Reflecting pool design details


Park Service To Drain Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool After 80 Ducks Die

Ducks paddle in the Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool in better days. Emilie Sommer/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Emilie Sommer/AFP/Getty Images

Ducks paddle in the Lincoln Memorial Reflection Pool in better days.

Emilie Sommer/AFP/Getty Images

The National Park Service announced it will drain and clean the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, after a water-borne parasite killed approximately 80 ducks there since May 20.

The service said Friday that postmortem examinations done on the ducks by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center suggested that their deaths were caused by “high levels of parasites that develop and grow in snails that live in the pool.” Chemical treatments alone aren’t sufficient to reduce the parasite and snail population, it said, so the service needs to drain and clean the pool.

In addition to killing ducks, the parasite – known as a schistosome – can cause swimmer’s itch in humans, which is also called cercarial dermatitis. The CDC explains that the microscopic parasites “are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). While the parasite’s preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash.”

The risk of people contracting the parasite at the reflecting pool is “extremely low,” says the Park Service, because you need sustained contact with affected water — and swimming in the pool has never been allowed. (Though it’s been done.)

Boys swim in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in 1926 despite the fact that it was forbidden. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Boys swim in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in 1926 despite the fact that it was forbidden.

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

The draining will begin Sunday and the Park Service hopes to reopen the pool on June 19.

In 2012, the Reflecting Pool was completely rebuilt with water conservation features. The bottom of the pool was also tinted to make it more reflective.

According to the site Histories of the National Mall, the District of Columbia operated three small whites-only public pools near the Washington Monument in the mid-1920s and early ’30s, which were demolished in 1935.

The site says that starting in the 1880s, there were segregated swimming areas near the Mall in the Tidal Basin: “In 1914, Congress voted to create an official beach on the Tidal Basin for white patrons. African Americans swam nearby in a segregated area that never received funding or buildings. Facing increased criticism from black leaders and concerns that the water was polluted, Congress voted to ban swimming in the Tidal Basin in 1925.”

What Are Reflecting Pools – Learn About Reflecting Pool Uses In Gardens

For thousands of years, architects have used reflecting pools to create breathtaking views of monuments, temples, castles and palaces. The Taj Mahal and Lincoln Memorial have two of the most famous reflection ponds; these clear, still water features are found in sacred places throughout the world. Your home doesn’t have to be a palace or temple to have a reflecting pond. They can simply reflect a scenic tree line, mountain backdrop, a small structure, a garden or your home. Continue reading for more reflecting pool information.

What are Reflecting Pools?

Reflecting pools are water features that generally do not have fish, plants, waterfalls or fountains. Their main purpose is to create a scenic reflection and they can be designed to fit into formal or natural garden styles. Formal reflecting pools are usually rectangular or round and created with bricks or perfectly cut stone. Natural reflecting pools are created to look like naturally occurring ponds and can be irregularly shaped.

You can install a reflecting pond to reflect scenic mountains in the distance, a colorful autumn tree line, a unique structure or garden that you can view from a porch, patio or cozy chair next to a window. Reflecting pools can also be used to create spectacular curb appeal by reflecting the home or landscape; your home is your castle, after all.

Reflecting pools do not need to be very deep, as 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) will provide a nice reflection. The bottom of the reflecting pond, does need to be dark though. Black pebbles are often used in reflecting pools to create a dark bottom. Black dyes may also be added to reflecting pools to create a better reflection.

While very large reflecting pools may have a small fountain in them, usually they do not contain anything that may create ripples or movement on the surface of the water, as this will disrupt the reflection. However, most pools will require some sort of filtration and regular maintenance to keep the water clear.

Reflecting Pool Uses in Gardens

Before building a reflecting pool, there are a few things you should take in to consideration. First, you need to decide what you would like the pond to reflect and where you would like to view it from. However, a pond or pool of any kind will need to be built on a level surface, so the perfect spot may need to be properly leveled.

Fallen leaves and plant debris can quickly fill up a small pool, so it’s best to locate the pond away from deciduous trees. A gentle filtration system with UV can help control algae growth and the breeding of insects like mosquitos. There are also pond products that you can purchase to control algae and insect larvae.

A natural reflecting pool is usually easier for the beginner. To create one yourself, you simply need to dig out and level the pond, lay down pond underlayment, cover the underlayment with pond liner, edge the pond with stone or boulders to hide the edges of the pond liner, then fill the pool with water. Pond liner is usually black, so it is up to you to decide whether to line the bottom with black pebbles or use dyes. Keep in mind that wildlife may visit reflecting pools before using products that may harm them.

From the Taj Mahal to the Palace of Versailles, great structures around the globe have featured reflecting pools on their grounds. These watery features are typically rectangular in shape and are placed to create a grand view of the building to which they are bound. Of course, reflecting pools exist on smaller scales as well, allowing for quiet contemplation in more private spaces. In fact, they are a classic and beautiful feature to include in your yard.

Constructing for Calm

While rectangular reflecting pools are common, they do come in other shapes as well. More important than line, however, is stillness. Reflecting pools get their name from their mirror-like surface that reflects the world around them.

To achieve this effect, your pool must be as still as possible. Reflecting pool manufacturers use techniques to help reduce disturbance caused by the environment. Additionally, these bodies of water are often very shallow, as deeper pools are more difficult to maintain and keep still. Some pools have rocks or pebbles that coat the bottom of the pond to further prevent movement.

What’s more, you likely won’t find any fish or people in a reflecting pool, as they tend to splash around and disturb the water.

Planning Your Pool

Whether you want a body of water in your yard as a way to add tranquility, or you want to reflect the construction of your home and beauty of your garden, you should plan for your pool. Willy-nilly placement could cause you to miss an opportunity.

