32 Small Pond Ideas with Waterfalls, Plants & More

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A limited area shouldn’t hinder you from creating a cohesive and functional pond design with all the basic elements that make extensive ponds visually stunning. In fact, small ponds can be just as memorable, therapeutic, aesthetically pleasing, and environmentally impactful as their grander counterparts. They simply have to be designed with a few techniques for making the most out of available space.

With consideration for vertical dimensions, such as depth and plant height, a small pond can be designed to feel larger than life. After all, most great things do start off small! Ponds need not be large to be wholly beneficial. Even a modest strip of water or a small pool can be turned into a statement focal point in the garden or home. Below are some creative pond ideas to help you create your own personal oasis.

Small Pond Designs with Dedicated Pathways 


Small pond with gravel pathway
quiddle. / CC BY-SA 2.0

A minimally designed pathway can definitely make a small pond stand out. It can make visitors refocus their attention as they would be more likely to gaze at wherever the path leads. It would also allow them to easily make their way toward the pond. This stunning pathway serves a dual purpose: it perfectly frames the small pond and allows spectators to come close to the edge. It is a major element of the landscape design because it creates structure and complexity. Note how the material used to create the path complements, instead of distracts from, the natural features around it.


Small pond with brick pathway
Mark / CC BY 2.0

Without taking up too much space, a narrow brick pathway allows one to maneuver through a small garden. This pathway borders one side of the pond, determining the edge from which it must constantly be viewed. The small pond is a break from an otherwise fully planted path border. This one will surely cause visitors to stop and appreciate the contrast between still water and the highly textural elements in the area.


Pond with stone pathway
Alex Thomson / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pondside pathways can be made to look rugged and organic as well. This style is quite playful and can make a brief trip around the pond feel like a light hike. The neutral colors of the set stones bring out the vivid green hues of just a handful of marginal plants. As they blend into the landscape, they don’t distract from the pond itself. Moreover, the choppy pathway appears to double as a pond edge in some places, making it a true component of the small pond.

Raised Small Ponds


Bathtub pond
Spider.Dog from United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Have an intact tub just lying unused on your property? The great news is you can use it to create a stylish raised pond. Bursting with personality, this tub pond has become somewhat naturalized due to the aquatic plants. These are randomly distributed throughout the pond, contrasting its well-defined structure.

Easy to clean, portable, and practically ready-made, the tub pond is definitely a foolproof project for first-time pond owners and those with small gardens. As a plus, these usually come with bottom drainage as well, allowing for straightforward water changes and quick maintenance.


Bowl pond
Ramon FVelasquez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A bowl pond is a fantastic addition to a small, country-style garden. This raised structure looks statelier and more tasteful when designed minimally. Here, the metal bowl is the star of the show. The sparse edge plants don’t block out the bowl’s edges. Rather, they provide a wonderful textural contrast. A singular Lily species ensures that its features are appreciated. The white blooms must certainly be veritable highlights each summer.

This type of structure is best for rearing small fish or amphibians. Larger species will struggle to thrive in such a small and shallow space.


Raised small pond with stone wall
Lucy Kalantari / CC BY 2.0

Like a pool pulled straight out of a tropical wonderland, this raised pond looks like a jungle oasis. Its smooth edge allows spectators to sit by the water and observe its inhabitants.  A bounty of ferns raises their fronds just above the pond’s margins, camouflaging a fair portion of the smooth edge. The raised outer wall of the pond is lined with stones that are mismatched in size, providing a more organic finish to the structure. The abundance of curves and lack of straight lines contribute to the overall natural appearance of the entire setup.


Small raised brick pond
Chris / CC BY-SA 2.0

As a corner accent to this garden, the small raised pond gives the illusion of a carefree, yet intentionally arranged space. Note the bean shape of the pond. This helps soften the straight lines between the bricks on the pond wall and the fence on the right. Partly submerged, marginal grasses line the far edge of the pond, complementing the horizontal orientation of the bricks. If you look closely, you’ll find that the box structure in between the tufts of grass has a marble piece that likely serves as a spout for filtered water. This is a nifty way to hide any machinery, while allowing any pumped water to be a bonus moving feature of the pond.

Small Pond Designs with Straight Edges


Small concrete pond
Rosyth Estate House / CC BY 2.0

An admirable addition to a tiny courtyard, a straight-edged pond can depict intention and thorough planning. As a fixed structure, it can be a wonderful focal point that demands attention to detail. Here, the circular floating leaves and their variation in size brings character to the pond. Collectively, this is often a key feature of rectangular ponds because its irregularities soften the straight lines. Rounded pots placed along the pond borders likewise bring some much-needed curves to distract from any rigidities. The combination of straight lines and curves is a desirable feature in modern gardens.


