Best raised ponds for a modern garden – no digging required

These easy-to-install pools are a stylish way to enjoy the beauty of water in your garden.

Best raised pond

by Jill Morgan |
Updated on

The best raised pond is a water feature project that can bring some serious tranquillity and interest to your outdoor space. Fancy losing yourself in a dreamy reflection of the sky or whiling away a moment observing a visiting dragonfly, glass in hand? Then you need a raised pond in your plot.

These above-ground ponds are an easy way to bring all the benefits of water features into your garden. They take just a few hours to position and fill with a garden hose, and they create a beautifully framed feature. And like a sunken pond, you can fill it with fish and or aquatic plants.

Best raised ponds at a glance:

Best raised pond for wildlife: Blagdon Liberty No Dig Raised Nature Pond - View on Amazon UK
Best patio pond: PondPlantsUK Complete Patio Pond Set - View on Amazon UK
Best aquarium-style: HOZELOCK Above-Ground Aquarium Ideal for Outdoor Spaces - View on Amazon UK

Before you purchase a raised pond for your garden, there are a few things to consider, such as shape, size, and material. From kid-friendly aquarium-style choices to more significant enclosures suitable for koi, here is a guide to help you find the perfect pond fit for your outdoor space.

Best raised ponds for your outdoor space

Best raised pond for wildlife

Blagdon raised pond Blagdon/Amazon

This Blagdon Liberty Raised Nature Ponda is a fabulous choice for anyone who wants to attract more wildlife into their garden. It has some brilliant features in order to do this; a little platform for birds to perch on, a planting pocket to put bug-friendly plants in, and a detachable mini ladder to allow frogs to easily climb up and down. This is comprised of wood-effect resin panels that click together and a fibre-reinforced underlay. This also comes with a Liberty Solar Floating Fountain Pump.

Customer review: "We are downsizing our pond and wanted something smaller and more manageable and this ticks all the right boxes good clear instructions on how to assemble the liner is very strong and again easy to fit love the idea of little steps leading upto and into the pond for wildlife as we have lots of frogs. Just ordered some nice pond plants to go in it and can't wait for summer to see the fountain going in full swing."


  • Comes with a solar fountain pump
  • Detachable ladder


  • Solar fountain needs strong light

Best patio pond

Patio pond PondPlantsUK/Amazon

This charming choice is ideal for anyone with a more compact garden. It measures in at 40cm in diameter and 26.7cm deep, so makes for a lovely, small-scale focal point in the corner of your patio, deck, or even balcony. This is sold as a set, supplied complete with a pot with compost, three Lincolnshire Pond Plants marginal plants, and one delightful dwarf lily. You just need to add water!

Customer review: "This is a really good set, I'm delighted with it, it looks good and it was value for money. We bought this as we found a frog in our garden and wanted to encourage it to stay. We have had our little pond for a month and have noticed a lot more birds in our garden looking for a drink of water. It come with plants, the pond soil, and the container. I'm looking forward to next summer when they will be in full bloom."


  • Comes with four plants
  • Compact design


  • Plants will require potting ASAP

Best aquarium-style

HOZELOCK outdoor aquariumHOZELOCK/Amazon

HOZELOCK describes this as a "convenient and modern solution to a traditional pond" and we certainly agree. It would make an amazing talking point in contemporary outdoor spaces and, when filled with fish, will fascinate kids of all ages. This boasts HOZELOCK's "Twist & Lock" system for simple assembly that can be done by one person. The most notable feature of this aquarium is the three viewing port windows so you can sit and watch your fish.

Customer review: "Quick delivery, put together in about an hour. Good quality. Love been able to stand at my back door or pretty much anywhere in the garden and see the fish looking at me through the port holes. Easy to maintain. I wipe the inside of the windows about once a week with a sponge to keep the algae off. Nice little starter pond."


