Pond ideas with waterfalls: 11 decorative ways to give your garden a boost

These beautiful pond ideas with waterfalls will bring a soothing sense of movement and sound to any backyard

pond ideas with waterfalls: waterfall with lighting in garden
(Image credit: Derek Trask/Alamy Stock Photo)

There are plenty of gorgeous pond ideas with waterfalls to consider when planning a backyard update. But whatever design you go for, you can be sure that your garden's ambience will be instantly elevated.

From relaxed, nature-inspired looks to contemporary designs, adding in a waterfall is a reliable way to give even the humblest of garden pond ideas an extra dose of pizzazz. The movement of water isn't just beautiful to look at though – it will also create soothing sounds that can help block out traffic or neighbor noise. Circulating the water is also good for your pond's health, keeping it well-oxygenated and slowing down algae production.

As The Garden Design Co. says on their blog, cascading water features are versatile and can easily be tailored to your garden and needs. 'You can elevate them, lower them, use a variety of materials, play around with plants that surround them – the options really are endless here,' they say. You can go as bold or as pared-down as you desire – whatever fits your space and theme.

Pond ideas with waterfalls: 11 gorgeous designs

To help you get started thinking about your own garden transformation, we've rounded up some of our favorite pond ideas with waterfalls. From light-up looks to minimal features, you're bound to find something to inspire.

1. Make a soothing series of rills

waterfall with rill in garden

Use a slimline stream to cut across levels

(Image credit: Bailey-Cooper Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

Have you ever thought about using pond ideas with waterfalls to divide areas of your plot? A long, meandering cascade of water is an elegant sight for any yard, and, in a tiered garden, can be used to create boundary lines between two different outdoor zones.

Take this look above, for instance, where a series of narrow rills beautifully tumble from tier to tier to reach a larger pond below. It adds tons of interest and can easily be stepped over to get from one side to the other. Use this to your advantage – perhaps by positioning a seating spot on one side.

Soften with plenty of the best pond plants for a more natural feel. We like how additional greenery has been tucked into the stone retaining wall in this scene too.

2. Keep it contemporary

waterfall and rill in modern garden designed by Consilium Hortus at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival

(Image credit: Michelle Foulser/Design: Consilium Hortus)

Fancy bringing some more modern garden ideas into your plot? Cool porcelain paving and plenty of clean, sleek lines will always be a winning approach for this look. But if you want to bring more sensory impact to your space, consider a slick waterfall like this one, showcased in a garden designed by Consilium Hortus.

Paired with porcelain wall cladding, it complements the rest of the space well. And, it brings an additional sense of dynamism to the black-dyed rill, which separates the dining zone from a pergola. 

Big, bold planting choices feature the likes of lupins and monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet', which lift the scene with their jewel-like tones.

3. Double up with decking

modern waterfall in garden decking

A smart design like this would work even in a smaller space

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

For smaller plots, consider how you can combine waterfalls with other landscaping features, such as your decking ideas or even your raised beds. This clever design does both in a smart and chic way, without taking up much space. We think you'll agree that it certainly packs a punch in terms of visual impact.

Think about lighting too – the position of the recessed lighting in this set-up only enhances the look and means it will maintain its striking impression even when night falls. 

You can find more small garden pond ideas in our guide.

4. Recreate a natural landscape

waterfall with stones and plants

Weathered stone pools and plenty of planting give this scene an organic feel

(Image credit: Victor Dam/500Px Plus/Getty Images)

You might prefer a more organic vibe for your backyard, in which case lots of contemporary hardscaping is probably not the approach for you. Instead, think about recreating the natural landscape when it comes to your pond ideas with waterfalls.

A series of pools made from weathered rock is perfect for bringing the great outdoors into your own garden. Use plants to enhance the theme, whether that's with ferns, moss, and woodland flowers or architectural foliage and brighter blooms – brilliant picks for tropical garden ideas.

5. Light it up for nighttime ambience

garden lighting with waterfall and pond

Create an illuminated scene

(Image credit: Derek Trask/Alamy Stock Photo)

We mentioned garden lighting ideas above in terms of recessed designs, but here's a set-up which goes one step further for a striking effect.

Not only does this feature include plenty of warm pond lights for an enchanting glow, but the surrounding plants are also illuminated too, including the breathtaking acer with its blazing red leaves. 

The stone-clad pools linked by impressive cascades of water offer a sense of grandeur which we adore. The wide edge allows the opportunity to place decorative ornaments and lanterns for additional character, but could also be used to perch on to admire the view up close, or to support a line of potted plants.

6. Add characterful features

terracotta pot waterfall in pond

This terracotta feature is eye-catching yet laid-back

(Image credit: Vladimir Dojkic/Alamy Stock Photo)

Speaking of characterful ornaments, this duo of terracotta pots has tons of rustic charm, especially when combined with a tumbling stream of water. Paired with a weathered stone slope, it feels relaxed and almost serendipitous, as if the urn has toppled over by accident.

Paired with a small pond at the bottom of the waterfall, it would make a beautiful feature for a Mediterranean-inspired plot. Nearby olive trees and other drought-tolerant plants would make well-fitting accompaniments.

Want to peruse more water feature ideas? You'll find designs for every style in our guide.

7. Incorporate a bridge

pond with waterfall and bridge

Make your pond area more interactive by installing a bridge

(Image credit: Perry Mastrovito/Alamy Stock Photo)

Adding a bridge to your garden pond is a wonderful way to make a space feel more interactive and playful. And if there's a waterfall involved too – even better.

