I’ve collected some clever raised garden pond ideas, including DIY designs. Yes, you can build a homemade raised outdoor koi or lily pond. One of the coolest ideas for building a raised pond is to make a raised garden bed and then install a small preformed pond into it. Another easy idea is to use a stock metal tub or a galvanized tank, oval or round. I’m amazed at the designs people come up with. Some even have fountains and waterfalls built-in. You can also get a timber kit and assemble a small or large wooden pond of any shape, even one with viewing windows. You’ll quickly realize that the most important part of the design is the liner. I describe multiple ways of installing a liner, calculating its size, the type of liners to use, and other installation tips.
14 DIY Ideas
1. Homemade Wood Pond Plan
This homemade raised garden pond design is built from scratch meaning you can customize it to your liking. The very detailed instructions give you step-by-step DIY plans that are easy to follow and alter to meet your needs. This version includes a rectangular 80-gallon wood pond with a simple waterfall feature. Above the pond, there’s a shelf that allows you to decorate with planters and grow a few herbs and flowers.
They’ve also built it with seating so you can sit back and watch the fish swim around or enjoy the soothing waterfall sounds. The bench has a hinged top allowing it to be used for storage too! It’s even got a row of small LED lights installed around the base to illuminate the feature at night. This pond design can be built either on patios or any level surface in your backyard.
2. Use Preformed Pond Liners
This DIY raised garden bed pond idea features a preformed pond liner which is ideal for a DIY project. Preformed liners are simple to install and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This raised pond is built to look like an outdoor raised garden bed next to the deck. This is a great idea if you already have some raised beds in your backyard because it allows you to design the pond in a way that complements other hardscape features in your yard.
When it comes to edging ideas around your preformed pond rock and gravel work best. They allow for quick water infiltration during heavy rain, preventing mud from running into your pond. Surrounding this pond with white rock edging makes the black liner pop and provides some additional support to the liner. It also gives you somewhere to place potted plants which enhances the overall aesthetics of the design. In the center, they’ve added a planter with pitcher plants. Adding a rock waterfall in the corner not only looks great but helps aerate the water which is necessary if you’ve got certain plants or fish in your pond.
You could easily use railroad ties or railway sleepers for this DIY design to make it sturdier. However, using sleepers is more difficult due to their size and weight since railroad sleepers typically weigh up to 200 pounds or more!
3. Pond in a Raised Garden Bed
Here’s another version of a DIY garden bed pond design. This one is a little smaller which means it will be easier to install and more affordable. I love that they built the garden bed with the pond a bit higher than the rest, making it the focal point of the entire design. They’ve even added a small fountain in the center to elevate the design even more.
All you really need for this design is the preformed liner, fill dirt around the liner, some pebbles, and an electric or solar fountain. You can also add some plants to the mix like they’ve done here to give your raised pond some life. They’ve even added some artificial lilies to the water to add some color to the design.
TIP: While some fountains require electricity, there are others that either use batteries or solar panels which may be easier for you to install if your pond isn’t located near an outlet.
4. Corner Garden Pond
This small DIY raised pond idea has a triangular shape which makes it a fantastic corner garden idea. They’ve used a preformed pond, so no lining is required around it making it easier to install. Pebbles are used to fill in around the pond and some matching larger pavers or concrete blocks are stacked to create the walls. Ponds edged with landscaping rocks are easier to build than those using wood since no carpentry skills are required.
Placing a few large, flat rocks at the bottom of the basin gives the water some color and texture. The small waterfall completes the design and also keeps the water circulating for a cleaner pond. Planting flowers along the border is a magnificent way to add some color to the design.
TIP: Use caution when selecting plants to use near your pond. If they produce a lot of waste when flowers die or leaves fall off, you’ll have to clean your pond out more often.
5. DIY Raised Pond On a Budget
This brick raised garden pond is one of the simplest DIY designs on our list. It’s just the right size for a small backyard patio and can easily be completed in a single afternoon. They’ve used a preformed plastic basin and stacked bricks around the pond liner to give it some extra support. This is so much easier than hauling in a bunch of soil or gravel to fill in around the pond. Genius!
The bricks help to elevate the design by disguising the plain black sides of the pond liner. It also gives them a place to sit their adorable frog statues! To finish off the design they’ve added a variety of plants to the pond including lilies and dwarf cattails.
