DIY Garden Project: Building a Pond, Part 4

We did it! From start to finish, it took roughly two weeks to turn a ho-hum backyard into a beguiling oasis complete with a landscaped pond and new patio.


Narvas plants a weigela

Narvas plants a dwarf variegated weigela (‘My Monet’ weigela from Proven Winners) next to a clump of chartreuse Japanese forest grass. We stretched our planting dollars with divisions of grasses, hostas, iris, and lambs’ ears from neighbors and family as well as transplanted perennials and shrubs from areas we’d disturbed digging the pond and patio.


Kurtis mulches the beds

With the planting finished, Kurtis spreads a layer of pine bark mulch around the borders to keep weeds in check and moisture in the soil.


Smartpond waterfall sealant

Now this is something we wish we’d had when we built our first waterfall many years ago. Smartpond’s foam waterfall sealant is a must-have for creating a watertight cascade over the rocks.


Narvas seals the waterfall tiers

Without the sealant, water seeps underneath the stones on the waterfall tiers and reduces the effect of the flow. The long plastic tip on the nozzle allows Narvas to place the product exactly where it needs to be to seal the rocks. Word of advice: wear disposable latex gloves when dispensing this stuff or you’ll be working it off your skin for days. Ask Narvas if you don’t believe me.


Smartpond lighting kit

Smartpond wants to make sure you enjoy your pond day and night with a selection of lighting products that are easy to install, small enough to be unobtrusive, and bright enough to make your pond shine.


The crew sets up the pond lights

The crew sets the six lights in the rocks around the pond. These energy-efficient mini LEDs stay cool to the touch and have a built-in dusk-to-dawn sensor that automatically turns the lights on at dusk and shuts them off at dawn. They’re lightweight, submersible, and rotate so that you can direct each beam effectively. We also illuminated the interior of the pond automatically with a set of three submerged LED lights.


Narvas and Kurtis set the last stone

While fighting off a swarm of gnats (gotta love summer in Iowa), Kurtis and Narvas place the last stone on top of the spillway. Almost before the guys took their hands off the rock, house sparrows and wrens were making themselves at home there. Maybe they’ll oblige us by eating the gnats.


Potting bench

With everything finished, Hannah has set up a potting bench to stash the stuff she needs to keep pond and plants healthy and looking good.


The completed pond

And at last, the big reveal. The completed pond is everything we hoped it would be: easy to maintain and operate, a soothing and relaxing addition to the backyard, and a gorgeous and eye-catching focal point in the landscape.


Vintage sign

Hannah and Kurtis added a little whimsy to the overall design with this vintage metal sign that they picked up on their honeymoon four years ago. They’ve finally found the perfect place to hang it.


Finished pond overall

The generous planting of shrubs, perennials, and annuals provides a smooth transition from the rocky pond surround to the lawn. Evergreens dot the new landscape like exclamation points. We found the 6-foot arborvitae on sale for $20 each so it was a no-brainer to make them the foundations of our planting plan.


Finished pond detail

Water plants take the greenery into the water and around the rock edging. We used a mix of floating plants, submerged potted plants, and smaller marginals tucked in pockets between boulders.



A vintage wood mermaid whirligig shows which way the wind’s blowing. She looks perfectly at home amid the flora.


Planted pond borderWhile we relied primarily on foliage in our planting plan, we included flowering shrubs, perennials, and annuals to infuse the design with color. Some of the annuals we chose to include are Supertunias in pink, fuchsia, and pale lilac from Proven Winners. These tough and attractive plants are vigorous growers that cover a lot of ground (up to 18 inches wide each). With a feeding every 3rd or 4th watering, they’ll flower like mad with no deadheading. Gotta love a performer like that!


Pond and patio

The pond and patio blend in a seamless transition of landscaping and hardscaping. The natural attraction of the water feature and plants is balanced by the colorful and cozy arrangement of patio furnishings.


propping the patio by the pond

Hannah and Kurtis get the patio ready for its closeup.


