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. Incorporating a pond is such an easy way to create a truly relaxing outdoor living space.
Picturesque garden ponds create plenty of interest in your backyard. They generate mesmerising reflections, brighten up shady parts of the space and create the illusion of depth. And you’ll typically find them incorporating rocks/pebbles, plants, and fish such as koi. In fact, backyard ponds can be designed to be diverse ecosystem ponds which mimic the eco processes of natural water bodies. This means they can enable oxygenation and filtration using beneficial bacteria. The use of suitable foliage also minimises excess leaves and reduces maintenance.
Looking for a cool weekend DIY or thinking of getting help from experts to build a backyard pond? Below, I’ve gathered ## ideas for backyard ponds that make spectacular garden features for your inspo.
1. The natural look
Naturally finished ponds are easy to achieve. Just choose your size of pond liner and border with your favourite pavers or stones. Add 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).
2. Cut the deck
Backyard ponds aren’t necessarily always dug into your yard. One stylish alternative for a terrace pond is to simply cut a hole in timber decking to create a space for a pond. Turn a large wooden deck into an idyllic oasis with the incorporation of the water feature, which can act as a mirror for abundant water lilies.
3. Reflect on it
Constructing a pond out of a galvanised feed trough is an easy way to create a little swimming hole. Even without any fish or plants, it can use 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.
4. 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. They tend to want to spread to cover the entire water surface. Another classic pond addition are koi fish. These are they wonderful to watch, and younger members of the household will love them as “pets” that will swim up to you to be fed.
5. 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, the work is done by submersible biological filters and water-filtering aquatic plants.
This creates a chemical-free, natural swimming experience that’s supremely low maintenance and environmentally-friendly. It creates a natural habitat for indigenous flora and fauna, and is a great way to seamlessly meld your garden and pool area together.
6. Tiered with rock waterfalls
A naturalistic pond set on a gentle slope can utilise large stacked boulders to create gentle waterfalls. More boulders can edge the pond and act as an informal path. A contoured timber decking can then add 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.
7. 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: Style and scale
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, waterproof a backyard pond with thick rubber liners, rather than prefabricated forms.
8. Neatly landscaped
Have a large backyard lawn area? Add drama and interest through the incorporation of the water feature. If you also have stylisd, linear decking, a naturalistic shaped pond contrasts well. Enhance it with an idiosyncratic planting of boulders and shrubs.
9. Stack it up
For edging, stacked boulders in an array of sizes give a natural look. Or create a year-round “softscape fence” with a dense planting of evergreens and shade-loving plants.
10. Fire and water
Only have a smaller yard space? A popular contemporary option is to introduce a raised garden bed with a cascading fountain which fills a small fish pond below. At the other end, have a firepit!
11. Bridge over tranquil water
Transform your whole backyard into a stunning aquatic landscape by adding 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 will create the illusion of depth.
12. Have rain chains above your pond
I just love the idea of rain chains. They’re a centuries-old Japanese invention, whereby rainwater runoff is diverted via a series of chains into a small pond below. The cascading water produces a unique musical effect.
Key consideration: Placement
Deciding on the best possible location for backyard ponds? Think about how you intend to use the pond and of course where the pond will look best and provide the most visual pleasure. You’ll need to consider the views from all areas of your backyard as well as from the inside of your home. And think about the potential reflections you’ll get in your chosen spot. You’ll also want to place your pond somewhere with access to water and electricity if your pond will utilise pumps and filters. And finally, also consider the position’s available sunlight if you intend to grow thriving aquatic plants and fish.
13. Pond platform
For a wonderful contemporary entertaining space, why not build a decking platform to jut out over your shimmering pond? Ensure your pond cleverly hides any visible pumps, pipes or filtration systems. Or, design it to be a true ecosystem pond, with natural water filtering plants and fish which eat pests and prevent algae formation.
14. Interconnecting decks
You could also create a series of interconnected decks, making multiple viewing areas for a dramatic aquascape. Soften hard lines of timber decking with the addition of rounded rocks. And juxtapose the hardness of rocks with soft sprays of cottage garden flowers.
15. 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.
16. Use landscape lighting for atmosphere
A gorgeous contemporary courtyard can easily incorporate 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. It will also enhance a pondscape’s often vibrant colours.
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. Replace a portion of patio with a small pond with a see-through window (either tempered glass or plexiglass). This will increase your 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. It will also allowing your deck to remain spacious and uncluttered.
19. Tree free
It may seem a serene setting to place your pond under a tree. But it’s a good example of how the location will likely affect maintenance. 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. Something to bear in mind when planning your pond location.
20. Flagstone pavers
The border you create around the edge of your commercial pond form will make the pond seem larger than what it is. For a cosy, rustic setting, harmoniously blend flagstone pavers with river rocks bordering the pond. Need some more inspo? Check out these paving ideas.
21. Japanese style
The classic aesthetics of Japanese garden design are present in many a pond setting. A sense of serenity and tranquillity and plenty of asymmetry, curves and rounded forms. Arching bridges add height and depth, while meandering walkways and massive boulders add visual interest. And gazing at reflections in water is generally very Zen!
22. Patio pond
A small rectangular pond on your patio can act as a focal point and increase the ambience of the space with flickering reflections. Even a tiny pond 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.
23. Reflective water bowls
Have a spatially-challenged courtyard? Use reflective water bowls to stunning effect. Bring in the benefits of soothing water into any space no matter how small. Just add 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’ll have lovely pops of bright green from the foliage, with gentle repetition through the large leaves floating in the bowl.You can find them in any material you like, whether timber, stone or metal. For more ideas on how to style a courtyard, you might also like to read our article on courtyard gardens or find ideas for privacy fences.
Key consideration: Naturalistic or linear?
One of the big decisions you’ll make is whether to create a naturalistic looking pond or something man-made in appearance and symmetrical. Many people love the asymmetrical natural style as it adds curvature and shape to your space. And because a natural look really suits a true ecosystem pond. Such backyard ponds look amazing constructed without any man-made materials (like concrete or brick) or visible pipes or pumps. Instead, only water, stones and plants are visible to the eye. On the other hand, if you prefer a modern, streamlined look, you can go with any material you like and which complements your home’s style.
24. Pond in a box
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.
25. Container water garden
Not 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. 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. Then add marginal plants inside and then top with floating plants such as water lilies, water lettuce or water hyacinth.
26. 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 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!