Homemade water feature ideas you can DIY: 10 easy projects to try

These homemade water feature ideas will bring a sensory boost to your backyard – from reclaimed designs to rockery styles

homemade water feature ideas – blue bowl with solar pump
(Image credit: Simon Dack/Alamy Stock Photo)

Are you on the lookout for homemade water feature ideas? Then we're here to help. These lovely garden features will instantly boost your backyard. And if you use a spot of DIY to install them, rather than buying an off-the-peg design or hiring a pro, then you're likely to save some cash, too.

There's a water feature idea for every plot – but whichever you go for, they're 'renowned for their calming properties and are guaranteed to enhance your garden,' as says Jonny Brierley, CEO of Moda Furnishings. And building them yourself doesn't have to be tricky once you know how. 

It's a great weekend project to get stuck into. And once your creation is ready, in Jonny's words, you can 'sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of these spectacular accessories and reminisce upon holidays past as you take in their sensory delights.' Perfect.

Homemade water feature ideas: 10 designs for your yard

To get you inspired for your own DIY feature, we've collected some of our favorite homemade water feature ideas below.

1. Turn a large cauldron into a mini pond

rusted cauldron water feature with pond plants

We love the combination of weathered metal and vivid green foliage in this scene

(Image credit: Stephanie Jackson - Gardens and flowers collection/Alamy Stock Photo)

DIY water feature ideas don't have to be overly fussy or fancy to make a stunning impact. Take this rustic reclaimed cauldron, for instance. 

To recreate the look, keep an eye out for interesting containers – whether that's in thrift stores or at the back of your shed. Then, to turn them into a feature, fill with water and some of the best pond plants. Tuck it amongst a border or bed for an enchanting scene.

2. Pair a galvanized planter with a vintage tap

water feature at Hampton Court Garden Festival 2021

(Image credit: Holly Crossley/Future)

Another rustic garden idea for your water feature is to pair a galvanized trough or planter with a vintage tap. Take this pretty scene spotted at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, for instance.

By drilling a hole in the side of your planter for a tube to be attached to the tap (using sealant around the hole to avoid any leaks), and adding a submersible pump, it isn't too difficult to create. Surround with soft, textural planting for a woodland feel – we love the forget-me-nots, fennel, alpine strawberries and nasturtiums in this scene.

3. Create a simple yet sweet vignette

water bowl in the 'Down Memory Lane' garden by The Blue Diamond team

A water bowl in the 'Down Memory Lane' garden by the Blue Diamond team at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021

(Image credit: Holly Crossley/Future)

If you're short on time and are a little unsure about your DIY skills, then this look is a super simple one to recreate. All you need is a large enamel bowl (often found secondhand at a very affordable price) and a handful of pebbles.

If you add enough stones so that they reach the water line, visiting birds will have somewhere to perch whilst they take a drink or wash their wings. Or, you could add a cute ornament like this for extra charm.

To finish the scene, pop it on a reclaimed step ladder or low wall, and surround with cottage garden plants such as roses or salvias.

Fancy perusing more bird bath ideas? You'll find plenty in our guide.

4. Use a duo of pots for a soothing scene

blue bowl water feature with plants in pots

Take your patio styling up a notch

(Image credit: Simon Dack/Alamy Stock Photo)

Now here's a gorgeous feature for any patio. And it's pretty simple to make, once you have some tubing and a pump to hand.

Remember that you'll need something to support the top pot too, to ensure it stays nice and sturdy whatever the weather. This design uses a metal ring which supports it from the bottom, whilst giving it a floating appearance.

Surrounding the design with container plants helps to soften the look and will disguise any technical parts such as the solar panels for the pump. Meanwhile, the soothing blue glaze helps to draw the eye and creates a sense of harmony between the two vessels. We like how the additional rocks around the base add a natural vibe, too.

5. Build your own pond and add a fountain

square pond with fountain

This pool is brought to life with a small fountain

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp Photography/Future)

If you want to go a step further and feel inspired by our gallery of small garden pond ideas, then why not have a go at building your own? You can find step-by-step advice on how to build a garden pond in our guide, but the process is simple: dig, line, edge, and fill.

Adding a small pump and fountain to the center will elevate the look and provide a soothing sound to your plot. What's more, it can help to reduce algae growth. 

There are lots of different fountain heads to try for a variety of effects. Some are solar-powered, but others will require an outdoor power point nearby, so bear this in mind.

6. Pair a reclaimed bathtub with modern surroundings

tin bath amongst planting at hampton court flower show

Warm hues make a pleasing contrast against an inky black backdrop

(Image credit: Beth Murton/Future)

A metal roll-top bath can make a striking feature for a plot, as shown in this scene above.

The surrounding styling can really make or break a design. This is a fantastic example of how it can be done successfully – see how the black backdrop complements the rusted patina of the bath, bringing a moody sense of modern industrial to the scene. 

