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6 DIY Outdoor Turtle Ponds You Can Build Today (With Pictures)

Keri-Beth Clur

By Keri-Beth Clur

cute yellow bellied slider turtle sitting on a rock at the water side

Whether you’ve welcomed home an adult turtle or a hatchling, an outdoor turtle pond is a must. These ponds will not only make your turtle feel like they’re in their natural habitat, but they can be a stunning addition to your yard. However, the type of pond you build will be dependent on your turtle’s species and size, as well as your climate, so it is important to research what type of pond your turtle needs before you start the building process.

Some people opt to get their turtle ponds professionally done, but if you’re looking to save money and do it yourself, you’ve come to the right place! Below are several different ways you can design and build your own turtle pond. There are options suitable for different yard sizes and skill levels, so choose the one that suits you and your home best!

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The 6 DIY Outdoor Turtle Ponds

1. Mini Backyard Turtle Pond by Paul Cuffaro

Materials: UV filter, plastic caging, bamboo fencing, pond rocks, bricks, container base, solar panel light, plants, big gravel, cable ties
Tools: Scissors, shovel, wheelbarrow
Difficulty Level: Moderate

If you’ve got limited space, this mini backyard turtle pond might be the option for you. It’s also a good choice for those on a smaller budget, as you may have some of the needed materials around your home.

Although a more basic design, this turtle enclosure has everything your pet needs to feel at home, with both a pond and land area for swimming and basking. This pond has lights, a filter system, and plants, but you can add a few of your own decorations or remove the ones you don’t think are necessary for your setup.

This pond is straightforward to build and should be a relatively quick project to complete. However, this pond is limited to smaller turtles, and as they grow into adults, they’ll need a bigger enclosure.

2. The Ultimate DIY Outdoor Turtle Pond by The Aquatic Keeper

Materials: Black mulch, sand, pump, river rocks, waterfall spillway, plants, 50-gallon liner, pebbles, hardwire cloth, hose
Tools: Shovel, wheelbarrow, level tool
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Although this pond is larger than the previous one, the setup, design, and installation are similar, making it a good option for larger turtles. This project isn’t very difficult, with the most effort going into digging the hole for the 50-gallon liner and adding the mulch and pebbles.

A feature that makes this pond stand out is the waterfall spillway that brings water flow to the pond and a tranquil feeling to your backyard. Remember, you can choose the size of your liner depending on how large your yard is and how big your turtles are. Feel free to make adjustments according to your turtle’s needs.

3. Backyard Turtle Pond by Jake Ludlow

Materials: Large tub, pump, rock, fencing, poles, logs, light mulch
Tools: Shovel, wheelbarrow, level tool
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This turtle pond has a simple design, but it will keep your growing turtles happy and healthy. You’ll need a large tub that you can place into the ground, but you can add plants, logs, and rocks from your garden to keep the project budget-friendly. This light-colored mulch won’t absorb as much heat as a darker one, keeping the soil cooler in warmer climates.

The fencing needs to be high enough to prevent your turtles from climbing out, but remember to dig it into the ground, too, because your turtle may try to dig their way out. Adding rocks to your pond will give your turtle a place to bask in the sun and climb over.

4. DIY Turtle Pond Heaven by Backyard Tortoise

Materials: 45mm plastic liner, peat moss, rocks, stones, sand, wood panels, plants, logs
Tools: Shovel, wheelbarrow
Difficulty Level: Difficult

With a bit of effort, you can turn your yard into a turtle paradise, giving them plenty of freedom to roam around, swim, hide, and take shelter from the sun. This pond wasn’t made with a tub, which allows you to be flexible with how large you want your pond to be. Once the hole is dug, make sure to cover the area with a plastic liner and add peat moss over that.

To prevent your turtles from escaping, wooden panels can be used because they’re smooth, and your turtles won’t be able to climb over them. Rocks, stones, logs, and plants can be added to imitate their natural ecosystem. Due to the size of this pond, you’re going to spend quite a bit of money on the materials, but it will end up much cheaper to do it yourself than to hire a professional.

5. Above Ground DIY Turtle Pond by Mitzy Mouse

Materials: Free wood pallets, CNZ all-in-one pond filter, 20 2×4 sitting planks, 2×6 underlay, liner, screws, bolts, washers, bricks, fish, plants, net system
Tools: Drill, utility knife
Difficulty Level: Moderate

If you’d prefer to build up rather than down, this above-ground pond could be a good DIY option for you. If you’ve got some pallets lying around, use them as a base for your pond. Continue to add wood planks on the sides until you reach the height you want. To turn it into something that holds water, you’ll then add the underlay, followed by the plastic liner, securing it with screws.

You can make your pond come alive by adding natural items to it, such as plants and fish. If you do add fish, add a net system into the pond so the fish have a safe place to swim and hide. You’ll also need logs and rocks to allow your turtle to climb up on, but make sure to place them away from the sides so that your turtle can’t climb out.

6. DIY Cheap Above Ground Turtle Pond by DanTheTurtleMan

Materials: 12 2×6 8′ wooden boards, 12 2×6 4′ wooden boards, 4×4 treated posts, deck screws, metal corner brackets, zinc metal hinges, lock latches, EPDM liner, 50′ landscape fabric, wire mesh
Tools: Electric wood cutter, measuring tape, drill, hammer
Difficulty Level: Moderate

This above-ground turtle pond may look professionally made, but you can make it yourself for less than $200. To keep costs low, you can find free scrap wood from construction sites near your home and cut it into the sizes you need for your pond. If you don’t have enough wood for a base, you can build it directly on top of an even cement floor because the liner will keep all the water from seeping out.

To keep your turtles safe from predators and from escaping, add a wire mesh over the top. It allows sunlight, oxygen, and visibility in but nothing large enough to harm your turtles. With this pond, not only will your turtles have a beautiful enclosure to enjoy, but you’ll have an attractive feature in your backyard.

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Whether you want your turtle pond above or below ground, there are DIY plans for you. If you’ve got young turtles, you can opt for a smaller pond but remember to base the size of your pond on your turtle’s species, size, and needs to ensure that they grow well and have everything they need.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on materials for your pond. Simply look around your yard for logs, dirt, and rocks. You can even search for scrap wood at construction sites if you don’t have any at home. However, if you get stuck or feel in over your head with your DIY project, call in a professional to help you out!

Featured Image Credit: Charlotte Bleijenberg, Shutterstock

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