Water Garden Landscaping Ideas

Water Garden
From ponds and waterfalls to tabletop fountains, incorporate water into your landscape with these ideas.

A Sloping Stream

A cacophony of colors and materials decorates the outlines of a stream.

  • A variety of visually-interesting materials and plants, including a weeping willow and variously sized boulders, move the eye from the top of the gentle slope downward.
  • Large, flat boulders do double duty, edging the pond and providing a wide enough spot for an informal path.
  • A few dwarf evergreens add year-round structure among the brightly colored lilies and black-eyed Susans.
  • Groundcovers and water plants, including water lilies, soften the otherwise hard edges of the pond's rocky border
  • A gentle curve cut out of the walkway mimics the outlines of the pond.

Dressed-Up Fountain

A water feature set into a sloping corner offers traditional style.

  • Distinctive hardscape, including stone steps and a geometric paved landing, lend an air of formality to this elegant waterfall.
  • Urns overflowing with bright purple lobelia and red double impatiens soften the water's edges.
  • While many garden water elements feel natural, this pool was designed to contrast with the lushly planted landscape around it.
  • The rich hues of ivy, lacecap hydrangea, ornamental grass, and pigsqueak warm the cool tones of the waterfall's stonework.

Circle 'Round

A series of spheres supplies structure to a minimalist water feature.

  • A gravel path from the house ends at a gently bubbling pond.
  • Plants echo the shape of hardscape. Here, liriope encircles the small pond.
  • Repetition is a key design element to this water landscape; multiple circles tie everything together.
  • The continuation of the path around the pond maintains circulation through the garden.
  • In place of a stationary pool of water, a bubbling base in the pool offers water movement.

Focus on the Fountain

A pretty water feature livens up a small slice of yard.

  • Intricate trelliswork complements the elegance of the fountain and sculpture.
  • Gentle curves at the edge of the fountain soften the hardscape edges.
  • A pair of myrtles, grown in topiary form, adds a splash of fun to the garden. Their rounded shapes echo the curves in the lattice and water basin.
  • Containers set at the fountain's edge pick up the colors and foliage of the surrounding plantings.
  • Shade-loving begonias and caladium in colors that warm the cool gray stonework nestle close to the small-scale fountain.

Pond Perfect

A restful landscape includes an expansive pond.

  • A bench, chair, and table offer a quiet alcove overlooking the expansive lily pond.
  • An arched bridge takes garden visitors over the water below.
  • Lighting can be an unobtrusive element when its shape and materials complement the rest of the landscape; here, a few lanterns light the way across the bridge.
  • Large and small boulders tumble and flit in and out of the pond's edges
  • Movement in water and elements on the surface offer visual interest to water features. Here, water lilies bloom and a small stream cascades into the larger pond.

Japanese Garden Inspiration

A calming garden spot puts Asian style ideas to work.

  • Above-ground water features in the landscape offer soothing sounds and tranquil vignettes. Here, a massive boulder and gurgling fountain create a unique getaway.
  • There needn't be any distinct order to pavers. In this garden, a series of randomly tucked, small-scale steppingstones guide the way from bench to fountain.
  • Chairs work, but a minimalist concrete cube with a pair of cushions stands in just as well for seating.
  • Plants contribute to the Zen garden setup, with the lovely but restrained foliage of Japanese maple, liriope, clumping bamboo, and rhododendron.
  • Repeated shapes provide garden serenity; here, the shape of the fountain is echoed in the paved outlines of the sand garden.

Wonderful Waterfall

A dense mix of evergreens and shade-loving plants creates a richly sculpted landscape around a backyard pond.

  • A dense planting of reliable arborvitae serves as a year-round softscape fence.
  • A garden with several vantage points offers multiple areas for enjoyment; this landscape can be viewed from up on the deck or down closer to the water feature.
  • A series of stacked boulders in varying sizes offers a naturalist edging for the waterfall and pond.
  • Extending from the lower seating area, a few flagstones jut over the boulders for a third garden outlook spot.
  • Paths and water features are easy elements to utilize to conquer slopes, and water features another. This cascading water feature tumbles gently over boulders and a series of flagstone steps before ending in a pond.

Modern Measures

By relying on subtle shifts in color and replicating elements, a water feature offers a composed garden setting.

  • Accent lights need not be stationary; in fact, moveable versions afford flexibility. Here, punched tin lanterns can be relocated as necessary.
  • The size and shape of a water feature works wonders to complement the style of the rest of the garden, as with this slim, tranquil rill.
  • Along either side of the narrow slice of water, repeated clusters of plants and shrubs, such as evergreens and hostas, complement the restful vista.
  • A bench at the end of this water feature is part focal point, part resting spot.
  • A mostly monochromatic color scheme supports the sleek style of the garden and water feature.

Less Is More

A stripped-down pond and outdoor shed provide an undisturbed vignette.

  • Urns and containers complement the style and colors in a landscape; here, the subtle shapes and hues of an oversize pot emphasize the garden's composition.
  • Garden sheds enhance a garden. The lines and materials of a Japanese-inspired garden house work in tandem with the water feature.
  • If the pond is large enough, extending a vantage point out over it (as with this front "porch") can give an interesting perspective on the landscape.
  • Color can come from multiple elements or from one single, well-chosen piece, as with this bold red Japanese maple.
  • Placed in a seemingly random pattern, the boulders around the edge of the pond are the perfect companions for both the shed and pond.

A Backyard Stream

Clumps of carefree plants amble easily along the free-form edges of this water feature.

  • Transitions from one material to the next are less jarring if done gradually; here, a smattering of stones gives way to shredded wood mulch.
  • The lines of the stream reinforce the style of the rest of the garden -- the stream's rambling path creates a casual feel.
  • Set between the pathway and stream, a tricolor beach offers a burst of color.
  • Use perennials and annuals around a water element to add blooms throughout the season.

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