Bring your garden to life with a sensationally sensory pond.
Introducing a pond into your back garden is one of the most striking landscaping decisions you can take. Not only will the element serve as a natural focal point for your garden, but it will also act as a magnet for local biodiversity, literally bringing the space to life. With the addition of carefully planned embellishments, such as fountains, waterfalls, fish and plant life, you can create movement, intrigue and attraction in one fell swoop.
In fact, ponds which incorporate some kind of water feature become instantly transformed into a multi-sensory experience, since the beautiful aesthetic of the arrangement is complemented beautifully by the playful splash of the water and the pleasing ripples that it creates. It’s no surprise that water is believed to be highly therapeutic, so bringing it into your back yard is a no brainer for anyone with the space, resources and time to devote to it.
Of course, it may be that your garden is on the smaller side, but that needn’t deter you from pursuing the inclusion of a pond. With a little bit of creativity and outside-the-box forethought, you can fashion an attractive water feature in even the tightest of spaces. On the other hand, those with grander ambitions will obviously need to have deeper pockets and greater commitment to their task and may wish to contract the services of a trained professional, especially if complicated plumbing or electrics are involved.
Before picking up a shovel or laying down some liner, it’s important to consider what kind of pond you’re looking to incorporate. Start with the basics, such as its general dimensions and the location in your garden you wish to place it, as well as the composition of the soil beneath. Then factor in the style you want to emulate and the materials you plan to use to do so, as well as any additional features, fish and plants you’re going to put in place (but remember that plenty of wildlife will come of its own accord).
Once you have all of these pieces of the puzzle in place, take a glance over our list of suggested garden pond ideas below to give you further inspiration. It goes without saying that none of them are hard-and-fast concepts and can be tweaked, amended and combined to achieve the aesthetic that you want in the space that you have. Just remember that while a pond might seem like a lot of work at the outset, it will be worth its weight in gold for the hours of tranquillity and peacefulness you’ll spend admiring it in the future.
1) Pond in a pot
This is the most basic and space-efficient option on this list, for those who really don’t have much to work with. In fact, this diminutive landscaping option can even be incorporated into a balcony or terrace if space is really at a premium! All it involves is taking a large pot, container or other receptacle and filling it with water – and hey presto! You’ve got yourself a makeshift water feature.
Of course, you can enhance the aesthetic appeal of this smaller suggestion by choosing an interesting receptacle to house your pond in, such as the barrel pictured above. Other alternatives include upcycled bath tubs and even wheelbarrows, while the addition of embellishments like plants, fish and even a waterfall can add real value to a truly minimalist display.
2) Creative conversions
Another way to make the most of the space available to you is to incorporate features that are already present in your garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a well on your property – and you don’t use it for its primary function of hydrating the household – it’s an easy enough job to convert it into an attractive water feature. Of course, the elaborate setup pictured above is one of the more polished options on the table, but you can achieve similarly impressive results with a less labour-intensive alternative.
Alternatively, there are other garden features that can be turned into a pond, as well. If your property contains a swimming pool or hot tub that simply isn’t getting enough mileage, it’s a straightforward job to open it up to other species which will certainly make ample use of it. Raised flower beds are another option for pond conversions, while if persistent flooding of your backyard is a problem, you could embrace the issue by turning it into a bog garden.
3) Fish frenzy
The best way to bring biodiversity into your pond is through the introduction of fish, which will encourage a more sophisticated ecosystem, add vibrancy and colour to your pond’s palette and create constant motion beneath the waves. Koi carp are the primary choice when it comes to stocking a garden pond, but there are plenty of other species to choose from as well, including sturgeon, shubunkin and even the common goldfish, providing it is introduced into its outdoor habitat appropriately.
Indeed, that kind of care and consideration should go into every decision you make with regard to releasing fish into your pond, since some will be better equipped to handle the ambient conditions of their new environment than others. Plus, the threat of our fish-guzzling feathered friends (like storks, herons and other wading birds) is never far away. Keep your fish protected with netting, tripwires, vertical sides and foliage over the top of the pond’s surface.
4) Wonderful waterfalls
The addition of a waterfall is perhaps the most power element you can add to a pond. The constant movement of water is both ceaselessly busy and strangely soothing, adding a delightfully trickling aural aspect to your garden’s aesthetic display. What’s more, waterfalls don’t just carry cosmetic value, but also help to aerate the pond and provide oxygen for fish, amphibians and other aquatic creatures which will be drawn to your garden in their droves.
