Who doesn’t love a garden pond – and how they invoke wetland ecosystems in the wilderness? If creating a raised pond for your garden is on your landscaping radar, here’s the no-digging good news!
This article is brimming with easy DIY ideas to help you build a raised garden pond that harmonizes with your outdoor aesthetic – even if you know nothing about ponds!
Think fish, waterfalls, rocks, birds, frogs, water lilies, rushes and reeds, and dragonflies, all thriving together in your low-budget, low-maintenance, crystal-clear elevated water wonderland!
Then let’s plop in!
- Guide to Making a Raised Garden Pond
- 10+ Raised Garden Pond Ideas – Our Official List
- 1. Get DIY Raised Garden Pond Ideas from WoodBlocX
- 2. DIY Small Raised Garden Pond With DIY Biological Filter
- 3. Plans for a DIY Raised Garden Fish Pond With Waterfall and Bench
- 4. Make a Wildlife Pond In a Whiskey Barrel
- 5. DIY a Solar-Powered Raised Fish Pond
- 6. DIY Tote Box Mini Raised Fish Pond on Wheels
- 7. DIY No Filter Guppy Pond In a Planter
- 8. DIY Raised Garden Pond In a Galvanized Stock Tank
- 9. Transform a Raised Bed Into a Raised Garden Pond
- 10. Buy a Raised Garden Pond
- Final Tips on Pond Care
- Make a Splash!
Guide to Making a Raised Garden Pond
Sustainably raised garden pond ideas combine several key elements that make up a healthy pond ecosystem, namely:
- Water recirculating pumps.
- A series of filters.
- Nitrifying bacteria.
- Aquatic plants.
- Gravel and rocks.
- Fish and other aqua-dwelling creatures.
- Robust pond liners or containers.
- Aesthetic facades.
Building a raised garden pond is much easier than making an earthen pond because no digging is required. And who doesn’t appreciate that let-off?
A raised garden pond has numerous other benefits, including:
- An above-ground or raised garden pond is safe for young children, pets, and all critters that can’t swim.
- A raised garden pond is unaffected by muddy runoff water. Plus, garden fertilizers and lawn cuttings.
- An above-ground pond can get easily relocated.
- Raised garden ponds can get constructed without a permit.
- Raised ponds can get made with minimal capital outlay using repurposed hardware and harvested organic materials.
These boons will resonate with most outdoor enthusiasts. But prospective pond builders should be mindful that a raised garden pond needs the same attention to detail as an in-ground pond. Most vitally, astute management of the pond’s ecosystem.
How to Manage a Raised Garden Pond Ecosystem
Pond ecosystems are complex and sensitive, requiring an ongoing balance between symbiotic elements, including water, plant and animal matter, bacteria, oxygen, and nitrogen. Nitrifying bacteria and aquatic plants filter and clarify pond water, ridding it of ammonia, excess nitrogen, and algae.
- All budding pond owners should learn as much as they can about the nitrogen cycle.
- The nitrogen cycle in ponds converts ammonia from fish droppings and decaying plants into nitrites, nitrates, and nitrogen. This process detoxifies the pond water, creates plant food, and releases excess nitrogen into the atmosphere.
How Different Filtration Methods Help Keep a Pond Healthy
Pond filtration occurs via biological and mechanical filters. A bio pond filter promotes the growth of nitrifying bacteria by creating a greater surface area for the bacteria to grow on. A mechanical skimmer filter traps organic debris (from fish and plants) in the pond for easy removal before decomposition occurs.
- You can purchase both filters from pond suppliers. But they are expensive.
We suggest you DIY both types. (Tutorial videos courtesy https://ozponds.com.)
Where Should a Raised Garden Pond be Positioned?
Garden ponds with fish should get partially shaded to prevent water evaporation and overheating. Ponds supporting aquatic plants (with no fish) benefit from ample sunlight, which boosts photosynthesis and water aeration by releasing oxygen from the plants.
All raised garden ponds should sit on level ground.
With the technicalities covered, let’s get creative!
10+ Raised Garden Pond Ideas – Our Official List
We searched our favorite homestead hotspots for the following raised garden pond ideas. We tried to find several options for all skill levels and homestead styles.
Which one is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts!
1. Get DIY Raised Garden Pond Ideas from WoodBlocX
At Outdoor Happens, we’re dedicated to bringing you earthy home project ideas you can DIY effortlessly and cheaply. But that doesn’t mean we can’t consider what commercial suppliers have to offer.
Look at this series of stunning kit-form wood-frame raised garden pond ideas to find inspiration!
- The concept of a wooden frame housing a pond liner is a standard approach to building a raised garden pond.
These pond kit packages from woodblocx.co.uk demonstrate how diverse and alluring raised garden ponds can be.
- Browse the examples of varying raised pond sizes and soak in the decorative features adorning the timber-framed bodies of water!
Now for the DIY ideas for a raised garden pond that’ll bring flow and charm to your garden at a fraction of the price of a professionally-made pond!