6. Two Tier Stock Tanks Design
Now this is a truly amazing two-tier DIY design for a raised lily pond! The two stock troughs they’ve stacked are made of galvanized steel which will hold up for years to come. I adore how they’ve placed it next to the raised deck which allows them to easily view the floating plants while sitting on the deck. They’ve even created a little walkway of pavers around the pond for easy access.
They’ve cut two sections of the upper trough and bent them 90 degrees to create an overflow design. This allows the water from the top tier to cascade down over the metal shelves to the bottom tier before being cycled back up to the top. The faucet fountain they’ve created to cycle the water pairs perfectly with the overall theme of this raised pond idea.
7. A Pond with Viewing Windows
Image credit: Etsy
This premade raised garden goldfish pond with glass viewing windows is one of the coolest designs I’ve seen! It has a unique hexagon shape with windows on the front that make it look like a pond aquarium. With this design, you can watch the fish swimming around within, even if you’re sitting on the other side of the deck. They’ve also added a floating planter which allows them to incorporate some plants as decor on the surface of the water.
This ready kit has been installed on a deck covered with artificial turf. You should only build your pond on decking if it has the proper amount of support for the weight of your pond. For instance, the water alone in this 172-gallon basin weighs over 1400 pounds! It’s best to install your pond at ground level to avoid any safety issues.
8. Easy to Assemble Small Timber Pond
Image credit: woodblocx.co.uk
For an easy DIY project, this pond timber kit offers a pre-cut pressure-treated pine frame that’s easy to assemble. The beveled edge on top of the wooden surround gives the design a high-end look. I like how the pond, adorned with its own greenery, practically extends the garden space.
This is a great low-maintenance pond option since it doesn’t have added features like fountains or waterfalls which often require maintenance to keep them running well. Instead, the owner has installed a variety of plants to add visual interest. The tall cattail grass on one end balances out the pickerel weed on the other end nicely.
9. Large Wooden Design
This large, rectangular pond kit is constructed with pre-cut wooden beams making assembly simple and easy. Using wood to construct your raised pond can be a great way to make the project more affordable, without sacrificing quality and design.
This kit comes complete with underwater lights, a planter in each corner, and a large waterfall feature. While adding all of those features to a large pond can seem daunting, assembling a ready kit makes it super easy. A ready kit might be a little more expensive than a DIY project, but the time it saves you might just be worth it.
10. An Instant Pond from a Steel Tub
Image credit: blog.vickiehallmark.com
A large steel tub, kind of what they use for an outdoor bath, is probably the easiest way to add a DIY raised pond to your backyard. The name “stock tank” refers to the fact that these galvanized steel tubs are meant to be used as watering troughs for livestock. However, they work just as well to create an outstanding garden pond without much effort. All you need is a level surface to sit it on and some water to fill it up.
This round corrugated steel basin makes for a fabulous lily pond idea. The 8-foot diameter provides plenty of space for the lily pads to spread out over the surface. To add some height to the design you can add some horsetail rush or umbrella palms.
11. A Narrow Tank for Small Gardens
If you have a smaller garden space in mind for installing your raised pond, use an oval-shaped stock tank. The tank in this image is only two feet wide but long enough to give you room for planting plenty of aquatic plants.
They’ve gone for a natural pond look here with a variety of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants in floating planters throughout the tank. The addition of the bucket waterfall pairs well with the metal tub and the overall theme of the design. The potted plants in front help dress up the galvanized metal siding a bit, though I’d move them to the center to hide the large logo that’s a bit out of place here.
12. The Elegance of Copper
The gorgeous finish on this copper trough is exceptional for creating a decorative raised pond! It complements the cedar wood fence here magnificently. It’s been filled to the brim with water plants including water hyacinths and umbrella palms. The copper egret statue is also a nice touch, bringing some formal artwork into the picture. What a fantastic idea for brightening up a side yard alleyway next to a house.
13. Inflatable Raised Garden Ponds
Image credit: ebay.com
This pop-up transparent raised garden pond has viewing windows so you can keep an eye on your fish and plants. Having windows can give you an entirely new view of the little ecosystem you create within. This kit is easy to assemble by simply putting the plastic support legs in place and blowing up the top ring.
