11 ideas from the best garden ponds I’ve seen
I’ve seen some beautiful garden ponds in both public and private gardens over the past few years.
A garden pond is more than just ornamental – it’s key to sustaining wildlife. Garden birds, pollinating insects and other creatures need water to survive. And in our paved-over cities and towns, that water is often in short supply.
Garden ponds can also be a place for you to reflect and relax. There’s something very soothing about water.
Some of these ideas are for new ponds, but others are ideas for adding something special to your current garden pond.
So here are my favourite garden pond ideas from garden visiting over the last few years.
If you’d rather watch a video than read a post you can find garden ponds here on YouTube.
‘Natural’ DIY garden ponds
I’m starting with the easiest, low-tech garden pond. These ponds are literally just holes dug in the ground, lined with heavy-duty pond lining plastic (held in place by rocks) and filled with water.
I’ve looked up pond lining plastic. The best-reviewed and best-selling one on Amazon came from PondHero – 2mx2m for £9.99, so not expensive.
Note: links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy, but it won’t affect the price you pay.
You can do the digging yourself or pay (or persuade) someone else to do it.
The advantage of this kind of pond is that you can build levels into the pond. Many small creatures can’t get out of a high-sided pond, and pond plants grow at different depths. So having a ‘beach’ or graded levels in your pond is a big plus.
You can also get hard pond liners, with graded levels, to create the same effect. Cover the edges of the pond liner with rocks or planting. These are called ‘pre-formed rigid pond liners’ and the most popular one I could find was the Bermuda Cover pre-formed pond liner.
The disadvantage of this kind of a pond is that it generally takes up a bit more space, and it won’t be suitable for the smallest gardens.
The rigid pre-formed liners are generally smaller, but you have to be careful that a small pond doesn’t dry out in hot weather.
Stone or brick garden ponds
If you want a more designed effect, then stone or brick garden ponds will (probably) need to be professionally built.
But they look smart, and will fit into any size of garden.
Raised garden ponds
One of the main issues you need to think about when planning a pond is whether babies or toddlers could fall in. A child can drown in a few inches of water.
A raised garden pond isn’t 100% safe, but it is probably safer.
Raised garden ponds are also particularly good in smaller gardens, as they introduce different levels to the design, and can fit into small spaces.
Classical garden ponds
I love classical garden ponds, like this one below at Doddington Place Gardens.
This pond area is in a show garden designed by Chris Beardshaw for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018.
I am not sure how easy it would be to maintain, as the pond goes right up to the garden wall, without an edge on two sides. But it’s an interesting idea and a lovely use of colour.
Exotic garden ponds
With today’s trend towards ‘exotic’ gardens, even in temperate climates, ponds can look jungly.
Use a mix of large-leaf foliage plants and other hardy plants, such as bamboo, to create a tropical effect. Let it get a bit overgrown for that wild, jungly look.
I have a couple of mini ponds in my garden.
I made one from an oak barrel half.
Mini ponds can fit in any garden, and are wonderful for wildlife, but you do have to consider a few factors. It’s important that wildlife can get in and out, for example, and they can also dry out in hot weather.
Add sculpture to your garden pond
Ponds and sculpture are a magical combination.
Make sure you have somewhere to sit near your pond
And add pots around the edge
Can you plan in reflections?
I don’t know whether you can plan your garden pond to make sure that it has amazing reflections on a sunny day. But it’s certainly worth thinking about!
Does your pond need a pump?
In my experience, you don’t necessarily need a pump for your pond, but you do need to keep it well oxygenated. Buy oxygenating pond plants from Amazon or local garden centres. I also have aquatic snails, which a friend gave me, which help keep my mini pond clean.
Some gardeners say that aquatic snails munch water plants as well as decaying vegetation. I have a water iris and some equisetum, which have not been nibbled by the snails.
Do you want a wildlife pond or to have fish?
This is quite a complicated question, but the short answer is that if you have goldfish or carp, they will eat much of the other wildlife that settles on or in the pond.
If you specifically want a ‘wildlife’ pond, then Making Wildlife Ponds by Jenny Steel will explain what factors you need to bear in mind. Fish keeping is another matter.
Other design aspects of your garden
Other important design elements in your garden include your garden steps, paths and seating areas.
For example, your garden steps need to have different proportions from the stairs in a house. Find out why along with other things you need to know about garden steps here.
Paths are not just practical. They also shape the design of a garden. Find out which path or paver material would be right for you in Garden paths – the good, the bad and the beautiful.
And seating areas are where you will enjoy your garden. See 10 practical and beautiful outdoor seating ideas here. Or choose from 30 inspiring examples of garden seating here.
Shop my favourite garden tools, books and products
I’m often asked for recommendations, so I’ve put together convenient lists of garden tools, books and products on The Middlesized Garden Amazon store. They’re all products I either use myself or which come highly recommended by others.
For example, one list is the Wildlife Friendly list, with bird feeders, bat boxes, hedgehog homes and more.
Pin to remember garden pond ideas
I hope you’ve enjoyed these garden ponds, and do join us. See here for a free weekly email with tips, ideas and inspiration for your garden from the Middlesized Garden. And the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel also uploads weekly.