Pink echinacea, apricot foxgloves and other tonal blooms soften the look. And another vintage tap has been used here too – it doesn't have to be hooked up as a fountain as it makes an interesting accent as is.

7. Or, sink an old tub for a wildlife haven

old sink in ground used as pond

A style like this may be simple, but visiting wildlife will love it

(Image credit: Mike Harrington/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images)

'There are so many amazing creatures just outside our back doors, and every garden, no matter what size, can be a haven for wildlife,' says the team at Squire's Garden Centers. And if you're keen to welcome birds, beneficial insects, frogs and toads to your plot, then a pond is a brilliant addition.

It couldn't be simpler to do – just take an old bath or sink, seal up the plug hole, submerge it into the ground, add some pond plants and voila. Don't forget to create some sort of ramp using stones, logs, or an old plank of wood, so that smaller animals can easily make their way out again.

You can find more wildlife garden ideas in our feature.

8. Mix terracotta with pebbles for a laid-back look

gravel and terracotta pot water feature

You don't have to have a pond to create a beautiful water feature

(Image credit: ingwio/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're after homemade water feature ideas to fit a Mediterranean garden scheme, then something like this could be the solution. The rockery vibe feels relaxed and natural and the sound of trickling water will delight anyone nearby. Plus, there's no fuss of a pond to maintain.

To create a design like this, you'll need to construct an underground reservoir by digging a hole for a large bucket. Adjust it so the top lip of the bucket sits just below ground level. In here, you'll place the pump and add the water. A wire mesh or metal grate should then be secured across the top of the bucket and small stones and pebbles added on top to cover it. You can then run the tubing from the pump to your vessel, positioned above the bucket, to create a seamless waterfall effect. 

If you want the flow of water to meander down a slope of pebbles before reaching the reservoir, dig out a shallow trench which leads to the bucket, and line the area with a watertight liner.

9. Repurpose an old barrel

barrel pond in garden

An old barrel adds vintage charm

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp Photography/Future)

An old whiskey barrel can be refashioned as a small water feature for a unique focal point. To add extra interest, add bricks to the bottom of the barrel to support aquatic plants in baskets. 

Sometimes, if a barrel hasn't been used for a long time, the wood can shrink a little which means it won't be 100% watertight straightaway. So, prepare for a small amount of leakage the first time you fill it up. The wood will quickly swell back up again.

If you like this look, our DIY patio ideas have plenty more projects to try.

10. Mix up your container garden

metal container used as small pond on patio

Add a water feature amongst your planters

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp Photography/Future)

If you're a fan of container gardening ideas, why not bring water into the mix? Not only is it great for wildlife, but it will also add an extra dimension to your design, as well as providing the opportunity for pretty pond plants.

Keep the look cohesive by using matching containers for your other plants too – see the use of galvanized metal above, for instance. Consider adding a small ornament or two as well – these shiny globes add a contemporary twist to the scene as they catch the light.

How do you make a homemade water feature?

There are a few ways to make a water feature, depending on the style you are going for. But the basic principles remain the same.

To make a small pond is simple, you'll need a watertight liner – whether that's a container or a liner sunk into a hole in the ground – fresh water, and potentially some large rocks or stones at the bottom to support pond plants. 

To add a fountain, you'll need a pump, which are readily available online. Some are solar powered, whilst some need wiring up to an outdoor electrical socket. Don't run the pump unless it is fully submerged to reduce risk of damaging it, as says Gardener Scott in his useful DIY water feature tutorial. His design is made from a galvanized bucket, a plank of wood, a handful of rocks, a couple of bricks and a ceramic dish.

More elaborate designs connect a fountain to a pool of water via a meandering stream. As mentioned above, you'll need to dig out and line a gently sloping trench to create the stream. Thin, shallow streams will flow fastest. And, as also mentioned, if you don't want a garden pond at the bottom, you can create an underground reservoir instead. The tubing from the pump can then be buried or hidden to transport the water from the pond or reservoir back up the slope to the top of the water feature. 

Top tip: If you're creating a waterfall-like effect over rocks, be mindful of how the shapes of the rocks can change the flow of the water. Play around with the positioning until it creates a result you like.

waterfall in garden

A waterfall can be an impressive addition to a plot

(Image credit: Jason Smalley Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

How do you make a water feature look natural?

If you want to use homemade water feature ideas to create a natural look in your yard, then try the following:

  • Surround the edges with plenty of plants, and add aquatic plants to the water itself, too.
  • Opt for a stream effect using a mix of pebbles and stones. Using a similar hue for the materials will give a more organic feel.
  • Allow moss to grow over areas, and add some logs for a woodland vibe.
  • If working with a pond, opt for organic shapes rather than straight and orderly lines.
  • Hide any cables or tubes by burying them under the ground or covering them with foliage or pebbles.
Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.