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Are Koi Ponds Safe for Children?

Kids around pond


Are Koi ponds safe for children is a question we sometimes get asked by our Kansas City landscaping clients considering a pond who have kids. Obviously, water and children is a topic that should be discussed. The real answer to this question is that it depends on how the pond is constructed. If you ask a koi pond purist, they might tell you the pond needs to be 5 or 6 feet deep. In that case such a pond could be a hazard. Certainly it would require fencing as if it were a pool.

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However, this belief that koi have to have a pond this deep is a myth. The ponds we build at Good Earth Outdoor are rarely deeper than 2’, and koi will thrive. There is no evidence that having a shallow pond negatively impacts the health of fish, and having a pond that is more shallow has a number of other benefits.  

  • The appearance will be better as you will see the bottom of the pond with the gravel
  • Water quality will be better and easier to maintain
  • A shallow pond is much safer for kids who will always be drawn to the water.

Not only is the deepest part of our ponds only 2’, but in the construction process we build in shelves which look like steps down to the bottom as we are building it. So the area around the perimeter of the pond is usually only 6”-15” deep. If a small child did get in the water, they would be able to fairly easily get out even if they did get into the deepest part.

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We do not know of any building codes that require fencing around a water feature 2’ deep or less so that is an indication on its own that such a pond would be deemed relatively safe.

That being said, we certainly advise parental supervision especially with very small kids, but in general kids in the 3-4 year old range and up do very well if you can control the rock throwing.

Also, when we construct our water features we make sure that the larger rocks on the side of the pond are secure and suitable for walking and climbing on. Of course caution should always be used as these rocks are not usually mortared in place and there is a slight potential that they could slip or slide. They can also be slick when wet.

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On the positive side a koi pond is a wonderful outdoor classroom for kids to learn about nature and all the processes that are taking place in this eco-system. They will see lots of different insects, birds and other animals, and of course the fish. It is amazing to watch kids around fish. They absolutely light up and get so excited watching them swim around. Having a laboratory just out your back door is an incredible way to help your kids connect to their outside world and get them off the computer or phone.

It is not an exaggeration to say that a koi pond will become a family focal point that the whole family will connect with on many different levels. And of course that is an enriching experience that improves the quality of life. So if you are considering a koi pond and have children I highly recommend that you move forward with your plans and discover the joys of having a pond with your children.

Koi Meet Dog

Good Earth Outdoor designs and installs backyard ponds, streams, and waterfalls, as well as different types of bubbling fountains in the Kansas City metro area. They can be reached at (913) 749-8090. See their website for more information at:

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