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How to Design a Pond and Water Feature
One of the most powerful elements you can add to your landscaping is a water feature. Ponds with waterfalls bring a multi-sensory experience to your outdoor space by creating reflections, movement, and sound. They are an ideal solution for smaller properties that don't have space for a pool. Water is therapeutic for everyone and can bring nature closer to those who are confined at home, like the elderly or infirm. A pond can become the focal point of a yard or outdoor room, regardless of size.
In planning a pond with a waterfall or water feature, consider:
- Location: Choose a spot that will be a nearby focal point and is convenient to access. Also think about what's underneath, as in soil.
- Materials: Liner materials, along with surrounding natural and manmade features.
- Size: Visit botanical gardens and water garden dealers for ideas. Think about the shape and setting, relation to plants, and scale within your own yard.
- Style: Design a pond that complements the architectural style of your home and reflects your region's landscape. Formal or informal? Possibilities include: Japanese garden ponds, wildlife or naturalistic ponds, modern, and old-fashioned or cottage-style.
- Pump system: This recirculates the water for your fall, fountain, or stream. Make sure you select one large and powerful enough to operate a waterfall or feature.
- Landscaping: In addition to the surrounding landscape, a pond opens up the opportunity to explore plants that are suitable for a water garden. Depending where you live, choices might include tropical water lilies, papyrus, ferns, and hostas.
- Hardscape and ornaments: Ideally, your choice of hardscape will make your pond blend into the landscape rather than look as if it mistakenly plopped into your yard. Edging and surrounding hardscape might be ceramic tile, concrete, or stones. Ornaments include objects like bridges or statuary like frogs kissing under umbrellas or spitting fish.
- Lighting: Waterproof LED fixtures allow you to gaze at your pond after hours and extend your viewing pleasure. Spotlights might emphasize the waterfall, a graceful ornamental grass, or a whimsical statue. Let an aquatic electrician handle the job.
- Fish and other pond animals: Koi add a vibrant touch of orange, black, and white as they swim in a pond. Be aware that some birds of prey—like herons, owls, and eagles—can swoop down and grab a koi in seconds. To deter birds and wildlife, ponds can be designed with deeper areas (2 feet or more) in the center and vertical edges with a minimum depth of 15 inches. Netting can also be used. Experienced pond owners and designers recommend building an arbor or archway over a pond so that birds can't see what's in the pond when they fly overhead.
- Safety: Children can drown in just a few inches of water. Consider the ages and accessibility of your children or any who might visit your yard and consider an enclosure.
- Local codes: Like many outdoor projects, check with your local planning department to make sure you comply with building codes. These can vary from maximum pond depths to fencing.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of ponds and waterfalls with these 25 stunning designs.Continue to 2 of 26 below.
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A small contemporary yard in San Francisco designed by Rossington Architecture features a concrete water basin that overflows into a rectangular koi pond.Continue to 3 of 26 below.
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Statue Water Feature
A concrete ledge provides the perfect perch for a boy-with-hose fountain. Designed by Greater Detroit Landscape Co., the pond is also a wading pool.Continue to 4 of 26 below.
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Philly Fish Pond
Continuing the use of brick, Cadre Design & Development in Philadelphia designed a small koi pond and waterfall for a Manayunk row house that adds movement and life to this city spot.Continue to 5 of 26 below.
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Landscaping makes a human-made pond appear natural. Plants soften the space by adding color and texture. Aquatic plants are necessary for the health of a pond's ecosystem, depriving algae from its food source. Acorn Ponds and Waterfalls, who designed this pond, recommend planting iris, variegated sweetflag, taro, cardinal flower, and water mint.Continue to 6 of 26 below.
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A kidney-shaped pond measuring 20 feet long x 15 feet wide x 4 feet deep requires about 5,000 gallons of water. Designed by Rooms & Blooms of Toronto, Canada, the pond features a liner made of fish-safe rubber, an underlayment of geotextile cloth, and 4 inches of sand. The water is pumped by an Aquascape pump into a natural filtration system filled with nutrient-absorbing plants and released over the waterfall. Plants are set in and around limestone rocks embedded into the water for a natural effect.Continue to 7 of 26 below.
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Stone Wall Pond
Native grasses planted near a pond designed by King Landscaping of Atlanta give the landscape a natural look that complements the warm tones of the rocks used to build the wall.Continue to 8 of 26 below.