Ideally, the pool should sit in a place where it will reflect something you want to look at. It could be beneath an open sky to take on the brilliant blue or nighttime stars. Or, situate it beneath a tree so you can see the green of its leaves reflected in the water. Note that if you put your pool beneath a tree, falling leaves and debris may disturb the water’s surface.

Also, the space where you install your pool shouldn’t feel crowded. You want the water to feel like it belongs in your yard. Some homeowners have used a reflecting pool as a sort of mote against their home while others run it in the center of their lawn.

Matching Design

Just like homes, reflecting pools can be contemporary or classic, or follow some other design style entirely. Make sure your pool fits in with your home’s architecture and garden’s look. The pool should feel like a natural feature, not a random element you slapped into the design.

Establishing Your Style

While you want your reflecting pool to match the rest of the design of your home, you may also want to express your personal taste through the yard feature. Pick tiles or bricks you like, and add other elements that speak to you. Some homeowners have placed statues in their pools so the sculptures seemed to spring up from a mirror.

Enjoying the Pool

Once you’ve installed your reflecting pool, you’ll want to enjoy it. Plan outdoor furniture placement when you design your yard. That way, seating will fit right into the space and give you a place to sit and enjoy the view.

As with the pool, your furniture should match your garden’s overall design style. For instance, contemporary outdoor furniture looks great with a sleek, modern pool and home.

Written by Janice Loren of
Interior Designer & Contributing writer for Decor Interiors.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to be Drained and Cleaned

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Date: June 9, 2017
Contact: Mike Litterst, 202-245-4676

Washington – The National Park Service will drain the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool starting Sunday, June 11 for cleaning and treatment of a water-borne parasite that has affected the local duck population. The pool should be refilled and operational again on Monday, June 19.
Beginning May 20 and 21, approximately 80 ducklings have been found deceased in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Necropsy performed on the ducks by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center suggests the cause of death was high levels of parasites that develop and grow in snails that live in the pool. Chemical treatments alone are not sufficient to fully reduce the parasite and snail population, so the pool must be drained and cleaned.
Humans who come in contact with the parasite could develop “swimmer’s itch” (cercarial dermatitis), an allergic reaction in the form of a skin rash; it is not contagious and rarely requires medical treatment. The risk of contracting it at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is extremely low, as it is only contracted by sustained contact with affected water, such as swimming or wading.
It will take approximately two days for the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to fully drain, and crews will begin cleaning the pool bottom on Tuesday, June 13 utilizing skid steers, pumper and water trucks, and a sprayer. The cleaning should be complete and refilling will begin on Friday, June 16. After the cleaning and treatment are complete, the National Park Service will continue to monitor the water quality of the pool.


Lincoln Reflecting Pool nearly ready after $34 million reconstruction

Inside a plain brown building on the Mall, someone within the next few weeks will step to a panel labeled “Master Control Station” and switch on the new machinery.

A half-mile away, two powerful underground pumps on the Tidal Basin will start pushing 4 million gallons of water through a buried pipeline at 800 gallons a minute.

And from 58 outlets in the concrete floor of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, gentle streams of water will begin to refill the pool for the first time in 20 months.

The moment will mark the culmination of the $34 million reconstruction project that has had the famous pool at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial closed since 2010.

It will debut an almost completely rebuilt and slightly redesigned pool — shallower, but more aesthetically pleasing, with a tinted bottom, sidewalks to replace the old dirt paths and subtle nighttime illumination.

It will also employ a new water supply system in which its water will for the first time be drawn from the Tidal Basin — not from city water reserves — and be cleaned and recirculated. The old pool could not circulate its often-stagnant water.

And it will return to public use one of the nation’s most elegant and storied locales, in a city where other high-profile sites, such as the Washington Monument, remain closed for repairs.

“When people think of Washington, D.C., they think of the Lincoln Memorial, they think of the reflecting pool,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said last Wednesday during a tour of the site.

“They remember moments in history . . . and so much that has happened around this place,” he said. “And it almost seems to me that without the reflecting pool it would be like a half-empty place.”

Officials said they have been pumping some water into the pool and draining it to test its systems. If all goes well, they told Salazar, they could begin the five-day process of filling it for good very soon.

“That’s quite the milestone,” he said.

The National Park Service said it hopes to reopen the pool to the public by the end of the month. The pool, about 160 feet wide and 2,100 feet long, dates from shortly after 1922, when the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated before a crowd that included Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, who was then 78.

Modeled after the grand canals at Versailles and Fontaine­bleau, it has for almost a century mirrored the chapters of American and Washington history: civil rights marches, peace demonstrations, presidential inaugural fests and the annual Fourth of July fireworks shows.

Once the site of winter ice skating and summer toy boat regattas, by 2010 the pool was a fetid wreck, its water off limits to the public. Its old bottom was cracked and leaking 500,000 gallons of city water a week, 30 million gallons a year.

And the water, even when replenished, quickly became fouled with dirt, duck droppings and trash. The pool had to be cleaned two or three times a year, with 10 to 15 truckloads of debris removed each time, according to the Park Service.

“The original pool was built with basically an asphalt and tile bottom,” said Dennis M. Quinn, a Park Service civil engineer who is the Mall’s point man on the project. “It was built on marshland, dredged material from the Potomac” which had been used to fill in the west end of today’s Mall.

In addition, the pool had nothing to support it as it sat on the soft ground. Only the granite “coping stones” around its perimeter were supported by timber pilings that were driven down to bedrock 40 to 60 feet below the surface.

Unsupported, the pool soon began to sink — about a foot in the past 90 years — and leak, according to Quinn and news accounts.

In the 1980s, a concrete bottom was poured over the old one. But the sinking and leakage continued. In 1986, an engineering report said the pool’s structural system was failing.

And after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, fears arose that the shallow, unobstructed pool might be an avenue for an attack on the Lincoln Memorial. Indeed, Quinn said, the security aspect “was probably the biggest driving force in getting this plan approved.”

