Can You Use Topsoil in Ponds? Let’s Find Out!

Plants in pond

Using topsoil in a pond can have positive and negative effects. This layer of soil is abundant when it comes to nourishment, which allows the abrupt growth of invasive plants. Although it helps with the development of plants, speedy growth results in its failure over time.

Topsoil is not ideal for ponds, but you can still use it by applying measures to maintain the advantages of its features. You can use topsoil in the edges and margins of the ponds, but avoid using it in the entire pond. Don’t put it on the slopes on the upper area of the pond as water may disperse it.

In this article, we will discuss the best soils you can use for a pond and the do’s and don’ts when preparing it.


What Soil Is Best for Your Pond?

You can choose three types of soil to incorporate into your pond: sandy, silty, and clay soils. Sandy soil can drain a lot of water, while silty and clay soil can retain water. These are just some notable features of pond soil.

Ponds require soils to maintain the quality and maintenance of water up to it’s draining aspects. Over time, the water in a pond is affected by exposure to the outdoors, in which the soil can help sustain and prevent harm to its elements. Water acidity is another major factor that contributes to the development of plants and fish in a pond, which are also affected by the type of soil you are going to use.

Keep in mind that not all soils are ideal to use in a pond. A small mistake can lead to its full destruction. Know and understand the different kinds of soil so you can incorporate and decide what’s the best option for your pond.

You may use three types of soil for your pond:

  • Sandy Soil

Sand is recognized for its loose features in which the particles are smoothly separated. Based on its attributes, this soil can drain water fast as it allows it to seep in easily. The problem with this is that you can’t retain an ample amount of water to fill the pond.

With the drawback you may encounter using sandy soil, you can still ensure the clarity of the water. The idea that this soil can rest rapidly to the ground of the pond helps prevent it from mixing with the water. You don’t have to think about how to make it clear due to its innate features.

Here is our article: Is Sand Good For A Koi Pond.

  • Silty Soil

Silty soil is the opposite of sandy soil in terms of retaining and draining water. This soil can retain water in the pond, as opposed to the sandy type. The features of this soil are far different as well, as it has medium-sized particles.

The downside of silty soil is its ability to mix with water and its movement. This kind of soil can be moved easily, which can affect the clarity of the pond’s water, meaning that if they are eroded, it will result in the accumulation of soil at the bottom of the pond.

The movement of silty soil can also cause the instability of the ground area in the pond. If it happens, it can damage the edges of the pond over time. That requires you to apply some measures to maintain its efficiency in the pond.

You can put some organic matter in the silt to make it stable. Although silty soils present disadvantages, it is a great option in the vegetation process. It is a huge help to sustain the habitat of fishes in the pond.

  • Clay Soil

When it comes to stability and compactness, clay soil is the best option. If you prioritize the soil compact features in your pond, clay soil can prevent the excessive drainage of water. Aside from silty soil, it is another type of soil you can opt for as it retains water very well.

However, clay soil holds packed and fine particles and can compress in the water. The downside in using this is the suspension aspects. This results in mixing in the water providing an unclear and muddy look, which requires you to conduct regular maintenance.

Apart from its compactness, clay soil can maintain wetness and coldness during the winter but remains dry in summer.

In some instances, the soil in your backyard is not ideal to use to build a pond. We can’t ensure that clay, silty, and sandy soils are automatically found in your area. However, there are still methods with which you can pursue your backyard pond idea.

Find another area in your yard since it may contain a different type of soil. Note that if you found clay soil, you can still adjust and amend it. For sandy soil, you can transfer the clay soil you’ve found. With the method, you can modify the soil structure and make it more compact.

If you are uncertain about applying this process, you can consult an expert in mixing and amending the soil for ponds. In this way, the product is successful and won’t give you future difficulties.


Do’s and Don’ts when Using Soil in Your Pond

To take care of the vegetation and habitat of fish in your pond, you need to observe the do’s and don’ts of using pond soil. We recommend you mix heavy loam soil to use for the plants as it is compact when used in the water. Although, avoid using potting soil as it can suspend the water making it murky.

Since the type of soil you are using in you pond is more crucial than the soil you are using for your garden. The soil you are going to prepare can greatly affect the development of your aquatic plants..

Some aquatic plants commonly used in ponds include water lilies, marginal plants, and oxygenators. These contribute to maintaining a healthy habitat for the fish. With such, we compiled the do’s and don’ts of the soil preparation for your pond.



  • When preparing a heavy loam recipe for water lilies, mix about 2/3 of loam topsoil with 1/3 of pool filter sand. The mixture should have a water element to make it compact.
  • Use acidic soil for wetland plants.
  • Always remove dead plants or leaves during the preparation of soil for your pond.
  • Use the heavy loam mixture and water lily Pondtabbs when needed for marginal plants inside the pond.
  • Mix a controlled-release fertilizer with the soil for the marginal plants outside the pond to maintain their moisture.
  • Use fabric grow bags when planting iris inside your pond to give oxygen to its roots.
  • Use clay or sandy soil in containers for oxygenators.
  • Use heavy loam soil when growing floating plants.
  • Use washed gravel to the pond soil while building the bottom part of your pond.



  • Do not use potting soil in your pond as it can affect your water’s clarity since it contains organic elements that may decompose.
  • Do not mix calcined clay into your mixtures since it cannot provide enough nourishment to aquatic plants.
  • Do not use pebbles and stones as they can restrain the development of aquatic plants and end up destroying your pond.
  • Do not use garden fertilizers on the edges and shape of the pond as your pond could develop algae due to the nutrients being scattered in the water.


Now that we mentioned the different types of soil you can use in your pond, we’ve also compiled a list of the most common plants in a pond:


Marginal Plants

Marginal plants for ponds grow on the edge of ponds. Their main purpose is to provide an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere of the water structure and vegetation for the fish. Notable marginal plants for ponds include Papyrus, Grass, Lemon Drops, Dwarf Umbrella Palm, Yerba Mansa, Hibiscus, Canna, Iris, Sedge, and Water Celery.



Oxygenators are also called macrophytes. As their name suggests, these kinds of plants provide oxygen to the fish through the process of photosynthesis. The best examples of oxygenators for ponds are Red Ludwigia, Jungle Vallisneria, Cabomba, Lemon Bacopa, Hornwort, and Anacharis.


Floating Plants

Floating plants grow in water places like ponds and lakes. Free-floating plants’ roots don’t need a bond with the soil to grow, which allows them to live floating in the water. Some commonly used floating plants for ponds include Water Poppies, Mosaic Plant, DuckWeed, Mosquito Fern, Frogbit, and Water Snowflakes.

Read this article to find out: What are the benefits of having a pond?


Soil is an essential component that affects the life of a pond. If you carelessly use a type of soil that is not recommended for a pond, it can damage the plants and kill the fish. Plants in a pond need soil, and fish need vegetation to live. So, be careful in the preparation and make sure that every method you use is acceptable to the habitat of fish in the pond.

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