Small pond with brick path

This small pond goes to show that even a rectangular hollow can be turned into a desirable feature. The main brick path appears to be a bridge over the two narrow strips of water. The aquatic plants are largely responsible for the natural appearance of the small pond. The lengthy grass leaves and circular floating plants add complexity to the water features, whereas the bunches of edge plants help camouflage the pond’s borders. To make this type of setup extra special, night lights situated within the pond would add a dramatic flair while helping prevent any potential accidents!


Small pond with stepping stones

This striking small pond has several special features that set it apart. Its straight edges are easy on the eyes and refocus one’s attention on the more complex elements. A stone tile path cuts across the pond, yet serves as a cohesive feature as the individual tiles appear to float on the water’s surface. Note the marginal plants situated on opposing edges. Due to their deep green color and rounded leaves, they significantly soften the otherwise austere appearance of the concrete pond. On the far end is a shaded seating area that looks quite antiquated. This is an ideal piece of furniture to place there because it adds character without heavily overshadowing its surroundings.


Straight-edged pond with marble figurine
Herry Lawford / CC BY 2.0

This straight-edged pond is also raised. As a garden feature that juts out of the ground, it contributes both vertical and horizontal interest. Its straight edges seem to accentuate the maintained turf and neatly pruned potted bushes. In the pond itself are a central marble figurine, a minimal fountain feature, and some carefully selected aquatic plants. Though seemingly limited in terms of décor, these are all this pond truly needs to stay loyal to the theme found in the rest of the garden. Hence, the limited number of features adds the right amount of character.

Circular Small Pond Designs


Circular pond with plants
Esther Westerveld / CC BY 2.0

A perfect circle is symbolic of continuity in life. Many pond owners opt to go with more irregular shapes due to their natural appearance, but those that are daring enough to create circular ponds often come up with interesting designs. With very low edges, this small pond would surely be effective at attracting wildlife. What it lacks in terms of edge plants, it makes up for with floating and emergent plants found toward the center of the pond. The tall grasses serve as a lovely natural centerpiece. Imagine the leaves swaying and rustling in the wind during cool spring days.


Tropical circular pond
Fresh Waffles / CC BY 2.0

If you’ve got a view like this one, you’ll want your garden pond to be minimal and wholly natural. The stone path that doubles as the pond’s border allows visitors to appreciate the stunning sea view from any point beside the pond.

Looking almost like a crater, the perfectly circular pond is covered in floating fronds. This is a smart means of minimizing the glare that may be caused by the sky’s reflection. Without the plants, the reflection may be a distracting element that may alter the intensity of natural colors. A profusion of edge plants just off of the pond border seem to extend further down into the cliff, leading straight toward the sea. 


Small circular pond next to daffodils
Светлана Глазкина, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Small ponds are best designed with the adjacent structures in mind. The circular pond basin draws attention to the similarly circular forms of the building in the background. Due to its minimal border features and plant-free surface, the reflection of the house on the pond remains unbroken. Note the colors of the first spring blooms, which agreeably blend in with those of the surrounding structures.

The clean shape of this pond would allow for moderate to easy maintenance, which is ideal for pond owners that experience drastic seasonal changes each year. 

Small Pond Designs with Planted Margins & Edges


Small pond with aquatic plants
Karen Blakeman / No copyright

Whatever a pond lacks in terms of color and texture can be made up for with a tasteful selection of water-loving plants! Fully planted margins are a great way to naturalize ponds, especially those meant to attract wildlife.

With overhanging turf, emergent grasses, and tiny floating fronds, this small pond’s visitors can be provided with their basic needs and more. These are likely native plants that will require minimal care. Keep in mind that small ponds tend to be quite shallow, which means that they can warm up quickly. The lengthy leaves provide important shade to help regulate water temperatures.


Small pond by a cottage
Mark / CC BY 2.0

Marginal wildflowers and tall grasses provide this small cottage pond with color, texture, and vertical interest.  You can expect this type of planted margin to change in appearance throughout the year. Of course, spring would be the most attractive period for flowering annuals and perennials. To maintain marginal color all year round, it would be best to cultivate evergreen grasses and herbs alongside flowering plants. They should be arranged in such a way that bare areas (as a result of dormant plants, for example), can be masked by adjacent evergreen species.


