This shows how to build a pond in a raised garden bed. It’s a good option if you cannot dig a pond or simply want better accessibility. It also opens up more options for pond locations in your garden.
This is part of a complete guide to garden ponds: 17+ Backyard Pond Ideas and building tips.
Garden Pond In A Raised Bed
I originally built this small pond in a raised bed at our old house because I wanted a water feature in a narrow strip of garden near the house.
We could not dig the soil there due to underground cables so I opted to build up instead.
I ended up liking this arrangement much better than an in-ground pond for a number of reasons.
If you would like a larger pond see
How I Built an Inground Pond
Advantages To Raised Bed Ponds
- The height of the pond makes it very easy to access the pond filter pump for regular maintenance.
- It’s very easy to weed the surrounding flower beds.
- You are much less likely to fall in. I tell you this as the person who has fallen into the in-ground pond. Twice.
Safety and Legal Considerations
- Before you install a water feature of any kind, check your local bylaws and consider the safety issues. You do not want any open water where children might play unattended.
Supplies & Materials
You will need
- A pond form or pond liner. My pond is approximately 400 gallons.
If you use a pond liner, you’ll also need some flat-bottomed rocks or stepping stones to hold the liner lip down around the edge of the pond.
- A recirculating pond pump made for the size of the pond. A 450 gallon pond needs, at minimum, a 450 gph (gallons per hour) pump plus more power if you have a waterfall. I always buy my pumps new and keep a spare on hand in case of malfunction so the fish and plants are safe and never freeze in the winter.
- A raised bed built to fit the pond. I have free instructions for building raised beds here.
- Soil to fill in the space between the pond form and the bed. You’ll want good compost and potting soil for the top 8″ (or more) of soil. If you will be growing fruits or vegetables in this bed, make sure your soil is food-safe.
- Access to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interupter) outdoor electrical outlet for running the pump.
- Aquatic water plants. Look for ‘hardy’ ones. Annual water plants require separate winter storage to avoid freezing.
- Fish. But don’t buy them until your plants have been in the pond for a few weeks. I use cold water ‘feeder fish’ which are sold as live food at the pet store for 10 cents each. They will grow into big, beautiful goldfish.
- Get your pond form first since it will determine how big the raised bed needs to be.
- Consider the length, width, and height of the raised bed. You want room for plants beside the pond and enough height to fit the depth of the pond.
- My pond raised bed is 4×8′ and about 16″ deep. I buried about 8 inches of the pond in the ground, which was as much as I could dig without hitting underground cables. I used the soil I removed for filling in the space around the base of the pond form.
- You don’t want a bed much wider than four feet or it becomes very difficult to reach into the pond for maintenance.
- Prepare your pond location. Make the ground level and have a GFCI outlet and water source nearby.
- Build the raised bed. Need to know the best type of wood to choose? See this.
- Insert the pond form.
- Fill in the spaces around the pond form with soil, making sure it fits snugly.
- Figure out how you want to arrange the circulating pump and where the electrical cord will go.
- Fill with water. If your water is chlorinated, allow time for it to off-gas.
- Add aquatic plants.
- Wait a few weeks before adding fish. You want to make sure everything is running properly and allow time for some natural scunge to build up around the inside of the pond. The fish can live off this natural habitat. Nom. Nom. Nom.
- Plant area surrounding pond. Be sure plants are fish-safe in case flowers or foliage falls in the water.
- Place plants low down in the pond for the winter.
- So long as you keep the water circulating all winter long, the fish survive. They simply go dormant in cold water. It’s kind of freaky, but cool.
- You can also use a floating de-icer to prevent the pond from freezing over.
For more, see How to Keep Pond Fish Alive in Winter.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