How to Improve Your Backyard with Water Features

Ponds and waterfalls work well in medium or large yards.
Ponds and waterfalls work well in medium or large yards.

It’s no coincidence that rivers, lakes, and oceans are some of the most popular vacation spots you’ll find: There’s just something about sitting by the water that’s relaxing, soothing, and refreshing. You can get a little piece of that feeling in your own backyard by putting in a water feature – and even if you don’t have much acreage, you can find a fountain, pond, waterfall, birdbath, or other setup that will help you turn your space into a peaceful retreat.

In the City

For apartment-dwellers, adding a water feature to your balcony, patio, or postage stamp-sized backyard is more than worth it: Think of it as bringing a little more nature to your urban jungle. Look for small, freestanding fountains that come with their own pumps; choose from a variety of looks and styles, including stacked stones, granite, animals, barrels, wood, ceramic and more. And if you can’t find one that fits your yard, then think low-tech – a classic bird bath won’t give you the soothing sound of running water, but it will make your yard a homey place for local robins, cardinals, and more.

In the Suburbs

Working with a slightly bigger yard than the one you had at that first downtown condo? Then you have even more options when it comes to adding a water feature. The stone, granite, and ceramic fountains will still work, but you can choose bigger versions and pair them with more elaborate setups, including small ponds. If you choose to put in a pond, make sure you find a spot in your yard that isn’t too sunny or too shady (to minimize algae growth) and leave room for water-friendly plants that will thrive in or near the water, including water lilies, cattails, marsh marigolds, and lotus flowers.

In the Country

If you’ve made your home in a more rural area, where you have lots of land to work with, then you can really dream big when designing your ideal water feature. Plan for flowing waterfalls; bridges and gazebos that overlook a large pond; lots of reeds, flowers, and other plants to add color and texture to your landscaping; and the incorporation of a variety of materials, including metal, stone, and marble. You can also add features that support the natural environment, including pumped bird baths that keep water flowing and ponds designed to support fish, frogs, and other wildlife.

More Great Links


  • “Top 5 Backyard Water Features.” TLC. (June 5, 2013)
  • “Water Plants.” Better Homes and Gardens. (June 5, 2013)
  • “Unique Water Features.” TLC. (June 5, 2013)
  • “Top 10 Ideas for Small Water Features.” TLC. (June 5, 2013)