Preformed Ponds vs Pond Liners: Which Is best?

You’ve arrived at the decision to build a water feature in your backyard, but you’re now faced with some concerns. If you are considering adding a pond to your garden, you may be wondering whether you should choose a preformed pond or go for the more traditional option of using a pond liner. Both have their pros and cons, so how do you decide which is the best option for you?

Prefabricated ponds and pond liners are two of the most popular pond lining options, but they also have their own set of pros and drawbacks. You should know that, for the backyard hobbyist, do-it-yourselfer, or water gardening enthusiast, you are essentially only looking at two, seldom three pond type choices: prefabricated ponds, pond liners/liner ponds, and concrete ponds.

Let’s look at each one in-depth to see which is best for your backyard pond. In this article, we will take a look at both preformed ponds and pond liners and explore the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Preformed Ponds vs Pond Liners snippet image

Table of Contents

Preformed Ponds

Preformed ponds are pre-moulded, usually from heavy-duty plastic, rubber, or fibreglass. They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes and can be placed directly on the ground or set into a pre-dug hole.

Available in a variety of shapes and sizes

Ponds are now available in a variety of shapes, including square and rectangular forms, organic/natural shapes, ovals, and so on. Almost every shape pond you can imagine is already built somewhere in the world; each has its own set of depth and size parameters. Many businesses now provide a range of colours and textures as well.

Transportation costs

Ponds are generally constructed of either prefabricated or folding materials. The primary distinction between the two is that transporting large containers requires more effort. Folding prefabricated ponds are often small enough to travel in the boot of a modest automobile, whereas regular preformed ponds have a fixed size and may be quite big.

Durable and Long-lasting

The early versions of the folding pond design were not very long-lasting or fracture easily. Composite materials have advanced since then, making these gardens ponds extremely long-lasting and weather resistant from 0 degrees F to 105 degrees F.

Algae Growth

The ridges on high-quality pre-formed ponds are specially textured. Bacterial colonies develop along these ridges. This bacteria is essential for regulating algae growth and keeping the natural ecosystem in balance. These ridges replicate a natural environment; natural ponds do not have smooth surfaces, but instead have rough channels, muddy pockets, and uneven embankments.

algae on pond

Advantages of preformed ponds

It’s simple to set up – It’s possible to shape the pond yourself if you choose. The hole you create for the pond doesn’t have to be exactly the same form as the preformed pond. You can install and fill in your pool after your hole is deep and wide enough.

Hardy – Ponds that are already formed can endure many years and can endure tree roots and rocks tumbling into the pond.

Disadvantages of preformed ponds

Size – Because most pre-formed ponds are designed to hold 9 to 40 gallons (34 to 151 litres), you will be restricted to a smaller pond.

Few distinct designs to select from – You can buy preformed ponds in a variety of shapes, but you can’t make them match your precise design.

Freight – Preformed ponds are huge, which is one of the reasons why they are so expensive to transport. If you live in a rural location, you’ll have to order them ahead of time.

The pond can’t be extended – You can’t expand a preformed pond once it’s already in place. The only way to increase the size of your pond is to build a second one and link them with a waterfall.

Heaving – If there isn’t enough water in the pond to keep it submerged, many prefabricated pond owners have encountered difficulty with their ponds rising out of the earth. It’s difficult to drain the water from the pond to clean it as a result of this.

Heavy rain – The preformed pond can sink into the ground after heavy rain, trapping water between it and the dirt (particularly clay soil).

preformed pond in the colour green

Pond Liners

The liner for a fishpond is made of synthetic rubber that is flexible, long-lasting, and UV resistant. The majority of pond liners are thick enough to withstand impacts from stones falling into the pond, although patch kits are available to mend minor tears:

Designed to keep the water in

Liners are used to create ponds that have a liner on the bottom to keep the water in. Liner kits, liner ponds, and pond liners all aim to achieve the same goal: a pond with a lining to keep the water in. These ponds should not be taken lightly; more planning and excavation work are necessary for this sort of pond.

Natural Landscape

The preformed pond imitates a natural landscape by adding ridges and shelves, which can be done in a liner pond with the aid of a hand or machine. These ridges or shelves are important for the health of plant and fish life as well as the pond’s ecology’s equilibrium. Well before the construction process begins, dimensions and depths must be considered. It is essential to remember that liner ponds entail extra effort during excavation and preparation.

What are they made of?

What are pond liners composed of? These liners are generally made of synthetic rubber that is quite durable, flexible, and resistant to water and weather. Most liners require little upkeep and, if necessary, many patch kits are accessible.

Freedom to be creative

One of the most appealing aspects of a liner pond is the freedom it gives to designers. Preformed ponds have a predetermined form that you see is what you get. A liner pond, on the other hand, is a blank canvas for an installer to create something unique.

