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’ve included some interesting koi pond ideas 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?

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

1. Small Corner Koi Pond

Corner koi pond
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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 backyard koi pond look wider.

2. Mid-Sized Pond with Aquatic Plants

fishes in a koi pond
Photo Credit: Elena Photo / 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. Our list of the best koi pond plants can help you choose the best options for your design.

3. Large Pond with a High Edge

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A large garden pond design 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 more modern koi pond ideas, 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, how about this idea for your fish pond: 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. Use these waterfall ideas in your koi pond 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.

Install Your Dream Koi Pond Today

Starting with koi pond landscaping ideas and finishing with maintenance expectations, now you know if you and your garden are ready for this beautiful addition. 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.

Want to learn more before you start your project? Find all the answers you seek in our koi pond FAQs.

Main Image Credit: Aimintang / Canva Pro / License

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon

Sinziana Spiridon is an outdoorsy blog writer with a green thumb and a passion for organic gardening. When not writing about weeds, pests, soil, and growing plants, she's tending to her veggie garden and the lovely turf strip in her front yard.