Design a Small Pond: Step-by-Step Guide

The backyard pond can be an incredibly striking feature, adding a touch of beauty and tranquility to any outdoor space. This guide contains 20 beautiful backyard pond ideas for all budgets. These romantic designs will show you just how easy it can be to add a water feature to your outdoor space, that’s enjoyable, easy to maintain and still in keeping with your budget. From the classic container pond with stained-glass water lily to an old well inspired water feature – these ideas will help create a masterpiece with your backyard. Enjoy!

garden pond
Photo by Wonderlane, Small Pond

Planning Stage

A successful backyard pond design begins with careful planning. When choosing your pond location, you should take into careful consideration the flow of foot traffic, land grade, vegetation, and access points. Then choose the pond size and shape that best suits your backyard. A more square or rectangular shape will give the pond a formal feel, while a more naturally shaped pond can be less structured.

The pond depth should also be determined by the size of the pond, the type of fish or plants you plan to have in it, and the surrounding landscape. Keep in mind that deeper ponds will require more effort in terms of maintenance.

Choose Your Pond Location

Choosing the ideal location for your pond is the first and most important step of the design process. When deciding the perfect spot for your pond, you should consider the existing landscape and lighting, as well as access to water sources and power outlets. Furthermore, factors such as surrounding structures, existing wildlife and the climate of your location may also affect your pond’s design.

Ultimately, the best pond location will depend on your specific needs and the design of your outdoor space. By carefully considering these elements, you can choose the perfect spot to start building your backyard paradise.

Choose Your Pond Size and Shape

When choosing the size and shape of your pond, it’s important to consider the purpose, location and budget. If you’re looking for a small pond, try a rectangular or round shape for a sleek and modern look. For larger ponds, an oval shape can provide an interesting design with different levels and depths of water. You can also create custom shapes with curves and angles based on your space and the type of plants, fish, and decorations you plan to use.

Remember that the type of plants, fish, and decorations you choose will also determine the size and shape of the pond.

Choose Your Pond Depth

Depth is an important factor to consider when planning a pond. The depth of your pond must consider the type of pond life you want, the size of the pond, potential debris, and the type of soil in your area. A general rule of thumb is the deeper your pond, the better the quality of water and the more resilient the ecosystem will be. Shallow ponds are better for aquatic plants, providing a variety of habitats. Deeper ponds are great for fish and larger aquatic wildlife species.

Determine what type of aquatic life you would like in your backyard before choosing a pond depth. Consider if you would like a serene pond with goldfish, a koi habitat with a large array of wildlife, or a wildlife pond with native aquatic species. Properly researching all the options available will help you decide the ideal depth for your backyard pond.

Construction Stage

The Construction Stage is the next step in creating a small pond in one’s backyard. Firstly, the chosen area needs to be cleared of any debris or plants that may impede the construction. Secondly, the pond needs to be dug according to the desired size, shape and depth. Thirdly, the edges of the pond can be designed using flag stones or bricks. Finally, a liner should be laid at the bottom of the pond to prevent water loss and contain the structure. With proper construction, the pond will be ready for the landscaping stage.

Clear the Area

Cleaning the area to build a pond should be the first step to planning your own backyard pond. Start by assessing the current conditions of the area and remove any large rocks, roots and debris which may prevent a smooth pond-building journey. Pay close attention to the area around the pond, as this will become an important part of the visual display of the pond. Ensure your pond is away from any trees; this will reduce the chances of debris, such as leaves and branches, from entering the pond.

Clear a larger area of the land if you plan to add rocks, a footpath or decking. With everything cleared and ready to go, you are now ready to start your pond building journey.

Dig the Pond

Digging the pond is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming part of creating a backyard pond. It entails the use of basic tools like shovels, picks, and wooden boards. Initially, you will have to measure the pond’s radius and outline it on the ground. Then, begin to dig according to the predetermined depth and shape. Start from the sides and move towards the center. After that, check the bottom of the pond’s level, so it is even and smooth. Finally, the collected soil can be used to form a border, edge, or berm around the pond to prevent erosion.

Edge the Pond

When it comes to edging your pond, the possibilities are only limited to your creativity. Depending on your budget and preference, you could opt for a simple lumber edging, or get more creative and use stones and rocks, creating different levels of depth. If you’re looking for an more eye-catching style, consider creating a boulder edge, in which you use large rocks to give the pond depth and character, while also acting as an aesthetic highlight. This works best in natural environments and gives your backyard an organic and complete look. You may also want to consider creating a wall-like edging to add more stability and structure to the pond’s layout.