In 2010, the concerns, coupled with government stimulus money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, made replacement of the pool possible, Quinn said.

First, the old structure was torn out, except for remnants of the old tile and asphalt bottom. Then, 2,133 timber pilings were pounded through the flimsy old bottom down to bedrock every 2 feet, 9 inches to support the new pool.

High-tech water-circulating machinery was installed.

That included the new pump building on Independence Avenue, which houses a second set of circulating pumps, a filtration system that uses two giant sand vats, and an ozone-disinfecting apparatus.

And then, 71 / 2 acres of specially tinted concrete were poured to form the new pool, which requires 2 million gallons less than the old one.

The old pool was about 31 / 2 feet deep; the new one is less than three feet deep. “You won’t notice the difference,” Quinn said.

With its tinted bottom, it will also be more reflective, Park Service officials said.

Security was enhanced by a three-foot dip in the bottom at the west end of the pool, acting as a kind of moat to protect the Lincoln Memorial.

New wheelchair ramps have been added, also at the west end, to allow access from the Lincoln Memorial. And “cobra head” overhead lights, designed to limit light pollution, will illuminate the Elm Walks along the pool’s north and south perimeter.

A question remains about the old pool’s portable concrete duck steps. They were designed by the Park Service to enable ducklings to climb out of the pool, which is necessary for their survival.

The old steps might not fit the dimensions of the new pool. But Quinn said technicians should be able to regulate the water level of the pool so the ducklings can get out on their own.

Now, said Quinn, who has been part of the process from the beginning, almost everything is ready.

“I feel privileged,” he said. “To have a say on the matter, to be able to go. . . in the future, bring my daughter, hopefully my grandchildren, and say that I worked on this project. It chokes me up a little bit.

“It’s an American icon,” he said.

Exquisite Reflecting Pools For A Fluid And Tranquil Home!

Reflecting pools are water features that not only exude a serene and peaceful charm, but also accentuate the best aspects of your home or the canopy surrounding it by acting as a giant mirror! Modern reflecting pools have come a long way beyond the expansive and excessively large pools that require hefty maintenance and constant attention. Even contemporary homes that lack any significant backyard space are adopting these fluid additions in order to complement the interior or the entryway.

Lounging area next to the reflecting pool allows you to take in the setting

Bringing forth a sense of calmness and tranquility, it is the stillness of these features that makes them so attractive. Transforming any space into a personal and secluded retreat, reflecting pools usher in an ambiance that allows you to escape the rush of mundane life. Brilliant both as an architectural feature and a peaceful getaway, they combine the best of both the worlds with effortless ease!

Mediterranean courtyard with a gorgeous reflecting pond at its heart

by Paradise Restored Landscaping & Exterior Design

Picture-perfect reflection of the villa captured by the water feature

by Abramson Teiger Architects

Reflecting pool mirrors the poolside cabana with picture-perfect precision!

Sensational all-tile pool with a floating lounging area doubles as a reflecting pool

by Aquatic Consultants

Brilliant lighting and candles create a tranquil reflecting pool with an oriental touch

by Supon Phornirunlit / Naked Decor

Stunning free-form pool with negative edge and a wooden bridge surrounded by lovely canopy

by Lewis Aquatech

Stone slab bridge and an exquisitely illuminated reflecting pool

by Wagner Hodgson

Design with Intent!

One of the first things to understand about reflecting pools is that they are much more shallow than normal swimming pools and need to feature a water surface that is as still and undisturbed as possible. While a deep body of water can also double as a reflecting pool, it requires a lot more maintenance, and the reflection may not always be ideal. A perfectly designed reflecting pool features an outer rim placed at a height that is lower than the central area of the pool. This intentional design strategy minimizes wave formation and create a calm and still surface.

Reflecting pools look all the more spectacular during dawn and dusk!

by Meld Design

Beautiful reflecting pool captures the silhouette of the modern house elegantly

by E. Cobb Architects

A perfect reflection pool need not always be expansive. Most current homeowners are opting for small L-shaped water features around the house that double as lovely reflecting pools. This space-conscious feature gives the home a sophisticated, posh finish while making it appear visually far more airy and spacious both on the inside and outside.

Catch a glimpse of the sky in the reflecting pool!

by HMH Architecture + Interiors

Glass house with lake views seems to levitate above the cool reflecting pool

by Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers

Small reflecting pool next to the window complements the larger infinity pool outside Compact external reflecting pool for a contemporary home

by Gregory Phillips Architects

The blue waters of the pool reflecting the gorgeous landscape perfectly

by Dufner Heighes

Location and Reflection

Planning for a reflecting pool is much like framing a beautiful picture. In fact, that is precisely the function of this striking body of water. The placement of a large reflecting pool elevates the look of the adjoining structure as it elegantly captures the image of the architectural feature that you wish to highlight. The image that you wish to capture can vary from the silhouette of your lavish villa or the pool house on the deck to the beautiful fall canopy around your house or even the floating clouds in the sky!

Gorgeous reflecting pool with a small optional fountain

by Ownby Design

Create a fabulous personal retreat inside your home with reflecting pools

by Root Design Company

A pool that is too small will not fully capture the image you wish to highlight, while one that is far too large will feature the unnecessary. Remember that the point from which you look at the pool also changes the view it captures (much like in the case of a mirror), so plan the seating options on the deck of the reflecting pool accordingly.

Lavish and extravagant garden with a scintillating reflecting pool Posh reflecting pools become an extension of the interior

by KrisCo Aquatech Pools & Spas

Indoor courtyard with an elegant reflecting pool and seating area

by Dick Clark + Associates

Smart indoor reflecting pools provide a calm, private sanctuary

by Sutton Suzuki Architects

Brilliant water feature with a walkway right through it

by Diego Perez

Paint A Pretty Picture!

