top of page


I originally built this small pond in a raised bed at our old house because I wanted a water feature in a narrow strip of garden by the front of our house. We could not dig the soil there due to underground cables so I opted to build up instead. I ended up liking this arrangement much better than an in-ground pond for a number of reasons.


If you would like a larger garden pond, I recently built one in my garden.



2- water garden raised pond :

How to build a raised pond with railway sleepers :

 courtesy to : on 21 September 2013



Creating a pond or water feature from railway sleepers adds a whole other dimension to your garden. Water loving plants, fish & frogs, the sound of running water, dreamy reflections etc.. Constructing a raised pond out of railway sleepers is amazingly straightforward. Think lego or wooden building blocks. Very quick & simple, with very little tools needed.

1) Chose where you want to put the raised pond


Consider where the raised pond will be positioned and whether you can stand or sit next to one side of the raised pond, or whether both sides are accessible.


2) Lay the railway sleepers on the ground.
Place the railway sleepers on the ground in a square or rectangular shape, with the railway sleepers touching at the 90 degree corners.(Like creating a big picture frame). The railway sleepers should ideally be laid on a surface that is level and firm. Many people simply lay them down directly on the earth, grass, deck or concrete. Perfectionists and Engineers will probably consider a foundation of concrete or hardcore, but more mortal people will often go for the simpler, quicker option. As you are building a raised pond, you don't have to think of drainage! 

If you have placed the railway sleepers on the ground on their wider edge, then again simply screw them together at the 90 degree corners, allowing at least 50mm (or 2") of the screw to go into the adjoining sleeper. You will obviously need to screw through more of the railway sleeper than on the narrow edge option. The one exception is if you are intending to have a second layer. In this case, you don't have to attach the first layer to itself. Simply place the second layer on top of the first (remembering to overlap the joints) and simply screw through the second layer into the first layer below) Repeat if you want a thrird layer. Again, at least two screws per sleeper end is a good solid formula. 

If you are stacking the sleepers horizontally on their broadest side, e.g. on the 250mm width of a 250mm x 125mm sleeper, then all you need to do is to overlap the joints of the sleepers, from layer to layer, like building a brick wall, and fasten each layer to the layer below with timberlok screws or similar. You have now created a structure that is interlocked, and could be picked up in one piece by a crane, if you had the inclination!  

3) Fasten them together 
Fasten the railway sleepers together with Timberlok sleeper screws (See website page for sizes and details) If you have placed the railway sleepers on the ground on their narrow edge, as in the photo opposite, then simply screw them together at the 90 degree corners, allowing at least 50mm (or 2") of the screw to go into the adjoining sleeper. Two screws per corner is a good solid formula. 

5) Attach Pond liner.
You'll probably want to first put some carpet or material onto the floor of the pond, to cover any stones or sharp edges. Then attach a pond liner to the inside of the railway sleeper box.  If the liner is then folded over the top railway sleeper you will probably want to put an additional railway sleeper or timber capping on top of it to hold the liner in place, and to hide it.

7) Fill with fish!
Of course you may want to add pumps & water filters, depending on the seriousness of your aquatic adventure!


a) Which type of railway sleeper should I use for a raised pond?
There is a wide choice of railway sleepers, so it's hard to say which one would be best for a raised pond. Whether you want a new crisp-lined raised pond, or an old, weathered raised pond, it is generally advisable to avoid creosote treated railway sleepers, that can ooze sticky tar in the summer, and get on skin, clothes, children, pets etc.. and also can contaminate the water for fish. So, where does that leave you? What kind of non-creosoted sleepers can you use? Ideally, a choice of:

New British Pine railway sleepers
New French Oak railway sleepers
Used Australian Jarrah railway sleepersUsed African Azobe railway sleepers

b) Height of a raised pond
Height: Of course you can construct a railway sleeper raised pond in any size, length, height or depth you want. Sometimes, if the raised pond is placed over an excavated hole, it may be much deeper than it appears on the outside. However the ideal height of a railway sleeper raised pond will be determined by what’s best for you and how you want to use it. Think about how people will look at the pond & fish. Whether they will be standing up, sitting down and whether they'd like to be able to sit down on the edge of the raised pond. Generally speaking, an approximate height of around 900-1000mm is good for standing, 650-750mm is good for sitting, and 600-620mm is good for wheelchair access.

c) Advantages of a raised pond
PLEASE have a look at some of
the 100's of RAISED PONDS & WATER FEATURE PROJECTS, on our railway sleepers projects page. It is a fantastic resource that will fill your head with wonderful dreams and ideas about making raised ponds out of railway sleepers! If you can't find what you are looking for, or need advice, then give us a ring. 

