How To Make A Turtle Pond In Your Backyard

Turtles are adorable, and you may be asking how to make a turtle pond in your backyard. From their shells to their swift little scrambles into bodies of water, a turtle pond would be a wonderful addition to a backyard.

You can enjoy the bright beauty of a turtle pond just as you would a fish pond, the quaint pond is a great addition to a backyard that both inspires awe from friends and family and intrigue.

Unfortunately, turtle ponds are more demanding than a basic fish pond, which doesn’t need much water, or equipment in comparison. Taking inventory and concluding if you even can have a turtle pond is your first step.

Who Can’t Have a Turtle Pond

If you have and incredibly small backyard you probably can’t have a turtle pond. They need a large amount of space to swim in, so a small fish pond just isn’t going to cut it.

We’re talking about something that has a minimum of a thousand gallons of water. This does not include the other additions like the pump, the greenery, and the accents.

If you don’t have a large backyard, trying to have a turtle pond in your backyard isn’t a wise idea. You’re not going to attract a lot of turtles, and if you do manage to bring them in, they won’t stay.

If you put pet turtles directly into the pond you may make them miserable or stress them unnecessarily if the pond isn’t large enough. It’s best just to avoid getting a turtle pond if you have a small backyard.

Climate Issues

One thing you need to keep in mind is the climate of your area. Are there cold and harsh winters? Will you need to bring your turtles inside? How will they cope? Climate is very important to turtles and keeping the temperature, and any temperature fluctuations consistent is essential.

You should be very aware of what kind of turtle you have and how they fair with the direct environment you live in. Some turtle species do better with the cold than others.


After you decide to put in a turtle pond you’ll need to understand how to go about making a turtle pond in your backyard. Firstly you’ll need to dig and prepare a space for the pond.

This will take some landscaping, which you can do yourself, or hire a landscaper to do it.

If you decide to do it yourself it’s likely going to take more than an afternoon and be prepared to work hard through it. If you hire a landscaper they’ll likely be done quicker and more efficiently.

What to Add to Your Turtle Pond

Turtles don’t just live in the water, they need to be able to get out of the water too. Your pond should have easy sloping access, we recommend at least 180 degrees, all the way around it for turtles to bask and lay their eggs.

You should also add several ramps to ensure that the turtles can actually get out of the pond. Otherwise, they could get stuck and eventually drown from exhaustion.

Be sure the turtles have more than just a strip of land to work with, they like to be on the land as well as in the water and should have quite a bit of access to both.

Turtles also need a variety of depths, some portions of the pond should only be a few inches thick, while others need to be very deep. Pair this with a variety of shaded foliage and you’ll keep your turtles quite comfortable.

Another addition you should consider is a way to keep hungry animals out and turtles in. Turtles are very good at getting out, so a shear wall is usually the best way to handle the little escape artists. This will also keep a wide variety of hungry animals out and away from your turtles.

How to Attract Turtles to Your Pond

If you’re not putting turtles directly into your pond after you create it you may want to attract wild turtles. You should not build a wall around the pond if you’re going to attract wild turtles.

This isn’t an easy feat, as wild turtles, regardless of the type, aren’t usually fond of humans. But a generally safe, clean place to bask, eat, and have their young is invaluable to these cute little creatures.

You should be careful though, or else you’ll end up attracting some noisy frogs as well, which isn’t what you’re trying to bring into your yard.

Using Pet Turtles

Most people won’t be attracting wild turtles to their yards. Instead, it’s more common to purchase turtles that you can put in your pond.

There are a wide variety of turtles that you can have in your pond. The painted turtles, mud turtles, map turtles and snapping turtles are familiar faces to most.

These turtles can be easily bought from a pet store and then introduced into a fully finished pond. Never introduce turtles before a pond is completely finished.

Live Food

One thing you can consider, besides the design of the pond, is making sure there is live food available. This can be in the form of minnows or other such small fish and live water plants.

This will let the turtles hide, rest, and eat regularly, making them want to come back for more.

You can also feed the turtles outright with turtle food bought from a pet store. You can also add in mealworms, earthworms, bananas, lettuce and a few other things that turtles like.

This gives the turtles a variety of food to work with. Though turtles will eat almost anything you should be careful that the food that you’re giving them is safe.

Some turtle owners have had a variety of problems with different foods. So you should always check to be sure that the species your working with can have the food you’re offering it.

If you’re not careful you could accidentally kill your turtles from a deficiency of one vitamin or another. This will make it very difficult to keep a successful turtle pond.

Proper Filtering for a Longer Life

One thing you have to do when you’re wondering how to make a turtle pond in your backyard is to make sure you have a great filtration system. Turtles use the bathroom a lot more than a goldfish, and you’ll need a very large and solid filtration system.

Without a massive filtration system, the feces will build up, making your turtles sicker and sicker. This can eventually kill them, so having a solid mass filtration system is absolutely essential.

Outside Hibernation

Hibernation is another thing you should consider when you ask how to make a turtle pond in your backyard. Turtles need a lot of different things to successfully hibernation and survive.

From places to dig to oxygenation of the water, to edible plant life and more these creatures can be difficult to hibernate outside. We suggest bringing the turtles inside for the winter instead of letting them hibernate out in the cold.

You should especially bring the turtles in if you live in a zone where hardiness drops below 7. You can keep them in an inside turtle tank throughout the winter and then move them to the pond again in the spring.

If you insist on leaving them out in the cold, be sure that you have running water that won’t freeze over, with plenty of underwater plant life and plenty of oxygen in the water. Otherwise, the probability that your turtles will survive is incredibly low.

Other Things to Consider

Turtles are wonderful creatures, but another thing to consider if you’re wondering how to make a turtle pond in your backyard is should you? Are your turtles old enough, over six months, and strong enough to handle the outside regularly?

Do you have enough sediment at the bottom of their pond for hibernation? Are they used to being inside or would they be comfortable being outside?

Turtles are a lifelong commitment, and many of them will outlive their owners depending on when you get them and the species you get. You should weigh the pros and cons carefully when you determine if your turtle can handle being outside.

Weight things like, how are you going to ensure there’s oxygen in the water when your turtles hibernate? How are you going to ensure their safety against birds?

Ground animals you can build a wall for but what will you do about those fine feathered friends? You should take everything you can into account when you ask how to make a turtle pond in your backyard.

What Next?

If you’re wondering how to make a turtle pond in your backyard, you don’t have to look any further. After judging if your turtle will make it outside and preparing the pond you can introduce pet turtles, or attract wild turtles, to your backyard.

It’s very important to be able to keep these cute little turtles safe, regardless if they’re wild or not. So take your time in deciding if you want to learn how to make a turtle pond in your backyard.

Take your time when building the turtle pond, make sure it has all the necessary requirements. From lots of land and shade to filtration and food and more.

This is a backyard installation that can be gorgeous, but difficult to maintain, so it’s wise to be certain that it’s what you want before you get started. If it is, you’re sure to be in for a rewarding experience, for a well maintained and functioning turtle pond can be a beautiful and wondrous addition to any backyard.