What comes to your mind when you hear the term “garden pond design”?  Perhaps you are seeing a small garden pond with some goldfish darting around the beautiful plants. Or you could be imagining several koi swimming gracefully in a larger pond. A tranquil garden lake with gorgeous water lilies floating on the surface?

The great thing about ponds is that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.  Whether you prefer to have a small pond in your garden or a larger, koi-filled pond in your backyard, you can design it in any way you want.  This article presents some popular and unique garden pond design ideas that you might want to try for your next landscaping project.

The Basics

Before anything else, you need to think about the size, shape, depth, and other important aspects of your pond.  The size, of course, will depend on the location of your pond.  It could be a small-sized plant pond in your front garden, a large water pond in your backyard, or even a fountain or waterfall in your balcony!  Likewise, the shape of your pond should be based on your personal taste.  The depth of your pond should be at least 1.5 foot (45 centimeters), but this can go deeper particularly if you plan to grow big fish. You should also consider whether the pond will be placed in the ground or above it.  Notably, placing the pond in the ground can help in stabilizing the temperature of the water inside.

If you are planning to keep fish in your pond and temperatures in your region go near or below freezing point in winter, you definitely need areas in your pond which are 3 foot (1 m) deep at least. This prevents your pond freezing solid during winter. Your fishes metabolism will slow down considerably during winter and they won’t move much. But you’ll still need enough room to keep your fish comfortable, so don’t just dig one small hole and leave the rest of the pond shallow.

Popular Garden Pond Design Ideas

When it comes to building a garden pond, most people opt for a natural design.  These ponds easily blend in with their surrounding environment.  Usually, they differ in size, the type of plants, and the type of fish grown in them.

Small or Medium-Sized Natural Pond

small natural pond

A small natural looking pond. The rocks around the edge keep the pond liner in place and blend in nicely with the surrounding.

If you want to install a pond that is easy to clean and maintain, then a small or medium-sized pond is for you.

Depending on the size of your garden, this pond can be your main attraction or simply a part of a greater landscape design.  Despite its small size, you can place many interesting things in it, such as small fish, frogs, or turtles. And of course there’s plenty of aquatic plants to choose from.  Of course, you still need to make sure that it is wide and deep enough to create a healthy habitat for these plants and animals.

Large Natural Pond

If you have plenty of space in your garden or backyard, then you might consider building a large natural pond.  For this, you will need to design the different elements in greater detail.  You should add ledges or shelves where you can place marginal plants, submersible plants, and plants that provide cover and shade.  Large natural ponds are also perfect for growing koi, which would need plenty of space as they swim and grow.  Obviously, you must have a bigger filtration system to help in cleaning and maintaining a large natural pond.

Formal Pond

formal water feature

A water feature enhances even a formal garden and makes it more lively.

When your garden design is more modern and you prefer straight lines and rectangular forms your pond will have to adjust, or it will look out of place. You could go for a water feature without plants or fish. Materials such as marble, granite or polished concrete are suitable building materials. Grey, white or blue colors will underline a modern look. Add a fountain or a modern looking water spitter if you want to liven things up a bit.

Unique Garden Pond Design Ideas

Aside from natural ponds, more and more people today are putting up garden ponds with unusual designs.  These days, some of the more unique garden pond design ideas include the stream bed, the “pondless” fountain and the “pondless” waterfall!  These definitely do not sound like your usual garden pond.  Are you curious to know how these are made?  Read on to learn more!

Stream Bed

peacefully meandering garden stream

A stream in your garden may be meandering peacefully through the ground.

As the term implies, the stream bed is not exactly a pond, but a man-made stream.  Of course, you will need to have a rather large area for setting this up.  After deciding on its shape and size, find a place in your garden or backyard that is suitable for building a stream bed. At least a gentle slope is required for the water to flow. If you don’t have a sloping area in your garden, you will have to create an artificial slope with sand, rocks or soil.
Next, dig out the bed of your future stream, then place the pond liner to reduce water leakage. Avoid digging just a straight line, as a natural stream always has some bends and curves.
You might also add some terraces with water flowing over some flat rocks. Or build little basins in-between, where the water will build up before continuing its journey. These are also perfect for birds and other wildlife to drink and taking a bath.

garden stream with rocks and terraces

If you have enough room, you can create a rather dramatic effect using big rocks and several water terraces.

By adding such features, you will make your stream not only more interesting and give it a natural look. You will also attract birds, squirrels, rabbits and other animals. And with the local wildlife enjoying your water features, watching your stream will be more entertaining and enjoyable for you as well.
Take note that even if you are building a stream bed, you will still need to set up an actual pond, which will contain the water and your pump.  To create the illusion of a stream, put your pond and pump underneath or behind some well-placed rocks.  Don’t forget to construct the rocks in such a way that there will be a gentle flow of water along your “stream”.  For a more natural appearance, be sure to put some bog plants alongside, such as pickeral rush and cattails.

“Pondless” Fountain

Pondless fountains are becoming more and more popular these days, particularly in hotels, malls, and other commercial areas.  They come in a variety of designs and sizes, but the central attraction is the fountain itself.  Unlike natural ponds, pondless fountains are very easy to clean and maintain.  If you are planning to add an interesting touch to your home or garden, but do not have much time for cleaning and maintenance, then perhaps a pondless fountain is just what you need.

“Pondless” Waterfall

pondless waterfall in wall

A pondless waterfall as architectural element in a modern tiled wall.

Similar to the pondless fountain, the pondless waterfall would make an eye-catching addition to your garden or backyard. They can be integrated into a wall. A steel pillar combined with a waterfall element at the top would also make a unique addition to your garden design.

Pondless waterfalls, too, are easy to clean and maintain since you will not have to worry about any plants or fish.  Just make sure that your area is big enough to accommodate the splashes made by the waterfall.  Once it is turned off, you also need to make sure that the water will not overflow.

Final Thoughts

More and more people today are building ponds to help create a more relaxing and natural atmosphere.  At the end of the day, wouldn’t you want to just sit back, relax, and take in the sights and sounds of a beautiful garden?  Add to this the endless hours of entertaining your family and friends as they gaze at your pond plants and fish.  This vision can be turned into reality with the proper planning and design.  After all, you wouldn’t want to spend money creating an eyesore instead of a magnificent garden attraction!

When it comes to planning a garden pond, the important thing is to express your individual style and creativity.  Out of all the possible garden pond design ideas out there, what kind of design does speak to you?  Do you want a natural pond teeming with beautiful plants and healthy fish?  Or do you have a more aesthetic purpose in mind and would rather have a stream bed, a pondless fountain, or a waterfall?  Regardless of what your purpose is, make sure that the design you choose is something that corresponds to your personal style. A garden pond design that matches the overall theme of your garden will help you to enjoy and cherish your pond for many years to come!