A reflecting pool brings plenty of benefits that go beyond the obvious. Add a wonderful walkway or a curated garden with a bridge that floats above the pool and you have a great setting for some fabulous evening walks. Reflecting pools not only encourage you to get a bit of fresh air and a healthy lifestyle, they are also a smart addition to homes in the tropics and the arid regions. The refreshing breeze that emanates from the pool cools your home significantly and keeps it naturally pleasant in the hot summer months. Eco-conscious owners will also love the fact that this ensures a significant dip in energy consumption as the pressure on home cooling units is eased considerably.

Use the reflecting pool to highlight the special architectural features of the house

by Birdseye Design

Small reflective pool in the backyard with rounded cobbles

by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects

Small reflecting pools indoors are also a smart way to create a personal space that is serene and stylish. From preachers of Feng Shui to the best modern architects across the globe, pretty much everyone raves about the benefits water features bring to an urban setting dominated by glass, stone and concrete. What better way to do it than with a magical and mesmerizing reflecting pool?…

Smart seating space next to the reflection pool

by Anthony Wilder Design/Build

Blue stone tiles give the reflecting pool in the entryway a unique look

by SBT Designs

Entry to modern house with a bridge and a large reflecting pool

by Eggleston Farkas Architects

Trapezoidal water feature in the backyard with pebbles

by Bianchi Design

Simple and stylish water feature mirrors the contemporary glass facade beautifully

by Thuilot Associates

Design ideas for ponds and pools in the garden

Water is an asset in any garden. Water features can mask noise pollution and create a strong sense of place. Larger bodies of water can tie the garden to its exterior landscape and smaller pools and rills can enhance the atmosphere of an outdoor space. Ponds are becoming ever more popular in gardens. They are a calming influence and, at their best, look entirely natural.


But, whether you want somewhere to swim, a natural pond or reflective pool you’ll need hardscaping to match and below you’ll find practical information on how to line your pond and planting advice. Plus, three inspiring gardens that have incorporated a pool or pond into the design in a beautiful and considered way demonstrating that there is a water feature for every style and space.

Practical considerations for introducing a pond or pool into the garden

This is a contemporary style pond designed by Andy Sturgeon. Planting can be seen in the top left corner but much of the pond space has been left for dramatic effect.

  1. It is important to disguise and cover the liners as they emerge from ponds and pools. Firstly, this is unsightly and, secondly, exposure to sunlight can weaken and damage the material, which becomes more prone to leakage.
  2. Keep pond shapes simple so that excavation is easier. Introduce planting to create visual interest and a naturalistic quality. Complex shapes often produce shallower and narrower water, which will silt up and warm quickly in sunlight.
  3. Butyl rubber is available in sheet form but can be glued or welded to create large-scale pools. With larger ponds, be aware of the local water table. If this varies dramatically, pressure from a rising water table can force water out of a lined pond. Liners can then be vented to allow pressures to be equalised.
  4. Don’t install lighting within a pool. This will reveal the lining, wiring, pump and detritus within the pool. Instead, light objects or planting on the far bank. Their reflection will be seen on the surface of the water after dark creating a more dramatic result.
  5. Existing streams and rivers cannot be dammed or altered. The Environment Agency is responsible for all watercourses and must be contacted before any work is considered. In general, create separate, self-contained ponds that do not overflow into nearby watercourses.
  6. Sunlight can create problems in ponds and water features in terms of solar gain, but it would be more problematic to site water in heavy shade. Sunlight brings life to water but does need to be controlled with careful planting allied with a good pool size and depth.

Planting for ponds

The planting depth required for water lilies depends on the cultivar. Make sure to research any aquatic plants thoroughly and plan where they will sit in your pond, before buying them.

Plants look attractive in a pond, but they also counteract the warming effect of sunlight. Water lilies in particular create rafts of shade. Some plants, however, prefer deeper water than others. Water lilies may prefer 10cm of water or 150cm, depending on the cultivar. With this in mind, a pool intended for a range of water planting types needs to include several changes of depth. It is often useful and less time-consuming to excavate a hole, line it and then add changes of depth.

In concrete pools, the creation of these planting shelves, or pockets, is relatively easy – simply build up blocks on the solid pool base. If you are using butyl as your lining, make a concrete ‘pad’ or footing, lay the liner over it and add your block-work on top. As a precaution, lay a geotextile (a protective fabric) over the footing, before the butyl liner, to prevent stones from puncturing the liner. An additional layer of geotextile used over the liner allows walls to be constructed on top without damaging the butyl.

Try to create a sudden change of level between reed beds or marginal planting and the pool base. As the plants die back, a layer of detritus builds each year. A shallow bank profile allows the plants to colonise this layer and spread into open water, a process prevented or at least slowed if the shallow part of your pool suddenly drops to the base. Planting baskets will restrict the spread of more aggressive growers.

Ideas to steal from three beautiful gardens with pools

A pool garden for an awkward space

Garden designer Bart Hoes transformed an awkward triangular plot at the east end of a Dutch garden into a a pool garden. The curvy lines of the organically shaped pool are echoed in its steps and the surrounding balau decking. To the rear of the pool, soft clumps of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ contrast with the structure of the cloud-pruned box and create a naturalistic feel to the planting

Clumps of the grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ and the shrub Hydrangea aspera ‘Macrophylla’ help shield a seating area from the pool.

Bart has given the sides of the pool a grey finish to deepen the colour of the water, and to link the pool to the surrounding hard-wood decking. Buxus semperivirens, cloud-pruned to echo the pools curves, and dotted with multi-stemmed Platanus x hispanica, creates a soft-edged feel in this awkward, triangular plot. Nestled in among the trees is a sculpture by Jan Jacobs Mulder called Zuidenwind, which translates as southerly wind.

