How to make a wildlife container pond

Think you don’t have space for a pond? We have the perfect solution – a pond in a pot. Re-purpose an old sink, large tub or similar, then follow our step-by-step guide to transform it into a mini wildlife-friendly pond.

If you've never had a pond before, this mini version is a great starting point
If you've never had a pond before, this mini version is a great starting point

Quick facts

  • Make in spring or early summer 

  • ​Ideal for even the smallest outdoor space

  • Choose compact plants that don’t grow too vigorously

  • Add large stones and a ramp to help wildlife get in and out

  • Fill it with rainwater, and top up regularly in hot weather

Getting started

What you’ll need to make your container pond:

  • Recycled container, such as a reclaimed sink, half-barrel or large tub

  • Pond liner, if your container isn’t watertight

  • Several bricks, stones or logs, or a plank of untreated timber and some chicken wire

  • Up to five pond plants suitable for small ponds

  • Rainwater from a water butt

Top tip

Spring is the best time to make a container pond – the plants will settle in fast and soon start to grow. And wildlife will quickly find it.

A pond in a pot is easy to make and look after, and ideal if you’re short on space. Pond plants are widely available in many garden centres and from online suppliers. Suitably small plants for a mini pond include:

For more on choosing plants, see our guides:

Choosing pond plants

Choosing pond plants

How to grow aquatic and bog plants

How to grow aquatic and bog plants

Wildlife ponds

Wildlife ponds

Easy steps to making a container pond

  1. Pick your position – choose a location where you’ll be able to see the pond easily. It needs some sun, but not for the whole day, otherwise the water can warm up too much or evaporate rapidly in summer. Put the container in place now, as it will be difficult to move once filled. Even a mini pond can be a hazard for young children, so position it safely.  
  2. Check it’s watertight – test it with some water to see if it leaks. If so, fit a flexible pond liner, securing it in place with a silicone-based sealant. Here we just needed to put in a plug.
  3. Make it wildlife friendly – build a ramp so that frogs and other wildlife can get in and out easily. We used a stack of large stones, but bricks, logs or a plank of untreated wood covered in chicken wire work well too. Plants, rocks, pots and other nooks and crannies near the pond will provide cover for wildlife too. 
  4. Fill it with rainwater from a water butt. Tap water contains too many nutrients, which can encourage pond algae. 
  5. Gently lower your plants into the pond. Three to five is usually enough for a mini pond – they may look small to start with, but pond plants can grow quickly. Choose a mix of floating and upright plants. See our guide to choosing pond plants.
  6. Sit back and let nature come. Don’t be tempted to add pondlife or frogspawn from elsewhere, or water from another pond – you could inadvertently overstock it or introduce diseases or invasive weeds. Just be patient and watch to see what arrives naturally.


  • Keep the water level topped up, especially in hot weather. Always use rainwater if possible

  • Scoop out pond weed or algae if it starts to take over

  • Cut off any fading or dead leaves, so they don’t end up in the water. Take out any that fall in 

  • Consider adding a mini bubble fountain to help oxygenate the water – solar-powered fountains are inexpensive and readily available

For more on looking after ponds, see our guides:

Pond care

Pond care

Wildlife ponds

Wildlife ponds

Also check out the Wild about Gardens guide Big or small, ponds for all for lots of wildlife pond advice.

Join the RHS

Become an RHS Member today and save 25% on your first year

Join now

Gardeners' calendar

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.