How to Bring Your Water Garden to Life with the Right Features

water garden design minneapolis

How to Bring Your Water Garden to Life with the Right Features

Water gardens aren’t just a landscape feature, they’re a door to a whole new world of plant and wildlife opportunities that can bring your yard to new heights. You don’t need a massive koi pond to have a water garden (although these are incredible). Sometimes, a smaller water feature like a patio pond container is all you need to create a tranquil look and feel on your property. Don’t let good ol’ H2O scare you off. With the right plan, design, and installation you can bring your own water garden to life.

And we mean that. You’re going to need a plan. You’ve likely already gone through the painstaking process of framing your water garden, or perhaps you have already built it and are looking for the right additions to make it stand out. Either way, you want more. Adding features to your water garden takes just as much thought as the garden, as these features tend to create the aesthetic you were aiming for all along.

What Kind of Water Garden Are We Working With?

Before we jump into features for your water garden, we need to understand the foundations. Regardless of where you are in the process, you will need to determine the purpose of your water garden. Maybe you’re really into the idea of a diverse landscape ecosystem. Perhaps you enjoy running water. Are you really into fish? Do you want this water feature to be a central component of your landscape? Or is this water garden an accent that is merely there to add value to other landscaping ventures?

There are a ton of questions you can ask yourself before diving into water garden features. and that’s not a bad thing. The more you understand the purpose and the different types of ponds, water gardens, and water features, the better you’ll be able to create the exact aesthetic you have been looking for.

Some common water garden options are:

  • Wildlife pond
  • Fish pond
  • Plant pond
  • Fountain pond
  • Container water garden
  • Small stream
  • Koi pond

While there are technically endless ways you can accentuate your water garden and create a unique water garden, the options we mentioned above are typically your foundation.

What Type Features Can You Add?

To answer this question, you’ll want to keep in mind what already exists. For example, if your home boasts a strong stone aesthetic and you want to keep it uniform, your water garden can feature heavy rock features. Once you’ve accounted for all of the existing variables that might play into your water garden, you can start sifting through the many additions you can install to elevate your aquatic space.


One of the more diverse and pleasing additions you can make to your water garden is plantlife. There’s a lot of room to play here, as you can add plants both inside and outside of your aquascape. The different types of plants will vary depending on which zone you live in. We’ll stick with some suggestions in zones 3, 4, and 5. Here’s a small list of popular plants that will get you started.

Pickerel Pond Plants

Pickerel Pond Plants

These colorful additions can really breathe life into your water garden. Their flowers grow either white, blue, or pink lavender in an incredible spike-like pattern. We recommend planting a bunch to add texture and fullness.

Creeping Jenny Pond Plants 

While these aren’t known for a ton of color, they are a welcome addition if you’re on the hunt for some ground cover. They don’t grow very high—in fact, they rarely go above 2”—but are great filler and are a perfect pair for stone edging on a water garden. 

Horsetail Pond Plants

Horsetail Pond Plants

For a truly inspiring shape, Horsetail adds some striking verticality to your water garden. They can grow to roughly 2 feet in height (although there is a dwarf version that grows to roughly 8”).  These can grow pretty fast and wide, so keep an eye out for where you may need to trim. 

Cardinal Flower 

Another colorful plantlife addition is the Cardinal Flower. While you may have a bit of difficulty extending this into Zone 4, they do thrive in Zone 5. A great way to frame your pond or water garden, these tall flowers are absolutely beautiful. 

Sweet Flag 

This is a fairly diverse plant that can grow both in and out of your water garden. It’s fairly tough and can sustain itself through all four seasons (for the most part). Their bright yellow streak adds a bit of color for a vibrant addition to your water garden. 

Fountain Features 

Another great way to add depth, personality, and flavor to your water garden is with a fountain. Now, fountains come in all shapes and sizes, so your best bet is to see what fits your water garden and what is available to you. Here at KG Landscape, we’ve revolutionized countless aquascapes with incredible fountain architecture and design.

Fountain Features

Full fountains, cascading fountains, figurine fountains, rock fountains . . . the list goes on and on. So, if you need a hand deciding what type of fountain feature would go best with your water garden we would be happy to help. Water gardens aren’t like traditional gardens, they take a bit more care, planning, and attention to detail to get just right. 


Adding some verticality to your water garden means you have the opportunity for a waterfall. There’s quite possibly no better way to create a sensory oasis on your property. Beyond waterfalls being an aesthetically gorgeous and soothing feature, they are also extremely good for your water garden. 

Water circulation is important, and waterfalls create the perfect aeration and circulation structure. These certainly cost you a bit more and take longer to construct, but they are a functional and pleasing feature that will definitely make your water garden stand out. 

Fish Life

Depending on what type of bed or container your water garden sits in, you have the chance to add some incredible aquatic life. Fish are a welcome addition to most ponds or water features that have ample space to house them. If you’re interested in adding fish, just be mindful of the existing or planned plantlife supports healthy conditions. Some plant life might inhibit certain conditions for fish, or perhaps the climate may be a bit of a hurdle. Heaters or indoor tanks are fairly commonplace here in the Midwest, where your water garden may freeze during the winter months. 

Here are some common fish found in water gardens or garden containers. 

  • Orandas 
  • Fantails 
  • Ranchus
  • Lionheads 
  • Shubunkins 
  • Rosy Red Minnows 
  • Koi 
  • Guppies 
  • Japanese Rice Fish 

Your Water Garden, Your Rules 

Water gardens are great, but they need the right features to truly bring them to life. With the right plant life, waterscapes, and possibly even fish, you can transform a plain water feature into something with life, vibrancy, personality, and individuality. 

While some water garden features can be planted, designed, or installed by someone with a skilled touch, you’re probably going to need a hand. We’ve got you covered. Here at KG Landscape, we are proud of the work we do and would love to help you create the very best water garden possible. Contact us today for a quick quote.