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King Landscaping of Atlanta designed a watercourse that begins on a slope, winding past stones, until it flows into a stacked-stone pond designed to complement the retaining wall. For ideas on how to create a natural watercourse, visit public gardens or hike along local streams. Notice the size, shape, and texture of rocks and how water moves over and around them.Continue to 10 of 26 below.
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Living Room with a View
As viewed through the pivoting glass doors of this Washington DC area home, a large waterfall creates a dramatic backdrop for a serene pond. Designed by Through the Garden, stones are strategically placed to create the look of a rock outcrop.Continue to 11 of 26 below.
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Front Yard Pond
A small koi pond in the front yard of a house in San Diego features architectural planters from which a waterfall flows. Created by The Design Build Co., the project features bluestone and tropical plants. Not surprisingly, koi are the most popular pond fish. Bottom feeders, they have big mouths that suck and blow around plant roots. In a perfect world, or pond, koi need high, vertical side walls, a bottom drain, and a properly working filtration system.Continue to 12 of 26 below.
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Ponds with waterfalls have many appealing qualities: they add movement and sound, are restful and mesmerizing to look at, and aerate the water, provide oxygen for fish, and other living things. This design, by AquaLife Ponds of Newport Beach, California, uses a mixture of boulders, stones, and pebbles for a natural effect. When designing a waterfall, keep it in scale with the pond. Waterfalls are most attractive when large, overhanging rocks or smooth, flat flagstones are used for the lip of the falls.Continue to 13 of 26 below.
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A low-falling waterfall glides into this koi pond designed by Aquatic Habitats Ponds and Watergardens. Whether you fill your pond with koi, goldfish, or minnow, overstocking is best avoided. If you aren't aware, fish adapt to overstocking by eating their own spawn or simply not spawning.Continue to 14 of 26 below.
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A formal architectural stone fountain designed by Through the Garden features a water curtain that flows into a pond. Built-in concrete seating provides a casual place to hang out for guests during parties.Continue to 15 of 26 below.
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Atlanta-based Paradise Ponds and Waterfalls builds ecosystem backyard koi ponds, pondless waterfalls, and fountainscapes. This waterfall features a vessel from which water flows over rocks and is artfully illuminated to enjoy in the evening.Continue to 16 of 26 below.
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Rocks surround a small pool designed by Water by Design of Calgary, Canada, before flowing down in a waterfall that emulates those found in surrounding mountains and near Lake Louise, on a smaller scale, of course.Continue to 17 of 26 below.
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The right blend of rocks and plants creates a breathtaking waterscape. Designed by Signature Pond and Patio of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, the project features multiple waterfalls. Beneath—or at the base of—those natural waterfalls are pumps. Although your pond designer will most likely take care of this, it's smart to be aware of the different types of submersible pumps available.Continue to 18 of 26 below.
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A pretty, do-it-yourself pond and waterfall was built with rocks stones, statuary, and aqua plants. Some of the most beloved pond plants are water lilies, which grow in colors like white, cream, yellow, peach, pink, and red. Submerged parts of the lilies provide habitats for pond creatures.Continue to 19 of 26 below.
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Building a pond that relates to the size of a garden is important to good, basic design. This pond, created by King Landscaping of Atlanta, is surrounded by lush landscaping and would appeal to a plant lover who prefers a natural setting rather than a more formal or architectural style.Continue to 20 of 26 below.
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Waterfalls and planting beds are supported by natural stone walls. Designed by Through the Garden, the rock walls blend with the environment but also provide a place to sit along a path.Continue to 21 of 26 below.
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Angel of the Water
A lovely, winged angel allows the water to flow gently around her as she sits and ponders while perched on this waterfall designed by Aquatic Habitats Ponds and Watergardens of New York.Continue to 22 of 26 below.
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Trailing plants and water trickle over the side of a boulder and waterscape feature designed by West Coast Rock and Waterfall of Vancouver, British Columbia.Continue to 23 of 26 below.
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Fish in a Small Pond
Proving that big isn't always better, a charming DIY pond is surrounded by rocks and a small waterfall that creates interest for a New Jersey landscape.Continue to 24 of 26 below.
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An geometric, architectural-style pond in the courtyard of a modern home features floating steps and fountain water features as a focal point.Continue to 25 of 26 below.
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Plants and flowers soften a well-designed DIY aquascape that features a gently flowing waterfall that spills into a tiny pond.Continue to 26 of 26 below.
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A backyard waterfall and pond project features lights that focus on rocks and plants at night.