12 Koi Pond Design Ideas

koi pond

A landscape designer specializing in koi ponds can help you choose the best size, shape, and features for your pond. But not everybody can afford a complete aquascape plan from a professional designer. Here are some koi pond design ideas for small, mid-sized, and large ponds to help you get started on your own unique design. 

In addition to complete designs, we included some interesting features to consider. See what resonates with you, and get a sense of what would look great in your backyard. You can also find out more about what goes into a koi pond design from our article: What is a Koi Pond?

What design features you use and how you use them depends on the size of your pond. Let’s see some practical ideas for small, mid-sized, and large ponds.

1. Small Corner Koi Pond 

Corner koi pond
Photo Credit: Winyfrog / Canva Pro / License

A small koi pond, up to 100 square feet, can easily be placed in a corner of the yard. This way, you still have room for a lawn, some flower beds, or a leisure area in a small garden. Surround the pond with a mixture of rocks and plants. It creates a soft edge that blends into the yard landscape and makes a small pond look wider.

2. Mid-Sized Pond with Aquatic Plants

Medium size koi pond
Photo Credit: Nick B / Canva Pro / License

If your garden design fits a mid-size pond, use aquatic plants to make it look natural and full of life. Plant water lilies to shadow the fish with their pads and color the pond with their flowers. Add smartweed and scouring rush near the edge to create depth and layers. To make the pond look bigger, use large flat boulders for edging. 

3. Large Pond with a High Edge

Photo Credit: Alacatr / Canva Pro / License

A large garden pond is usually the focal point of your outdoor space, so it must look perfect. The secret to designing large koi ponds is in the use of landscaping features: 

  • Build a bridge or floating steps to make crossing a large pond easier. 
  • Create groups of lily pads, water lettuce, and other aquatic plants you like.
  • Invest in a bigger waterfall. 
  • Install a water fountain somewhere in the middle of the pond. 
  • Use large boulders to create a high natural edge around the pond, almost like a raised pond.

4. Raised Koi Pond

Raised Koi pond
Photo Credit: KoiQuestion / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Raised koi ponds look like exotic or modern tubs covered in stone, ceramic, wood, brick, or even bamboo. They fit well in a small backyard, but homeowners can also place them indoors. To make a raised pond look unique:

  • Build it in the middle of a deck or a patio
  • Surround it with exotic plants in pots
  • Install a small waterfall in the corner
  • Make it round or oval
  • Cover the walls in river rock
  • Use glass to build the pond wall above the ground
  • Build a water wall on one side of the pond
  • Install the raised koi pond under a tree or a pergola

5. Minimalist Pond with Stepping Stones

stepping stone koi pond
Photo Credit: LoneStarMike / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Koi ponds using a minimalist design are not defined by size but by lines, materials, and colors. A simple way to achieve this style for your backyard koi pond is using:

  • Square angles
  • Clean, straight lines
  • Soft, perfectly planed surfaces

Use the same materials for all hardscape elements (pond edging, pathway, deck, etc) in a minimalist design. Choose floating stepping stones instead of bridges. Most waterfalls in minimalist ponds have a wide flow and are inserted in the pond’s edge.

6. Modern Koi Pond

Modern pond
Photo Credit: Winslowchen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

If you aim for a modern design, give your pond a base covered by concrete slabs instead of gravel. Surrounding the pond with bushes trimmed in geometrical patterns creates a unique image. And you can’t do modern without artificial light, so install waterproof lighting under the waterfall. 

7. Japanese Pond with Pagoda

Japanese pond
Photo Credit: Mark Mclntosh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Choose a classic Japanese design for the perfect zen space in your backyard. It can be a beautiful alternative to a traditional zen garden if you prefer water to sand. 

Ponds designed in a Japanese garden style need a focal point popular in oriental landscaping, such as:

  • A miniature pagoda
  • A buddha statue
  • A bonsai tree

Place your focal feature in the middle of the pond and build the rest of the design around it. Go for a natural look, mixing plants of all sizes, stones, and rocks.

8. Deck Over a Koi Pond

Deck over pond
Photo Credit: Reptile8488 / Canva Pro / License

While the Japanese pond style is more for relaxing in solitude, a design with a deck makes socialites happy. Imagine sitting on a deck with your friends with joyful koi fish swimming around you, so close you could lean over and dip a hand in the cool water. Make it a night jewel by installing underwater lights. 

9. Koi Pond with a Pathway and Seating

Koi pond sitting
Photo Credit: Withlocals B.V. / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re a walker but also enjoy drinking your coffee near the water, build a pathway around the edge of your koi pond. Gravel, concrete, mulch, and wood are all beautiful choices. Place some benches or small coffee tables with comfortable chairs along the path. 

