clay (Bentonite clay makes a typical choice) over the area in layers. Soak each layer with water and trample into place to remove air bubbles. Finally, cover the clay with natural subsoil, such the material you removed during excavation.

Installing this type of pond appears as a good springtime project if you have kids who enjoy tramping about in the mud. The process consumes a lot of time and requires intense labor, but the result shows a permanent, natural, water tight pond.

You can establish your natural pond during the summer months by adding aquatic life and plants. Moreover, you can enjoy it for the rest of your life.

Bentomat By The Roll Is Less Labor Intensive

You can get similar results using rolled Bentomat. Built with a half inch layer of bentonite between two layers of fabric, this product also wears a non-woven fabric as its top layer.

The bottom part appears black, woven polymer. Rolls of this material are available in a wide variety of sizes.

Installation can happen very easy. You begin by planning your pool or pond with a gradient no greater than 1:2. Purchase the amount of Bentomat needed to cover the exposed sides and bottom with a generous overlap of about 6 inches.

Once the matting sits in place, cover it with about a foot of subsoil or loose Bentonite clay. Remember not to use rich topsoil to protect your Bentomat or your puddling clay liner because the nutrient rich soil will promote algal bloom.

Like puddling clay, Bentomat works independently and permanent. It costs a bit more than an all-natural clay liner, but you can quickly put it in place. Once applied, it becomes a permanent, carefree pond liner.

Both puddling clay and Bentomat provide a natural “soft” edge to your pond or pool. If you want a hard edge, you will need to take extra steps to install stone or paving around the perimeter.

Natural Liners Works Great For Healthy Aquatic Life

Bentomat or puddling clay makes one of the best choices if you want a pond with natural fauna to keep your koi or goldfish happy and healthy. These provide an all-natural substrate promoting natural, beneficial bacterial growth. All of these proved essential for healthy fish and other aquatic life.

When you culture fishes in a pond with a natural bottom, they benefit greatly from the minerals in the clay, mud, and soil. As a result, they resist disease, grow quickly and well, exhibit a great deal of energy, and develop dazzling colors.

Although your water may appear crystal clear with a natural clay or Bentomat substrate, your pond will become healthier and more interesting. Thanks to your lively, energetic and varied aquatic life.


Synthetic Self-Customized Pool Liners

Some of the most common synthetic materials used to line ponds include ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They serve as more affordable alternatives to butyl polymer, which became widely used from a long time ago, but increased to a price many people cannot afford.

Both EPDM and PVC sells by the roll at very affordable prices. These products work and install easily. However, they get damage easily, do not seal by themselves and degrade over time.

To help mitigate these problems, install underlay and overlay material to protect the synthetic liner and extend its longevity. These materials come readily available where you can buy PVC and EPDM. Naturally, they add to the expense of installation.

EPDM and PVC pond liner will degrade and become brittle more quickly in areas of very cold winters. For this reason, take good care when preparing your synthetic lined pond for winter and avoid performing maintenance tasks during the colder months.

Related: Using a Tractor Tire to Make a Beautiful Pond

PVC And EPDM Pond Liner Versatile and Affordable

Both of these materials boasts versatility and affordability. You can buy the material by the yard or by the roll and, you can configure it to work with any size or shape of pond or pool. Due to its tendency to become brittle, it works best with smaller pools where replacement after a few years will not result to a massive undertaking.

When choosing your PVC or EPDM, you can save a bit of money without compromising quality by selecting a thinner material which easily installs. It lies flatter and conforms to the shape of your excavation better. The thickness of these materials does not add up to more strength, as long as you provide proper protection with both under-layers and over-layers.

The advantages of this type of synthetic liner over clay include:

  • Lower cost
  • Quicker, easier installation
  • The base of installing a “hard edge.”

On the downside, while this type of pond or pool may last long, they won’t stay permanently. Sooner or later, it will spring a leak, and you will need to drain, locate the leak, and repair it.

When using PVC and EPDM materials for a DIY project, order a bit more of liner than you believe you will need. This gives you some wiggle room in case of unexpected folds and creases. It also gives you a bit of overhang to prevent leaking around the edges.

You can install paving materials around the verge of your pond to cover and anchor excess liner overhang.

Rubber Pond Liner

Rubber makes a more durable alternative to EPDM and PVC. It serves as a more flexible alternative and a better choice for areas where temperatures drop below zero in the winter time.

A couple of good choices exist in this material. Greenseal makes a reliable, affordable product which can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. Firestone costs higher, but it resists temperatures up to 49 degrees below zero.

Rubber pond lining material does the same, and you can use it as PVC or EPDM. However, it appears thicker, more flexible, and longer lasting.

The material does not get damaged easily during installation or after application. But even so, provide protective under and over layers to make sure. You can expect your rubber lined pool to last at least 20 years with minimal care.

