Planning a water feature for your backyard

  • By: Cheli Scott
  • Date: Dec 16 2022

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Planning a water feature for your backyard

Planning a water feature for your backyard is a great way to attract wildlife, improve air quality, and add a peaceful atmosphere to your yard.

Water features can be very elaborate or extremely low maintenance depending on the size and complexity so it is worth taking some time to sit down and plan before you head to the hardware store. You can buy premade solutions that just need to be installed or design your own and build it yourself.

a backyard pond with a fountain

What to consider when putting a water feature in an outdoor space

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a water feature for your backyard. While many of them are so obvious you probably don’t have to think too hard about them, others you might not have considered.


You might already have a location in mind for your water feature, but before you nail down your final decision take time to consider a few things. One, check for overhanging trees that may drop leaves or fruits into your water feature.

You will also want to think about where you will be enjoying the water feature from. Will you be sitting in a lawn chair or do you want to hear the trickle of water and have a pretty view from your kitchen window? Asking yourself these questions might lead to some surprising conclusions.

Start thinking about the type of plants you will want in your water feature, if you are going to include plants. Some will require more or less shade than others. One danger of placing your pond in full sun is the growth of algae. Algae can be controlled with treatment but this will add to your maintenance schedule.

a fountain in a garden nook


There are water features available for any budget. Bird baths cost as little as $20, while a swimming pool can cost as much as $60,000. A large, elaborate pond will require professionals such as electricians and landscapers, which will add to the total cost. You will also want to keep in mind maintenance costs over time including, cleaning, feeding and stocking fish, and repairs.

hands holding cash


If you have neighbors and also for your own comfort it is a good idea to think about how much sound your water feature will produce. A large waterfall will produce a crash of water, while a small bubble fountain will produce a pleasant trickle. Think about the location in regard to bedroom windows where the sound might disturb sleep.

an ear

Aquatic life

Fish are a fun addition to an outdoor pond. You can stock your pond with more than just koi fish. There are a number of varieties of fish that do well in ponds. For example, common goldfish are pretty and low maintenance fish that can easily tolerate cold temperatures. Rosy minnows are inexpensive and can also survive cold weather. When choosing fish consider their hardiness, diet, and appearance.

a koi fish in a pond


Wildlife coming to your pond can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but it is important to consider when choosing a water feature. Lots of cute animals love ponds including turtles, ducks, and frogs. But they will also attract some animals you may consider a nuisance, like bears and raccoons.

There are different ways to deal with different types of nuisance animals. For example, decoy predators will frighten away skunks and netting will keep herons from eating your fish. When you decide to put in a water feature you should prepare yourself to deal with these potential problems.

turtles in a natural water feature


Maintenance will keep your water feature looking nice and working properly. Think about how much maintenance you will have to do and how much it will cost before you install a water feature. Ponds and pools will require much more maintenance than a small backyard fountain or a bird bath.

a net scooping leaves out of a water feature


If you have small children or pets, thinking about safety is important. Never leave children unattended around ponds or pools. Children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so be sure to supervise even a small backyard water feature.

Experts recommend installing a pool fence and alarm around your swimming pool to prevent toddlers from accidently falling in. If you are concerned, consider a small backyard water feature with no exposed reservoir of water.

Consider adding led lights around water features to keep them visible at night. They are both visually appealing and a safety feature.

a close up of a pool gate


The size of your water feature should be proportional to the space you are installing it in. In a large garden, you can use a big fountain as a focal point. For a small back patio a little fountain would make a nice accent to other décor.

Maintenance is also a consideration. A larger pond will require more work to keep it looking pristine. You should also think about portability. Do you want this to be a permanent structure or would you like to take it with you when you move?

a large traditional fountain water feature in a garden

Water feature ideas

Bird bath

The simplest water feature is a bird bath. Bird baths attract song birds and are simple to maintain. You can scrub it occasionally with a water and vinegar solution to keep it clean and refill it with water. There are a wide array of options available from as little as $20 to as much as $200.

Baths help birds remove dust and parasites from their plumage. Drawing them to your yard helps aerate your soil as they hunt for insects in your yard, turning up the soil. Birds are also a beautiful way to get a bit of wildlife in a suburban garden.

a hummingbird in a bird bath

Bubbler fountain

Bubbler fountains are simple and come in many elegant designs. You can expect to pay around $300 for one of these fountains. Since they only push a small amount of water over a surface, they are very safe and low maintenance. They work great on a patio or balcony and add the pleasant sound of trickling water.

a bubbler fountain water feature

Water wall

If you want a more dramatic effect you can try a water wall. A wall fountain runs water over a vertical slab which can be made of glass, metal, or stone. These fountains are sleek so they can work as a focal point in a large garden or in a small backyard with a wall for it to sit against. Water walls can be be very quiet or louder depending on the water feature design.

a water wall water feature in a garden

Traditional fountain

The classic fountain looks great in a large garden and can be scaled down for a smaller space. Large fountains do a good job of drowning out street noise with the pleasant sound of running water. They attract birds and make a relaxing centerpiece. Traditional fountains come in a staggering array of shapes and sizes from a simple carved stone basin to concrete fountains with statues.

a traditional fountain water feature

DIY fountain

There are lots of instructions on the internet for DIY fountain ideas. To make your own fountain you really only need a few containers, some tubing, and a water pump. You can add visual interest with levels, rocks, plants and even using unusual objects to hold water.

a basic DIY water feature with rocks

Hanging wall fountain

Hanging wall fountains for those who want the drama of a wall fountain but with a smaller profile. A hanging wall fountain makes a great addition to a small backyard patio. Installation for these fountains tend to be simple. You only have to mount them, fill them with water, and plug them in.

A hanging wall fountain water feature

Natural pond

A pond is a great way to invite wildlife into your yard while creating a natural look. You can decorate your pond with rocks and plants and stock it with fish. You can hire a professional to plan your pond or design and plan it yourself. Be sure to call your local utility service before you dig to check for utility lines and pipes.

a natural pond water feature

Pondless waterfall

A more unusual water feature idea is a pondless waterfall. This is one or a series of waterfalls with no large basin to collect the water. They look sleek and are compact enough to work on a small patio. It’s likely you will have to have one of these custom installed for you, but it is an elevated look for a discerning customer.

a pondless waterfall waterfeature


The close counterpart to the pondless waterfall is the creek. These are usually a channel of flowing water, either natural or designed with concrete. They also have a more elevated look and are an interesting alternative to a classic fountain. They make very little sound, so are a good option if you want a quieter water feature.

Two creek water features on either side of a path

Swimming pool

If you want a functional water feature you can think about investing in a swimming pool. Swimming is excellent exercise and the color blue has a calming effect on the mind. While swimming pools will require expensive professional installation, they will add value to your home in the long run.

a swimming pool

When to ask for help

While you probably don’t need help installing a small patio fountain, you may need to call in professionals for large jobs. You might need to call in equipment to dig out a pond or professionals to put down pavers for a fountain.

Don’t be afraid to work with an experienced professional if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself. A proper, professional installation will save you money in the long run on maintenance and repairs.

A pond water feature

Enjoy your water feature

Water features are meant to be relaxing. If you are feeling uneasy, start with something small and work your way up as you feel more comfortable with the maintenance. If you need professional help, consider working with a professional like the ones at bhild.com. Call us today, or fill out our form here for a free estimate on lawn services!

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