There’s just something about a pond that exudes peace and tranquility. The wildlife, the sound of running water, the light reflecting off of the water… What could be more soothing?
In fact, studies show that spending time close to water is associated with many physical and mental benefits, including higher levels of vitamin D, better social relations, better moods, lower stress levels, and more.
Adding a pond to your backyard or garden will transform the space, bring a touch of magic, and encourage you to spend more time outdoors. In this article, we’ll share lots of backyard pond ideas to help inspire your project. Let’s get started!
Backyard Pond Ideas: Key Considerations
Before you decide to add a pond to your backyard, there are a few key factors to consider.
You should think carefully about the pond’s aesthetics, location, size, water circulation, whether to include a waterfall, filtration, and other maintenance requirements. Another important consideration is whether the pond should be above ground, inground, or partly inground.
We will cover many of these topics in the sections below, so read on to learn more and make a plan.
Small Backyard Pond Ideas
It may seem counterintuitive, but small ponds typically require more maintenance than larger ponds. With larger ponds, it’s easier for the water to circulate, which helps keep the pond healthy and clean.
That being said, if you have limited space, there are many creative and unique ways to incorporate a small pond into your patio or backyard. One popular option is to build an above-ground pond into your patio by laying bricks or cement blocks. You can use the walls around the pond as seating areas, making the space ideal for entertaining.
Another compact backyard pond idea is to use an old bathtub and fill it up with water and live plants. Bathtubs already come equipped with the proper hookups for water inlet and drainage, so this is a great DIY and low-budget option. An old galvanized tub or trough works just as well as an old bathtub.
If you’re super low on space, a small zen container pond with water plants can go a long way. This option is small and compact enough to fit on a tiny balcony!
Large Backyard Pond Ideas
As mentioned above, larger ponds are typically easier to maintain because it’s easier to circulate them and keep them clean. Also, if you have a lot of space to work with, you can really get creative with your backyard pond.
Many larger ponds include a creek-like feature that leads into a larger pond area. Kidney-shaped ponds work well for the larger pond area and fit perfectly alongside a curved pathway. They also tend to look more natural than perfectly circular or angular ponds. For some “wow factor,” you can add a small footbridge over the creek for peaceful strolls along the water.
With larger ponds, you’ll probably want to include lots of plants and trees to add visual interest. Willow trees with boughs hanging out over the pond are incredibly beautiful and picturesque. Better yet, they thrive near the water and act as bank stabilizers and purifiers. Japanese maples are another great tree option to plant around your backyard pond and can help create a zen garden aesthetic. Magnolia trees also do well in moist soil near water, and they produce jaw-droppingly beautiful blooms in the springtime.
You can also add a variety of water plants to the pond itself. Lily pads and water lilies are a classic choice; not only are they beautiful, they also help create a safe habitat for fish and prevent erosion in larger bodies of water. Other water plants to consider include common arrowheads, blue flag water irises, pickerel plants, and purple pitcher plants, just to name a few.
To finish off a large pond and make it extra special, consider adding some garden art to the mix. Solar floating ball lights like these can help create a romantic ambiance at night.
Lastly, waterfalls work great with larger ponds. We’ll explore waterfall options in more detail in the section below.
Backyard Pond and Waterfall Inspiration
A waterfall takes an average pond and makes it magical! There’s nothing quite like the soothing sound of running water in your very own backyard.
Waterfalls usually work best when you have a natural hill to work with close to your pond area. Otherwise, you may need to create a waterfall that flows out of a wall or other structure.
If you think outside of the box, there are many creative ways to incorporate a waterfall into your pond area, no matter the shape or size. For example, you can arrange wooden wine or whiskey barrels to form a multi-tiered waterfall.
Circulation is an important consideration if you plan to include a waterfall in your backyard pond. You will need to make sure you choose the correct pump size for the size of your pond and the height of your waterfall.
How to Achieve a Natural Backyard Pond
Ponds can be made in many different ways. Natural wildlife ponds are easier to create than other types of ponds, because they do not require a pump or source of electricity. This kind of pond isn’t usually stocked with store-bought fish, but instead becomes a home to whatever backyard wildlife you may have nearby, from frogs to slugs and more.
Backyard ponds tend to look most natural when they incorporate elements from their natural surroundings. If you use rocks or stone, choose hues that blend in with your garden and home exterior, or use natural stone from the area if you can. If you plant trees or plants, stick to native species for a more natural look and feel.
Plants go hand and hand with ponds, for aesthetic as well as practical reasons. Plants are a key part of your pond’s ecosystem because they help absorb nutrients from wildlife waste, keep algae at bay, and naturally filter the pond. In warmer climates or summer months, it’s recommended that 40% of your pond surface be covered with Water Lilies and other floating plants.
Backyard Pond Fountains
A fountain in the middle of your backyard pond will stimulate the senses. The continuous movement and ripples created by the running water are mesmerizing and meditative. And nothing is more soothing than the sound of running water.
If you’re working with limited space, but still want to achieve these effects, you can build or buy a pondless fountain. We love this idea of creating a DIY stacked rock fountain that incorporates a variety of natural rocks from your area.
Choosing Backyard Pond Fish
Fish can play an important part in your pond’s ecosystem, eating algae and helping to fertilize your plants. Goldfish are a popular choice for backyard ponds because they are low-maintenance and can survive most weather conditions. Minnows are a great choice for smaller ponds, while koi fish should only live in larger ponds. It’s best to stock your pond with native species whenever possible. The number of fish suitable for your pond will depend on the fish species, fish size, and the size of your pond.
Backyard Pond Maintenance
Specific pond maintenance will depend on the size of your pond and what elements you incorporate. For example, a small garden pond stocked with fish will require more regular maintenance than a large wildlife pond.
Below are some general backyard pond maintenance tips to keep in mind:
- Clean your pond regularly.
- Maintain your pump, filter, lines, waterfalls, and fountains, if applicable.
- Maintain proper temperature, water level, and chemistry.
- Control algae growth in the summer and ice in the winter.
- Troubleshoot and repair leaks.
- Manage and grow plants.
- Make sure it’s well aerated.
Backyard Pond Ideas: Wrapping Up
As you can see, there are so many ways to go about installing a backyard pond. You can go the natural route and create a wildlife pond that will act as a thriving ecosystem for native plants and wildlife, or you can go with something more contained and man-made. You can go big and create a large pond complete with a creek and footbridge, or keep it simple and buy a potted zen pond for a smaller outdoor space.
Whatever you decide, what good is a beautiful backyard pond without a comfortable place to kick back and take it all in? Once you have your backyard pond up and running, complete the setup with some patio furniture and fun, durable cushion covers. Your backyard will feel like your very own private oasis!