How To Construct A Water Garden in 11 Steps?

You can have a beautiful water garden full of beautiful flowers, plants and wildlife. Water gardening is easy by following a few basic steps.

Constructing a Water Garden in 11 steps:

This is where the fun starts! You are now ready to start the building of your water garden. Before actually starting, here are some tips you should consider. Take a step back, take your time, and think it through.

[1] Choosing your site

This is an important step in the process and should not be rushed. Consider these points:

Sunlight – Your water garden will need approximately 5 hours of sunlight per day.

Vantage Point – You will want to be able to view your garden pond from a particular window or other place at your home. Pick that spot ahead of time.

Avoid low lying and water logged areas: This can cause your pond to be unstable and if a rainy period occurs your garden pond may end up under water.

Shade – The shade from trees or from structures like you home.

Debris – Leaves and other debris may fall into your garden pond.

Invasive Roots - Invasive tree roots may tear up your water garden.

Prevailing winds – This should be considered because they might affect your plants or fish. Consider positioning your garden pond where winds are minimized.

Access – Think about how easy it is to get to your garden pond to do things like run electrical cords to run the pump. You will also need to get other supplies to this area such as cleaning / care equipment and lawn care items for weeding & trimming

How To Construct A Water Garden in 11 Steps?

[2] Choose Water Garden Style:

You have all shapes and sizes as well as various materials the base liner is made of. It could even be as simple as a plastic liner laid out over a free-form pond you have hand dug to match a personal design taste. Most ponds are pre-formed out of some material like fiberglass.

Depth & Angle:

If you are constructing a free-form water garden, the depth and angle of the sides are not pre-set as with pre-formed ponds. In this case think in terms of a water garden that is approximately 2 feet deep depending upon your climate. An exception for a deeper pond might be in areas where winter freezes are harsh. In these climates you may go a lot deeper if you intend on leaving your fish in throughout the winter.

In normal soil the angle of the sides should slope at about 20 degrees to prevent the sides from caving in. If your soil is extra sandy you need to consider a pre-formed water garden because this will cause you problems. Another note on the angle is to make sure your garden pond is as level as possible. If you don’t the water garden water level will not look right.

How To Construct A Water Garden in 11 Steps?

[3] Determine Size:

Figure out your water gardens potential size by laying a rope or hose out to shape it on the ground. Doing this ahead of digging will reveal shape ideas as well as let you know the best size.

[4] Dig Water Garden:

It is best to dig in tiers so there are shelves of different depths around the perimeter of your water garden. This will help in planting your aquatics and add design and realism to your water garden. For shelter and escape from the winter freeze, make sure you have a deep end (about 2 ft.) for any potential fish.

[5] Position Water Garden Filters & Skimmers:

Skimmers are devices that that suck water off the surface and filter it before returning it to the water garden. Dig ditches to lay the piping going to the pumps and filters.

[6] Lining for Water Garden: Line the water garden with pond underlay and apply any rubber or other liners to the surface.

[7] Position Waterfalls or Streams:

This is the point where you will develop any waterfalls or small streams going to your water garden (see the “Garden Waterfall page for more details).

[8] Place Edging around Water Garden: Arrange any stone edging around the perimeter of your water garden (any type of edging can be used).

[9] Chemicals – Dechlorinator: Add dechlorinators or solutions to remove heavy metals (especially if your water comes from the city & you are adding fish).

[10] Adding Aquatic Plants to your Water Garden: You will most likely be adding plants both around the outside of your garden pond as well as in your pond. The focus of this section is on the aquatic plants you’ll be adding into your water garden.

Just as with your regular flower gardens, the first thing you’ll consider is the growing zone you live in. Choose aquatic plants that are adapted to your local climate.

How To Construct A Water Garden in 11 Steps?

Types of Aquatic Plants & Flowers for Water Gardens:

Lilies: Lilies are the most popular for garden ponds. They are really neat looking, provide shade and cover for the fish, and produce beautiful flowers.

There are both hardy lilies as well as tropical lilies. That is good news because it means there is a lily for every water garden no matter what part of the country you live.

Hardy Lilies: These can be placed in most ponds and in most regions. They can withstand the extreme temperatures (especially cold) that tropical lilies cannot. Note: Hardy lilies do not like flowing water so keep them away from fountains and waterfalls.

Tropical Lilies: Although not as resilient as hardy lilies, tropical lilies have a larger variety of colors and more dramatic as well. Tropical lilies come in 2 types… Day lilies and night lilies. You could plan your water garden so that the lilies are in bloom both day and night. Note: Tropical lilies need the water temperature to be approximately 65 degrees F. or greater for best results.

Underwater / Submerged Aquatic Plants: These aquatic garden plants are submerged into the water and act as oxygenation for your garden pond. They also provide a good place for your fish to hide, as a food source, and as a place to spawn. Some examples of submerged aquatic plants are: anacharis, hornwort, and cabomba.

Floating Aquatic Plants: Many people think water lilies are floating plants because they only see the top parts on the water. In fact, lilies anchor themselves to the bottom of the garden pond. Floating aquatic plants on the other hand, float freely in the water. The roots hand suspended in mid-water rather than anchoring themselves to the bottom.

Some examples of floating aquatic plants are chestnut, water lettuce, water hyacinth, and duckweed. Note: Most of the floating aquatic plants are not frost resistant and will need to be replaced each year.

[11] Adding Fish to your Water Garden:

Many people like to add fish to their water garden because they are interesting, fun, and pretty to look at. The two primary types of fish usually added to a water garden are goldfish and koi. Goldfish are inexpensive, easy to get, and grow to be much smaller than koi. Koi are more expensive, more specialized, and grow to be much larger than goldfish.

How many Fish per Water Garden:

Think ahead when choosing your fish. A 2 inch goldfish could end up growing to be 9-10 inches long in a couple of years. A similar Koi could end up being 20+ inches in the same period of time.

Why is this important? Fish need space to live and thrive. They produce solid waste and ammonia which will definitely affect the quality of the water and in turn the health of your fish. In planning ahead, you’ll want to factor 1 inch of fish for each 5 gallons of water for goldfish. With koi you may want to make it 1 inch of fish for each 2-3 gallons of water because they grow so fast.


Oxygenated water is mandatory for healthy fish. Provide some type of aeration device which could include a waterfall or fountain of some type.

Water gardens are worth the effort and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful flowers, plants, and wildlife