Are you looking for a fun and creative way to spruce up your backyard patio? Consider building a DIY patio water garden! With just some basic materials and supplies (no tools required), you can easily create an oasis in your own backyard. Not only will it be beautiful and relaxing, but you’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing that you made it yourself. 

Plus, it will attract plenty of beautiful and beneficial wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, bees, and even frogs! Keep reading to learn more about how you can create your own patio water garden in a container.

Select a container

Choose a watertight container of any size for your patio water garden. You can purchase an above-ground pond from your local garden store or repurpose another container such as a large pot, bucket, tub, or wooden barrel (lined with a waterproof liner). For most aquatic plants, you’ll need a container at least 12 inches deep.

Purchase plants

There are so many beautiful aquatic plants to choose from that will thrive in your water garden. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Water hyacinth
  • Water lilies
  • Hornwort
  • Water lettuce
  • Arrowhead
  • Fanwort

These plants don’t need soil and will thrive on the nutrients in the water — making them a perfect choice for your container pond.

Other plants need to be planted in pots in soil before being submerged in your water garden. These include:

  • Umbrella plants
  • Papyrus
  • Dwarf cattails
  • Colocasia

Gather other materials

Besides your container and plants, you’ll need a few other materials to set up your patio water garden. Some of these items include:

– Rocks or gravel for the bottom of your pond to give the roots of your aquatic plants something to hold onto

– A submersible pump or fountain kit if you would like your pond to have moving water

– A liner or rubber membrane for the bottom of the container, if needed

– A hose and a water source to fill your pond

Get started

Step 1: Choose a location

Pick a spot that receives equal parts sun and shade, and ensure the container is on a sturdy, level surface. Remember, once your pond is filled with water and plants, moving it will be challenging.

Step 2: Prepare the bottom of the pond

If you are using a liner or rubber membrane for your pond, lay it out at the bottom first before filling it with water. Then add gravel to give the roots something to hold onto.

For containers with a drainage hole, plug it with silicone caulk and let it dry for at least 24 hours before filling with water. Test the seal by adding a few inches of water first.

Step 3: Add water

Using a hose, fill your container with collected rainwater or tap water. Rainwater has additional benefits and minerals that could improve the nutrients for your aquatic plants. Check out this article for instructions on installing rain barrels in your garden!

Note: Avoid using tap water if you have a water softener installed in your home. Water softeners contain salts that can kill aquatic plants.

Step 4: Add your fountain (if using)

Add the fountain kit to your container and make sure that it is correctly installed. You may also need some extra tubing or parts, depending on the fountain you choose.

Step 5: Time to plant!

“Planting” in an aquatic garden means simply setting your plants into the water. Most aquatic plants float on the water’s surface and establish roots to draw nutrients and help keep your pond clean.

However, certain aquatic plants (known as bog plants) may need to be planted in small pots of soil under the water’s surface. Do your research to determine the requirements for your water plants. If you are growing bog plants, add them to the bottom of the pond before filling it with water.

What about fish?

Adding fish can make your patio water garden even more fun. Consider adding a few goldfish or mosquito fish, which are easy to care for and will thrive in the environment you have created. Fish help control algae and mosquitoes and are a neat feature in your patio pond.

To ensure you have enough room for your fish and to avoid overcrowding your water garden, provide one square foot of space for each “inch” of fish you add. Wait to add fish until your pond is established and your aquatic plants are growing well — usually around two weeks. This also gives time for beneficial bacteria to build up in the water garden.

How to care for your water garden

You can maintain your patio water garden with a few simple steps. Make sure to keep the water level up in hot weather, as evaporation can occur quickly. To avoid algae growth, provide shade for part of your pond and clean it regularly by removing any debris or dead plants. If you have fish, feed them every couple of days.

If you don’t have fish, fertilize your water garden at least once a month with an aquatic plant fertilizer. This will help keep your plants growing strong and healthy! Add a mosquito tablet once a month to any water garden that doesn’t have fish or a fountain/bubbler.

Can my water garden survive winter?

Most aquatic plants are only hardy to zones 5 or 6, meaning they must be brought indoors when winter comes. For some water plants, such as water lettuce and hyacinth, it’s best to treat them like perennials and grow new plants the following season, as they don’t do well when transplanted indoors.

If you have a fountain or pump in your pond, you must remove it ahead of freezing temperatures. Drain your pond in the late fall before the first freeze in cold climates. Otherwise, your container may burst, and you’ll have to start from scratch the following year.

Enjoy your patio water garden

Your patio water garden will be a beautiful addition to your outdoor space — a place of relaxation and serenity. Enjoy the sound of trickling water, watch the fish swimming around, or simply admire the beauty of aquatic plants in their natural habitat.


Happy Growing,

Hi There! Susan Here.

(aka the Earthen Mamma)

As a Certified Health Coach, Master Gardener, and Author, my goal is to equip and inspire you to live the healthy and sustainable life you deserve.

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