Last Updated on January 3, 2020 by Aiden Lindow

Best Pond Liners Pros And Cons

Ponds of any shape or size need to have a pond liner to ensure that the water remains healthy for the fish and plants, here I will be going over the best pond liners. Best Pond Liner

Pond experts advise the use of different types of pond liners for different ponds. This is because the soil, design of the pond and the pond owner’s needs are all unique factors for each pond. 


Importance of Pond Liners

Pond liners act as a barrier between the ground and the pond. They prevent the soil nutrients from mixing into the pond water and causing an imbalance.

They help to create a healthy environment for the fish and plants in the pond. The pond owner will have an easier time maintaining his pond when he uses a good pond liner. 


Best Pond Liners

For Beginners – Flexible pond liners made of PVC are inexpensive and durable. These pond liners can be transported and used easily by the pond owner. 

The flexible pond liners can be spread over the bottom of the pond and all over the sides and edges. This helps to create a waterproof cover for the pond. 

Pond owners who have started with their first project usually opt for a simple pond design. 

The flexible pond liner helps to make the pond set-up easy and keeps things easy for the pond owner.


For Pond Enthusiasts – Pond owners who want a big pond and do not mind spending money should opt for a concrete pond liner. 

A concrete pond liner is durable as it remains damage-free for more than 50 years. 

The concrete pond liners are best suited for pond owners who want a permanent pond on their property.


For Environment – Some pond owners like to keep things natural and prefer to have organic materials in their water garden.

Such pond owners do not like to include artificial elements or features in their pond. 

A natural clay liner is a good option as it helps to reduce their carbon impact.


Different types of Pond Liners

There are many different types of pond liners that can be used to maintain a healthy pond. 

Pond owners need to choose a pond liner that works best with their garden and their pond design.


Hard Shell Pond Liners  

Hard Shell Pond Liners  

These liners are quite popular among first-time pond owners. The hard shell pond liners are also called preformed pond liners. 

These pond liners are made from durable hard plastic or rubber material. The hard shell pond liners are easy to install and do not require much maintenance. 

These pond liners are available in most stores that sell garden accessories. The preformed pond liners are available in different shapes and sizes. 

Garden enthusiasts who want to build their own pond can select any shape or size they want. The preformed shape of this pond liner helps the pond owner to visualize the pond better.


The Pros

No need to design – First-time pond owners do not have to make a lot of effort and design their pond. The preformed body saves the pond owner the effort of designing the pond.

Highly durable – The hard plastic or rubber body of the pond liner remains durable for a long time. These pond liners remain damage-free for almost 20 years.

Strong Body – Pond owners need not worry about water contamination or damage to the pond liner for a long time. These pond liners do not tear or scratch easily.

Good Support – Preformed pond liners are made from durable plastic or rubber materials. These pond liners have a strong base that allows them to support a variety of pond plants. The pond plants can develop strong roots and grow well in these ponds.

Easy installation – Preformed ponds are easy to install. The pond owner just needs to dig a space to fit the pond liner. This easy installation saves the pond owner’s time and effort.


The Cons

Common design – The popularity of these pond liners means that most garden ponds will have the same shape. This is because the shape of the preformed pond liner becomes the shape of the pond.

No unique touch – There is a lack of uniqueness as the pond shape is pre-designed and the pond has to built-in that shape only. The pond owners cannot add their own touch or design features with these pond liners.

Measurements – Pond owners should dig for the pond in the exact measurements as the preformed pond liner. If there is a mismatch in the measurements then this pond liner will not fit well into the dug space.

Small size pond only – The preformed pond liners prevent the pond owner from building a big pond. He becomes restricted to the shape and size of the pond liner.

Hard to blend-in – The preformed pond liners do not blend in perfectly with the garden. The rims of the pond liner need to be covered with strategically placed rocks. The pond owner should also use plants to camouflage the edges of the pond liner and help it blend into the garden.


Flexible Pond Liners 

Flexible Pond Liners

The flexible pond liners are also called rubber liners as they are made from PVC material. 

These pond liners are flexible and durable which makes them a perfect fit for a water garden of any size or shape. 

These pond liners are inexpensive and allow the pond owners the freedom to design their pond. The flexible material of these pond liners allows them to blend into the garden. 