10. Viewing Platform Along a Koi Pond

Viewing platform koi pond
Photo Credit: Christopher / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Adding a viewing platform is one of the best backyard pond ideas for koi pools. It allows you and your visitors to watch koi fish swimming and follow them along the pond. Use wood for a natural look or concrete for a modern or minimalist koi fish pond. 

11. Koi Pond with a Wood Bridge

Wood bridge koi pond
Photo Credit: Andreaskrappweis / Canva Pro / License

Besides decks and viewing platforms, koi ponds also benefit from installing a bridge. You can build it over the water or along one of the pond’s sides to suggest a larger pond. Wood bridges are the most popular, with incredibly diverse designs. Choose one that fits the general structure of your pond: 

  • Flat and simple, without rails, for a modern pond
  • Elegant, curved, with rails, for a pond in a Japanese garden
  • A bridge made of beams for a more natural look

12. Soothing Koi Pond with a Waterfall

Waterfall koi pond
Photo Credit: Pxhere

Waterfalls are magical water features that add movement, positive energy, and a soothing trickling sound to any pond. In koi ponds, even a small waterfall creates water currents that fish love to play in. This is how you can use it in your design:

  • Build a high waterfall with more levels defined with boulders to enlarge a small or mid-sized pond. 
  • Install the waterfall a few feet above the pond, on a vertical wall, for a design that takes over the entire garden.


What is a Koi Fish Pond?

A koi fish pond is a body of water built to raise koi fish that is also suitable for goldfish, catfish, and other koi mates. Most koi pond designs are at least 3 feet deep and 7 feet by 8 feet large and can be installed outside or indoors. Good quality aeration and filtration systems keep the water clean, while aquatic plants, rocks, and other decorative features give beauty and style.

What Do Koi Fish Need in a Pond?

Koi fish need a water temperature of 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit during their active period. To get them safely through the winter, ensure the pond is deep enough to stay above 34 degrees Fahrenheit. 

They also require clear water rich in oxygen, proper food, and water currents to keep them happy and playful. So make sure you invest in good quality aeration and filtration systems.

Should a Koi Pond Be in Sun or Shade?

Make sure your beautiful koi pond has shaded areas and zones where the water is directly exposed to the sun. This ensures a comfortable water temperature and keeps algae under control.

How Much Does a Koi Pond Cost?

The average price for a professional koi pond installation is $5,100 to $15,900. You can build a DIY pond using a kit that costs about $500. Still, DIY is less recommended since koi fish are sensitive to living conditions.

What Do You Put Around a Koi Pond?

You can plant grass, flowers, bushes, and trees around the pond. Put boulders, rocks, gravel, or mulch as pond edging and install a fence if small children or pets can access the garden unsupervised.

How Do You Design a Koi Pond?

Measure the space available for the pond and observe the garden landscape style. Find images of koi ponds you like that fit your yard. Use them as models to draw your own design. If your budget allows it, get a professional consultation from a landscape designer to check your ideas. Then, finalize the design and find a local pond contractor to build it.

How Deep Should a Koi Pond Be?

To grow koi fish, you need the pond water to be at least 3 feet deep. Go for a 4 feet depth or more to keep fish safely in the pond during winter if you live in a cold area. 

What Shape Should a Koi Pond Have?

You can choose almost any shape for your koi pond, as long as it doesn’t include sharp edges or cramped spaces and the corners are rounded. This allows a smooth water and oxygen flow and prevents debris from clogging.

How Much Does Koi Pond Design Cost?

You can hire a landscape designer to plan all the details for your koi pond for $50 to $150 per hour. If you hire a contractor to build the pond, design services might be included in the construction cost. Look for professionals with experience in building koi fish ponds, since they have special requirements.

Is a Koi Pond a Lot of Maintenance?

Well-designed ecosystem ponds can clear the water of debris and toxins through their filtration system. But you still need to:

– Clean the skimmer filter every week.
– Check and clean the biological filter three times a year.
– Get an in-depth professional pond cleaning at least once a year.

Install Your Dream Koi Pond Today

Starting with design ideas and finishing with maintenance expectations, now you know if you and your garden are ready for a beautiful koi pond. The next step is easy. Think of how many koi fish you’d like to raise and find a local pro to design and install your dream koi pond today.

Main Image Credit: Aimintang / Canva Pro / License

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon is a content writer with a background in education and medicine, passionate about sustainable gardening, renewable energy, and healthy cooking. She spends her free time swimming, reading, taking care of her garden, and testing new recipes.