TIP: This inflatable pond is better used as a holding tank for fish when cleaning your pond rather than a permanent patio fixture. The plastic it’s made from isn’t designed to withstand continuous wear and tear from the elements and would need to be replaced every few months.
14. Mini Pond for Patios and Porches
Mini resin raised ponds are just the right size for small gardens. They can also be used as decor on your backyard patio or front yard porch. These ponds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors so you can easily find one that’s to your liking. This design even has two tiers which allow you to have a waterfall in your compact space. The addition of a few plants like the corkscrew rush and golden creeping jenny here adds a nice splash of color to this charming design idea.
How to Build – Installation Tips from the Experts
Materials To Use For Lining Raised Garden Ponds
If you’re wondering how to build your own pond, choosing a liner will be an important decision. When it comes to lining a raised pond, there are three options to choose from:
- Preformed liners
- Flexible liners
- Concrete liners
Each type of liner has its own pros and cons. It’s important to understand the difference between liners so you can choose the best one for your project and your budget.
Preformed Pond Liners Are Easier To Install
A preformed or rigid liner is the easiest type of pond liner to install. They’re highly recommended for beginners or if you want your installation to be quick and easy. They also come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes which allows you to find the right liner to meet your needs.
The only downside to using a preformed liner is the price. They do cost a little more than a flexible liner. However, the time you save installing it may make the price worth it to you.
Flexible Liners: The Industry Standard For Lining Garden Ponds
Flexible liners are typically made of PVC and come in a variety of sizes. They allow you to make whatever shape or size pond you like. Flexible liners are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns too. While flexible liners are a bit cheaper than preformed liners, they take more skill to install correctly. It’s also highly recommended that you install underlayment beneath them which adds to the overall cost.
TIP: The pros at the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service say “Use a [flexible] liner specifically designed for pools. While other plastics initially may be cheaper, many are not resistant to ultraviolet light and will break down quickly.”
Calculate The Flexible Liner Size You Need
Flexible Liners come in a variety of sizes. You’ll need to determine the size you need to fit the pond you’re building. Here’s a simple equation you can use to figure out which liner you need to purchase.
Flexible Liner Dimensions = (longest length of the pond + 2 times the depth of the pond + 2) x (widest width of the pond + 2 times the depth of the pond + 2)
Example 1: If you want to create a pond that is 10 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 3 feet deep, the equation would look like this:
(10 + 6 + 2) x (6 + 6 + 2) = A liner that is at least 18 by 14 feet
Example 2: If you want to create a circular pond that is 8 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, the equation would look like this:
(8 + 4 + 2) x (8 + 4 + 2) = A liner that is at least 14 by 14 feet
If your shape is not square or circular, you can still use this equation. Simply determine what the longest, widest, and deepest part of your pond will be, and use those lengths in the equation.
Maximize Protection By Adding Pond Underlayment Beneath PVC Liners
If you’re planning to use a PVC liner under your pond, many experts suggest installing a ponder underlayment first. Some even suggest you use underlayment beneath preformed ponds for added support and protection.
The pros at Hoffman’s Water X Scapes say “Laying a liner without the protection of underlayment is taking a huge risk. Roots grow through dirt, rocks migrate with freezing and thawing ground and critters dig without concern for obstacles. All of these can pose a threat from beneath your pond liner.”
An underlayment adds an extra layer of protection underneath your liner to help prevent stretching and punctures. Though they do add an extra cost to your raised garden pond project, it’s likely well worth the investment in the long run.
Use Cement Liners For A More Permanent Raised Pond
If you’re wondering how to make the most permanent backyard raised pond, concrete liners are a good place to start. The lowest maintenance option for lining a pond is with cement. However, this is also the most expensive type of liner and often requires professional installation. Depending on the size of your pond, it may require an entire landscape construction crew to install. Another issue with cement is the impact it can have on the pH of your pond water.
The experts at Sacramento Koi say “An additional disadvantage of a concrete pond is that for the first three to five years they tend to have a higher than normal pH.” However, this issue can be corrected by adding a coat of epoxy or paint with a rubber base over the cement to create a seal that prevents leaching.