These pond liners can conform to the different shapes and edges of the pond and give it a smooth look.


The Pros

Easy to transport – The flexible pond liners are not bulky and can be transported easily in the back of a car. 

These pond liners are usually boxed up or rolled up for customer’s convenience. Pond owners can easily carry this pond liner into the garden without needing help.

Less expensive – The flexible pond liners are inexpensive when compared to the preformed pond liners. The low cost of these pond liners makes them a popular choice for pond enthusiasts.

Allows freedom to design – Flexible pond liners give the pond owners freedom to make their own pond design. These liners can be cut to adapt to any pond shape and design. 

Pond owners can choose any size or shape for their pond as the liner can be used easily.

Integrates easily – The flexible pond liners adapt easily into the garden environment. The lack of rigid surfaces or corners helps to give the pond a natural look. 

The flexible pond liners cover the curves of the pond and give it a soft look. This helps the pond to blend-in naturally into the garden.

Allows future expansion – Pond owners who use flexible pond liners can easily expand their pond in the future. To expand their pond, the pond owners simply need to dig up more space and use the flexible pond liner in it. 

This simple process helps the pond owner to create a unique and more complex water feature in his garden.


The Cons

Needs underlying material – Flexible pond liners are not as strong as the preformed pond liners. They are vulnerable to cuts and can get damaged over time. 

The pond owners need to remove sharp rocks and level uneven ground at the base before laying the pond liner.

Not strong enough – The flexible pond liners do not offer much resistance to the elements. These liners can get punctured by rocks or strong roots which can damage the pond. 

To avoid this situation, the pond owners must use an underlying material in the pond. Most pond builders will use an old carpet or old sheets they have.

More effort in installation – Pond owners need to put in more effort to install the flexible pond liners. This is because these pond liners have to be cut according to the exact measurements of the pond. 

If there is an error in measuring or cutting the pond liner then the entire process has to be repeated.


Concrete Pond Liner 

Concrete Pond Liner

Concrete has been used as a building material for swimming pools and ponds for a long time. This is a time-tested material that is a good durable option for the pond owners. 

Concrete is a preferred pond liner for people who want to have big, unique ponds in their garden. Ponds with concrete lining are expensive but they are highly durable. 

Pond owners who want permanent ponds opt for the concrete lining as they are worth their price.


The Pros

Permanent – Ponds made with concrete become a permanent structure in the garden. These ponds last long and are highly resistant to damage from the elements. 

Concrete ponds do not get damaged by rocks or erosion over time.

Low maintenance – Concrete ponds require less maintenance as they are solid and durable. Most concrete ponds remain undamaged for over 50 years. 

Durable – The strong concrete material helps the pond to remain damage-free for a long time. Ponds made with concrete can resist damage from stones and pond cleaning tools.

This durability helps the pond owners remain stress-free about their pond. There is no need to replace the concrete pond liner, unlike the plastic or rubber pond liners.

Safe – Concrete ponds provide a unique safety feature to the pond owner. By using concrete, the pond owners can safely secure the rocks around the pond. 

This prevents them from getting loose and falling into the pond. Rocks that are not secured in place with concrete often cause injuries.

Bottom drain – Concrete ponds can have an in-built bottom drain, unlike other ponds. These drains make pond maintenance and cleaning easy for the pond owner.


The Cons

Design cannot be altered – The design of the concrete ponds cannot be easily altered. This is because the concrete pond is a permanent structure and it is usually a big, complex design. 

If the pond owner wants to make any change to the pond structure he needs to spend a lot of money. To avoid these situation pond owners should carefully plan where and how their pond should be.

High pH and lime – Concrete has a high pH value in the first 5 years which can affect the water in the pond. 

New cement ponds also release lime into the water which is toxic for the fish and plants. Pond owners should cure the concrete before filling up the pond with water. 

To cure the concrete, mix in one-gallon vinegar into 200 gallons water and let it sit in the pond for 3 days. The pond can be used after emptying and rinsing it after 3 days. 

Painting the concrete liner with a rubber base paint or epoxy is also a good solution.

Professional installation – Concrete ponds cannot be installed by the pond owners unless they are experts. Usually, a team of professionals needs to be called in to construct a concrete pond.

