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How To: Water Garden

Water gardens are beautiful and easy to do projects that will add tranquility to any home landscape. These gardens usually consist of a body of water with aquatic plants, fountains, waterfalls, rock displays and sometimes fish. These bodies of water can either be man made containers, man made ponds or natural bodies of water such as lakes and ponds.

These displays go back as far as the 16th century with the hydraulic work of Hero of Alexandria, an ancient Greek mathematician who created steam powered birds and used flowing water to enhance public image. In 1550, Italy constructed a marvelous display of sculptures spouting water on a hill named the Villa D'Este.

Supplies needed to make your own water garden:

Picking the perfect spot

Its all about location! You want to pick the best place for your water garden so it can become a focal point of your landscape and be enjoyed from many angles. Major factors to consider when choosing a place to start digging are:

Sunlight Exposure - You want to make sure that the plants and aquatic life you chose will be in a spot that gets plenty of sun daily. If you want shade for your water garden be sure to pick plants that will thrive with little sun light and its best to choose a smaller pond for shadier places.

Accessibility to Electricity - Fountains, lights and pumps will all need to be kept close to an electrical source, messy wires and long extension cords will ruin the beauty of a water garden so make sure they are hidden as much as possible.

Drainage - Make sure the place you chose to dig had firm foundation. If you place your pond in soggy, sandy or wet soil , the shape of your pool may shift causing cracks in the liner and other runoff problems.

Landscape Ordinances - Make sure you check with your municipality first for restrictions or guidelines they may have for special construction.

Depth and Size - Plants and fish and algae will thrive better deeper climates, so it is recommended that the depth be at least 18-24 inches deep or deeper in colder climates.

Dig In!

  1. Start by creating an outline of the pond shape you like with rope and stake it at several locations. You can chose to outline this with spray paint so it does not move during excavation. If you have a prefabricated pool trace it on the ground with rope or paint as well.
  2. Dig your hole to the exact shape, adding two inches to your final depth for a layer of sand. Clear the hole of all debris, add your 2 inches of sand and level the top edges. Place your carpet padding and liner down.
  3. Tuck the outward edge into all of the corners carefully so it doesn't become torn. Anchor the corners with stones or bricks and create a rock design or bury the outer edges to hold down the liner.
  4. Start to add water and once filled start to dechlorinate. Trim away all excess liner leaving at least 6 inches around the edge.

Water formulas:

Shape of Pond

Gallon Equation

Surface Area Equation Sq


depth x length x width x 7.5 =

length x width/9 =


diameter x diameter x depth x 5.9=

1/2 diameter squared x 3.14/9 =


width x length x depth x 5.9 =

3.14 x length x width/9=

Picking Plants

There are four types of plants you can chose from for your water garden. These are deep water plants, bog plants, oxygenates and floating plants. The following resources can help you decide which plants are right for you.


Excess algae can easily become a problem in many water gardens, clouding the water and throwing off the ecological balance. Take a look at the following resources for tips on how to control and ward off excess algae.

Animal Life

Stocking your water garden with fish and other aquatic animals can and serenity and enjoyment to your landscape. Many fish are well adapted to pond life and need very little maintenance. The resources below will help you decided which fish will be suitable for your water garden.

Other Important Water Garden Resources

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