17 Inspirational Ideas
1. Add Height to Koi Ponds by Installing a Rockery
This is a wonderful corner garden idea if you’d like to add a fish pond to your backyard. This raised bed koi pond has a large rockery that fits into the corner like a glove. The stacked stones and plants create a more natural pond look to the design.
The rockery also houses a waterfall feature that will help aerate the water for the fish. I love having a water feature in my backyard sanctuary. The sound of the trickling water is both soothing and relaxing. They’ve even added a dining table on the patio beside the pond so it can be enjoyed during gatherings with friends and family.
The stones used to create this raised pond rockery match the stonework around the remainder of the pond. This allows you to create a gentle slope up to the top of the rock pile from the border of the pond. An antique-looking vase has been built into the top of the rock pile.
I wish they had installed a water feature in the vase, allowing it to create a waterfall down the rockery. The lilies floating on the pond’s surface look serene and bring color to the design with their light and dark pink flowers. This would be a charming little spot to enjoy reading a book while getting some fresh air.
2. Match Stonework for Seamless Transitions Between Patios and Ponds
In certain situations, it’s best to limit the amount of color and texture in your pond design to avoid overwhelming the senses. This patio pond has a large waterfall feature, a plethora of plants in the background, tall cattails growing in the water, and even a sizable egret statue to the left. The paver patio provides additional texture and there is also a rock retention wall to the right of the pond along with a seating area.
With all of these design elements, changing up the color or type of stones used to create the pond’s border would have been a bit much. The seamless transition from the patio to the pond water actually helps the pond’s dark placid surface stand out more in my opinion. Sometimes it’s best to keep things simple and let your water feature shine on its own.
Matching the flagstone from the path to the pond edging here helps the design look more natural. The irregular shapes and color variation in the flagstone helps create a rustic scene. The garden is bursting with plants and flowers making this garden goldfish pond look quite enchanting like something from a storybook. Letting the plants spill over the rocks and spread around the pond as they may is ideal for the whimsical theme of this backyard garden.
3. Half-raised Ponds Are Made for Sloped Backyards
Just because you have a slope in your backyard doesn’t mean you can’t install a raised garden pond. A half-raised pond is literally designed for use on sloped surfaces. As you can see, you simply dig into the soil on one side of the structure to create a level surface for installing it. This ultimately gives you a design that appears to be partially buried on one side.
I love how this design ties together the lawn and garden to the backyard patio flawlessly. They’ve even considered the color of the patio pavers and matched the smooth rocks of the pond’s border to it. I prefer pond surround ideas that match or complement other hardscapes in the backyard. However, if you want to create a more dramatic look, you can use a contrasting surround material like red bricks next to a black slate paver patio.
4. Allow Plants to Enhance the Look of Your Pond
You don’t have to install a super fancy raised garden pond to achieve a stunning design. Building a simple DIY structure can save you both time and money. Instead of adding features like waterfalls or intricate stonework, use flowers to elevate the look of your pond. Plants aren’t as expensive as pavers and are much easier to install. They are also much easier to change as your personal style evolves over the years.
Plants also give you the opportunity to change the look of your pond throughout the year. You can incorporate showy flowers in spring or summer, add some fall-colored mums in autumn, and add some evergreen foliage to keep the area looking lively in winter. This pond garden is full of pink and purple flowers along with some interesting foliage textures from plants like ferns. The pond itself is more of an accent in this design with its small size and simple stone surround.
This pond is acting as a bridge between the patio and the lawn. It has a simple shape and the stonework surround blends nicely into the patio. The plants in the pond are what make this backyard water feature dazzle. It’s filled with marsh marigolds and water irises. I’d add some lily pads just to give it a little more green on the surface and an occasional splash of pink when the flowers bloom. Without the plants, this design would be a little bland. By adding just a few easy-to-grow plants added to the mix it looks excellent!
5. Install a Raised Deck for A Better Pond View
If you’re creating a large pond, consider adding an overhanging raised deck to the design. This will give you a place to hang out on a patio that overlooks the pond. Here they’ve even added some floating stepping stones so you can walk across the water too.
They could place a small seating area on the raised deck, allowing them to enjoy the pond view even more. The pond is filled with spiked water milfoil, lilies, and fish which I’d love to watch while drinking my morning coffee. The deck allows you to submerge yourself in nature and appreciate the surrounding garden too.