-DIY Build a Garden Pond in a Raised Bed :

courtesy to :


  • The height of the pond makes it very easy to access the pond filter pump for regular maintenance.

  • It’s very easy to weed the surrounding flower beds.

  • You are much less likely to fall in. I tell you this as the person who has fallen into the in-ground pond. Twice.

Garden Pond In A Raised Bed

Advantages To Raised Bed Ponds




Before you install a water feature of any kind, check your local bylaws and, better still, use common sense.

You do not want to have any open water where children might play unattended.

In our case, there were no little kids in the neighborhood and regulations permitted ponds up to two feet deep in open areas. Which is still a danger, really.

Our new neighborhood has a lot of small children so our current pond is protected like a swimming pool with a  fully-fenced back garden with a locked gate.


Supplies & Materials :



You will need


  • A pond form or pond liner. Here’s a 300-Gallon Pond Kit with Lighting. My pond is approximately 400 gallons.

  • If you use a pond liner, you’ll also need some flat-bottomed rocks or stepping stones to hold the liner lip down around the edge of the pond.

  • A recirculating pond pump made for the size of the pond. A 450 gallon pond needs a 450 gph (gallons per hour) pump. Here’s an example of a 400 gph Pond Pump. I always buy my pumps new and keep a spare on hand in case of malfunction. If you have fish, you want to keep the water circulating and healthy year round.

  • A raised bed built to fit the pond. There are lots of free instructions online.

  • Soil to fill in the space between the pond form and the bed. You’ll want good compost and potting soil for the top 8″ (or more) of soil. If you will be growing fruits or vegetables in this bed, make sure you use food-safe soil. General use potting soil often contains harmful chemicals intended to retain moisture in the soil.

  • Access to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interupter) outdoor electrical outlet for running the pump.

  • Aquatic water plants. Look for ‘hardy’ ones. Many of the fancy-schmancy ones are annuals and won’t survive the winter.

  • Fish! But don’t buy them until your pond is at least two weeks old. I use ‘feeder fish’ which are sold as live food at the pet store for 10 cents each. They will grow into beautiful gold fish.

Planning :

  • Get your pond form or liner first so you know how big the raised bed will need to be.

  • Consider the length, width, and height of the raised bed. You want room for plants beside the pond and enough height to fit the depth of the pond.


Plan your raised bed based on the lengths of wood available to avoid wasting off cuts. For example, if you build a 4×8′ bed, you can use eight-foot lengths of wood and have the four-foot pieces cut at the store.


My pond bed was 4×8′ and about 16″ deep. I buried about 8 inches of the pond in the ground, which was as much as I could dig without hitting underground cables. I used the soil I removed for filling in the space around the base of the pond form.


You don’t want a bed much wider than four feet or it becomes very difficult to reach into the pond. Unless you have arms super long arms.

Pond in A Raised Bed DIY Steps

  • Build the raised bed. Need to know the best type of wood to choose? See this.

  • Insert the pond form.

  • Fill in the spaces around the pond form with soil, making sure it fits snugly.

  • Figure out how you want to arrange the circulating pump and where the electrical cord will go.

  • Remove any soil from the pond.

  • Fill with water.

  • Wait 2-3 days before adding plants. This allows the chlorine in the water to off-gas (leave the water).

  • Wait 2 weeks before adding fish. You want to make sure everything is running properly and allow time for some natural scunge to build up around the inside of the pond. The fish can live off this natural habitat. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Winter Care :


  • Place plants low down in the pond for the winter.

  • So long as you keep the water circulating all winter long, the fish survive. They simply go dormant in cold water. It’s kind of freaky, but cool.

  • One year I used a floating pond heater but I found it was too warm and caused some excessive algae growth.

  • The next years I just used the regular pond pump and placed it right at the bottom of the pond with the spout aiming up. That worked fine.

For more, I also have this advice on starting a new garden pond including the type of pump you will need.

More Pond Tips & Project Ideas

- Other ideas and steps :

bottom of page