2. DIY Small Raised Garden Pond With DIY Biological Filter
Everyone has to love a pond nerd! And Ginger Fishy has some excellent DIY pond video tutorials on YouTube. Check out this idea for a rustic backyard raised pond replete with a DIY biological pond filter.
- In this how-to video series, UK-based Ginger Fishy uses a 130-gallon plastic tub for the rigid pond liner, clad with insulation sheets, decking board, and bamboo, to create the winter-proof raised pond.
- A low-cost DIY biological filter (aka a bog filter) sits atop the raised pond, giving an ample propagation area for ammonia-busting nitrifying bacteria.
- A small submersible pump moves water from the pond through the bog filter, and gravity returns the filtered water to the pond.
- The bog filter also serves as a trickling waterfall and a pond water oxygenator.
This tutorial is an excellent DIY project for garden pond beginners!
3. Plans for a DIY Raised Garden Fish Pond With Waterfall and Bench
If you’ve got a favorite corner in your garden that needs a unique feature to help you relax, this set of plans for a wooden raised garden pond is for you!
This three-in-one raised pond integrates a fishpond, waterfall, and bench seat. And it’s perfect as a corner garden feature.
A timber frame using 4” x 4” timber lengths and steel brackets forms the skeleton of the pond. The entire unit is clad in decking boards, creating a natural but sophisticated finish.
- The plans include tools, materials, and cut lists.
- The pond holds just over 400 gallons of water in a flexible pond liner with geotextile underlayment (to help prevent the pond liner from puncturing).
- Water is moved up to the waterfall using a multifunctional pump that includes a UV light water clarifier, a filter, an LED floodlight, and an oxygenating fountain.
- The waterfall filter box comes with a stainless steel waterfall spillway.
The woodwork requires adequate skill (and a miter saw), but the plans are detailed and easy to follow.
Yes! You can DIY aquatic architecture. Give it a try!
4. Make a Wildlife Pond In a Whiskey Barrel
Not all ponds need a water pump! One of Nature’s miracles is that plants are biological water filters. With the correct pond receptacle, oxygenating aquatic plants, and savvy pond positioning, you can create a mini wildlife pond that’s 100% off-grid!
A whiskey barrel planter (with sealed drainage holes) sets the stage for what becomes an oasis for all little creatures, from frogs and newts to snails, dragonflies, beetles, and birds.
- A barrel wildlife pond needs a sunny location to promote photosynthesis (in the water plants), which pumps oxygen into the pond water.
- Bed water plants in pond baskets with the aquatic substrate.
- Bed the plants and cover the compost with bonsai gravel.
- Position a piece of driftwood or a branch in the pond so that it rests against the side of the barrel to allow insects and other little creatures to climb out of the pond, should they feel so inclined.
Tip: Hopefully, you can find a genuine whiskey or wine barrel. It might take luck finding one. But it’s worth the effort.
- Cut the barrel in half using a circular saw.
- Soak the barrel in water (or fill it with water) and allow it to stand for a few days before creating the pond. Soaking it will let the barrel wood expand and create a watertight seal.
This mini wildlife pond project is a great way to get children into water gardening and learning about ecosystems and other often-overlooked wonders of Nature!
Backyard Water Gardens by Veronica Lorson Fowler is an excellent all-in-one resource for homesteaders thinking about a backyard goldfish, wildlife, or plant pond. The book details how to build a backyard pond from scratch - including installing liners, containers, fountains, and above-ground pools. You'll also discover how to choose the best aquatic plants and add fertilizer, tips on deterring diseases and pests, plus advanced topics like winterization and long-term maintenance.
5. DIY a Solar-Powered Raised Fish Pond
Fishponds are successful when the water pumps through the filters. Pond pumps require electrical power, which isn’t always available in remote garden locations. And a fishpond pump should run 24/7. A fishpond with a solar-powered pump is the solution!
Here’s a time-lapse video courtesy of Regis Aquatics that details step-by-step how to:
- Make the timber-frame pond structure using 2” x 4” boards, plywood, Styrofoam insulation, tongue and groove cladding, and pond liner.
- An overflow pipe fits to allow the pond to top up by the garden’s automated sprinkler system.
- A 100W solar panel charges a mini solar generator that powers the pond pump.
- The submersible pump with a fountain keeps the water oxygenated and healthy.
- An assortment of aquatic plants removes ammonia and algae-feeding nutrients from the water.
- Goldfish enjoy the crystal clear water.
Tip: Instead of running a 120V pump off an AC inverter solar generator, use this more cost-effective option:
- A 10W solar intelligent trickle charger with an MPPT charge controller for a 12V car battery works perfectly.
- A standard car battery or a 12V deep cycle marine battery hooked to the MPPT charge controller also helps.
- A 410 gallons/hour 12V submersible fountain pump hooked up to the 12V battery.
- Stash the battery in a small tote box hidden alongside the pond. Drill holes in the sides of the tote to run cables from the panel and pump.