The Very Smart Pros Of Using Pond Underlay And Overlay

It goes without saying that protecting your EPDM, PVC or rubber pond liner will extend its life. A good underlay provides a cushion underneath the liner which prevents punctures caused by rocks, roots, and other irregularities.

Remember that when you add water to your pond, the liner will support a tremendous amount of weight. Without protection from even the smallest sharp object, a leak may easily occur.

An overlay protects the topside of your liner from objects falling into the pond, degradation caused by light and weather, as well as the simple wear and tear of pond maintenance.

The materials used to create high-quality underlays and overlays are generally long lasting. They can withstand years of rugged use and will extend the life of your pond liner, lighten your workload and enhance your enjoyment of your pond, pool or water feature.


Pre-Fab Custom Pool Or Pond Liners

You can order a poly-fabric liner custom-made to fit your excavation. This option eliminates any folds and creases, which seem inevitable when you attempt to fit flat sheeting of any kind into the non-square/rectangular excavation.

You can buy this plastic liner from a plastic products manufacturer in your area. If you decide that you want a liner made to your specifications, begin consulting with potential providers during the planning process.

You will pay a hefty price if you order a custom-made liner. Also, the price should include installation, a manufacturer’s warranty, and a maintenance agreement.

Pre-Formed Pond

A pre-formed pond emerges as a basically big, durable black plastic tub that you can install in a specially prepared excavation or set up as an above-ground pond by building a support framework. These “ponds” come in some sizes and shapes and look very attractive, affordable, and easy to maintain.

When you purchase your pre-formed pond, choose a folding variety. This may come handy if you cannot get a large vehicle to bring your pond home.

These ponds come from sturdy, thick, solid plastic that withstands tremendous ranges in temperature. They formed with textured ridges which encourage the growth of friendly bacteria. These friendly bacteria play an important role for biological filtration, reduction of algae growth, and good water quality in general.

Installation of this type of pond may go simple but involves some hard work. If you plan to install it in-ground, you must measure carefully and dig a hole that will fit it fairly perfectly. Have builders sand on hand to line the hole and fill in any empty space for your pond to get complete support and insulation from temperature fluctuations.

You can decorate around your pre-formed pond with pavers, rocks, plants, etc. It naturally carries a hard-edge, so you will not need to take any extra steps to support the perimeter.

If you build a framework to support this type of pond above ground, understand that it works essentially just like a big aquarium. It will not cause any insulation against freezing or very high temperatures. Moreover, you will need to either set up an indoor, temperature controlled setting if you live in areas of extreme cold.

Provide a pond heater or bring your fish indoors to protect them from freezing in the winter time.


For a more formal sort of pond or fountain, opt for a fiberglass liner. This polyester material reinforced with glass, usually go as a final touch over a prepared solid base. Most likely, this solid base comes from constructed concrete or sheets of plywood.

Once the basic structure formed either in-ground or above-ground, a layer of fiberglass material approximately a quarter inch thick applies. This results to a durable, easy-to-clean pond that resists puncture and ripping.

This option creates an artificial sort of ornamental “pond” setting which exhibits a low chance of attracting wildlife. However, you can house koi and other pond fish in it. It lends itself to an installation of attractive features such as lighting, fountains, waterfalls, and the like.

Fiberglass makes a costly option and should come professionally installed. As a result, it adds value to your property. Moreover, you can install this indoors in some situations.

Ponds With Synthetic Liners May Need Additives

When you build a pond with a synthetic liner, you may encounter problems in keeping the fishes safe and happy. To achieve a healthy aquatic life, you must provide a substrate conducive to the development of healthy bacteria.

A pond with a synthetic liner should hold a layer of fine gravel, probably a pea gravel or something similar, at the bottom. This provides habitat for the growth of healthy bacteria.

No matter what type of liner you use, always wait at least two weeks before introducing live inhabitants as this period gives healthy bacteria a chance to develop.

Over time, a natural pond will develop a healthy, natural balance and will need very little (if any) cleaning and maintenance. A pond with a synthetic liner may require more monitoring, cleaning, mechanical filtration and use of water conditioners to maintain a healthy environment for fish and other aquatic life.

Your Pond Liner Is Its Foundation

No matter what type of pond you decide to establish, you will need some sort of liner. It is basically the foundation of your pool or pond. The type of liner you choose will make a big difference in the longevity, the level of maintenance, function, and appearance of your pond.

A wisely chosen liner helps maintain good water quality. It also reduces algae growth and makes it easier to keep debris and sediment under control. Devoting some serious thought to the type of liner you will use in your pond can greatly extend the life of your water feature while enhancing its value and your enjoyment. Refer to the information presented here as you make this important decision.

What type of pond liner will you choose? Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences in the comments section below.

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