The ambitious arrangement pictured above is particularly arresting due to the manmade rock wall, which not only provides a stunning backdrop to the cascading liquid, but also offers a shady place for animals to shelter beneath and stay safe from the unwanted attentions of those aforementioned wading birds. There are far more easily achievable options on the table, but some rudimentary plumbing to incorporate a pump will invariably be necessary.
5) Make a feature of a fountain
While waterfalls often depend upon utilising the natural contours of your garden (or else artificially constructing a raised platform for the water to run from), a fountain is something of a shortcut to achieving a similar effect. You’ll still enjoy the agreeable gurgle of the H2O as it bubbles up and over into your pond, but without the necessity of having different levels to work with.
Fountains are also considerably more flexible than waterfalls. With the latter, you have little in the way of choice beyond a natural aesthetic or a modern, manmade design. With the former, there’s far greater wiggle room available – from angels, gargoyles and animals to towers, taps and even just basic sprinkler-style devices, the world is your oyster. In fact, you can even include a clamshell fountain if you harbour a penchant for seafood!
6) Bridge over tranquil water
You might be surprised how much the addition of a bridge can transform the appearance of your pond – and your backyard around it. Whether you go for a simple wooden construction like the one featured above, a more ornate metal bridge or even an old-fashioned brick alternative, a bridge is guaranteed to enhance the aesthetic qualities that your pond carries with it.
A bridge isn’t just for show, either. Obviously, it can provide an additional route of access from one side of the pond to the other, but the main beneficiaries of its inclusion might actually be those residing beneath the waves. That’s because a bridge can obstruct the vision of predatory birds and prevent them from gobbling up your fish stocks, as well as providing plenty of shade for the pond’s residents to luxuriate in when the sun is blazing.
7) Floating pathway
One alternative to the significant expense involved in buying a bridge (or the substantial elbow grease associated with building one) is to place a pathway in your pond. This can either be made out of stepping stones as in the image above, or alternatively via a wooden structure that sits just above the water’s surface. The latter option is perhaps more desirable for the animals living in the water (for the same reasons mentioned above regarding bridges), but will also incur markedly more work to put in place.
Whichever you go for, it’s imperative to make sure that the path is sturdy enough to support the weight of adult humans – after all, you don’t want any unpleasant slippages into the drink! The same rings doubly true for younger members of the family, since children are bound to want to test the structural integrity of your path by jumping, running and hopping across its surface. Safety first.
8) Japanese zen
It’s no secret that the land of the rising sun has a reputation for horticultural flair. Visit almost any botanical garden in the world and they’re likely to have one corner of their grounds devoted to Japanese feng shui, with a striking pond invariably the focal point of the display. Many of the elements already discussed (such as colourful koi, a lively fountain and a bright red bridge) can be incorporated alongside one another here to recapture the intrigue and aesthetic splendour of the orient in your garden.
Indeed, the picturesque garden featured above just goes to show that you don’t need a huge canvas to paint upon nor a lavish budget to blow in order to achieve a really impressive end result. The presence of bamboo screening, delicate ferns, a modest water feature and a stone pagoda are all that’s required to create a Japanese display that positively exudes zen.
9) Lily pad lagunas
There are few plants that are more intrinsically linked with ponds than lilies. The expansive pads of their leaves unfurl luxuriantly across the surface of the water, while the bright colours of their floral blossoms add panache to the pond’s appearance. It’s for those reasons that they’re often considered as the crowning jewel in any backyard pond – but the work they do behind the scenes makes them perhaps far more deserving of that accolade.
Aside from being pleasing on the eye, lily pads do much to encourage biodiversity beneath the waves. Their root systems suck up excess nutrients from the water and their broad leaves block out sunlight from above, thus lowering the temperature of the pond – both of which help to keep algal growth to a minimum. As with the bridges and paths mentioned above, they’re also great for providing shade for fish and freshwater mammals to rest under – as well as a lovely chaise longue for frogs and toads to lounge upon above water.
10) Uplight at night
While much of the designing process of your pond might focus on how it looks in the daytime, its appearance during nightfall shouldn’t be neglected, either. That’s especially true given that tasteful arrangement of lamps, lanterns and other forms of lighting can help to illuminate the pond when the sun goes down and accentuate its strongest features, bringing a whole new ambience to your back garden.
Simple solar-powered lights like the one pictured above are great for an affordable and environmentally-friendly fix, but there are plenty of more adventurous options on the table. Just be sure to tailor your choice of lighting fixtures to the general theme of your pond, employing stone lanterns in a Japanese garden, chic uplighting in a contemporary space and wrought-iron lamps in a traditional display. Get the combination right and your pond might look even more attractive after dark than it does in the light.