There’s not much more relaxing in life than sitting and gazing at a body of water, but we don’t all have the luxury of a natural water view from our homes. But that’s where man-made water features like backyard ponds come in, offering up an easy way to create a truly relaxing outdoor living space by incorporating a pond.
Picturesque garden ponds create plenty of interest in your backyard, generating mesmerising reflections, brightening shady parts of the space and creating the illusion of depth. Typically incorporating rocks/pebbles, plants, and fish such as koi, backyard ponds can be designed to be diverse ecosystem ponds which mimic the eco processes of natural water bodies, causing oxygenation and filtration using beneficial bacteria. The use of suitable foliage also minimises excesses leaves and reduces maintenance.
So if you’re looking for a cool weekend DIY or you plan to get help from experts, I’ve gathered 35 examples of backyard ponds that make spectacular garden features—there’s sure to be one for you!
1. A cut below
Backyard ponds aren’t necessarily always dug into your yard—one stylish option for a terrace pond is to cut a hole in timber decking to create a space for a pond. Below, a large wooden deck, stained light grey to complement the wall, becomes an idyllic oasis with the incorporation of the water feature which acts as a mirror for the abundant water lilies.
2. Reflect on it
This pond is constructed out of a galvanised horse tank and also functions as a natural swimming hole (as well as an emergency source of water for the local fire-threatened Californian region). Absent fish or plants, it relies on reflections as a decorative element. Establishing what will reflect on your pond’s surface is important but easy: simply lay a mirror down in various parts of your backyard to work out where the most intriguing reflections will be.
3. The natural look
Naturally finished ponds are easy to achieve—just choose your size of pond liner, add your favourite pavers or stones and a selection of appropriate plants, and you’ll have a naturalistic asymmetrical pond in no time. You can add visual interest by breaking up the pond border with a small deck (this is also a great place to store any pump equipment).
4. Fire and water
Below, a modern, streamlined pond that’s ideal for a small space. It manages to incorporate a raised garden bed with a cascading fountain which fills a small fish pond that reaches a firepit. Phew! But it all seems to flow somehow.
5. Bridge over tranquil water
Transform your whole backyard into a stunning aquatic landscape by incorporating a cute little arched bridge over your pond. You don’t even need a huge amount of depth to install a pond with a little bridge – the bridge itself gives the illusion of depth. How relaxing is this garden setting with stacked boulders, a massive lily pond, comfy social space and sweet little wooden bridge?
6. Decked out in greenery
Here’s another beautiful courtyard garden design which features holes cut into the whitewashed decking to incorporate water and plants, in a gorgeous, airy, modern design.
7. Rain chains
I just love this idea. Rain chains are a centuries-old Japanese invention, whereby rainwater runoff is diverted via a series of chains into a small pond below—with the cascading water producing a unique musical effect.
8. Neatly landscaped
Imagine this space as just a large backyard lawn area and then you can see just how much drama and interest has been created through the incorporation of the water feature. The pond itself has a naturalistic shape, enhanced by the idiosyncratic variety of boulders and shrubs planted, and this contrasts well with the stylised linear decking.
9. Water lilies and koi
Your choice of pond vegetation makes all the difference—with giant water lilies being a classic pond plant. They are usually grown in submersed pots because they have such a wildly abundant growing habit and the way they want to spread to cover the entire water surface. This pond also contains koi fish—not only are they wonderful to watch, but younger members of the household will love them as “pets” that will swim up to you to be fed.
10. Stack it up
Again a lovely sculptural landscape around a backyard pond, offering multiple vantage points from which to view the aquascape. Stacked boulders in an array of sizes give a natural edging look, while a year-round “softscape fence” was created by a dense planting of evergreens and shade-loving plants.
11. Pond platform
How about this wonderful contemporary entertaining space featuring a decking platform built to jut out over the shimmering pond? This pond cleverly hides any visible pumps, pipes or filtration systems; or, perhaps it has simply been designed as a true ecosystem pond, with natural water filtering plants and fish which eat pests and prevent algae formation.
