When designing a backyard pond your goal should be to create a pond that looks like it has always existed in the landscape; incorporating natural, flowing lines with a variety of rock sizes and shapes.

Where you choose to locate your pond is another important consideration.




Natural Looking Waterfall

Pond Location

Be sure to choose a location where you can enjoy your pond. This means you don’t want to tuck it off in some far-off, unused corner of the yard. Instead, bring it up close to a deck or patio where you can relax and watch the fish. The more you interact with your pond, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Avoid placing the pond in a low-lying spot of the yard that already gathers water, no matter how convenient it seems. Allowing ‘outside’ water to seep into your pond could create nutrients that cause excessive algae blooms or other adverse circumstances for your pond and fish.

The Edge Treatment

One of the most important parts of pond design is the edge. Avoid a ring of same-sized rocks surrounded by grass. Instead, use plants to transition the pond’s edge into the rest of your landscape and incorporate a variety of rock shapes and sizes. The best ratio for rock size is 1:2:1 (1 part small, 2 parts medium, 1 part large). Look at ponds in nature to help you visualize the best placement for rock.

In order to maximize enjoyment from your pond, you’ll want to include interactive areas along the edges where you can dangle your feet and feed the fish. Consider adding a large, flat stone or two at the pond’s edge where you can sit and enjoy the fish. If you have pets, you’ll find this becomes their favorite resting spot in the yard.

Pond with a Cantilevered Deck


Plants help to provide a natural transition from the water to the landscape. Aquatic plants naturalize the pond and play a critical role in keeping the pond healthy by removing excess nutrients. Use marginal plants at the pond’s edge, and then be sure to add terrestrial plants surrounding the pond. In the pond itself, you can plant beautiful waterlilies or toss in a few water lettuce to bob on the surface of the pond and provide important shade cover for your fish.

Skimming the Surface

Every pond needs a skimmer to remove debris so you’ll want to make sure that there’s enough room to place your skimmer on the end of the pond. Skimmers are essential in drawing in surface debris and keeping it from decomposing and settling on the bottom of the pond, producing noxious gasses. Along those same lines, leave some room for the waterfalls, which should be kept in scale with the size of the project and the landscape. As a general rule, you want to place the skimmer and waterfalls at opposite ends of the pond.

Bridge for feet dangling

Designing Your Waterfall

Waterfalls can be short, tall, or long and stream-like. Waterfalls and streams are highly versatile and create soothing sounds in the landscape. Streams can be followed by pathways and traversed with stepping-stones and bridges for added interaction.

When designing streams and waterfalls, the main thing to look for is elevation changes that can work for or against you. Elevations working for you will have the slope coming towards the viewing area, such as a patio or deck. You can simply carve out the hillside to create a natural area for a watercourse.

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In addition to adding beautiful sights and sounds in the landscape, waterfalls aerate the water thereby improving water quality and creating a healthier environment for fish and plants.

Large flat stones for easy interaction

Adding Shelves to Your Pond

There are several reasons for building shelves into each and every pond:

  • Safety – Creating ledges allows easy access in and out of the pond for maintenance.
  • Stability – Terracing is much more stable and reduces the risk of the walls collapsing into the pond.
  • Plantscaping – Shelves create areas for aquatic plants. Check plant tags for depth of planting in the pond
  • Aesthetics – The shelves create interest on the pond’s bottom as well as giving it a more naturalistic appearance.
  • Efficiency Shelves create a more efficient utilization of materials and installation practices because it’s easier to build a series of small walls as opposed to one large wall.

Building Your Pond

Once you’ve taken into consideration these important design tips, you’re ready to build your pond. You can purchase a pond kit that includes everything you need besides the rock, fish, and plants. You’ll find an installation manual with the kit making it easy for you to properly install and enjoy your pond.

To view the 20-step process for installing your pond, visit http://www.aquascapeinc.com/20steps.

Aquascape Corp Logo

Jennifer Zuri is Marketing Communications Manager for Aquascape, Inc. and author of The Pond Builder’s Guide to Break Even.


Note from the hosts: I am fortunate to find myself in a Facebook group with some savvy business folk and social media masters.  Jennifer is one.  During the day, she is the voice of Aquascape Inc., a leading provider of premier pond products and water features.  You can also find them on Facebook & Google Plus.

Jennifer also writes a fantastic blog @ Town and Country Living.  Check it out!  Thank you Jennifer. I just love the pics you provided. Enjoy all.

Below you’ll find a sharable image; I woud love you pinned it now. Then, come back and read more about building a better Landscape and the best of Outdoor Living. To see me restore my own backyard pond, read the article – Restoring a Concrete Pond. Cheers.  ~jb

How to Design Backyard Pond

All images via AquaScape.