  • Viewing ports
  • Tool-free assembly


  • No pump included

Best wooden raised pond

Garden Timber Co wooden pondGarden Timber Company/B&Q

This attractive raised pond from the Garden Timber Company can be situated pretty much anywhere, on your lawn, patio, or decking, as long as you ensure it's a level surface. This is constructed from a tongue and groove slot system which allows for a quick and easy assembly of the walls of the pond. You get everything you need to set this up - the walls, top shelf, black fitted liner, black linerlock, and self-drilling screws.


  • Tongue and groove construction
  • Liner included


  • Large 10-foot footprint

Best raised pond with planting area

This attractive raised pond is made of solid pine wood that's been given a weatherproofing treatment. It measures in at 146cm wide, 127cm deep, and 40cm tall. This is a strong choice for aquatic gardeners as it boasts a separate planting zone for plants you don't want drifting around the pond. This comes with a frost-proof pond liner and a solar pond pump that creates a soothing fountain effect.


  • Weatherproof treatment
  • Comes with solar pump


  • Quite shallow

Best barrel-style

Whisky barrel WineBoxesEtc/Amazon

This works along the same principles as the patio pond we've featured above but is a DIY option for anyone who wants to personalise their raised pond with their own choice of plants, pumps, and even fish. This is a very handsome, freshly cut whisky barrel made from heavyweight oak. Some reviewers comment it can smell of whisky on arrival, so you may need to do a few rinses. This is around 65cm to 70cm wide and 45cm tall approximately.

Customer review: "Absolutely pleased as punch with my mini pond. Gave it a couple of weeks with water changes to flush out. Then planted for a week or so before adding my filter and fish. Great water feature."


  • Rustic good looks
  • Ability to customise


  • May smell of whisky

Best designer raised pond

Lotus clear view pond
Clear View/Amazon
Clear View/Amazon

This is an incredibly high-end option from the Clear View Garden Aquarium Store which can look absolutely stunning when set up with plants and fish. The windows all round mean that fish aficionados can enjoy hours of tranquil fish-watching while enjoying their outside space. The frame of this raised pond is made from FSC-accredited wood that's been treated to ensure long-lasting durability. This has a width of 131cm by 134cm and stands 51cm tall.

Customer review: "I think this is perfect for my garden and love it but as with any livestock you need to put some effort in. It's all worth it for me and my visitors are very envious."


  • Great to view your fish
  • FSC-accredited wood


  • Requires constant maintenance

What to consider when buying a raised pond

What types of shapes and sizes are there?

From cylinders and graceful deep water bowls to slick square and rectangular troughs, there are plenty of options to complement your garden layout. Of course, the larger the pond, the bigger – and more impressive – the reflection, so go for the largest size you can, even in a smaller space, as the water's surface will bounce light around.

A long rectangular trough is a useful zoning tool between a dining and lounging area or to add interest to a tiered plot or retaining wall, while round designs work well in small seating areas or as a show-stealing border feature.

When looking at size, consider how hefty the empty pond will be to install and where your pond will sit. Even a small pond will be heavy once filled with water, a deciding factor if it’s to be positioned on a balcony, roof garden or a decking area.

Any water feature will attract green algae over time and the easiest way to clean it is to detach any pump or lighting and drain the container, so another important consideration is where this volume of water will go. It’s not a problem if your pond is going to be alongside a lawn, but if you’re planning for it to sit in the centre of a paved area, then you may want to minimise the issue with a smaller pond.

What are the different types of materials?

The material a pond is made from affects the weight and price, as well as how well it’ll last in the face of British weather.

Corten steel This striking rust-streaked metal is a favourite with most garden designers, and it’s used for ponds of just about every size and geometric shape. Raised ponds are usually fabricated from 3mm-thick Corten steel, making them extremely strong and durable.

Delivered in an unweathered state, it takes about four months of exposure to the elements before the characteristic streaks and colour begin to form. This is a natural process that forms a self-protecting rust layer and prevents the inner steel from deteriorating.