Bart Hoes five key points for designing a pool garden

  • Materials
    Using concrete when building a pool gives you an unlimited freedom of design. For the area around the pool, Bart recommends using splinter-free decking, which can be cut into any shape and it does not get as hot underfoot as tiles.
  • Colour
    A grey finish on the pool’s inside provides a much more coherent and natural look in a verdant garden than the standard blue. The darker you go, the more of a ‘pond’ rather than a ‘pool’ effect you get.
  • Planting
    The old adage of ‘no deciduous trees around a pool’ no longer applies, thanks to technological innovations, such as skimmers and robot vacuums, that get rid of leaves and debris. By bringing planting up to the pool’s edge, you can alter even further the visual impact of the pool’s shape.
  • Shape
    Although your plot may dictate the pool’s area, it does not necessarily dictate its shape. Nowhere in this garden do you feel you are on a triangular plot. You can make a round plot look rectangular and vice versa, by choosing the pool shape you like and then blurring the outer boundaries with shrubs and trees.
  • Layering
    When designing a pool garden, think vertically. The water surface is always flat, so is the area surrounding the pool. If you line that with walls of tall trees, the effect is one of a box dug into another box. Plant a transitional, medium-height layer, such as shrubs or multi-stemmed trees.

A swimming pool without boundaries

The pool at Mas del Lum was a conventional swimming pool until Yolande converted it with the help of designers Tom de Witte and Corrine Lecluyse of Omna Lanscape. A separate planting area was added to act as a filter and the water pumped between this ‘cleaning area’ and the swimming area. Keeping the areas separate made this an easy option for adapting a chemical pool without having to completely restructure and redesign this part of the garden.

The planting area is lined with pebbles and planted with iris, reeds, mints and other aquatic plants, which are not grown in soil but anchored by their roots into the cobbles, pebbles and gravel that form the base. Not only do the plants take up nutrients that would otherwise cause algae to flourish, but they also give the pond its own ecosystem – attractive to visiting wildlife – and help it blend in with the garden.

It is like swimming through silk. There are times when the water looks a bit green, particularly after a thunderstorm. It is still safe to swim in, but it doesn’t look as attractive as the crystal clear water we usually have.

To ensure that the water does look sparkling for her bed-and-breakfast guests, Yolande has also installed a non-chemical cleaning system to back up the activity of the plants. Any debris from the surface of the water is skimmed off and the water passed through a series of filters that quickly remove nutrients and algae.

Close to the pool, beds of perennials and grasses are planted to mimic the contours of the surrounding hills and valleys.

A mirror pool for a small garden

Space and budget often challenges the dream of a full-length private swimming pool, but this 6m-long sunken mirror pool, designed by Frank Heijligers of the garden design firm and nursery Van Nature, offers a solution to bringing the beauty of water to a small space. A naturalistic mix of ornamental grasses, including Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’, and perennials, such as Eupatorium macilatum Atropurpureum Group and Geranium Patricia (= ‘Brempat’), soften the pool’s geometric lines.

A soft wall of the mid-height grass Carex muskingumensis, separates the pool terrace from a large lawn to the side. The orange flowers of Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ work wonderfully with the grass and bring the pinks of Eupatorium maculatum Atropurpureum Group and Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’ to life.

Cocooned by planting, the pool terrace has a deeply relaxing feel. The Douglas fir decking blends beautifully with the floor tiles for the covered pavilion by the house. An outdoor fireplace allows the family to enjoy the garden on cooler days.


Frank Heijligers’ five key points for planning a mirror pool

  • Position Think carefully about the most suitable position for your pool. Ideally, you want a spot where you’ll be able to sit by it in summer, but where it will also form a relaxing focal point from inside the house – this is where you’ll probably be looking at it for much of the year. Bear in mind the main views from your home and also the architecture of your house.
  • Safety A sunken mirror pool generates a wonderful reflective and relaxing effect, but isn’t always practical when you have very small children or pets. To avoid accidents consider a raised pool. Corten steel or zinc troughs can look very effective.
  • Design A mirror pool requires less maintenance than a natural pond, but it also demands well-designed furniture that’s both comfortable to sit in and is interesting to look at.
  • Cost Installing a mirror pool can be expensive. Depending on the size, materials and whether or not you want it to contain fish, it can cost from around £180 to the tens of thousands. You can reduce costs if you keep the design simple and, like Paul, you’re happy to dig it out yourself.
  • Size A pool is an asset in any garden, large or small, and can also enhance the sense of space – a rectangular pond makes a small garden look bigger. Dare to make a statement and don’t shy away from a generous size.


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Nothing brightens up a yard and provides interest quite like water features. Not only do you add an entirely new, and diverse, ecosystem of plants with the creation of garden ponds, but you also invite an relaxing atmosphere into your outdoor living space. Ponds also give an illusion of depth to an otherwise spatially challenged area, and provide a draw for beneficial pollinators and birds to your yard.

There are a large variety of pond styles, sizes, and shapes to choose from. And it isn’t hard to find one that fits into your budget, whether you have a professional landscaper complete the job, or you turn it into a weekend do-it-yourselfer project. Ponds are often overlooked in landscape design planning as an unnecessary feature that only creates additional work and effort. But actually, ponds require very little maintenance after their initial installation, especially if you are incorporating specific varieties of plants that help to naturally filter water, and fish that help to keep the water clear of algae.

There are a LOT of ideas to peruse through when trying to plan your ideal garden pond and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the amazing ways you can highlight your favorite garden areas. Consider first where you might want to place your pond, and create a list of ideas that would work for you using the compilation provided for you below!

Table of Contents

Reflecting View

Make the background of your property double the size with a large reflecting pond that brightens shady areas that occur throughout the day, and creates a picturesque reflection of your landscaping.

