Last updated on October 3rd, 2022
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I really do love a good pond, there is just something about the wildlife they attract. I’ve always had an interest in ponds since I was a child, which probably came from my obsession with fishing and, more recently kayaks.
I have talked extensively on my site about ponds, from choosing an all-in-one pond pump and filter as opposed to having two separate filter and pump systems. I have even talked about pond heaters and pond fountains as well as the importance of having a pond skimmer. However, today I want to take it right back to just getting a pond built and, more importantly, choosing the best pond liner. This is aimed more at beginners and hopefully to get you started so you don’t make the same mistakes I did when choosing a pond liner.
Best pond liners: my top picks from years of experience with different materials:
- Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner – By far the best, most durable, and easy to work with material – the EPDM liner.
- Swell UK Pond Liner and Free Underlay – Very durable, affordable, hardwearing, just not quite as flexible as EPDM liners – an HDPE liner.
- All Pond Solutions Pond Liner – Not as durable as HDPE liners but more flexible – LDPE liner.
- PondKraft Pond Liner – Another budget-friendly option – constructed of tri-laminate LDPE layers.
- Cost Wise PVC Pond Liner – A low cost fish safe PVC option.
So first things first, there are several types of ponds, and pond liners for that matter, you also have raised pond kits. These a brilliant for getting started to reduce the need to dig a hole for your pond, plus you can see right into the pond from the side through large glass windows. They can look amazing on a patio where it might not be possible to build an in-the-ground pond.
When it comes to pond liners, you have a few options, you have preformed ponds, these are great and come pre-moulded so you just need to dig the hole for the pond and carefully place the preformed pond in place. I personally think it’s easier to build a pond using a flexible pond liner. Which is what this guide is really about.
It’s just more difficult to dig the perfect shape and depths for a preformed ridged pond. If you do take this route, it’s not a bad idea for small ponds. I recommend digging the hole, so it’s slightly larger and then backfilling it. I have just found it very difficult to get the depths and angles absolutely perfect.
Now personally, I think the best way to build a pond, especially a more natural-looking pond, is by using a flexible fabric pond liner that comes in large rolls or sheets. They are an excellent way to build a pond as they are very forgiving. This means you don’t need to have exact dimensions and angles. You can literally dig a pond with as many shapes, shelves and angles as you want, and it will still be relatively easy to install the liner. This means you can be as creative as you want.
Choosing a fabric pond liner and the different types
This introduction is already getting long, so before I continue with the buyer’s guide and reviews. I will get straight to the point and tell you which pond liner I would always use first. This Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner really is hard to beat, it’s safe for aquatic life, including fish, unlike most PVC liners. However, what I really like is that it’s made from EPDM, which is short for Ethylene propylene diene monomer, and it is made from vulcanised synthetic rubber. Now, this material is more expensive than most other options but like most things, you get what you pay for, and the same is true for fabric pond liners. The quality differences are massive.
I’ve already mentioned that it’s safe for aquatic life, including fish, but it also has very good elasticity at 300%, which means it’s very stretchy and adapts to all contours in your pond. It is also extremely durable to the point where you can put rocks on top of it and the vulcanised synthetic rubber will easily hold the weight and not split.
It’s easy to work with, create the right angles and folds to contour with the pond, it’s just so flexible. It’s also very long-lasting because it’s highly UV resistant, and has no issues with extreme weather such as cold and ice. Now, this doesn’t need a lining as it’s so durable and it has a decent density, however, I would still use underlining as the extra padding is a safety barrier. You never know what’s just under the surface of the soil.
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Now, if I was building a pond on more of a budget, perhaps a small pond, then I would be looking to use HDPE. This stuff has all the properties and advantages as the more expensive rubber EPDM, but it’s less flexible and obviously not made from vulcanised synthetic rubber. It is actually High-Density Polyethylene. It’s a very durable material, UV resistant, and just overall a great pond liner material.
The downside is that is not that stretchy, so is not as easy to work with. That being said, it’s still very supple & durable so still workable, it just doesn’t fold and mould as EPDM does. But the big advantage is the price. It’s much more affordable. Which brand do I recommend? Well, this Swell UK EDPE Pond Liner is a good choice and it’s available in many sizes. From a smaller 2.5m x 2.5m size to as large as 18m x 24m for much larger ponds.
There is one last type of pond liner I think fills a void, and that is LDPE pond liners. This is a Low-Density Polyethylene. This is a good alternative to High-Density Polyethylene and being a little thinner, it is easier to work with and conform to the contours of a pond. This makes it a little easier to get set up.
