Make This Mini Garden Pond in 5 Easy Steps for a Compact Water Feature

Dive into water gardening with this easy DIY project that you can finish in an afternoon.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Perfect for a patio, deck, or balcony, this mini water garden adds instant appeal: the natural beauty of water-loving plants and the refreshing sparkle of water on a small scale. Plus, it only takes an hour or two to set up, with no digging and minimal expenses. Then, you'll just need a sunny spot that offers at least 4 hours of sun each day (keep in mind that morning sun is kinder to water plants than late-day sun). Enjoy your container water garden year-round in a mild climate. Where winters are frosty, bring the plants indoors before cold weather arrives or consign them to your compost heap; empty, clean, and store the container for next year's garden.

What You'll Need


  • 1 Galvanized tub
  • 5 Bricks
  • 1 River rock, various sizes
  • 5 Water plants
  • 1 Water


  1. Choose a Watertight Container

    supplies for DIY container water garden
    Dean Schoeppner

    Start with a galvanized tub or other watertight container such as a metal bucket, resin tub, or ceramic pot. If it holds water (or is made to hold water by adding a plastic liner or marine sealant), it can become a water garden. Choose a vessel at least 6 inches deep for best results. Add no more than three plants if the container's diameter is 18 inches or less.

  2. Place Bricks or Inverted Pots in Container

    placing bricks into container
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Place the watertight container where you want to set up your mini pond. Set bricks in the bottom of the container to act as risers for the potted plants. You can also use inverted terra cotta pots and decorative stones to serve as planting ledges.

  3. Arrange Plants

    placing plants around bricks in container
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Use an odd number of water plants (three, five, or seven) for the best effect. Start with larger potted plants, arranging them on the bricks so their roots will stay submerged in water. Include floating plants such as water lettuce, which will grow on the water's surface and fill in between other plants. Covering as much of the water's surface as possible will deter algae growth and mosquitoes.

  4. Add Water

    adding water to container with plants
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Fill the container with water, covering the rims of the pots. Tap water is just fine for water gardens that contain only plants, but softened water contains salts that can damage plants. Collected rainwater is a good option. Refill the container periodically as the water evaporates. Prevent mosquitoes by using a larvicide tablet for biological control.

  5. Add River Rock (optional)

    adding rocks to container water garden
    Kritsada Panichgul

    Top the soil of your potted plants with river rock to help hold the plantings in place. The rock will also give your water garden a more naturalistic appearance. What's more, small stones provide landing pads for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife when they drop by for a drink.

    Related: Water Garden Care Guide

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