This simple wooden design blends harmoniously with the relaxed, nature-inspired surroundings. The overall result feels like a private oasis that's crying out to be explored. Of course, you could go for a bolder statement if you want to – perhaps with a colorful lick of paint or decorative railings. Or, swap out the organic forms and informal planting with angular edges and a more streamlined scheme.

8. Make a statement with sculptural designs

modern water features in garden pond

These modern fountains create a stunning impact

(Image credit: Brent Darby/Future)

If you already have your pond installed and want to give it a boost quickly and easily, then consider bringing in sculptural, cascading features.

As long as you have a nearby outdoor electrical socket, then water features like these don't take much set-up. Yet, they add plenty of vertical interest to the space as well as being a strong focal point all year round. 

Of course, for smaller ponds you could just opt for one. And, you might prefer to position it more to the side, surrounded by additional grasses, reeds, and other aquatic plants for a softer appearance. 

However you choose to style the look, the soothing sounds will always set a relaxed tone – ideal if you're after sensory garden ideas.

9. Combine with a rustic stone wall

waterfall with koi pond

A combo of stone wall and waterfall makes a timeless feature for this plot

(Image credit: Tracy Immordino/Alamy Stock Photo)

It's a less modern approach than the idea above, but this gently curved, stone brick feature definitely makes an impact. 

Built from matching materials, it seamlessly ties together with the raised pond whilst providing a focal point. What's more, it subtly screens off the lawn beyond, helping to define the separate zones. A timeless look that would work for all kinds of plots.

Our dedicated feature has lots more landscaping ideas if you're looking for more inspiration.

10. Try an ornamental look

water feature in pond

A miniature waterfall like this can easily be added to a pond

(Image credit: RM Floral/Alamy Stock Photo)

Get ornamental with your pond ideas for waterfalls with a decorative design like this. With its multiple tiers and weathered metal finish it'll set an artsy tone to any pond whilst providing plenty of calming sensory benefits.

Due to its shape, it would work well even in a smaller pond as a key feature. Surround with water lilies for an even prettier scene.

11. Keep it simple with a water bowl

solus decor water feature into pond

(Image credit: Solus Decor)

This modern water feature can be added to a small bed of gravel for a low-maintenance, small-space solution, but can also look gorgeous when perched beside a pond.

Made from smooth, hand-cast concrete and polished metal, it provides a sculptural focal point without feeling fussy – ideal if you're a lover of minimal, contemporary style. 

As seen here, a selection of verdant hostas provides a revitalizing backdrop and injects some color into the space. They also happen to be one of the best shade loving plants.

Does a waterfall cool a pond?

Swelteringly hot temperatures can be a little uncomfortable to sit out in (that's why shade ideas for gardens are so handy). But don't forget about your pond, which can quickly heat up if positioned out in the sun. Not only does this quicken evaporation rates and algae growth, but it's not good news for your fish either, as warm water retains oxygen less easily. This can leave them gasping for air at the surface.

Pond ideas with waterfalls can help keep a pond cool as it circulates colder water from the bottom of the pond to the top. What's more, it greatly increases the amount of oxygen in the water whilst reducing the levels of CO2, resulting in happier, healthier fish. If you don't have space or time for installing a waterfall, the team at Aquascape suggest on their website installing a fountain with a pump. This can be added without any construction to the pond. There are plenty of fountain ideas for gardens in our guide.

pond with waterfall

This statement pond is elevated with a series of waterfalls

(Image credit: Future)

How do you make a waterfall?

To make a waterfall, you'll need a pump, a liner, tubing, a pond or reservoir if you don't have one already, and a way to make a slope. It's worth noting that you can buy garden waterfall kits online which include all the equipment and instructions that you'll need.

Once you've chosen your location, building a basic waterfall is simply a matter of carving out a sloped channel for your cascading stream, lining it with a liner (ensuring it overlaps the liner of your pond), and building up the structure with large rocks, using mortar to stabilize it if needs be. You can also use a dedicated pond-waterfall foam sealant to seal any cracks between stones. Remember that the steeper the slope, the faster (and louder) the waterfall will be. 

You'll also need to dig out a trench for the water pipe which will transfer water from the pump in the pond to the top of the feature. Don't forget about the electrical aspect too – you'll need an outdoor socket nearby to plug your pump in. Any wires can be disguised by planting or pebbles.

Want tips on how to build a garden pond, too? You'll find all the advice you need in our guide.

waterfall with lights in garden rockery

Use a mixture of rocks in different sizes for a natural look

(Image credit: Beau Lark/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images)

How do you make a waterfall look natural?

If you prefer a natural look for your pond ideas with waterfalls, then there are a few things to consider. 

First, be sure to use plenty of plants around the perimeter to soften the overall look. This will be good for encouraging wildlife to your plot, too (you can find more wildlife garden ideas in our feature). 

Second, try to make sure your liner is totally hidden by using a variety of gravel, pebbles, and rocks. Disguising wires and tubes is also important for a natural look. 

Third, when building up your waterfall, don't go too large, as advises the experts at EasyPro pond products. A great big mountain of boulders will overwhelm a smaller, otherwise flat space for instance, and certainly won't look natural.

Finally, when choosing your rocks, aim for a variety of sizes and avoid stacking them in an orderly fashion. Instead, get creative and think about how their positioning will affect the flow of the water, to create interesting curves and movement.

Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

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. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!