Dream Water Gardens

Water in the garden attracts attention. Whether you want to add a tiny fountain or large pond, you'll find inspiration in these 19 ideas to get you started.

Denny Schrock


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Pond with pergola
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Water Garden Getaway

    A beautifully weathered pergola is the perfect vantage point for taking in views of your pond. In a large water feature, fish, birds, and butterflies become major attractions. Though a large pond requires more maintenance than a small one, it's more ecologically stable.

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Monet Moment

    Streamside plantings of yellow flag iris, white forget-me-not, and pink sea thrift lead to a wisteria-covered bridge with arbor, reminiscent of Monet's garden in France. The combination works because the home's owner adapted key elements of the famous garden, but modified the plan to fit the space and climate.

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Contemporary Fountain

    Have a small space? Make a big impact with a compact water feature. A recirculating fountain made from a stone sphere, slate chips, and stone pavers is an elegant yet easy-to-create addition suitable to any outdoor living area.

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All Decked Out

    A raised pond puts the sights and sounds of your water garden nearby. Make yours even more intimate by wrapping it around a corner of your deck or patio.

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Asian Influence

    Go all out with an Asian water garden theme by adding a teahouse and an offset wooden walkway or bridge. Use the teahouse for quiet contemplation or as a gathering place for guests.

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Music to the Ears

    A sloping backyard is the perfect foundation for a stream and waterfall that offer sweet melodies as water tumbles down the rocks. Use easy-care Knock Out roses and Shasta daisies along the edges of the stream to draw more attention to the water.

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Boulder Beauty

    Team water with stone to create stunning beauty in a rock-lined creek with a waterfall. Combine various sizes of stone -- from pea gravel to boulders -- to give the garden a natural look. Bury some larger stones halfway in the soil to make them feel like they've been in your yard forever.

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Formal Flair

    Simple geometric shapes bring elegant formality to this simple water garden. Hexagonal stepping-stones and a round urn with a bubbling fountain punctuate the pool. Bricks hold the plastic liner in place.

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In-Bed Fountain

    Bring a fountain to life by tucking it into a planting bed. In this eye-catching example, a pump sends water cascading out of the sculpture and into the pond. A colony of parrot's feather grows in the pool.

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Down on the Farm

    Galvanized stock tanks, which typically hold water for livestock, are perfect for an easy-to-build water feature. Ornamental windmills spin in the breeze, complementing the farm feel of the tanks.

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Reflect On It

    This 18-inch-deep reflecting pool was shaped with landscape timbers and covered with a rubber liner. Close-set patio pavers create a firm surface for seating where the homeowners can enjoy the calming influence of the water.

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At One with Nature

    The seating on this multilevel deck is enhanced by the sights and sounds of an adjacent pond. Nestled among the trees, the sheltered garden retreat features a Zen-like ambience with its focus on natural materials and Japanese-inspired elements.

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Formal Traditions

    A channel of water, called a rill, bisects this formal garden, which is filled with old-fashioned roses. The water stair-steps down the change in elevation and recirculates from a catch basin.

    Test Garden Tip: Use a rill as a bold focal point in your garden.

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Tabletop Water Garden

    Looking for a petite pool to get started with water gardening? Search no farther than your tabletop. This yellowware bowl filled with a miniature water lily serves as a perfect centerpiece for outdoor dining.

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Moveable Marsh

    A crock filled with dwarf cattails and floating fairy moss stands tall against a backdrop of hostas. A portable water garden like this offers flexibility: Move it to a prominent location for parties, then tuck it out of the way for everyday usage.

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Inspired by Nature

    Mix elements for a dramatic landscape. For example, this meandering stream with a series of waterfalls culminates in a free-form pond that reflects a six-sided pergola.

    Test Garden Tip: This crafty homeowner used the same type of stone on the edges of the pond as in the landscape, creating a cohesive space.

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Country Casual

    Although a formal water feature would feel out of place in a rustic setting, this inviting pond, with its winding stream and carefree plantings, looks like a natural extension of the landscape.

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Dream Stream

    This stream is actually a series of small water features -- each cascade, fall, riffle, and run is individually crafted so the water moves at a pleasing rate while making a delightful sound.

    Test Garden Tip: Run your stream over different materials and at varying depths to create a variety of delightful gurgles.

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Swimming Pool Conversion

    If you'd like a more natural landscape feature than a swimming pool, try converting it into a pond. This inventive homeowner used sandbags filled with soil to shape the pond's interior walls, and to create ledges for water lilies. The liner is held in place with large, flat rocks that cover the bags.

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