Pond liner needed – Fish need soft surfaces so that they do not hurt themselves in the pond. Pond owners often use a good pond liner over the concrete surface to ensure that their fish remain safe.


Natural Clay Pond Liners

Natural Clay Pond Liners

Pond owners who want to have an all-natural pond in their garden can use natural clay as an effective pond liner. 

Natural clay has been used as a pond liner in the past when there were no other alternatives. 

Natural clay is a good alternative to plastic, bentonite, and ESS 13 pond liners.


The Pros

Less expensive – Clay is less expensive than the popular plastic or synthetic pond liners. Many pond owners often buy clay from local sources which helps them to cut costs. 

Some lucky pond owners also find clay right in their backyard.

Eco-friendly – Natural clay is an organic alternative to plastic or synthetic pond liners. Pond owners who are keen to have a truly natural wildlife pond prefer clay pond liners. 

The clay pond liners ensure that the pond remains eco-friendly for all wildlife.

Less maintenance – Ponds that have natural clay pond liners are low maintenance. The organic materials help to keep the pond water healthy naturally. 

This helps the fish and plants to thrive making the pond a beautiful natural space in the garden. Pond owners can also relax knowing that they need not clean or check the water purity regularly. 

Durable – All-natural clay pond liners are highly durable and are known to last long. Natural clay has been used as a pond liner for centuries and is the best organic pond liner even today. These pond liners last much longer than the plastic and synthetic pond liners.


The Cons

Puddling – Natural clay must be puddled to remove the air trapped inside it. 

This process requires squeezing out the air either by stamping on it or using a machine. 

That makes the clay into a semi-solid mass which can be used as a pond liner. This entire process is time-consuming and requires effort.

Drying out – Clay pond liners often dry out and develop cracks when they are exposed to the sun. This makes them ineffective in the pond as the soil nutrients can mix into the pond water. 

Pond owners should ensure that their ponds remain full to avoid these situations. The sides of the pond, corners and the bottom must be completely submerged to avoid damage.

Bigger hole – The puddled clay which is used as a pond liner has to be laid in thick. These clay pond liners need more space than the regular plastic ones. 

The pond owners need to dig a bigger hole to accommodate the thick clay pond liner and to get the desired size pond. 


Enhanced Soil Pond Liners

Enhanced Soil Pond Liners

Soil additives like sodium bentonite clay can be used as an alternative to natural clay. A chemical ESS13 (Environmental Soil Sealant) is used as an additive to the pond liner. 

Pond owners who are keen to use these enhanced pond liners should call in an expert.

I recommend using a natural option such as Natural Waterscapes Clay.


The Pros

Durable – The enhanced soil pond liners are durable and are the best option for larger ponds. These liners do not get damaged easily and are great for fish.

Easy maintenance – The bentonite pond liners are strong and durable. They do not require regular maintenance as they do not erode quickly. The pond owners do not need to check the water regularly for contamination.

Less expensive – The bentonite pond liners are less expensive than the popular pond liners. There are many different online sites that sell bentonite clay and ESS 13 at a bargain price. This is because these pond liners are not as popular as the plastic ones.


The Cons

Difficult to install – Pond owners who are keen to use bentonite and ESS 13 as a pond liner need to have adequate knowledge about them. 

Both these elements need to be mixed in the correct ratio to ensure that the pond liner is effective. This pond liner needs to be carefully installed as even a small gap or a thin spot can cause the pond to leak.

Expert needed – Pond owners need to call in experts for lining their pond with bentonite and ESS 13. The experts should be able to understand the pond owner’s needs and create the required effect. 

Water test – It is a good idea to test the pond water for adequate nutrients before introducing fish. This helps the pond owner to verify if the bentonite pond liner is providing adequate protection or not. 

Ground stability – Clay pond liners are not suitable for all types of garden soil. Pond owners need to check their soil quality before deciding on a pond liner.


Alternative Pond Liners

Pond owners who want a garden pond but do want to spend too much money on it often look for alternative materials. 

There are many good substitutes that can be used in place of popular products while building a pond.

A pond liner which is an essential component of pond building is one expensive feature. Pond owners often try different materials to avoid expensive plastic/synthetic pond liners. 

