Water Feature Guide: How to Choose a Pond, Fountain, or Waterfall

When it’s time to pick a water feature for your backyard, you’ll find numerous options and a wide range of prices. Let’s go through some common questions and check out the choices together!

The First Question: Do You Want Fish? 

Fountains, streams, or waterfalls are much lower maintenance than a koi pond or goldfish pond. These types of water features are perfect to add the sights, sounds, and aquatic plants to any backyard. If you travel frequently, have a busy schedule, or maybe want to be able to turn off the feature of when your aren’t around- a pondless feature is for you.

Now it’s time to decide the aesthetics and visual components. Yes, there are even more decisions. 😁 Finding the perfect spot for the feature can take a little forethought. We always want them to blend into the existing landscape. Equally as important is the viewing area. Most of these features are left running all year round. The visual from inside is just as important as the seat beside the feature. ​

Other Questions to Consider:


How much sound is needed?

Are you trying to drown out the street or highway noise? Maybe a larger feature or at least more moving water will be needed.

Do you have a small intimate space?

The light trickle of a fountain or bubbling rock will create the perfect peaceful sound, adding to the ambiance.

Do you want the feature to be interactive?

Creating an access point for dogs or kids is fairly simple. In this case, larger boulders and components would be used to make sure it can withstand the traffic.

Is your yard flat?

Most waterfalls only utilize 16-22” of grade change to create stunning waterfalls. Typically, the soil from the basin excavation is adequate, and no extra dirt is needed.

Need more height?

Incorporating an urn, bowl or sphere to add a vertical element is a perfect way to add 15-50”.

Need to spruce up your front yard?

Installing a fountain by the front step or gate will create a warm, welcoming statement.

Commercial space need some excitement? 

Maybe something out of the ordinary?

If you want fish…

The Aquascape Eco-System Pond is perfect. Much lower maintenance over pond traditional systems. No pressure filters. No UV lights. No fancy filters. Most eco-system ponds will only need a couple five minute visits a week for maintenance. Feeding the fish is typically the most time consuming part of an eco-system pond.

Size is the next question

How much space is available in the yard? How many fish do you want?

Natural waterfalls and streams are usually the most important part of a pond. They add additional filtration, place for plants, and of course the sound and sight of moving water. ​

Additional elements

Adding an urn or bowl to the side of the pond is visually appealing. The additional sound is usually welcoming too!

If the feature will have lots of koi or fish, typically a beefed-up filtration system like a wetland filter or up flow bog will be needed. An intake bay instead of a skimmer will further lower the maintenance requirements.

Want to swim in the water feature? 

Swim ponds, natural swimming pools, and interactive features have gained a lot of traction lately. Swimming in naturally filtered water has many advantages. These do however typically take up 2-3 times more space than a traditional swimming pool.

Of course they all need to have lights!

Adding lights to the feature creates an amazing ambiance. The sight of flickering light behind and waterfall or the reflection on a tree canopy will definitely set the mood, and make your yard look like a completely transformed space at night.

How Much Does This Cost?

As you can imagine, there’s an extremely wide range with many factors. Small features can be installed in the $3,500-5,000 range. Adding lights, more moving water, larger basin, plus landscaping? It can easily graduate to $10,000-20,000. Do you need space for more fish, or want a multifaceted feature? $30,000-60,000 is not out of the question. As for natural swim ponds- they can easily start around $80,000 and can grow well past $200,000.