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What is the Best Pond Style for You?

What is the Best Pond Style for You?

What do you want to see when you walk outside to your pond? When creating your perfect oasis, starting with the end in mind can be helpful. Your pond can be a peaceful retreat from a busy day–think a traditional in-ground pond with a shaded chair near the edge. It could also be more decorative and modern, like an above-ground pond made from brick pavers. Find the best pond style for you, matching the design to your decor style while keeping maintenance and cost in mind.  

In-Ground vs. Above Ground

In-Ground Ponds

The first style choice is whether the pond should be in-ground or above-ground. An in-ground pond is a "traditional" pond and requires digging into the ground and then laying out your liner. Rocks or pavers surround the pond's perimeter to keep the liner in place.

An in-ground pond gives you flexibility in size and shape and can save money as a DIY project. These ponds can be big or small and are more permanent than an above-ground pond, which is often a better choice for renters.

Learn how to build your own DIY in-ground pond using the smartpond Ultimate Pond Kit, which has everything you need to complete your project. 

Above-Ground Ponds

If you build an above-ground pond, you don't need to dig a hole. Instead, you create the structure of the pond using brick pavers or create a container pond. Many people who rent or don't have the yard space for a larger pond choose above-ground ponds.

When building an above-ground pond out of brick pavers, you create the structure of the pond using the pavers and then lay the liner on top. You can add a spitter or a fountain to keep the water circulating. Another option is to create a mini pond out of a container, like a large basin, and then add a water feature. 

Check out our DIY above-ground pond projects:

Pond Shapes

When building an in-ground pond with a liner, you can choose what shape you want. The most common pond shapes are pear, kidney, ellipses, and freeform. Pear-shaped ponds are wider at one end than the other. A kidney-shaped pond curves inward, and the middle isn't as wide as the two ends. An ellipses pond is an oval shape. If you choose a freeform pond, you can make whatever shape you want. 

The Ultimate Pond Kit includes a 7 ft. x 10 ft. liner that lets you create a pond up to 5 ft. x 8 ft. Learn more about choosing your pond shape.

Exciting Spray or Elegant Flow?


Water features are important for pond aeration and add ambient sound. Fountains take water from the bottom of the pond and spray it into the air so it circulates and oxygenates while looking pretty. smartpond pumps allow you to adjust the flow rate, and you can customize the look of your fountain spray with the Nozzle Kit. Fountains can work for in-ground or above-ground ponds. 


All you need to add a waterfall to your pond is the smartpond spillway, a waterfall pump, and some decorative rocks to disguise the spillway. The secret to a waterfall is setting the spillway higher than the pond so the water can flow. The pump must be strong enough to pump the water up and into the spillway. It looks like a natural water feature if you hide the spillway with rocks and plants.

Go Fish?

When you imagine your pond, do you see koi and goldfish swimming, the sun reflecting off their orange scales? You don't have to stop at fish! You can add turtles, snails, and frogs! 

Koi and goldfish can grow up to three feet long and require room to swim. If you have a smaller pond, there are smaller fish, like fancy guppies, that are pretty and don't require as much space. A fish pond requires aeration and routine maintenance for water quality and clarity. The fish will need to be fed regularly. Some fish live for many years, which is a big commitment. They will also need some plants or coverage to protect them from predators.  

Pond Designs


When it comes to building a pond, you can get as creative as you want. Some backyard ponds are modern masterpieces incorporating glass edges or even a floating aquarium so you can watch the fish swim. You can add colored lights or the Color-Changing Floating Fountain to illuminate your water features at night when you entertain guests. 


Love to upcycle? A rustic pond repurposes antique everyday items to tell a story. Mismatched decor, like tiles and pavers, make the pond unique (and can save money). You can build an above-ground pond using a large stock tank or even an old-fashioned clawed bathtub. An old water spigot can be used as a spitter to pour water into the pond. 


Whimsical pond styles use bright, upbeat colors and accents to give the pond personality. It can be as eccentric and quirky as you want. You can incorporate funky statues, spitters, and colorful flowering plants. Bridges and lawn gnomes can turn the pond into a scene straight out of a fairytale.  


Do you want your pond to be your peaceful retreat? Let the sound of flowing water soothe your mind with spitters, waterfalls, and fountains. Feel your stress melt away as you watch your fish swim. Add shade with a tree or umbrella, and use a chair or hammock to enjoy the outdoors while reading a book or listening to music. A sandy bank turns your backyard into a beach. You can swish your toes into the sand and cool your feet off in the water.  

All Natural

Your pond can be eco-friendly, using as few chemicals as possible while still having clear water. The running water, plants, and fish help you connect with nature and can be a decorative focal point or a peaceful retreat. An all-natural pond gives local wildlife a fresh source of water to drink from. Your pond could help support an entire ecosystem! 

One of the most important steps in building a pond is the planning process. Before you start digging or laying out your pavers, you want to make sure you know exactly what you want the finished project to look like. When building a pond, you have so many different options to choose from. You can create a traditional in-ground pond with a beautiful waterfall or a whimsical container pond with fairies and gnomes. Your pond can seamlessly integrate with your backyard or stand out with personality. Once you choose between in-ground and above-ground, it's time to figure out what decor style you want, and then you can start building.




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