Here Fishy, Fishy…


Nothing completes a pond quite like the addition of some cold water species, such as goldfish or koi. Not only do they help keep your water clear by munching on unwanted insects, like mosquitoes, but they also help to keep algae from forming.

Bordered Brilliance


Despite the natural look many ponds can lend to a garden, they also serve well as a garden bed of their own, complete with bordered paving. Waterbeds create an entirely new environment to add in an entirely new array of perennials to your landscaping!

*You might also like: 42 Stunning Garden Bed Edging Ideas

Puddle Drop


Ponds are just as charming when they are small as they are large. Natural looking ponds, such as this one, look like a giant, rock bordered puddle- although it hides a wondrous new world when peeked into from above.]

Pave Perfect


Combine a commercial pond liner and pavers to create a lifted, and unique, garden pond that is simply perfect for the addition of potted bog plants and other perennials that thrive in close proximity to water sources

Symmetrical Center


Raised flower beds have been increasingly popular in landscaping recently due to the height they lend to areas throughout a yard and even patio spaces. So the creation of clean, symmetrical lines in conjunction with a matching pool makes complete sense.

Added Ornamental

Don’t be afraid to add ornamental value to your pond in the way of waterfalls, fountains, and other varying elegance to make it your very own. Much loved vases, oversized planters, and repurposed piping give this pond an originality of its own.

Social Gathering


Who doesn’t want to sit around an evening bonfire with their drink of choice on this slightly secluded island located in your very own backyard? As you can see, you don’t need to an incredible amount of depth to have a pond, stream, or bridges tp create your perfect social spot.

Blended Backyard


If having a large poolscape is your forte, you don’t need to sacrifice originality for traditional materials. Concrete and natural can be shaped and molded to fit your vision, like this pool made to look like a tropical water feature, complete with flowing water channels, waterfalls, and various vegetation.]

Fish Towers


No matter what kind of pond you have, adding the eclectic is always a great option to consider. Any sort of clear glass container that can be propped up and supported can be used as a viewing ‘window’ into the nether regions of your pond. This is an especially inviting idea for fish enthusiasts.background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” background_layout=”dark” module_alignment=”center”]

Modern Marvel


Much the same way people use large, decorative mirrors to make their home interiors look more spacious, shallow reflecting ponds can do the same or your outdoor architecture. Give an illusion of depth using simple shapes and decorative rock to make your water depth look endless as well.

Right Angles


Straight lines and carefully measured right angles focus your attention of the beauty of the reflective pool found beneath the strategically placed stepping stones in this airy and inviting privacy nook.

Inviting Entrance


All too often we keep our ponds to ourselves; tucked away in the privacy of our backyards where only we can enjoy it. But what if you made it a welcoming entryway for those coming for a visit? This pond leads up to the housefront and is kept simple through the use of evergreen xeriscaping and carefully placed lighting.



Consider placing your pond against a stationary wall, and incorporating the wall design into your waterscape. Light and depth play against this stained glass looking feature to make the privacy wall look as if it flows gracefully into the simple pond design.

Space Saver


Ponds don’t have to be built into a ground substrate of sorts. In fact, some of the most interesting ponds are designed to fit right into your backyard structures. This is especially helpful if you don’t have the space elsewhere, or simply don’t utilize certain areas and don’t want to waste the ambiance of a pond where you don’t go.

*You might also like: 76 Waterfall Ideas for Garden Backyard

Natural Filtration


Despite fish helping with the cleanliness in ponds, the larger the fish, the more waste they produce themselves. Many ponds have a filtration system, and if you have a pond specific for fish, you may keep a bare pond floor for easy cleanup. However, this isn’t necessary with the steps includes here!

Watery Window


Why look down into your pond, when you can be eye to eye? Specialized tempered glass and plexiglass can be used for outdoor use to get a unique look into the world beneath the water.

Walkout Wonder


If you are interested in a pond and water feature for the trickling ambiance, why place it where you can only hear it upon taking a short walk? Consider placing your pond near walkouts or windows to get the full experience of having a water feature in your yard.background_repeat=”repeat” text_orientation=”center” background_layout=”dark” module_alignment=”center”]

Simple Stillness


This is a quick, budget friendly little pond that you can create with very little ingenuity and a few hours worth of work. Simply pick your size of pond liner and piece together the pavers and stones you want for the project to create your own zen-like stillness.

Stocktank Rehab


Head on over to your local feed and supply store and get yourself a stock tank. These things are MADE to hold water for years without rusting through, and make the perfect above, below, or even partially submerged pond to tickle your imagination.

Upcycled Hot Tub

Upcycling is the new recycling. Don’t pass up your social media garage sale “broken hot tub, sold as is” add when you can turn it into something like this. Hot tubs (and even displace indoor tubs) are simple to reseal and use in any way you can concerning outdoor pond designs.

Paired Planters


Large concrete planters and bowls are perfect pond material, especially if you aren’t 100% committed to digging up a portion of your yard. This is also the perfect solution if you are looking for a smaller water feature to highlight a corner of your porch or patio.

Tiny Trickle


Prefabricated ponds come in all shapes and sizes are easy to customize to your needs with colored concretes and landscaping rocks. Smaller ponds tuck nicely into dark yard corners and those forgotten spaces next to your deck stairs and garden bed pathway

Cascading Ponds


There is a certain elegance in walkways bordered by flowing water. Let your guests admire your garden beds while serenaded by flowing brooks and falling waters as they meander through your garden walkways.

Focal Point


Most garden bed designs border property and leave lawns towards the middle. I have always found this to be boring and shortsighted in overall design. Break this monotony up with a pond placed in the midst of this. Ponds are naturally asymmetrical looking and help provide shape and curvature to your yard.