Small pond with leafy edge plants
Хомелка, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Undeniably eye-catching, this small pond’s best features are its healthy edge plants. With a variety of greens, leaf shapes, and textures, the pond is made to appear larger than it actually is. The edge plants effectively blur the edges and add vertical interest. As the pond itself is quite small, a design that incorporates more edge rather than marginal/emergent plants would prevent it from appearing too crowded. This pond has just a few tufts of emergent grass, allowing the water to be more visible as a whole.

Small Pond Designs with Rough Edges


Pond with stone slab edges
vegaj / CC BY 2.0

Thick slabs are used to border this irregularly shaped small pond. In a turf-covered garden, this type of pond edge is a pleasant visual break from the uniform stretch of green. It also highlights the features in the pond by contrasting the smoothness of the water. Instead of creating a neat edge, note that the jagged edges of the slabs jut further above the water, making them overhanging structures. They form irregular shadows over the actual edges, giving the illusion of a naturally formed hollow in the ground. Marginal plants of various heights add texture and color without overcrowding the small pond.


Garden pond with footbridge
Lucy Wayland / CC BY-SA 2.0

This small pond is edged with pebbles and light-colored stones for a minimal finish. The footbridge, which divides the pond into a smaller and larger pool, is almost as light as the stones. This results in a cohesive design that draws attention to the natural colors in and around the pond. The pondside area is evidently still in the process of being constructed, though there’s a hint of what may come. A frame for what would perhaps be a small white gazebo or tent would serve as a pleasant structure from which to view the pond.


Small green pond with rocky edges
brewbooks / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rocks of various shapes and sizes can be used to thoroughly hide all traces of pond liner. They can also be piled on top of one another to create a small waterfall, such as the one found along this pond’s far edge. For pond enthusiasts on a budget, they can be a cost-effective means of filling in spaces along a pond’s border. As opposed to plant-filled edges, a rock border would also be less time-consuming to maintain and is more likely to weather harsh elements. A grass edge and raised herb garden just beyond the rock border contributes much color as the rocks are quite neutral in comparison.

Small Pond Designs with Miniature Water Features


Small pond with waterfall feature
Nowis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A simple waterfall can give small ponds a lot of character. Apart from their visual contribution, they can be very therapeutic due to the sound of water. For this reason, small ponds in urban areas can be made more valuable with a waterfall feature as this would help drown out the sounds of traffic. Even multi-tiered waterfalls can be constructed on the edge of small ponds because they can be designed to make use of more vertical instead of horizontal space. The rest of the features, such as the stone border and emergent plants, are kept quite minimal as the waterfall is sufficient as a focal point.


Pond with small stone bench
msscacti / CC BY 2.0

Though small, this pond is highly memorable due to its well-balanced and creatively distributed features. The simple waterfall gives the illusion that the pond is much larger, especially as it adds height to the setup. The marginal Irises and edge plants add much color and texture without fully shading the pond water. Rather, they draw your eye to the floating fronds and fish. A small bench that practically blends into the edge is perfect for some pondside contemplation. Lastly, it is evident that all colors have carefully been selected because they perfectly balance out one another.


Small pond with waterfall
satanoid / CC BY 2.0

Quite ingenious, this small pond’s waterfall feature is built right into an elevated stone edge. The eye is simply drawn to it due to its simplicity. The reflective water droplets contrast a dark backdrop and fall into the pond like raindrops. Visually stunning, audibly pleasant, and budget-friendly, this type of waterfall can significantly add style and character to any type of pond design. As this is a small pond, its action is likely to contribute a decent amount of dissolved oxygen, along with a light current.


Stone pond with waterfall
satanoid / CC BY 2.0

This waterfall feature is likewise built into the pond’s edge, but the overhanging structure is closer to the water. This creates less of a splash, allowing floating plants to be distributed closer to it. To accentuate the naturally jagged features, the edge plants are situated just off of the main border. Emergent plants are placed in areas where they won’t distract from the waterfall. Note that the floating fronds arise from leaf stems that are rooted into submerged pots. This means that they can easily be relocated when needed.


Small pond with turtle spitter
Les Orchard / CC BY 2.0

If you peer closely at the source of the trajectile flow of water, you’ll see that it comes from a turtle spitter that is cast in shade. Features like this one make such a big difference in a small pond. They don’t simply serve an ornamental purpose; they help keep the water oxygenated too.

The sun’s rays look extra alluring due to partial shade from a nearby tree. The exposed liner isn’t the most attractive of distinguishing features, so proper edge plant placement would be key to keeping it camouflaged. Here, the profusion of ferns effortlessly naturalizes the pond’s surroundings.