6. Add a Water Fountain to Incorporate Sound into Your Design
When it comes to design ideas, it’s not all about visual interest. Adding elements that speak to other senses like smell and hearing is just as important when creating a stellar backyard design.
This raised pond design has it all! It’s surrounded by an immense array of plants including low-lying flowers, flowering shrubs, ivy-covered fences, and a variety of trees. In the center is a gorgeous, bright blue basin made of natural light gray flagstone topped with a large water fountain. The fountain has its own small raised pond with openings that create cascading waterfalls into the lower pond.
Everything about this design is visually appealing. The blooming flowers will enthrall your sense of smell while the trickling and splashing of the fountain and waterfalls speak to your sense of hearing. Visitors are sure to be completely captivated by this raised garden pond masterpiece.
This garden pond also has a wide variety of plants and flowers surrounding it which provide a splendid visual indulgence. There’s also a cozy cottage-themed storage shed, seating, and statues throughout. While the flowers provide a stimulus for the sense of smell, the fountain invigorates the auditory nerves. This breathtaking garden plays to multiple senses allowing you to lose yourself in the moment as you enjoy the surroundings.
TIP: You can also bring sound into your garden with wind chimes or invite songbirds with bird feeders.
7. Place Rocks in Ponds to Add Character
Having plants or fish in your garden pond can make it harder to maintain. Due to the waste fish create and the foliage and flowers that drop from plants, you have to clean ponds out periodically. If you want a more low-maintenance water feature consider leaving the fish and plants out of the equation.
Instead, you can add rocks to the pond to give it some color and character. Here they’ve used a combination of large river rocks and flagstones at the bottom of this long and narrow raised design. Adding a few pieces of flagstone helps tie it in with the flagstone pathway to the right. Without the rocks, it would just be a plain dark rectangular blob which wouldn’t add much value to the overall design of the backyard.
8. Black Liners in Pond Make Koi Fish Stand Out
This is certainly the most modern raised fish pond idea on our list with its neutral yet contrasting colors and sleek lines. The black liner makes the bright colors of the koi absolutely eye-catching. They’ve pulled the black into the surrounding landscape design by adding large, square pieces of slate to the contrasting white walls. They’ve kept the plants toned down with simple foliage rather than loud flowers. This allows the plants to complement the design without distracting you from the real star of the show, the pond.
9. Planters Make Great Mini Ponds
You don’t have to have a huge yard to incorporate a raised garden pond. This mini plastic planter can easily be turned into a small water garden that can even be placed on an apartment balcony. Even with its small stature, this water garden is still able to hold a variety of plants including yellow flag irises and water lilies.
Small ceramic planters can be used as water gardens in your backyard too. This decorative gray planter is positioned among river rocks next to a few other flower pots. It’s being used to grow frogbit which will produce small white flowers in late summer. Diversifying your garden with aquatic plants has many benefits. The pond experts from the University of Florida say “A water garden will provide you with many enjoyable sights and sounds, and it’ll be a water source for wildlife such as birds, frogs, and turtles.”
This round zinc tub has been converted into a home for several plants including dwarf umbrella palms. They’ve added a small rock sticking out of the water. This is a great idea if you have frogs in your yard. It gives them something to use so they can get out of the water after taking a swim.
10. Use Concrete Liners For Less Maintenance In The Long Run
Concrete lined ponds can be expensive to install but they last far longer than other liners. This poured concrete design will stand the test of time. You won’t have to worry about replacing a liner every few years which can be a huge hassle for a structure this size. The variety and quantity of plants they placed around this pond is astonishing! It makes me think of a pond you’d come across in a jungle! I could spend hours here looking at the plants and wildlife that I’m sure have come to appreciate the luxurious natural haven these gardeners have created in their backyard.
This cement form design is home to some large orange and white koi fish. Notice the tree on the right side of the pond. If you want to plant trees near your pond, a concrete liner is a must. The roots from trees and large shrubs can easily rupture flexible liners and even preformed rubber liners as they grow.
The waterfall in this setup looks like it’s pouring out of a fallen log which is pretty cool! I also admire the lush tropical plants they’ve incorporated, making this feel like a private jungle retreat.