Maybe you’re looking to mask the noise from a busy road, or you just want a quiet, contemplative space. You may even want to inject some tranquility into your backyard. How can you do this? By adding the right water feature to your backyard. What kinds of water features are there, and how will you know what’s right for you?


A pond is what most people think about when you say “backyard water feature.” Technology has advanced to the point where ponds can be treated as their own self-contained ecosystems. Properly constructed and balanced, a pond is lower in maintenance than many homeowners realize. The bigger the pond, the less likely small changes in water quality will have a huge impact. As an added bonus, ponds often attract wildlife, providing a chance to appreciate deer, frogs, dragonflies, etc.

A pond can be a small, simple pool with a bubbler; it can be a large koi pond with massive boulders and crashing waterfalls; or it can be somewhere in the middle. A pond can be natural in appearance, looking as though it’s a spring coming from the hillside. A pond can also be formal, with geometric shapes defined with stone, brick, or tile coping. The execution of the pond comes down to your personal tastes and budget.

If you’re considering a pond, check with your local town or county about ordinances that may affect you. If your pond exceeds a certain depth (varies by locale), you may be required to meet the same barrier code requirements as a residential pool.

Pondless water feature

A pondless water feature is exactly what its name implies. It’s a waterfall, or streambed and series of waterfalls, that cascade into a concealed reservoir covered with stone. For busy homeowners who want the sound of running water without the maintenance of a pond, a pondless water feature is an excellent choice. Another benefit of a pondless water feature is safety: with no open water, there’s no need for fencing or barriers to keep people or animals from falling in.


The simplest water feature you can create is a recirculating fountain. That can be anything from the ever-popular bubbling vase, to a core-drilled boulder, to a formal fountain. In all of these water features, water collects in a basin at the bottom where a small pump sits, and is pumped back up to the top. These types of water features are generally the most economical choice for adding some kind of water feature to the backyard.

Backyard water features can be small or large, simple or complex. They can range from a simple accent piece to a key focal point of the landscape. If you have a yearning for the beauty and mystique of moving water in your yard, your local landscape professional can help you determine what is the right fit for your taste, your budget, and your landscape.

Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Landscaping, Omaha, NE.

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