It’s totally safe for aquatic life and fish too, so no problems there. What I would do to make up for the thinner material, usually it is around 0.3mm thick. I usually advise that you want it to be at least 0.35mm so it falls a little short but what I have done in the past is use a decent underlay such as this Bradshaws Direct Aquatic Pond Underlay instead of the thinner weed membrane-type stuff some pond liner manufacturers send for free. Don’t cut corners, it’s simply not worth having to redo it. So in terms of what LDPE pond liner I would recommend, this LDPE All ponds Solution Pond liner is available in many sizes.
PVC ALTERNATIVE PRODUCT WARNING
Many PVC products are toxic and can leach into the pond water. Do not be tempted to use regular PVC that is NOT SOLD as a pond liner, for example, builder’s PCV sheeting or roofing liner. It will be cheaper, and I know the temptation can be there, but it’s not worth it. This has resulted in many fish being killed. Only buy PVC labelled as a fish pond liner. Personally, I would avoid PVC pond liners, but it is an affordable option and one such example is this Cost Wise PVC Pond Liner.
How to join two pieces of pond liner or repair damaged areas
Something I have not talked about yet is how you join two pieces of material together if you can’t get one piece of pond liner that is large enough. Now the chances of most people needing to do this are pretty slim unless you’re building a huge pond. That being said, knowing how to join pond liners can be useful if you want to extend your pond in the future or even do any repairs.
Most materials can be joined using a special lining tape, and this includes EPDM liners, this is the vulcanised synthetic rubber liner. You can get EPDM Pond Liner Repair Kits such as this liner pond repair kit which includes FormFlash and Primer plus everything you need to join pond liners or even repair any damages. You can actually also heat seal EPDM liners. However, this takes some experience and knowledge to do correctly.
Here is a video below on how to seal pond liners.
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Best Pond Liner Reviews
1. Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner – 3m by 4m
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The Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner is the only one in this review not made from some kind of plastic. It’s made from EPDM which is vulcanised synthetic rubber. This gives it a high elasticity (over 300%) which enables it to form well to curves and corners and to lay flat, even when the earth moves. (See the Buyer’s Guide for more information.)
This EPDM liner is non-toxic and doesn’t contain any plastic compounds or antioxidants. It’s very safe for fish, plants, and any wildlife that may visit your watery habitat. For those interested in the production of their purchases, this Firestone pond liner was made in a facility that uses renewable energy, something the manufacturer is proud of.
Here is a useful video that’s worth watching
The Firestone PondEasy liner is also available in 3m by 6m and 6m by 5m.
- The black pond liner is 3m by 4m, with other sizes available.
- Made from ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber.
- Non-toxic and doesn’t contain plasticisers or antioxidants.
- Produced by renewable energy.
- Resistant to UV-rays; ozone and extreme weather.
- Easy to connect two pieces of liner together with tape.
- It’s expensive compared to alternative pond liners.
The Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner is constructed from vulcanised synthetic rubber (EPDM) for long durability, excellent resistance to UV rays and high tolerance to cold weather. Although this pond liner comes in a limited range of sizes, just stick two pieces together using the appropriate tape and sealer, as briefly discussed earlier.
The Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner is the Best Premium Pick in my review and is what I would use if your budget allows. This is what almost all professional pond builders would use too. It’s expensive, but no other material is as durable or easier to lay. Although it is fairly thick and extremely strong and tear-resistant, I would still lay an underlay as it’s good practice and helps further protect the liner.
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2. Swell UK Pond Liner and Free Underlay – 6m by 6m
The Swell UK Pond Liner (which comes with free underlay) has both the pieces you need to create your pond’s basic structure after you’ve dug the hole (or excavated, as we call it in the industry). The liner is made of 35mm thick HDPE. While HDPE is not the most flexible of sheet plastics used for lining ponds (see the Buyer’s Guide), the thickness of this liner makes it resistant to cracks and holes.
In addition, HDPE is toxin free so it’s safe to use for ponds that contain fish, other wildlife and all plants. This liner is very UV-resistant with a 25 year warranty from sun damage. But keep in mind that the warranty only holds if you use the included underlay or some other material for this purpose.
As for the underlay, it’s thin and flimsy and more like weed control fabric. I would recommend purchasing a thicker, better quality underlay. The assembly instructions do say that it’s essential to use underlay of some sort. It’s also worth noting most warranties will be void if an underlay is not used.