12. Interconnecting decks
This series of interconnected decks create multiple viewing areas of the dramatic aquascape. I like how the hard lines of the timber decking are softened with the addition of rounded rocks and the juxtaposition of the soft sprays of cottage garden flowers.
13. Tiered with rock waterfalls
A naturalistic pond set on a gentle slope utilises large stacked boulders to create gentle waterfalls, while more boulders edge the pond and act as an informal path. A contoured timber decking adds functionality and style. A sloped site is ideal if you want to include a waterfall feature, thanks to natural gravity. You can find a local expert in landscaping with water features.
14. Waterfall feature within the pond
The gently trickling sound of running water is just so restful, so up your pond landscaping game by adding a fountain feature of some kind. You can manipulate the sound levels of your waterfall feature through the design: factors such as the height from which the waterfalls, the width of the aperture it flows through, the pump power and the depth of the pond.
15. Edging pond
This gorgeous contemporary courtyard incorporates a neat little edging pond bordered by grasses and full of colourful fish. The installation of landscape lighting also really helps to create intrigue and drama, which enhances the pondscape’s vibrant colours.
16. Corten steel pond
Corten steel is a popular look for rustic and contemporary gardens, so why not consider a welded Corten steel pond edge if you are less keen on natural-looking backyard ponds. The pond edges can even be used as informal seating if they are wide enough. These can be custom-made to fit your space, and they just keep everything lovely and streamlined in your yard.
Key consideration: These days there’s a huge variety of styles and scales to choose from when it comes to pond design. You might just want a pond that resembles an oversized, rock-bordered puddle, or you may have an aquascape that’s big enough to incorporate bridges, stairs or platforms.If you decide to go with a prefabricated pond form, you’ll obviously be limited to forms available for purchase, but you’ll be able to make your pond unique by customising it with the pavers and rocks of your choice. Alternatively, backyard ponds can be waterproofed with thick rubber liners, rather than prefabricated forms.
17. See-through backyard ponds
Backyard ponds can be built right into your existing backyard structures, which is great if you are pressed for space. Here, a portion of patio has been replaced with a small pond with a see-through window (either tempered glass or plexiglass) to increase the enjoyment of observing the aquatic life.
18. Narrow perimeter pond
A pond wrapping around the sides of a patio is an easy way to increase the chilled vibes of your space with a water feature while allowing the deck to remain spacious and uncluttered. Nice use of landscape lighting here, too.
19. Contemporary series of ponds
A contemporary courtyard best suits ponds which are linear and modern rather than asymmetrical and organic in shape. Below, a series of ponds (or perhaps one very long one?) is broken up with wooden walkways and the drama is intensified with clever backyard lighting.
20. Pond with waterfall
This waterfall pond is part of a residential condo in urban Singapore which has utilised waterfalls and water terraces to create a sense of ambience and connect all the elements of the upper and lower landscapes. Residents can view the different water elements from a range of different vantage points, while the soothing water sounds help mask the city’s street noise.
21. Neat lines
A tranquil, secluded pond setting here, which relies on simple timber decking in an asymmetrical design together with lush, tropical garden plants that create a strong visual effect. The overhanging deck and a boardwalk replace what was previously a damp, shady lawn area, while the pond and waterfall add life and energy to the space.
22. Tree free
This serene setting has so much going for it in terms of ambience and charm. It’s a good example of how the location will likely affect maintenance because the placement of ponds under trees may be wonderful for shade, but the leaf litter and debris often end up being a constant hassle to maintain.
23. Flagstone pavers
The border you create around the edge of your commercial pond form will make the pond seem larger than what it is. I like how this cosy, rustic setting harmoniously blends flagstone pavers that match the fireplace with river rocks bordering the pond. Need some more inspo? Check out these paving ideas.
24. By the seashore
Timber decking overhanging a pond, combined with nautical-themed décor give this home “houseboat” feels. OK, so nautical décor may be a bit kitsch! But you could go for surf-shack accessories instead for those seaside vibes. Either way, adding some organic woven items and large pebbles will help convey a calm, natural, coastal flavour.
