Install a Water Garden in Your Small Yard

3 Materials
1 Week

You may remember the pond we installed in our backyard and the tutorial for a more elaborate water feature than we're showing today. This time, we're demonstrating how we installed a much simpler water garden in our small outdoor space.

Here's the blank slate we started with. If you are starting from scratch, be sure to check out our full tutorial to see how we dug out for the liner (the link is at the end of this post).
Before we could turn our attention to the pump and water feature, the electrical had to be hooked up. In our municipality, we're allowed to get our own permit for electrical work and then have it inspected by the city.

As hubs is experienced with electricity, we were able to do it ourselves, but it's best to call in an expert - especially when water is involved!

Here’s the electrical service to the pond Hubs installed before he finished the final connections.
The electrical conduit is quite ugly, so hubs built a wooden cover for it. He installed a water proof cover to protect the plug on the end of the electrical cord (which you can see two pictures down).
The electrical cover was something nice to look at until the grasses took over and grew around it. In the summer you can barely notice it as you can see below!
With the hard work out of the way, we moved on to a water fountain that we can easily drop into the pond. It provides a beautiful focal point in the centre.

To support the fountain, Hubs started with a milk crate. The milk crate is necessary to help lift the fountain head out of the water. In our pond, the liner is 2 feet deep and the crate adds just enough depth. You’ll need to work out how high your crate needs to be depending on the depth of the liner you install.

On the 'bottom' of the crate, hubs added stainless steel weights to keep the crate from floating. He used black plastic ties to secure the weights - wrapping them around and back through the holes of the crate.
He also used long cable ties to secure the pump to the top of the milk crate.
Here's a closer look from the top:
Below you can see the how the pump is attached with the cable ties from the underside of the crate:
Once everything is secure, it's just a matter of adding the fountain head onto the pump. The crate then gets lowered into the water in the centre of the pond and the power cord is plugged into the electrical outlet.
Turn on the pump and adjust the height of the water. Try not to have it splash outside of the pond or you will just have to keep refilling it!
Now the real fun begins with the plant materials! Surround the fountain with water lillies and a few tropical floating plants and you're good to go! In behind the pond we flanked either end with grasses and day lilies in the middle (which bloom in summer). You can also spy the hypertufa chair planter we made to fill in the space by our rock garden. It's filled with hardy succulents that survive the winter and come back each year!
Our pond gets direct sunlight so to prevent algae from forming, Hubs adds a special  blue pond dye to the water. It stains easily because it's very concentrated so he has to be careful he doesn't get any drips on the surrounding light coloured travertine patio stone! He also wears gloves when he applies it so it doesn't stain his hands.

The materials list and breakdown of the budget can be found on our website (link is below this post where you see our logo).
There's nothing more relaxing than the tranquil sound of a water garden in our little backyard oasis!

To complement the rest of the small garden, we often added more plant material in the form of container gardening. Last year, for instance, we upcycled a rusty fire pit as a base to display a vintage milk can planted with wave petunias:
There are tons more gardening ideas at Birdz of a Feather - such as how to trim and shape the Pom Pom Topiary shown below.
If you are REALLY ambitious, you can landscape your entire small garden with a dry creek bed and a rock garden. You'll find the tutorials for all those projects on our website.
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 18 questions
  • Gina
    on Apr 24, 2019

    I have a much bigger pond than this one and I have found over the years we have had the pond that you will need to have something like a a net that will reach the bottom to get out the stuff that dies off of the plants and since you are using live plants you need to use something to take the chemicals in city water that you put in your pond and when you add water when it looses water. After you get it all set up you will find it to be a on going job of fix up, fill up, add water, add chemicals, dieing plants and if you add fish you have to do even more work.

    • Spanky
      on May 18, 2020

      We've had water gardens for years and we quit putting our pump on the bottom, because one year while on vacation something happened with our bio filter, and came home to a empty pond full of dead fish😥and plants. So now we keep it about 6" off the bottom so if it happens again at least my fish will have water.

  • Donna
    on Apr 25, 2019

    What is the name of the blue dye you use

  • Don
    on May 4, 2019

    How to make a fire pit in a round depression in back yard

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on May 4, 2019

      You have to check your local fire codes to see if they will allow one; not all municipalities can put in a fire pit.

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