This Swell UK Pond Liner is a versatile product and Swell UK sells this pond liner in other sizes, including 2.5m by 2.5m, 4m by 3m, and 4m by 4m.
- The black pond liner is 6m by 6m.
- Made from heavy-duty 35mm HDPE.
- UV resistant with a 25-year sun damage warranty
- Toxin free.
- Mould and cut to any shape.
- Comes with free underlay.
- The manufacturer’s guarantee is for 40 years.
- Poor quality underlay.
The Swell UK Pond Liner and Free Underlay is the runner up in this review. I like that it is available in a variety of sizes for small to medium-sized ponds and that it’s made of HDPE. While not as flexible as LPDE plastic, this material handles UV rays and cold temperatures very well and lasts a long time.
3. All Pond Solutions Pond Liner – 5m x 4m
The All Pond Solutions Pond Liner is made of LDPE of 0.3mm thickness. This is a lightweight and flexible plastic that lets it conform to all the nooks and corners of your pond. (See Buyer’s Guide for more details). The weight of this material is 200g/m2 and this is standard for many flexible pond liners made of polyethylene. This thickness and weight make it easy to cut this plastic sheeting with scissors or shears.
In the past, some people have been surprised at the thinness of this pond liner. But bear in mind that 0.3mm is not that thick. Look at the millimeter marks on a ruler so you won’t be surprised at what you get.
Your purchase includes a free Building a Pond Advice sheet, but it’s pretty basic information, however, it will come in useful if you have never installed a pond liner before. Cover using an underlay to first line the pond hole. Unfortunately, the underlay is not included with this purchase so make sure to buy some separately. Invest in a decent underlay because this will make up for the liner only being 3mm thick and more likely to tear. The validity of the 25-year warranty is dependent on you using underlay underneath the pond liner.
Many other rectangular and square sizes of flexible pond liners are available, including 3m by 2m, 4m by 4m, 5m by 3m, and 7m by 6m.
- Black pond liner in a variety of square and rectangular sizes.
- Made of LDPE 0.3mm thick.
- The minimum weight is 200g/m2.
- Easy to cut with scissors.
- Includes free pond building advice sheet.
- Pond liner sizing chart on the sales website.
- The manufacturer warranty is for 25 years.
- Underlay not included.
- The liner is thin.
The All Pond Solutions Pond Liner comes in a range of sizes from 3m by 2m up to 7m by 6m. The pond liner sizing chart on the sales website helps you figure out how large a pond liner you need. (Or see the calculation in the FAQ section of this review, it even includes a link to a pond liner size calculator.) This black pond liner is easily cut and formed into your pond.
The All Pond Solutions Pond Liner is a good choice if you are okay with buying your own underlay.
4. PondKraft Pond Liner – 6m by 5m
The PondKraft Pond Liner has more variety colourwise than the other pond liners in this review. This liner is reversible, being the standard black colour on one side and brown on the other. This gives you the option to have a more naturalistic-looking bottom to your pond.
This pond liner is made of LDPE material which lends to its light weight and flexibility (see Buyer’s Guide). You can fold it to fit into the crevices and around the corners of your pond’s design. The thickness of the liner sheet is 0.35 and this is thicker than some other pond liners. However, it’s the standard weight of 200g/m2.
The LDPE material is laminated in three layers to improve its strength and durability. It should last for decades if treated correctly and kept away from stones and other sharp objects. Each side of the liner has been coated for UV protection and rot resistance, so you truly can use either colour.
Other sizes of the liner available include 3m by 2.5m, 4m by 3m, and 6m by 6m.
- A reversible pond liner with black on one side and brown on the other.
- The thickness is 0.35mm.
- The minimum weight of the liner is 200g/m2.
- UV stabilised and rot-resistant coating on each side of the tri-laminate LDPE material.
- Basic pond construction instructions on the package.
- The guarantee is for 25 years.
- The guarantee is only valid if you use a pond underlay.
The PondKraft Pond Liner is made of LDPE which is lightweight and flexible. The variety of sizes covers most small and medium-sized pond dimensions. And the reversible liner sheet – black on one side and brown on the other – gives you a choice of colour for the bottom of your pond.
The PondKraft Pond Liner is a good choice if you don’t like having a dark black surface at the bottom of your pond.