During this time, there will be some natural run off from the steel, which can stain the surface it’s standing on, so it’s worth raising the pond off any paving or decking for the first six months, after which the weathering process should be complete. High-quality Corten ponds are often coated on the inside to prevent the water from reacting with the rust, which would prove toxic to fish or any other visiting wildlife.

Fibreglass and resin mix Tough yet lightweight, ponds made from this mix are frost - and weatherproof. Formed into smooth seamless vessels, they need little upkeep and imitate many different materials such as stone, concrete and ceramic at a fraction of the price.

Powder-coated aluminium Available in a wide range of bold colours, these ponds are relatively lightweight and weatherproof. The metal undergoes a dry electrostatic process then it’s cured with heat to create a tough hardwearing finish. This can last for up to 20 years, but the colour can fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight, and the surface can weaken if chipped and damp seeps in. These ponds are usually lined with a black non-toxic rubberised liner.

Pressurised FSC timber Often sold in kit form, these wooden ponds require a pond liner to make them watertight, the top edge of which can be secured under the top coping level for a neat finish. Expect a wooden pond to last for around 15 years and the wood to naturally silver if left untreated.

Faux rattan Designs with a faux rattan outer give the impression that they’re more garden furniture than garden structure. Recent improvements to manufacturing advances have led to synthetic rattan or resin wicker with a more realistic appearance. Still made from extruded polyethene, it’s worth looking for mono-extrusion processes where the dye is present throughout the entire strand rather than just the coating, making any scratches much less visible. These strands are then woven around a rigid steel or aluminium frame.

Why is raised better?

Besides their stunning looks, there’s no need for any back-breaking digging or shifting of soil, saving on time, energy, cost and mess. As long as you have a clear level site, you can skip the chore of taking excavated soil to the tip or trying to distribute it around the garden.

Raising the water level also makes it more unlikely that children or pets will stumble into it – though obviously, there is still a risk. It’s less accessible to some wildlife as well, though, but you can install ramps to counter this.

These ponds make a striking architectural statement, and there are plenty of contemporary finishes to choose from, including weathered Corten steel, smooth powder-coated aluminium and mottled faux-stone fibreglass, all of which accentuate the bold sleek shapes. Another bonus is that these beauties can be moved far more easily than a sunken pond once emptied, which is handy if you fancy changing your garden layout or are moving home.

Where should I position it?

Where you stand your pond will impact on how much work it takes to maintain. The golden rule is to avoid overhanging trees and shrubs, as the fallen foliage can cause smelly sludge to form. Aim for a spot that receives at least half a day of sun, as this will help keep the water clear and allow plants to thrive.

A stable level surface is super important when installing a raised pond, as any sloping issues with the container will instantly be highlighted by the water. Place on a layer of sand or gravel so the surface can easily be levelled if needed.

If you’re thinking of adding a pump or lighting, consider how close the nearest mains power point is. You may need these additions hardwiring into an exterior weatherproof power point, depending on output and period of use.

Do I need a liner?

If you’re building a raised pond from brick, blockwork or a timber kit, you’ll need to add a pond liner to keep it watertight. There are many different types of flexible liners, or geomembranes, to choose from.

Our recommendations are LLDPE (linear low-density polyethylene) as it’s affordable, flexible and the fabric’s tightly woven construction means that snags won’t run, plus it’s laminated on both sides with a UV-resistant coating, allowing long-term outdoor use; and EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), which is soft, durable and copes well in most temperatures with little risk of cracking. It’s heavy to handle and expensive, but a good option for long-term use. Both of these are non-toxic for fish.

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Jill Morgan is an interiors and property editor with over 20 years experience working for leading magazine titles and marketing companies. She's a regular contributor to Modern Gardens magazine, writing many of the Buyer's Guides and keeping readers in the know when it comes to all the latest and greatest garden products.

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