Water Garden Design

Pond-ering a water garden? Discover what you need to know before adding a watery oasis to your backyard.

Garden With Wooden Bridge, Pergola & Pond

Backyard With Peaceful Pond

A charming pond and wooden bridge are enhanced by annuals and perennials in this backyard design by HGTV fan Tdnuss.

Photo by: RHGTV fan Tdnuss

RHGTV fan Tdnuss

Infuse your outdoor living spaces with the soothing effect of water. A trickling fountain, pond, gurgling stream, gushing waterfall—water garden designs can encompass a variety of sizes and styles. Your water garden design can host fish and colorful plants, and it will beckon all kinds of wildlife to your yard. Learn the basics about water gardening. 

Before embarking on developing a water garden design, do your homework. Visit local water garden owners, and check out landscapers who specialize in water gardens. Many have display gardens on site at their businesses and are happy to share portfolios of their work. Some even have clients who offer to let potential customers visit their water gardens.

It’s important to learn what kind of maintenance your water garden design will demand. With ponds, you’ll have to clean—empty and hose out—filters and skimmers monthly. In autumn, experts recommend weekly skimmer checks to remove falling leaves. Invest in a good pair of waders, because once a year, you’ll need to wade into the pond to add, move or thin plants. Make sure you understand what you must do to keep algae in check. This is an often-overlooked but easily addressed potential problem in water garden designs.

How deep your water garden should be depends on where you live, what plants you want to grow, and whether or not you plan to host fish. Most ponds require an oxygen source, such as oxygenating plants or a fountain. You’ll also need a filtration system. With pond equipment, you tend to get what you pay for, so it’s worth investing in high-quality filters and pumps that will last.

When adding a pond to your yard, you’ll choose between a preformed shell and a flexible liner. Either can create a natural looking water garden design. The secret is to make sure the shell or liner is fully hidden by surrounding materials.

Preformed shells are frequently made from rigid fiberglass or polyethylene. Fiberglass is the more durable material, but does fade when exposed to sunlight. Polyethylene shells don’t crack, fade, or chip and offer excellent durability and weather resistance. Expect most preformed shells to last anywhere from five to 50 years. How long your preformed pond liner lasts depends on your region’s weather, what the liner is made from and the installation techniques used.

Flexible liners are usually rubber or PVC. Both boast good durability, although rubber does have greater resistance to ultraviolet light. A flexible liner conforms easily to the earth, allowing you to create a pond with a one-of-a-kind shape, but it’s also easier to puncture. With a flexible pond liner, purchase the thickest material you can afford. A standard rubber liner weight is 30 to 45 mil, which you can expect to last approximately 20 years. 

If you don’t have room for an in-ground water garden, explore the options for patio and deck water features. A wall or tabletop fountain introduces the element—and sound—of water to an outdoor setting in an easy-to-maintain fashion. Tub water gardens can effectively host miniature water plants, including water lilies, corkscrew rush, or dwarf cattails. Include a fountain nozzle in your container water garden design, and you can savor the sound of moving water, too.

Any water garden design creates a watery ecosystem. Wildlife, including birds, insects, frogs, and turtles will likely visit your water garden and may set up housekeeping. Include a shallow puddle area in your water garden design so birds have a place to bathe. Add fish, and you’ll naturally keep mosquitoes at bay (fish love to snack on mosquito larvae). Take necessary precautions to protect fish from marauding wildlife, like herons and raccoons.

Next Up

Growing Water Lotus

An ideal choice for a water garden or meditation garden, water lotus, including the beloved white lotus, adds striking style with deep significance.

How to Create a Rain Garden in Your Yard

Do your part to save natural water resources by planting a rain garden. Learn about this easy-to-grow, clever concept.

Outdoor Designs That Won the Hearts of HGTV Fans

The HGTV audience has voted for their favorite outdoor designs from the 2018 Ultimate Outdoor Awards! See why they won over our HGTV fans.

10 Beautiful Garden Fountains for Every Budget

Create a relaxing getaway in your own backyard with the help of an outdoor fountain.

This Hydroponic Garden System Solves Your Small-Space Problems With Great Design

Want to grow your own veggies and herbs but are short on space, sunlight or patience — or all three? The Farmstand from Lettuce Grow will have you growing your own in no time.

How to Design a Container Garden

Follow this simple design concept and boost the impact of your container gardens with plants of various sizes, textures and color combinations.

10 Things to Know Before You Build a Pond

Thinking about adding a water feature to your yard? Here’s what you need to know before breaking ground.

Woodland Garden Design

Transform a shady, wooded area into a lush garden with these creative ideas.

Home Orchard Layout Tips

Get handy tips on creating a simple layout for your fruit trees.

How to Make a Container Water Garden

To grace an outdoor setting, a table or even an office, create a pond-in-a-pot with these simple step-by-step instructions.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.