Picture this: it’s a nice summer day, the breeze is warm, and you’re sitting in your yard enjoying your handbuilt pond. This dream can become a reality – so long as you have the right tools on hand.
Pond liners are your best friend when it comes to building a new pond in your backyard. They help you create your dream pond with no limitations on your creativity.
They do more than just give you creative authority, though. Pond liners also help prevent water leaks, erosion, sediment, and much more.
A high-quality pond liner can really make a difference in the success of your pond. However, there are many options available, so, to help you, we’ve compiled a buying guide including the best pond liners.
- The 5 Best Pond Liners
- Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Pond Liner
- Types of Pond Liners
- What to Avoid in Fish Pond Liners
- Pond Underlays – Do You Need One?
- FAQs About The Best Pond Liners
The 5 Best Pond Liners
1. TotalPond Pond Liner
The TotalPond pond liner is a lightweight, durable PVC pond liner. It comes in three sizes so that you can find the perfect fit for your pond, with stitching options available.
One of the most unique characteristics of this plastic pond liner is that it has a textured surface. This acts to help promote bacterial growth, which, in turn, helps fight algae for a cleaner, healthier pond.
This works by promoting the growth of certain types of beneficial bacteria that help filter the water through the nitrogen cycle. The bacteria don’t just filter the water though – they also take up space so algae doesn’t have room to grow on the liner.
Related: Check our guide about Best Pond Filters
This plastic pond liner is also non-toxic and safe for both animals and plants.
It’s puncture and UV resistant, and, since it’s lightweight, it’s easy to install. However, due to its thinness, you may want to consider an underlay to help prevent wear and tear.
Designed to hold up to 500 gallons at its largest size, this pond liner is recommended for smaller sized ponds. However, as mentioned before, it can be stitched with other liners if more coverage is needed.
2. Aquascape Rubber Pond Liner
This rubber pond liner is both efficient and durable, making it perfect for all types of ponds.
First, the Aquascape pond liner is made out of an EPDM rubber. This type of rubber is non-toxic and safe for fish and also resistant to UV rays and oxidation.
Aside from its durability, it is also flexible. This allows you to stretch and mold the liner how you want to fit your pond without tearing.
It’s available in 9 different sizes ranging from 8’x10’ to 20’x25’, allowing you to pick the size that best fits your needs. This also helps if your pond is an irregular shape and you want to size up your liner for cutting.
If you’re still worried, not only can you invest in an underlay for extra protection, but it comes with a 20-year guarantee.
3. Firestone Rubber Pond Liner
The Firestone liner is another EPDM rubber liner, which means that you can trust it with fish and plants alike. This also means that it’s durable and resistant to UV, oxidation, and other natural elements that cause wear and tear.
One thing to note is that this liner does come precut and boxed. This means that, if you have an irregular shaped pond, this may not be the best option.
However, so long as your pond is the correct size, the Firestone rubber pond liner offers flexibility and durability. It also is backed by a 25-year manufacturer warranty so you don’t have to worry about any type of defects.
4. Billboard Tarps Heavy Duty Vinyl Pond Liner
This heavy-duty pond liner by Billboard Tarps is made with poly mesh scrim coated in a PVC vinyl coating. However, unlike some PVC liners, this is non-toxic and safe for fish and plants, making it a perfect koi pond liner.
The three-ply design is made with protection in mind. This liner is extra durable and resistant to wear and tear, mildew, and UV rays.
This liner is flexible and easy to work with and install. It is also designed to be trimmed with little to no fraying.
There are a wide variety of sizes available, each one thick enough to help ensure complete protection.
5. Anjon Lifeguard Pond Liner
The Anjon EPDM rubber pond liner is built to last.
This heavy-duty pond liner is back with a 25-year manufacturer warranty. However, if you purchase an available package, you can extend this into a lifetime warranty.
In order to help keep you from needing this warranty, though, this liner is built to be durable while maintaining elasticity. Not only is it UV resistant, but it is also resistant to mildew, hydrocarbons, rot, and freeze-thaw cycles.
It’s also non-toxic and safe to use as a fish pond liner. This is because it doesn’t use plasticizers like some PVC liners do, making it animal and plant safe.
The Anjon Lifeguard rubber pond liner is offered in two different thicknesses and a variety of different sizes. This makes it easier to find the perfect fit for your pond and to install it.
Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Pond Liner
There are hundreds of pond liners on the market, and picking the best pond liner for your needs can be difficult. It becomes even more difficult when if you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start.
In order to make your buying process easier, we’ve compiled a buying guide to teach you everything you’ll need to know. Before getting into that, though, you may be wondering why you even need a pond liner.
Why Pond Liners are Important
There are many reasons why investing in a pond liner is a good idea.
First, pond liners help keep your water clean. When you’re using a natural pond bottom, especially with fish or in high precipitation areas, sediment and debris can be stirred up.
Related: Check our guide about Best Pond Vacuum Cleaners
This means that your water will be cloudy, dampening your overall aesthetic. This can also increase algae growth, which can be harmful for plants and animals living in your pond.
Pond liners also help create an even, sealed barrier that keeps the water from your pond from leaking. Whether or not you need one, however, depends on your soil composition.
Soil is divided into three different categories based on its physical properties. This includes aspects such as the size of the particles, how they clump together, and how they retain water.
Some types of soil are better than others for lining the bottom of a pond. To help you know if you need a pond liner, here’s a brief guide to the different types of soil.
Depending on the type of sand – beach sand, gardening sand, etc – the size varies. However, an agreed-upon maximum size is 2mm – the equivalent of two pencil tips.
Sand also has irregular shapes.
All of these facts come together in one characteristic: sand cannot hold water. Each particle is too big and oddly shaped for them to clump together, leaving cracks where water can escape.
