Hot Tub Pond Building

Hot tub ponds in backyard

Hot tub ponds before they were filled.

For years I was fascinated with the idea of building a pond. I even dug out a big pit once, lined it with plastic, filled it… then realized, “holy moly… if a little kid fell in there, we’d never know it until it was too late!” – and so I emptied it out again.

The idea of making a hot tub into a hot tub pond by using cast-off hot tubs came to me when I saw more than one Jacuzzi laying unused and filled with green scum at some of the foreclosure homes we visited while looking for property.

Hot tubs are always being discarded by homeowners who are either upgrading their current hot tub for a newer, hotter, tubbier model… or who have simply tied of the upkeep required to keep a hot tub running.

Last week, I got an e-mail about my hot tub pond idea:

I’ve watched your hour long video [13 Tips, Tricks, And Lessons From Homesteading an Acre -DTG] a few times now, excellent job. I’m interested in recreating the hot tub pond as soon as I find one for the right price (free). I had a few questions though.

Did you leave any of the plumbing intact or did you just plug the holes?

What did you put in the bottom to get started?

Is the rain enough to keep it filled? I’ve considered tying my gutters into the pond once I find one.

Thanks as always for any help.



Here are the answers.

Building a Hot Tub Pond


Here’s a freeze-frame from the video showing one of the hot tub ponds from above filled and being used as a source for compostable water plants:


What? You don’t have my crazy great homesteading video yet? How am I supposed to pay a video editor?

I unscrewed the various fixtures inside that pond that could be unscrewed, then bought PVC screw-in caps that fit the hole sizes., adding teflon tape when I did so. Some of the holes in the hot tub were shaped strangely, so I used pieces of cast-off acrylic plastic from an old racing go-cart windshield (some sort of plexiglass/lucite) what I cut with my bandsaw to cover the holes with some good overlap, then I used aquarium silicone to glue them into place. It took a little work and a couple of failed, leaking experiments, but it worked great in the end.

To get started with some soil for the bottom, I culled potted plants from my nursery that were doing poorly. I didn’t want to use new soil or dig a bunch of sand up, so I just chucked pot-fulls of dirt with weeds and dead plants in there for a while.

Here’s another pond, a lighter fiberglass shell I found by the side of the road:

DixieIrisTowards the upper right, you can see one of the holes I patched with a silicone-glued piece of plexiglass.

This one is near my barn and where I was going to put a gutter… though I never actually got around to it. The rainfall has almost always been adequate to fill my hot tub ponds and keep them full enough for my goldfish and various pond plants. On the few occasions where it’s looked a bit low, I’ve topped it off with the hose – but no hot tub pond has ever been in danger of drying out.

These hot tub ponds are grid-down water storage, compost creation and water gardening all in one. Check with your local hot tub/pool installer for cheap or free tubs. They often remove old hot tubs and trash them when they install new tubs. That means your hot tub pond will most likely end up being FREE if you catch the right person.

Or, just use your swimming pool like the Garden Pool folks did.

You can see more on my hot tub pond idea and other cheap and easy homesteading tricks in my film 13 Tips, Tricks, And Lessons From Homesteading an Acre. It’s cheap entertainment – $4.99 to rent or $12.99 for the download – and I guarantee you’ll find some inspiration there for your own homestead.

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  • You ought to do a post about all the different types of plants you grow in that. I would find that very interesting.

  • I second that motion! “What to grow in your hot tub” would make a great article.

  • Good idea. It’s been said that you can grow more food in an aquatic system than in the ground. I could put together a pretty cool list…

  • I am very interested in growing food… er vegetables in water. There are many plants that like wet feet… I also just ordered some seeds for Kang Kong… water spinach. I will be sure to cook it though, because I am a bit paranoid about little monsters that might be lurking in my swampy water (like intestinal worms). I intend growing them in my 3 to 5 inch “lake” using a plastic pool liner. Mr Goodman (David) has also schooled us in the joy of raising water chestnuts.. though the water level should not be to deep… I am new at it… but I expect a good crop this fall if I can keep the sand hill cranes away from them. I have Okinawa spinach sitting in water 3 or 4 inches deep… and I also have it in my aquaponic system.. they seem to be doing well… and regular lettuce loves wet feet as well. on a side note… cabbage and broccoli did well in the aqua ponic system this year.

    • I don’t think you’ll have any intestinal worms lurking unless you have animals borrowing your pond; however, cooking isn’t a bad idea when dealing with pond crops, even if it’s just to ensure the bacteria are gone!

  • correction… 3 to 5 inch deep lake… that is about 20 feet long, 10 feet or so wide… water gardens are fun… im not that experienced with it but having fun with it.. also.using some plants for the chop and drop composting… Mr. Goodman suggested in his wonderful book.

  • Question: Do you ever need to “clean out” a small pond because of solid fish waste building up?

  • Hi… Im not sure if you were directing the question to me or not… but my take is that it would be a good idea if you want it to look pretty… also it sounds like it would be good compost… but Mr. Goodman would be the man to ask… I am a rank amateur… I have just left mine alone so far… but it is starting to build up and I see a clean out in the future.

    • Yes, if it’s a smaller pond you might need to do that. Mine are quite deep… it would be a long, long time before they needed cleaning out, especially since they aren’t near any leaf-dropping trees.

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  • Have you tried co-culture with aquatic animals? I know fish size is often constrained by the size of the pond (& goldfish are too prolific & too bony, koi/carp bony and jump out of shallow water, tilapia not quite hardy in the FL panhandle), so I was thinking crayfish (which I wouldn’t trust in a rubber liner or earthen bottom due to burrowing, but hot tub walls seem sturdy).

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