Pond Renovation on a Budget

Published on October 28, 2015

Some pond renovations involve adding external pumps, either because the equipment requires it or because the homeowner wants the benefits these pumps offer.
Some pond renovations involve adding external pumps, either because the equipment requires it or because the homeowner wants the benefits these pumps offer. (Click Image to Expand)

When I was given this topic to write on, I thought about it for a long time. When you say “pond renovation” to most people, they think of redoing a pond. When you say “on a budget,” they think of doing it in a cheap or frugal manner.

If that is the case, then POND Trade gave this assignment to the right person.

Dollars and Sense

Pond renovation can mean redoing the entire pond, or it can be upgrading some of the equipment, or it can be simply adding a new piece of equipment. If you are going to redo or rebuild your pond, it is going to cost some money. Is it expensive? Well, what is expensive to one might be inexpensive to someone else. I personally think a cup of coffee at Starbucks is expensive!

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 If you are redoing the entire pond, it has the potential to cost a large amount of money. It will probably cost more per gallon than the previous pond did, without even taking inflation into consideration. One of the reasons for this is that you have an existing pond that has to be removed before construction can start. The second thing is that, most likely, landscaping has been done in the area of the pond, which will make it more difficult to work in the area, increasing the cost. So an entire pond renovation can easily be more expensive than the building of the original pond.

However, it can also be of greater value. When you renovate your existing pond you have ideas about what you don’t like about it and what you want to change. If you can communicate those things to the person doing the work, you will probably get the pond you wanted. The joy of this new pond could easily be worth the expense of doing it.

Why Renovate?

What are some of the reasons someone might want to renovate an entire pond? The number one reason is to make it larger. For many people, as long as you have space left to expand, the pond is almost never big enough. The second-biggest reason is that there’s something wrong with the original design. Either the pond isn’t working the way the homeowners thought or there is something about the appearance they don’t like.

Renovations can include installing an under-gravel filter in the gravel of a rock and gravel pond.
Renovations can include installing an under-gravel filter in the gravel of a rock and gravel pond. (Click Image to Expand)

POND Trade’s very own publisher and editor, Lora Lee Gelles, had a very nice pond. It was a little on the small side, but with her yard being mostly beautiful gardens there wasn’t much room for the pond area. But this summer Lora Lee wanted more room for her fish, so we expanded her pond. We more than doubled the volume of water in the pond for the fish. Was the increase in size worth the money that we charged Lora Lee? You would have to ask her, but I would say yes. She loves her pond, the fish, the plants and all the aquatic life in the pond.

Bits and Pieces

Pond renovations do not have to be complete renovations. They can be just part of the pond, such as the waterfall. Or the change can just be an update or change of a piece of equipment. Changing a pump can pay for itself in electrical savings over a period of time, or a larger pump may make the waterfall look completely different for just the cost of the pump. Or you may be changing an older skimmer for the latest generation of skimmers. Some skimmers can be changed easily, so the cost to make this change can be fairly low. But if liner has to be patched when the skimmer is changed, then the cost is going to be higher. There may not be anything wrong with the old piece of equipment, but the new piece may offer a desired function, which may be enough to justify the cost.

In the colder climates, the most practical renovation might be changing the unions on the pump in the skimmer to the latest quick disconnect. If you have ever done pond work in cold climates you know how cold water can be in late fall. Putting your hands in ice water to remove the pump is not fun. The quick disconnect means the pump can be removed or put back in without ever having your hands in cold water. This could be a fairly inexpensive change.

POND Trade Publisher Lora Lee's pond after it was enlarged.
POND Trade Publisher Lora Lee’s pond after it was enlarged.

Earlier I said I thought a cup of coffee from Starbucks was expensive. I don’t drink coffee, so coffee from Starbucks has no value to me. Thus, no matter how much that coffee costs, because it has no value to me, I consider it expensive. We determine how we perceive expense based on how much value something has to us. A dollar only has value to us based on what we can buy with that dollar. So how we determine if something is expensive or not is by how much value it has to us. Is a pond renovation expensive? You decide what value it has to you!

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