Chairs and poufs on patio

Kick-back comfy Adirondack-style chairs bring a brilliant burst of color to the patio. Seat cushions and pillows made from Duralee’s outdoor collection of fabrics add softness. The two poufs side-by-side stand in as a coffee table but in the evenings can be pulled out to become additional seating, making room in the center for Kurtis’s firepit.


Glasses on the patio

When you’ve gone to the trouble to design a space where people will want to hang out, provide spots to set drinks or a tray of nibbles (assuming the gnats have decamped). Small side tables placed near seating and a central table or, as in our case, a pair of poufs or garden stools will do the trick.


Settee and side table

Make your outdoor furnishings as restful as those indoors. Lots of pillows and cushions add color, pattern, and comfort, while an outdoor throw ensures warmth on cool evenings. Originally painted black, our vintage wicker elephant side table was a lucky find at an antique mall. A quick spray of primer and sunny paint and he’s a yellophant.



Wildlife will be drawn to the pond like bees to honey, but the fish will have to be purchased. Kurtis and Hannah visit Bickal Koi Farm to choose koi. If you’re ever in Toddville, Iowa (hey, it could happen), be sure to visit this awesome place. Even if you’re not into koi, the stunning gardens are worth the trip. After viewing all the options, Kurtis selects a bright orange variety, Hannah picks one with pattern (plus 8 others—it’s hard to stop once you get started).



Watching and feeding the fish will be Hannah’s daily pastime. Once they become acclimated to their new environment (it usually takes a few days), they’re active and playful. Their antics can entertain you for hours.


Hannah calls the fish

Koi are friendly fish and will take food from your hand and allow you to stroke them as they swim around. But it’s always a good idea to provide some kind of shelter in the pond for fish to hide in away from predators. Kurtis built a covered “fish fort” from large flat stones.


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In just a few days, and using the easy-to-install pond components from smartpond, we took this backyard from snooze to sensation. Let us know what you think!


Smartpond products used in our series:

Skimmer Box

2000 GPH Premium Waterfall Pump

Pressurized UV Pond Filter

1.5 in Corrugated Tubing 20-ft

16 in Spillway with Filtration

EPDM liner

Pond and Landscape Light

Mini LED Pond and Landscape Light Kit

Waterfall Foam Sealant

Chlorine Remover

Naturals Water Clarifier

Naturals Sludge Remover


If you’re looking for a special product (such as our 20×20-foot pond liner) that’s not available on their website, call smartpond’s customer service line at 1-888-755-4497. They’re always happy to help you!

Proven Winners plants:

Supertunia Vista in Bubblegum, Fuchsia, and Silverberry

‘Anna’s Magic Ball’ Thuja occidentalis

‘My Monet’ Weigela florida


Dramm products on potting bench:

50-foot rubber garden hose in Berry

Revolution 9-Pattern Spray Gun in Berry

Touch-N-Flow Rain Wand in Berry

ColorStorm 9-Pattern Turret Sprinkler
Colorpoint Bypass Pruner in Yellow

7 Liter Watering Can in Yellow

Garden Gard Hose Guides


On the patio:

Pillows and poufs in Duralee fabrics

Arabesque pattern

Floral pattern

Stripe pattern

Projects sewn by Elaine Anderson. The Best Neighbor Ever!



Polywood adirondack chair

Ceramic lantern


Pier 1


Settee cushion

Solid pillows

Market umbrella


World Market

Chair cushions


Mosaic table

Acrylic glasses


Show us your pond projects using the tag #summer16pond on social media so we can follow along on your pond projects or water adventures, too!

A big thank you to Smartpond for partnering with us on this series! As always, all opinions are our own and products we work with are things we like or enjoy and would use ourselves.

Thanks, too, to our readers for supporting the brands we love that bring bigger and better DIYs coming your way.


© Caruth Studio

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  1. Absolutely gorgeous! And your presentation was superb!!!

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