Allows for expansion

Liner ponds are popular among individuals who don’t want limitations and would like to be able to curve, bend, and warp their pond as they choose. Liner ponds are also employed in large-scale projects such as golf courses, shopping malls, and housing developments where thousands of gallons of water will be needed. For these big jobs, a prepared pond is not an option.

pond liner needs changing

Advantages of pond liners

Inexpensive – Flexible pond Liners are a simple way to build a one-of-a-kind backyard pond.

Flexibility – You can design the pond in any shape you choose, including curved edges, varying depths, and shelving around the pond’s edge. If you decide to change the shape of your pond down the track, you can drain the pond and move the liner around.

Promotes beneficial bacteria – A textured surface on pond liners helps beneficial microorganisms to grow.

Disadvantages of pond liners

Installation – Installing a pond liner is more difficult and complex than a preformed pond. When digging the hole, the shape needs to be precisely how you want it before installing the liner. You’ll also need to make sure that the surface is level and there are no sharp rocks sticking up that could puncture the liner. It’s also a good idea to take your shoes off when installing a pond liner.

Roots of Trees – If you’re putting a pond near a big tree, be sure to check for tree roots that might puncture the liner. For protection, spread some old carpet or a thick covering of newspapers beneath the liner as a precaution.

new pond



Preformed ponds offer a few advantages over pond liners: they are more aesthetically pleasing, easier to install, and less expensive. However, preformed ponds are not as customizable as pond liners, and they may not be suitable for all landscapes. Pond liners, offer more flexibility in terms of shape and depth and are more resistant to damage from tree roots. Overall, preformed ponds and pond liners are both viable options for creating a backyard pond!

Have a read of our expert guide on how to build a garden pond if you are still unsure!

pond building

People also ask

Which is best pond liner or preformed?

The use of pre-made and flexible liners has declined significantly in recent decades. As a result, they are no longer as popular. A concrete pond, on the other hand, presents one of the most difficult installations imaginable. It’s tough and backbreaking labour that needs more than just basic abilities to complete the task.

Do you need a pond liner with a preformed pond?

No. However, a liner is considerably simpler to install than a preformed pond. A preformed pond is a great option for people who don’t want the hassle of installing a liner.

How long does a preformed pond liner last?

It depends on the quality of the preformed pond liner and how well it is taken care of. Generally, preformed pond liners have a lifespan of around 20 years with proper maintenance.

You can find lots of different pond liner options to choose from here. 

What are preformed ponds made out of?

Pre-made or flexible ponds are typically made from polyester, PVC, or rubber. They come in various shapes and sizes to suit different needs. Concrete ponds, while not as popular as they once were, still have a loyal following due to their impressive appearance and long life span.

Are preformed ponds good for wildlife?

Yes, preformed ponds are good for wildlife. They can provide a source of water for animals and can also be a home for aquatic plants, animals and helpful bacteria.

How much does it cost to install a preformed pond?

The average cost to install a preformed pond ranges from $500 (£370) to $2000 (£1490). The cost will depend on the size of the pond, the materials used, and the complexity of the installation.

If you are looking for a variety to choose from then follow this link.

How do you hide the edge of a preformed pond?

One way to hide the edge of a preformed pond is to use rocks or stones. Another way is to plant aquatic plants around the edge of the pond. You may also add a layer of sand under this lip and outward a few inches to make a more dramatic appearance.

Are Fibreglass ponds any good?

Fibreglass ponds are a good option for people who want the look of a concrete pond without the hassle of installation. They are also less expensive than concrete ponds. Fibreglass ponds come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit different needs.

What is the best preformed pond?

The best-preformed pond is the one that meets your specific needs. There are many different types of preformed ponds on the market, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase. Consider the size, shape, and depth of the pond, as well as your budget.

preformed and flexible liners

What are some tips for keeping a preformed pond clean?

Preformed ponds should be cleaned regularly to keep them looking their best. Remove any debris such as leaves, sticks, and grass clippings from the surface of the water. You may also need to remove algae or other organic matter from time to time. This can be done using an algae scraper or net. Finally, make sure your pond pump is in good working order so that water can circulate properly.

How do you make a preformed pond look natural?

There are a few things you can do to make a preformed pond look natural. First, choose a pond liner that is dark in colour. This will help the pond blend in with its surroundings. Next, add rocks and stones around the edge of the pond to disguise the liner. Finally, plant aquatic plants around the perimeter of the pond to give it a more natural appearance.

Will a pond liner leak?

It is possible for a pond liner to leak, but this can be prevented by taking proper precautions during installation. Make sure the liner is properly fitted and sealed to the edges of the pond. If a leak does occur, it can be repaired with a sealant or adhesive.

flexible liner
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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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