Reflective Depth


Much of what draws people to put in a pond are the varieties of pond plants to choose from. However, planting in the water will cover much of the elegance that the pond itself can bring to your landscape. Consider a gazing pool that is left untouched by vegetation, but planted round with colorful and interesting shapes to reflect back upon the water’s surface.



Who says your pond has to be round-ish in nature? Break the mold and shape your pond to fit the space, and vision, you have for your yard. Triangles and hearts are only a few common shapes ponds can be easily formed into.

Au Naturale


Naturally finished ponds are easy enough to achieve, but they often need that one little detail to make the look you desire all come together. Consider the addition of a small deck to help break up the pond border and provide a good place to hide your pump system under.

Cozy Corner


Landscaping sharp corners in a yard can be somewhat problematic if you are looking to provide flow and cohesion in the garden without making it look too geometric. The key to successful corner plantings is the use of designs that provide both depth and height, and a pond can round that out nicely.

Backyard Swimming Hole


No need to sacrifice a large amount of yard space to a swimming pool and destroying the natural look of your carefully designed garden beds when you can bring the best of both worlds together. Make your lap pool a part of your backyard oasis, and use both submersible filters and plants as natural filtration.

Grassy Cove


Swimming pools can be easily incorporated into a natural backyard pond design without sacrificing the filtration and chlorine needed for clean water if you so wish. Chlorine is a vegetation killer, but with careful planning and placement, plants can be placed within proximity to achieve the look you have planned for.

Go For A Sail


Create the unexpected and reverse your plans for your old boat and turn it into a pond instead! Antique treasures are only worth what they can lend to your decor, so why not be imaginative and quirky, and give your fish the chance to live life from a new perspective.

Indoor Decor


Just how gardens can be both outdoors and in, so can your garden ponds. Add a touch of sophistication to an indoor space with clean modern lines, and simple elegance.

Basic Beauty


Simple lines, shapes, colors, and textures round out this modern pond design to allow your eye to flow and move with the uncomplicated materials used within this garden space.



Ponds don’t need to be placed in a landscaped yard to be enjoyable. Consider its use in your immediate outdoor living space and make it a central focus of your patio as a relaxing addition.

One of a Kind


Isn’t creating a one of a kind hideaway everyone’s dream? It certainly is mine, and I can’t stop looking at the combination of walkway, pond, stepping stones, and waterfall this design all brings together- all while keeping it rustic and not too modern in nature.

Eclectic Lighting


Ponds don’t need to be enjoyed only at night. Design originality goes beyond what you can see by the light of day. Pond lighting can bring your space to life at night using both spotlights and these cool floating solar options.]

Swimming Grotto


A hidden forest swimming hole, or a well managed swimming pool just steps from your backdoor? Utilizing large property spaces to look as if they are part of a natural outdoor sanctuary is an awesome way to plan your landscaping.

Pleasant Falls


Cascading waterfalls and natural rock round out this spectacular wall feature that seems to blend effortlessly from a tiled patio to a peaceful pond and tiered rock garden design. Water plants are planted in containers to keep them from spreading too far into the reflective pools, and keep cleanup easy.

Cubic Footage


Modern lines don’t always need to be a standalone, and can be easily incorporated into traditional cottage landscaping with very little ingenuity. Clean pavers, wooden decking, and the greenery of the garden beds as a background make this space inviting.

Simple Spaces


I’ve mentioned multiple times that you don’t need to have a large area to take advantage of ponds and water features. This design features a raised garden bed cascading into a small fish pond that ‘flows’ up to the firepit- an idea that takes up very little space and utilizes multiple needs for social enjoyment.

Biopool and Biodiversity


Natural swimming pools are growing in popularity and enjoyment. Traditional pools are dug and lined before taking on a drastic transformation that involves natural filtration and a chemical free swimming experience.

Hole in One


f you are designing your pondscape, why not have fun!? Sunken islands seem to defy logic and the rules of gravity, and are a fun feature to contemplate! This reflecting pool balances out the island with a spherical feature that adds further interest.

Wooded Retreat


Ponds help to brighten otherwise dark, and shady areas. If you have a lot of trees casting a shadow over your garden, claim it back with reflective pond lighting and gathering spots and take advantage of the peaceful solitude it creates.

Swimming Dock


Is it a pond dock? Is it a swimming hole? So much want is going on right now with this natural pool design that brings together the feel of a lake dock and step down swimming pool.

Cascading Waterbed


As a stand alone garden bed addition, a pond free of vegetation reflects back the surrounding greenery to create a beautiful line for both contemporary and traditional design. Marble borders compliment the rustic browns of the surrounding brick to blend together the best of both worlds.

Small Spaces


Don’t think you can’t have a pond, or two, due to spacial constraints. Boxwood borders and different sizes of similar colored pavers make this tiny space look much larger than what it is- and utilizes every bit of yard available.

Reflective Source


Make your pond mirror more than the just the vegetation. Walkway and doorway designs can be repeated in the shapes of your ponds to piece together the look of your yard.

Simple Circles


Add elegance and flow with the use of graceful curves and gentle turns with the use of circular ponds. Circles balance out the towering vertical lines of this pergola that provides foreground to the matured trees in the background.

*You might also like: 40 Tree House ideas For Every Age to Enjoy

Graceful Curves


Again, the repetition of circles provide a collage of interest and depth seen both in pond and decking design. Wall art also mirrors the horizontal surfaces along the structural wall; all of which is balanced by the rectangular pavers and upright trees.

Oblong Byway


So much of putting in a pond is about providing a balance of materials and shapes to provide peace and harmony. This uniquely shaped pond mimics the movement and shape of the Koi within, providing a tranquil view as you walk alongside.

Deck Overlook


The depths of this pool can be seen from above, providing the fish a great spot to overwinter, and varying footing for different types of water plants seen in and around the separate ponds, connected by a small trickling waterfall.