25. Sculptural water feature
What do you think of this unique water feature that seems to be set into a very formal English garden? Part fountain, part pond, part sculpture, it’s certainly eye-catching! You could always work with a tradie who can help you create a replica of something similar on a smaller scale for your backyard!
27. Japanese style
The classic aesthetics of Japanese garden design are present in this pond setting: a sense of serenity and tranquillity and plenty of asymmetry, curves and rounded forms. The arching bridges add height and depth, while the meandering walkways and massive boulders add visual interest. And just look at those stunning reflections in that beautifully still water!
28. Pond-like tub
This cedar hot tub functions as a simple pond when it’s not in use as a spa, generating gorgeous reflections and shimmery movements on the water’s surface in the breeze. Built into the hillside and surrounded by fieldstone walls, fish scale flagstone and gravel paths, the raw and rustic aquascape also uses dramatic succulents and native grasses to beautiful effect.
29. Natural swimming pond
A growing trend is to opt for a natural swimming pond in place of a traditional chlorinated pool. Natural swimming ponds don’t require chemicals or electrical systems to clean the water—instead, this is done with submersible biological filters and by growing water-filtering aquatic plants.
Not only does this enable a chemical-free, natural swimming experience but it’s supremely low maintenance, environmentally-friendly, creates a natural habitat for indigenous flora and fauna, and is a great way to seamlessly meld your garden and pool area together.
30. Patio pond
This narrow outdoor area includes a small rectangular pond to act as a focal point and increase the ambience of the space with flickering reflections. Even a tiny pond like this will add interest and life to your backyard, so consider discussing your plans with an expert in pond design who will help you configure the perfect backyard setup.
31. Reflective water bowls
Bring in the benefits of soothing water into any space no matter how small, with the addition of a large reflective water bowl that can be filled with pretty floating blooms. These work really well in a shady corner where their reflectivity will amplify the available light. You can find them in any material you like, whether timber, stone or metal like this one.
32. Pond in a box
If you have a small space or wish to fill a dark, forgotten corner of your backyard, why not build and install a pond box that’s similar to a raised garden bed planter box? It’s an easy, inexpensive DIY with no digging required. And the beauty of a pond box is that it’s portable if you wish to move it later.
33. Clean lines
This modern front garden zone includes a little pond with a white wall backdrop, where orange-coloured fish complement a planting of orange crucifix orchids, and the blue-green pebbles in front of the pond visually connect to the pavers and retaining wall. The owners say the fish have become pets and will allow themselves to be stroked!
34. Super bowls
Here’s another spatially-challenged courtyard which uses reflective water bowls to stunning effect. I love the pops of bright green from the foliage, with gentle repetition through the large leaves floating in the bowl. For more ideas on how to style a courtyard, you might also like to read our article on courtyard gardens or if you like the black wall, there are plenty more examples in this privacy fence ideas article.
35. Container water garden
If you aren’t quite ready to commit to a pond and just want to dip your toes in the idea, for now, you can create a complete water garden in any setting with a suitable container, like the one below. Add rocks or gravel to make the container more naturalistic, and a few small goldfish to give bursts of colour and motion. Plant a tall plant in the middle of the bowl as a focal point, add marginal plants inside and then top with floating plants such as water lilies, water lettuce or water hyacinth.
35. Gazing pond
Last but not least, a pond that’s free of vegetation or fish is sometimes also called a gazing pool or pond. The idea is that it’s all about the reflections—mirror skyscapes but also reflections of whatever you have planted around the pond. It becomes a wonderfully contemplative activity to just gaze into the pond with its ever-changing visuals. And it stays a simple, unfussy, streamlined addition to your backyard requiring little or no maintenance.
As you can see there are so many different kinds of backyard ponds for you to choose between, and hopefully this broad selection of 35 backyard pond ideas will have helped steer you towards your ideal aesthetic. Already have a specific design in mind? Share your vision with an expert in garden design or pond landscaping who will help bring your dreams to reality.
Do you favour a more organic shaped pond design or perhaps a modern streamlined, linear pond? Let me know in the comments!