Line the Pond

D. Line the Pond is an important step in the construction stage of building a small pond. The type of liner you choose depends on your budget and aesthetic preferences. To add a visual element to the pond, opt for a liner made from rubber or plastic which will add a translucent sheen to the surface of your pond. To line a small pond with minimal upkeep, opt for a more resilient material such as stone or cement. Whichever material you choose, make sure to measure the area accurately before purchasing a liner to ensure the best fit. Additionally, when laying any liner, use an adhesive or gravel to secure it in place.

Landscaping Stage

Landscaping Stage is essential to make any pond look beautiful and inviting. You can use a range of natural and artificial materials to give your pond a unique look. Rocks, stones and other materials can be used to create contours, depth and waterfalls to suit any backyard space. Planting a variety of aquatic plants and flowers will help to make your pond an aesthetic addition to your landscape. Additionally, small decorations such as wind chimes and solar lights can be used to add a hint of character. Lastly, small water fountains can also be integrated to help create a tranquil atmosphere around the pond.

Adding Rocks and Stones

Adding rocks and stones to your small pond can help create a beautiful natural look. You must select the right size, shape, and color of stones to match the design of your pond. To create a more realistic effect, you can use different sizes of stones to create stepping-stones and a gradient of color. You can also create a layer of stones around the edges of the pond to give it more depth. Stones also help to keep the soil or grit from the bottom of the pond from washing away when it rains. Be sure to give proper thought when selecting rocks and stones for your backyard pond for the best aesthetics.

Plants and Decorations

Plants and decorations can add another layer of beauty to your pond, and the possibilities are almost endless. Floating and submerged aquatic plants can provide color and texture, and both oxygenate the water and provide food for your fish. You can also add colorful stones and gravel along the sides of the bank for a more natural look. Include old logs, rocks and other found objects as hiding places for fish.

Finally, colorful floating ornaments, such as lilies or ceramic fish, can give your pond an extra touch of whimsy. With an abundance of choices, it’s up to you to decide how to make your pond truly unique.

Maintenance Stage

Maintenance Stage is crucial for the long-term health of your backyard pond. An important part of pond maintenance is to keep the water clean by regularly testing and cleaning the pond. This includes removing debris, such as leaves and twigs, suspended in the water. A water clarification product can help reduce algae production and keep water conditions optimal. Adding fish, such as koi and goldfish, gives the pond an aesthetically pleasing look.

Finally, consider putting a cover on your pond to reduce the risk of debris and animals entering in. Keeping a regularly pond maintenance routine will help ensure your backyard pond is beautiful and safe for years to come.

Cleaning the Pond

Cleaning a backyard pond is an important part of keeping it in top shape. When done properly, it will prevent any damage to the pond itself, its fish, plants, and wildlife. The most common way to clean a pond is to drain it and then use a vacuum to remove all debris and excess sediment. Additionally, an algae treatment can be used to help remove any algae that might be present. For larger ponds, an aerator can also be used to ensure adequate oxygen levels in the water.

Once everything is cleared out, the pond can be filled back up with fresh water and the new water will provide a healthy environment for aquatic life. It’s important to remember that ongoing maintenance is essential for keeping the pond in perfect condition.

Testing the Water

Testing the water of your backyard pond is an essential step in its maintenance. Testing the pH, alkalinity, and ammonia levels of the pond water over time ensures that the conditions are suitable for the plants and animals in your pond. Furthermore, chemical treatments and additions like chlorine or baking soda can be added according to the test results and monitored on a regular basis to maintain a healthy state.

Furthermore, using a kit or other testing devices to measure the temperature of a pond’s water is also important for the long-term health of living creatures, as both extremely cold or hot temperatures can be damaging.

Adding Fish

Adding fish to a backyard pond can make it a stunning and vibrant area to enjoy. Before selecting fish, make sure to research the local climate and ensure that the fish you choose can physically survive in the pond size. Additionally, select a pond filter that can effectively handle the amount of fish that you plan to have in your pond.

Once the system is installed, small increments of fish should be added over time to allow the system to successfully establish a balanced environment. It’s also important to consider the size of the fish, the amount of vegetation, and the pond’s oxygen levels before adding fish to your backyard pond.


In conclusion, on one hand, constructing a small pond is a relatively simple and cost-effective project. On the other hand, it needs careful planning and a sequence of steps for it to turn out successful. With thoughtful planning and execution, you can build a small pond from scratch and keep it looking beautiful with minimum maintenance. Backyard ponds can make your outdoor living space look and feel more inviting, inspiring an array of interesting uses from family gatherings and celebrations to an enjoyable evening of relaxation.

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