5. Cost Wise Pond Liner with Underlay – 8m x 8m
The Cost Wise Pond Liner with Underlay is another reversible flexible pond liner. This time your colour choice is black or grey. This pond liner is made from PVC. This is one of the original materials used for pond liners and is inexpensive.
PVC is very flexible and will fit snugly into all the small crevices and nooks of your pond design. It hugs corners and will lay flat and tight on the floor. This pond liner has a UV coating on both sides to resist the harmful effects of UV rays. So it doesn’t matter which side you put upwards.
Your purchase comes with free underlay. So be sure to use either this underlay or something similar. The included underlay comes in strips that are 3.2m wide, so you have to overlap them to ensure that all of your pond’s base is covered.
Unfortunately, while the websites associated with this Cost Wise Pond liner state that it weighs the standard 200g/m2, I couldn’t find out how thick the pond liner itself is.
But note that this pond liner is available in a large 10m by 10m size. Other available sizes include 2.5m by 2.5m, 3m by 4m, and 5m by 5m.
- Reversible black/grey pond liner in a wide variety of sizes.
- Constructed from PVC.
- UV-resistance coating on both sides.
- The minimum weight is 200g/m2.
- Comes with an underlay that’s in 3.2m strips.
- May not be safe for pond life and fish
The Cost Wise Pond Liner with Underlay has two advantages over some of the other liners in our review. It comes with underlay, and the range of sizes available goes up to an impressive 10m by 10m. This saves you from having to seal two or three smaller liners together yourself. And it’s made of PVC, which is extremely flexible.
The Cost Wise Pond Liner with Underlay is a good choice if you have a larger pond and want your pond liner in one sheet. PVC pond liners are a great cost-saving product but just remember they are not as durable so take care when installing and don’t stretch the material.
Buyer’s Guide For Flexible Pond Liners
When choosing the right flexible pond liner for your garden nature pond, you’re faced with a stream of confusing acronyms that tell you what material the pond liner is made of. Even when you know what the words they refer to are, you’re probably still none the wiser.
This Buyer’s Guide demystifies all that, unpacks the acronyms, and tells you about the materials they refer to. You can then make an informed choice as to the right pond liner material for your aquascaping needs.
EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene monomer)
Unlike the other materials in this Buyer’s Guide, EPDM is a synthetic rubber and not plastic. I personally prefer EPDM over all other liner materials, and it’s also worth noting that this is what expert pond builders also often use.
I was going to say ‘the reason is’ but it is a more a case of, the reasons I think it’s one of the best liner materials is that it’s completely safe for aquatic life, including fish. It’s easy to work with in both hot and cold weather, it’s very durable, so can easily be moulded at different angles, it is very stretchy, and it’s basically an excellent material to work with.
- Synthetic rubber and not plastic.
- Soft and flexible yet also tough and durable.
- Stretches to fit around corners and curves.
- Handles extreme temperatures without moving.
- Doesn’t crack in cold temperatures.
- Good resistance to UV rays and weathering.
- Good puncture resistance.
- Non-toxic to fish and other wildlife.
- Some chemicals can damage it.
- Relatively heavy.
- Comparatively expensive.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
PVC is one of the original pond liner materials and is inexpensive so it’s a good choice if you want to build a small pond on a budget. This material can fit snugly into pond corners and along edges, and tightly over rough surfaces. You can fold PVC sheets without them cracking through stress. However, don’t use PVC liners in a fish pond as most are not fish-safe. They also tear much more easily. I would instead recommend an HDPE liner that is also affordable which I discuss in more detail below.
- Exceptional flexibility.
- No stress cracking.
- Easy to install by those less experienced.
- Excellent chemical resistance.
- Moderately resistant to tears and holes.
- Can weld PVC sheets or join them with liner tape or glue.
- NOT fish safe.
- Toxic and leach into pond water.
- Not very resistant to UV rays.
- Doesn’t last well in extremes of temperature, high or low.
HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
HDPE is a strong plastic with limited flexibility but it’s probably another one of the favoured materials because of its eco-friendliness and durability, it’s just a little harder to work with. It works well in large ponds and will last for decades. Sheets of HDPE can be welded together for tight bonds. It’s often used in landfills and chemical containment sites which gives you an idea of how durable this material is.
- Very good UV resistance.
- Handles cold temperatures well.
- Superior resistance to a range of chemicals.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Sheets can be welded together.
- Extremely durable.
- Non-toxic to fish.
- Least flexible of all the sheet plastics.
- Expensive to ship.
- A tendency towards stress cracking.
LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene)
LLDPE (or LDPE) is from the same plastic as HDPE. It’s softer, more flexible and is often used in containers that hold contaminated water. LLDPE is easier to mould around corners and awkward angles, but it’s just not quite as durable as HDPE.
- Fairly inexpensive.
- Can seam together sheets by welding.
- Non-toxic to fish.
- Functions well in pond water temperatures.
- Softer and more flexible and more pliant than HDPE.
- Less prone to stress cracking.
- Not as strong as HDPE.
- Susceptible to length-wise tears.
- Not as resistant to UV-rays and chemicals as HDPE.
RPE (reinforced polyethylene)
RPE is also made from the same plastic as HDPE. But it’s stronger and more puncture resistant than either HDPE or LLDPE. It’s also the thinnest and lightest material you can buy for liners. RDPE is used to line waterways such as canals and dams.
- Reinforced plastic.
- Stronger and less prone to tears and holes.
- Thinner and lighter.
- Can be welded together.
- Safe for fish and non-toxic.
- Not as resistant to chemicals and UV rays.
- Stiffer than LLDPE.
How much liner do I need for my pond?
This is the most asked question about lining a pond. And there’s a simple equation you can use to figure this out. Here it is.
Width of the liner =
Width of the widest part of your pond + twice the maximum depth + 1m
Length of the liner =
Length of the longest part of your pond + twice the maximum depth + 1m
The 1m is to allow a 0.5m overhang for all the edges of your pond.
So, if your pond is 4.5m by 3.25m by 1m, then you need a liner that is:
Liner width = 3.25 + (2 x 1) + 1 = 6.25m
Liner length = 4.5 + (2 x 1) + 1 = 7.5m
You should size up to the next largest pond liner size in the range of your chosen manufacturer.
Swell UK, which sells some good quality and durable pond liners, has a handy pond line calculator you can use here. This will make life a lot easier.
Do I need to use a pond underlay underneath the liner?
Most people – experts, manufacturers and online reviewers alike – recommend that you use a pond underlay, and I insist on it. I would never install a pond with an underlay. It’s simply not worth not installing one, even if you have to buy it separately. You can get a decent 5m x 2m pond liner underlay for about £26. Let me tell you, it’s well worth spending that extra cost to ensure your pond liner doesn’t get damaged.
The purpose of the underlay is to smooth out the surface of the bottom and sides of the pond. In preparing the hole for the pond, you should have already removed any rocks and sharp objects and smoothed the soil out.
The underlay just continues this process. The weight of the water pushes the liner down onto the bottom surface and any small and sharp stones there may puncture it. With an underlay, the liner is pushed onto its smooth surface. Some pond liners come with an underlay included, however, from experience this is sometimes no more than some thin weed membrane fabric. If you are building a decent size pond, get decent stuff that is thick and soft like the Bradshaws Direct Aquatic Pond Underlay 5m x 2m Sheet.
Bear in mind that the generous warranties (25 years or more) offered by the manufacturers of pond liners may have a catch to them. Read the small print and you probably find that the warranty is only valid if you’ve used a pond underlay under the liner.
Flexible pond liners enable you to create garden ponds of non-standard shapes or sizes. Let your imagination run wild designing your aquatic garden habitat for fish and flowers. I chose the flexible pond liners in this review for their variety of materials and that most come in a wide variety of sizes. Yes, the liners do come in square or rectangular sheets, but they’re easily cut and folded to match whatever your pond design needs.
My Best Pick is the Firestone PondEasy EPDM Pond Liner – 3m by 4m. This is made of synthetic vulcanised rubber and is extra flexible.
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My Runner-up is the Swell UK 6 x 6m Pond Liner and Free Underlay. This 35mm thick HPDE is durable and resistant to holes and tears.
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Once you’ve built your pond, there’s all manner of kit to go in it. Here are a few of the many reviews I have for pond equipment and accessories.
How about adding a fountain? It looks good and keeps the pond water healthy. Read 5 Best Pond Fountains – Add drama to your pond.
And your pond water needs to have oxygen added to it. Check out Best Pond Aerators – Oxygenate the Water Easily.
Pumps and filter units move the water around and keep it clean. Learn about the best all-in-one units in Best All In One Pond Pump and Filter Units – My Top Pick For Small Ponds.
And you can even vacuum out your pond if it gets all clogged up. This is the equipment you need for that task, the top best pond vacuum cleaners, comparisons and reviews.
Last update on 2023-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API