We love this handsome raised garden fishpond set-up. A savvy selection of oxygenating plants and a solar fountain combine to keep the goldfish happy in healthy water!
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6. DIY Tote Box Mini Raised Fish Pond on Wheels
Does your heart desire a stunning fishpond for your deck or patio? We have the DIY ticket for you! A mobile mini fishpond based on a small tote on caster wheels!
This idea takes a 14-gallon tote box, timber framing, plywood, and cedar cladding to create a sturdy pond structure.
- Caster wheels screw to the pond base.
- The raw cedar cladding gets sealed with a clear matte spray.
- A timber lightbox for LED lamp mounts above the pond with copper pipe.
- A bio sponge filter goes inside the pond.
- A mini USB air pump is attached to the pond exterior and piped into the pond to oxygenate and agitate the water.
- A broad selection of water plants are potted and added to the pond, resting on a substrate bed.
- Black rice fish and snails complete the showpiece.
This DIY project is easy to make, budget-friendly, inventive, and aesthetically pleasing!
7. DIY No Filter Guppy Pond In a Planter
Here’s another raised pond idea that will add rustic charm to your outdoor living area – a low-tech mini guppy pond with lots of aquatic greenery and an overhead light!
Mimicking riparian ecological systems (using aquatic and terrestrial plants), this raised garden pond relies solely on the plants and bacteria living in the water to keep algae at bay and rid the pond of toxic ammonia so the fish in the pond stay healthy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large ceramic or concrete planter (with plugged drainage holes).
- Two 8” terracotta pots.
- A drill with a diamond tip drill bit.
- Knitting mesh.
- Silicone sealant.
- Pea gravel.
- Terrestrial plants and aquatic varieties.
- An overhead lamp.
Curious? This stunning pond is easy to make. And it serenely demonstrates how symbiosis works!
Watch the video and give this pond a try!
8. DIY Raised Garden Pond In a Galvanized Stock Tank
Stock tanks are perfect for watering livestock, so they’re food-grade items – safe for plants, fish, and other water creatures. And they’re surprisingly durable! Indeed – a stock tank pond makes sense!
- You can use a galvanized stock tank. Or consider a polyethylene stock tank as your pond structure.
The stock tank pond in the video has a solar pump with a fountain and an array of aquatic plants seated in pots resting on the base of the stock tank.
If galvanized iron and plastic seem garish, then no worries. You can easily clad both with timber boards.
Just add fish!
9. Transform a Raised Bed Into a Raised Garden Pond
Does ridding a raised flowerbed of dirt with a spade count as digging? Not really! Does your garden have a raised bed lying fallow, waiting for a makeover? Why not upscale it?
Make a raised garden bed pond!
Look at how a homeowner converted a dead garden bed into a fantastic aquascape with minimal effort.
- Remove the dirt from the garden bed.
- Lay in underlayment and pond liner.
- Skirt the top of the bed with decking boards or timber to secure the pond liner.
- Install a submersible pump and filters.
- Add pea gravel, plants, and fish.
Voila! Job done!
10. Buy a Raised Garden Pond
If a DIY pond project is off-limits for you right now, we have a quick fix – a mini pond kit with a waterfall and filtration system!
- Manufactured by renowned pond contractor, Aquascapesinc.com, the kit includes a 7-gallon pond, a pump, a waterfall filter, decorative gravel, and a waterfall light.
You have to add your choice of aqua greenery and accents. Choosing aqua-loving plants is always our favorite part of the project. 🙂
Final Tips on Pond Care
We haven’t used the word ‘chemicals’ yet! Yes, ponds involve many chemicals. But one, in particular, should never come near your pond. In a word? Chlorine!
- Fill your pond with rainwater if possible.
- If you have to use city water, dose the water with a chlorine remover.
- Don’t skimp on pond liner quality. EPDM rubber pond liner is best.
- Invest in a pond water testing kit.
- Don’t forget to add moonlighting to your pond for augmented nighttime enjoyment.
Make a Splash!
There’s so much more adventure beyond building a raised garden pond. Explore and experiment with aquatic plant options, introduce new fish species, and create a garden pond as friendly to wildlife as possible.
And get as many young people involved to help. The future of ponds rests in their hands!
We thank you for reading.
Have a great day!
Raised Garden Pond Ideas – Resources, Field Guides, and Works Cited:
- Pond Life Facts About Habitats Plants And Animals
- Pond Ecology
- Preserve Your Natural Backyard Pond
- County Master Gardens – Pond Maintenance
- Woodland Ponds – A Field Guide
- Pond Care – RHS Gardening
- Aquatic Bog Planting
- The Secret to Achieving a Crystal Clear and Trouble-Free Pond
- Understanding Your Pond’s Nitrogen Cycle
- Understanding the Biological Cycles of Your Koi Pond
- Why Does Pond Algae Occur? How Can You Get Rid Of It?
- Pond Gardening Maintenance – 7 Tips to Keep the Water Clean