Water in the garden can bring an exciting element into your design. Moving water has both the visual and auditory component to it and is good to take your mind away from surrounding noises of the urban environment.


You can of course put in a still water pond, but for most gardens, with smaller water size features, it’s worth getting a pond pump to keep the water aerated.

I’m not going to go too heavily into the technical aspects of pond and water feature construction, because there are lots of specialist websites that are experts on the technical side of things. Here, we’re going to focus on design and how it relates to your garden.

What are the most important things to think about when adding water in the garden?

  1. Where are you going to locate this said area of water?
  2. Do you want a pond or a water feature?

Ponds tend to have larger open area of water, whereas water features tend to have a cascade of water that goes down into a reservoir, that’s usually underground.

Let’s first take a look at ponds, as they tend to be a little bit more work than having a simple water feature.


The main trick with making a pond look good in the garden, comes down to size. The mass of water needs to be visually the right size and also the right depth. The depth will come down to whether you’re having fish and other wildlife in it or have small children’s safety to consider.

It’s important to get the overall size of the pond correct so that it looks in proportion to the rest of your garden. Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific formula, that’s why it’s best to put it on paper before you build it, so you can check you’ve visually got the right size.

What style of pond do you want?

Ponds come in all different shapes and sizes and styles. There’s everything from formal rectangular ponds that can be either raised up or flat to the ground. Then there is the very natural looking ponds which have varying depths for different plant and wildlife species and have irregular edges, with no straight lines. The varying depths help accommodate the different needs of a variety of wildlife. Having one end shallower, also helps them get out!


How to get the right position for a pond in your garden

Ponds have a larger open area of water than water features, so you have to take a little bit more care with placing them in the garden. Ideally, you do not want to put them somewhere where they can get too many leaves falling into them, so avoid directly under a tree for example. Sunlight is also important to consider, there is no right answer, it will depend upon the needs of what you have in your pond.

Your pond has to to work with the rest of the garden. So if you’ve got a very contemporary style of garden, then adding in a natural pond probably isn’t going to look right, unless it’s well away from all the areas of hard landscaping.


The biggest mistake with pond design…

The mistake that most people make is they focus all their attention on the pond and not the rest of the garden.  Then, once they’ve built it, it looks like someone dropped it from outer space and it landed in the garden!

It’s absolutely critical, if you want to incorporate any feature into your garden be it a pond, water feature or anything else, to take into account the overall design shape of everything you include in your garden.

A well-designed garden is like a jigsaw puzzle, everything has to fit in place or doesn’t work. Great looking gardens don’t happen by accident, they are not a series of unrelated features. Everything ties in together and has been thought about. If you’d like to see this demonstrated, then take a look at the free garden design web class where I walk you through all the steps to design a garden.

Next time we will look at water features and how to place them.

BUT do be warned, nice water features alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/



Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    4 replies to "Pond and water feature ideas – Part 1"

    • Joan Keeley

      Building a pond is not nearly as complicated, i know. I built a pretty little pond And I did its maintenance without ANY professional help but Pond Pro was my companion. To know more please visit https://joankeeleypond.blogspot.com/2014/12/pond-liner-comparison-sheet-epdm-vs.html

    • Anna Picket

      It would be fun to have a fountain in our landscaping. The look and sound of water would be so soothing. But the ponds in these pictures look great as well. Maybe we should talk to a professional to see if they think our yard is big enough for a pond to do it justice. https://lllandscapingkitsap.com/


      Totally agree with you Rachel – often people just ignore the landscape and “plant the pond”. One rule of thumb I’ve always found works is to look at the garden from an upper storey if possible, bedroom window, attic, balcony or even a ladder.

      • Rachel Mathews

        Yes, that’s a great idea, Janine – they will get the ‘plan view’ then!

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