Small Pond Designs with Pondside Seating


Small pond next to a bench
Nic / CC BY 2.0

A well-designed pond would undoubtedly be a great place to ponder life’s mysteries, and for that you’ll need a comfortable place to sit and think. A simple pondside bench, like the type found in parks, is all that a small pond would really need. This colored one is a quirky choice, especially as it stands out in the garden. It complements the vivid colors of the spring blooms.

This bench can comfortably accommodate a trio of pond visitors, and maybe even a dog or two!


Rocky pond with bench
Kevin M Klerks / CC BY 2.0

Sometimes, understated furniture that blends into the background would be a wiser choice for small ponds. They are less likely to draw attention away from the pond. This is important if the pond itself is fairly minimal in terms of plants, décor, and fish. The black bench used here is ideal. It has a rugged path of stone slabs leading up to it and underneath it, making it appear as though it is a feature of the seemingly extended pond edge. A modest display of potted plants is arranged around the bench, giving the pondside seating area some liveliness and character.   

Small Pond Designs with Pondside Décor


Pond with bonsai pots
Esin Üstün / CC BY 2.0

Because there is limited space within a small pond, complementary décor placed beyond its edge can give one the illusion of a more expansive pond system. For example, the bonsai pots perfectly blend into this pond setup. One that is placed just off of the border creates vertical impact and seems to increase the structural complexity of the pond. The pile of rocks at the far edge likewise provides texture and fits perfectly into the grassy edge. A pondside trellis with vines that grow toward the pond contributes a sense of spontaneity to the overall design.


Garden pond with Buddha statue
Tropic~7 / No copyright

Figurines are a fantastic means to add character to small ponds. Those with origins in Oriental mythology and religion are popular with pond enthusiasts because they instill a sense of peace, balance, and neutrality. The Buddha statue placed on the back edge of this small pond seems to bring all the pond’s elements together. The dark tint of its material almost matches that of the pond and the windows behind it. As a result, the pond looks much larger than it actually is! As the edge plants are far more vivid, they seem to glow in comparison.


Circular pond with bowl-like sculptures
Leonora (Ellie) Enking / CC BY-SA 2.0

Marble or concrete sculptures with organic shapes, such as the bowl-like objects placed on this pond’s edge, add interest to both raised and sunken small ponds. They can be used to add structure to wide, flat edges as they break up some of the rigidity of the pond outline.

Accompanied by highly textural pond edge plants, pond décor is a creative way to make your pond stand out. They can make a small pond look more modern or rustic. Placement is key as they must contribute to a cohesive design.

Small Pond Designs with Fencing


Pond with mesh screen
Jonathan Hornung, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have young children in your area or would like to protect your fish from potential predators (including pets), it may be necessary to install a simple fence around your small pond. The one seen here is more likely to be effective against small animals, especially as a mesh screen has been added to protect the surface of the pond.

A pond fence isn’t always the most visually appealing feature, but it can effectively serve multiple functional purposes when constructed properly.


Overgrown pond with bench
Lake Lou / CC BY 2.0

Perhaps more ornamental rather than functional, the fence on the left is used as a structure for the climbing vines of Morning Glory (Ipomoea sp.). This plant can grow quite vigorously and produce a profusion of deeply colored flowers. A vine fence certainly won’t keep animals or children away from the pond. In fact, it can provide shelter to many aquatic insects and small amphibians when entering or exiting the pond’s edge. When fully overgrown, the fence can also provide a measure of privacy to whomever wishes to grace the pondside bench (that is, if it hasn’t become overgrown with grass)!

Angeline L
About the author

Angeline L

I'm a passionate researcher and scuba diver with a keen interest in garden plants, marine life, and freshwater ecology. I think there’s nothing better than a day spent writing in nature. I have an academic and professional background in sustainable aquaculture, so I advocate for the responsible production of commercial fish, macroinvertebrates, and aquatic plants.

Read more about Pond Informer.

2 thoughts on “32 Small Pond Ideas with Waterfalls, Plants & More”

  1. I Glod to read this article. Great small pond ideas. The ideas that you shared are very helpful to design a pond in a limited area. There are only a few good articles available on the Internet to design small ponds but after reading this article I can say that this is the best article about small pond ideas.

  2. I need help deciding on the pump and filter for a 75 gallon stock tank waterfall maybe 3′ tall above the surface . Should I use an external pump and filter? The stock tank will be almost covered and the water dripping off the edge of the stone.


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