Small backyard pond & water garden ideas

Written by shawn mcclain
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Small backyard pond & water garden ideas
Small flowers can help make a small pond look bigger. (water lily image by Michael Shake from

A backyard pond or water garden can be a great place to go and get away from the world, but if you don't have a lot of space, your pond options can be very limited. Instead of taking up the entire back yard with a regular pond, consider one of several ways to make a small pond that will still be attractive and functional.

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Tub Ponds

One of the hardest parts about installing a backyard pond is creating a watertight liner for the pond itself. Small ponds have an advantage here, as a large tank or tub is already watertight and just the right size for a small garden. Dig a hole and set the tub into the ground, with the top either at or just above the ground level. Carve an overflow channel into one side of the tub, and you are ready to start adding plants to your pond garden. For very small gardens, one tub is all you can fit in, but slightly larger gardens can use multiple tubs to create a string of small ponds connected by water channels.

Geometric Shapes

Ponds naturally have an irregular shape, so a small pond can stand out if it has crisp, straight lines and edges. Use a combination of squares, rectangles and triangles to create to give the pond a contemporary look. Surround the pond with blocks of stone, creating a nice, straight ledge for people to enjoy the pond. You can also include a straight vertical wall on one edge of the pond and then pump water to the top where it drops back into the pond through a notch in the wall. This type of waterfall creates a much cleaner line than a normal waterfall, and meshes better with the clean lines of the pond.

The Corner Pond

In a small backyard space, even a small pond can easily dominate the entire area. To make better use of the available space, position the pond in one of the remote corners of the area. The combination of a small pond, a small water feature such as a fountain or waterfall, a bench and a few large plants can create a secluded space away from the world.

Cascading Waterfalls

When installing a water garden without a lot of surface area, consider building up instead of out. A series of stacked rocks can create a terraced formation to house a series of waterfalls. Not only does the structure itself look good, but it can house three or four waterfalls in the space just one would normally take. Building up also leaves room for a small pond at the base of the structure.

Miniature Gardens

Ponds are almost always accompanied by plant life, but a small pond can easily be dwarfed by just a few plants. To correct the issue, consider purchasing a number of miniature aquatic plants. These plants, such as miniature waterlillies, blue moneywort and miniature cattail, look similar or identical to their larger brethren but won't overwhelm a small pond. Only use miniature plants if all the plants in the pond are small, as larger plants can quickly overrun them.

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