Here are some popular alternative pond liners that pond owners use to cut their costs. 


TarpTarp is a popular waterproof material that has many uses. Pond owners often try to substitute tarp for a pond liner in their ponds. 

Since this is a waterproof material only it does not offer good protection to the pond. 

Tarp gets easily damaged due to sun exposure. The material deteriorates and tears over time making the pond unfit for wildlife. 

Pond owners who are keen to use a tarp as a pond liner should dig a deep pond to ensure its durability. 

More enterprising pond owners lay down a double layer of the tarp to enjoy their ponds for a bit longer. 

While tarp is economical and easy to set-up as a pond liner, it is not a durable option. 


Inflatable Pool – Pond owners who like to recycle their stuff often think of creative ways to reuse them. The bottom of an old inflatable pool is also used by some pond owners as a pond liner. 

Since the rims of the inflatable pool get damaged from exposure, the bottom can be cut off and used as a pond liner. The size of the pond, in this case, depends upon the size of the bottom of the inflatable pool. 

Such ponds are not suitable for fish and do not last long. The ponds made from inflatable pools should be considered as temporary, decorative ponds.


Polythene – This is the cheapest waterproof material that can be used as a pond liner. Pond owners who want to use polythene as a pond liner should opt for HDPE(High-Density Polythene). 

This material offers slightly better protection against regular polythene. Although HDPE is a decent pond liner, it is harmful to fish in hot weather conditions. 

This is because the chemicals in the HDPE start releasing into the water in hot temperatures. This harms the fish and plants in the pond as the water becomes toxic.


Waterbed liner – liners of old waterbeds can be recycled to be used as a pond liner. Since waterbeds are not popular, there is a good chance of finding a cheap, old waterbed in the store or online. 

The liner of the water bed can be cut off to be used as an effective pond liner in a garden. 


What is the best pond liner for you?

I believe the best pond liner is the flexible pond liner, these liners are flexible and durable which I believe makes them fit for a pond of any size or shape. 

They’re quite cheap as well, and this liner is the one I currently use in all my ponds. 

Pond owners who are looking to buy a pond liner should understand their needs first. Different types of pond liners are suitable for different soil and pond types. 

It is important to choose the right pond liner so that your pond will match your expectations.

Material – It is important to choose a good quality pond liner for the pond. 

The material should be water-resistant and remain durable in all seasons. Pond liners that are fragile and can easily deteriorate should be avoided. 

If pond owners are keen to use alternative pond liners then it is a good idea to avoid introducing wildlife. 

Such ponds should be viewed as decorative ponds only as they may be unsuitable for wildlife.

Installation – Pond owners should also think about the ease of installation of the pond liner. It is better to choose a simple and effective pond liner for a garden pond. 

Pond owners with big ponds should opt for expert advice on pond liners and installation. This helps them to ensure that their pond remains durable and the installation is taken care of.

MaintenanceMaintaining the pond often becomes a big task if all the elements are not thought of. 

Pond liners which can easily tear or deteriorate should be avoided in garden ponds. Pond owners should only have the task of removing the sludge every few months to enjoy a clean pond.

Appearance – While choosing a particular pond liner it is important to consider its look. 

Bright colored pond liners affect the color of the water and make the pond look artificial. The pond liner should also be selected depending upon the depth and design of the pond.

Cost – Pond owners should consider their budget before planning and designing their pond, pond liners are one of the most expensive features that are essential for a pond. 

Pond owners should consider their expectations about their pond before they start building. 

If someone is looking for a permanent structure, they should spend more money on the design and maybe a concrete liner. This will ensure that the pond remains strong and durable for a long time.

Soil – Pond owners should get their garden soil tested to ensure that their pond liner is suitable. 

Some soil types have higher nutrient levels that can be toxic to fish. In such cases it is essential to have a good quality, sturdy pond liner to protect the pond from seepage. 

A soil test is recommended especially in cases where organic pond liners are being considered.

Fish – Pond owners usually want to introduce fish into their pond. Fish need to have a healthy environment to survive in the pond. 

The fish also need ample safe space to move around in the pond. Some large fish like Koi get hurt in ponds that have abrasive or hard walls and pond liners. 

Pond owners need to consider the safety and comfort of their fish while choosing a pond liner.