How to Build Water Gardens


Water gardens, aquatic gardens or ponds consist of a contained pool of water with aquatic plants and fish insides. These are popular in Chinese and European gardens and yards, dating back hundreds of years, and are now becoming common in other parts of the world. Some water gardens include statues, rocks or waterfalls to enhance their appeal. The soothing sight of water along with a blend of flora and fauna can provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment for family and friends alike.

Step 1

Decide what type of water garden you want to make, its shape and size. Water gardens usually contain goldfish along with different submerged, floating and marginal plants. Make the water garden close to the house so you can enjoy it while sitting inside as well. However, it will be susceptible to falling leaves and debris if located under a tree. While shade works well for fish only, aquatic plants such as water lilies will require at least four hours of sunlight a day.

Step 2

Decide the shape of your pond: Will it be formal and follow straight geometric lines or informal with an abstract shape, similar to the ones found in nature? The shape depends on personal taste and the surrounding landscape.

Step 3

Lay a rope in the shape of your water garden and begin digging. The maximum depth of your water garden should not exceed 2 feet. You can dig the shelf around the perimeter of the water garden a foot deep, but a bit wider than your final shape, and then extend it to 2 feet deep but a foot narrower to give it a terraced look. Make sure the base is flat and even. The shallow part of your pond should be 10 to 16-inches deep, the midlevel should be 16 to 22 inches deep and the deepest should be 22 to 24 inches deep.

Step 4

Measure the maximum length and width of the trench you dug and add the depth twice to these calculated figures, along with an additional 2 feet for overlap to determine how much liner you need to purchase.

Step 5

Remove any debris, old roots or stones from the trench before installing the liner. Have someone help you as you lay the liner into the trench, allowing for an even overlap on the edges.

Step 6

Place a few rounded rocks to hold the liner as you fill it with water from a garden hose. Smooth out any wrinkles as it fills.

Step 7

Place stones or other coping material around the edge of the water garden and fold the liner over them and then under them to hold them securely. You can also buy premixed mortar and mortar the edging material to prevent it from slipping inside the pond.

Step 8

Fill aquatic containers with heavy garden soil and some clay, and plant your choice of marine plants into them. Submerge them in the terraced water garden so their foliage is visible above the water level. When adding plants, remember the floating types that are essential for reducing algae should cover at least 60 percent of the surface, while submerged types that oxygenate and filter the water should cover one-third of the water garden.

Step 9

Wait a week before adding fish to your water garden, and remember to feed them with commercial fish food.

Things You'll Need

  • Rope
  • Measuring tape
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Pond liner
  • Coping material
  • Aquatic plants
  • Fish


  • How to Build a Water Garden
Keywords: water gardens, building water gardens, making water gardens

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.