So, if your soil composition is mostly sand, you’ll definitely want to consider a pond liner. Otherwise, you risk water loss that can be dangerous for any fish or other animals you have in your pond.
Sand can also mix with clay to form what is known as a homozygous composition. This just means that there is not an even texture throughout the soil.
In this case, if the amount of clay outweighs the amount of sand, you may be able to consider a natural bottom. Just spend a few days monitoring water level and sediment before actually building your pond.
Silt is smaller than sand, with a maximum size of 0.05mm.
Silt is right in the middle of clay and sand. It won’t hold water like clay will, but it also won’t allow it to drain as fast as sand.
Pure silt soils are extremely rare, especially in normal backyards. More often or not, you’ll find it mixed with either sand or clay.
If your soil is mostly clay with a little bit of silt, you may not need a pond liner. In this case, you may want to have a trial run to monitor water levels and the presence of sediment.
However, while not having a pond liner can hurt, having one won’t. Therefore, if you’re unsure whether or not you need one, it won’t hurt to invest.
At a maximum size of 0.002mm – which is nearly 500 times smaller than the tip of a pencil – clay has the smallest particles. This means that it is the best soil composition for ponds without liners.
When the particles are as small as they are for clay, they clump together. Then, when wet, these clumps of clay particles tend to swell.
As a result, you get a uniform barrier that protects your pond from leaks.
Clay is the only type of soil that will hold water. This means, if you don’t have enough clay in your soil, you’ll want to invest in a pond liner.
Types of Pond Liners
What to Avoid in Fish Pond Liners
If you plan on putting fish into your new pond, then you need to be cautious when you choose a liner. Not all liners are safe for fish.
One major thing to avoid is polyvinyl chloride. While it is budget-friendly and good for beginners, as mentioned above, some PVC liners contain harmful materials.
You’ll also want to avoid non-durable liners. While repairs aren’t fun without fish, it can be dangerous for your fish if you constantly have to remove and replace their liner.
Pond Underlays – Do You Need One?
Since ponds are underground, there’s always a worry of roots growing and puncturing even the most durable pond liner. Pond underlays are an extra layer of protection that helps keep your pond liner safe.
Pond underlays also help smooth the ground where you are going to place your liner. This is especially helpful if the area where you are digging your pond is rocky.
So, the question is, do you need a pond underlay?
Well, it wouldn’t hurt.
You see, pond underlay is designed to be long-lasting and resistant while also protecting your pond liner. This means that you can’t go wrong with investing a little extra in it when setting up your pond.
Without one, however, your pond liner is susceptible to roots, rocks, and other sharp objects that could puncture it. This means that, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re unable to purchase an underlay, you can also upcycle other materials such as old carpet or sand. However, not all DIY alternatives, like carpet, are as durable as underlays and may need to be replaced more frequently.
FAQs About The Best Pond Liners
What thickness of pond liner do I need?
How thick of a pond liner you need depends on a few key things.
First, what kind of terrain are you laying it on? If the terrain is rough, rocky, or is in an area with a lot of roots, you’ll want a thicker option.
Next, are you using a pond underlay? If you choose to use an underlay, you have an extra layer of protection, so a thinner liner is okay.
Finally, are you in an area with high exposure to local wildlife – especially rodents and small mammals like squirrels – or sunlight? Then, not only do you want to go thicker with your pond liner but also make sure it’s durable and resistant.
When picking a pond liner, you shouldn’t go any thinner than 0.75mm. However, 1.00mm will offer extra durability and is recommended.
One thing to take note of when choosing the best pond liner is the unit of thickness. While millimeters (mm) are the most common, you may also see (mil).
A mil is a one-thousandth of an inch and is smaller than a millimeter. While you can find conversion calculators online, if you’re ever in a pinch, remember 1 mil equals 0.0254 millimeters.
This means that you should try to stay away from liners that are less than 29 mils, especially in rougher terrains.
What is the best type of pond liner material?
As mentioned above, there are four main types of pond liner material that you can purchase.
Reinforced polymer pond liners, also known as RPE liners, are durable and long-lasting. However, they are stiffer and a bit more difficult to install.
Polyvinyl chloride pond liners, also known as PVC liners, are inexperienced and great for beginners. However, plastic pond liners aren’t as durable as rubber pond liners, and some PVC liners can be fatal for fish.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer pond liners, also known as EPDM liners, are one of the most popular options. They’re a long-lasting, durable rubber pond liner that is non-toxic and safe for fish.
And, finally, butyl pond liners are durable synthetic rubber pond liners. Butyl is extremely similar to EPDM, except, if you’re looking for a custom welded box shape, butyl can be welded, unlike EPDM.
So, which one is the best? While that answer can vary depending on your priorities, there is one option that is perfect for everyone: EPDM rubber pond liners.
EPDM is one of the most popular materials for pond liners for a reason.
First, it’s extremely durable. Most EPDM liners are resistant not only to UV rays but also wear and tear, mildew, and other damage-causing elements.
There are also repair kits available for purchase if your EPDM pond liner does become damaged. This allows you to patch any small holes rather than having to purchase a brand new pond liner.
Next, most EPDM liners are made without plasticizers, unlike plastic pond liners like PVC. This means that these rubber pond liners are non-toxic and safe for all wildlife from fish to ducks and even plants.
How long do pond liners last?
How long your pond liner lasts depends on a few things.
First, what material is your pond liner made of? Most budget-friendly liner options, such as PVC, won’t last as long as RPE or EPDM.
RPE can last up to 40 years; EPDM and butyl can last around 20 years, and PVC usually lasts around 10 years.
Heavy-duty rubber liners are also more resistant to damage than plastic pond liners. Since they aren’t as susceptible to damage, mildew, algae, and UV, rubber liners won’t need to be replaced as often.
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