Arching Bridges


Forget boring flat yardscapes: add both height and depth to your yard with reaching waterfalls and deep green pools covered over with arching bridges. This pond mixes and matches the ground cover as well to give an illusion of walking into a different world.

Vegetative Detail


Circular shapes help balance straight lines and sharp corners, but this look doesn’t have to depend on structure to be complete. Your choice of pond vegetation is just as important to this display, and giant water lilies in this pond the perfect choice for this project.

Contemporary Cubes


Again, contemporary design fits well into more traditional materials and landscaping with this pond that is framed by smooth lines and cubic ornaments. Manicured lawns round out the picture and greets visitors with open, sunny areas.

Detailed Greenery


Outdoor lounging areas are broken by smooth walkways, pond features, and living vegetation, which are all brought together by well placed greenery in garden beds, planters, and paver ground covers.

Mysterious Pathway


Create a floating pathway through your ponds that lead to the unknown. Large landscaping rocks and well placed palms create a series of nook and crannies to explore along this shallow pond design the drops into a deep koi pond.



Don’t end your rock walls, rather extend them into a pond that wraps around and creates a cooling, reflective surface in the shady areas of your garden. This little pond contains a tiny waterfall that extends from the wall for further interest.

Broken Borders


Why have one large pond, when you can break them up using garden ornaments, statuary, rocks, and plants? This design creates a series of pools of various heights and depths using the same rocks used along the borders, giving it a natural riverbed look.

Textural Design

Aboveground ponds add an interest of their own and and are even more blended into the yardscape when similar textures are applied. The fountain pond of this design mimics the housing, to make it look like both are rising from the ground and bring a balanced look to the property.

Aboveground Beauty

Despite the space an above ground pond can take up, their fun shapes, and many materials they are made of, really make them a one of a kind display for your area.

Natural Selection


In nature, woodland ponds have their own natural features such as rocky outcrops, wetland vegetation, and the various materials that fall from the trees above- such a branches and leaves. Create your own variation of this with delicate pond lilies, and twisted driftwood or tree branches placed around your pond.

Walk on Water


These carefully placed stepping stones seem to defy all logic and float on water. Create your own walkways using well placed landscaping stones and incorporate your pond into part of your garden walk!

Widened Borders


Using a commercial pond form, and then creating a border parallel to it makes it look even larger than what it is. Use large slate pavers like this pond design does to make your pond look even deeper, and plant it with annuals, or trailing perennials that will grow up between the cracks left in the stone.

Dueling Ponds


Who needs only one? This little pond is a feature of an upper garden walkway and drops into the larger lower pond for further aesthetics. Water loving bog plants help create a cascading effect that brings the uneven surface together as a lovely garden feature.

Shallow Surfaces


Shallow, stone bottomed gazing pools reflect everything from vegetation, daylight, starlight, and any ornamental features you choose to add. This pretty little pond adds a antiqued element to a traditional garden walkway.

Tiny Zen


Only have a balcony space to work with? This little pond works well with a carefully manicured bonsai garden to add further tranquility and life to an otherwise barren space.

Floating Forest


No need to tear out existing trees or shrubbery to make room for your pond. Instead, section off the vegetation you want to save, and allow them to continue growing in their own personal oasis surrounded by calming, reflective surfaces.

Lovely Lilies


Waterlilies are usually grown in submersed pot due to their abundant nature- and desire to cover all available water surfaces. Despite their beneficial qualities as oxygenators, they can end up looking a bit crowded, unless you desire a woodland pond look with a continued blooms and greenery through the growing season.

Build a Pond Box


I’ve talked often about how a garden pond serves as a different type of garden bed amongst your landscaping, but this project takes that suggestion seriously and literally creates a pond box for your garden pond.



Pond features really are easy to create as this simple feature shows. Transform a blah corner into a beautiful garden pond with an afternoon of digging and planning to make it all yours!

Best of Both Worlds


Patio chimneys have been growing in popularity and nothing sets it off better than a water feature nearby for you and your visitors to enjoy. This design uses the natural flow of the land to provided privacy and seclusion, as well as the height needed for the waterfall.

Pond Mania!

You should no longer have any excuses to put off designing, and creating your own pondscape feature for your garden after this article! The many ideas I’ve brainstormed and put together here incorporate everything from the largest, to the smallest yards, including narrow spaces to spacious lawns.

No matter what your landscaping budget is, garden ponds are well within it, especially if you decide to make your own using materials that are inexpensive and easy to find.

We’d love to see your pond designs, and innovativeness in their creation and decoration! Comment below with your hints and tips, questions, or suggestions, and remember to please share!


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Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool | Washington, DC, US

Built in the 1920s, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall has been the backdrop for many historic U.S. events. The rectangular pool is 2,028 feet long and 167 feet wide. Its glassy expanse can reflect the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument or the rows of shade trees that line both sides.

The reflecting pool was filled with water that came from the city of Washington’s drinking water supply. Due to a deteriorating circulation system, the water often became stagnant and evaporated too easily. Additionally, the dirt paths along either side of the pool were being eroded by millions of annual visitors.

Louis Berger was chosen by the National Park Service to design and manage renovation of the site. The new design taps the Tidal Basin as the pool’s primary water source, which reduces municipal water consumption by about 17 million gallons a year. Water lost to evaporation is now replenished from the fountain discharge of the adjacent World War II Memorial. The reflecting pool water is now treated and filtered, making it more reflective than ever. Other upgrades include:

  • New walkways, resurfaced with granite, and new lighting.
  • New paths with security walls, which provide wheelchair access to the Lincoln Memorial.

Restoration Done, Iconic Reflecting Pool Reopens


The Reflecting Pool on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall began as a glorious mirror for the Washington Monument, stretching out from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial stairs. Visitors could see the reflection, the obelisk itself, and over its shoulder the huge dome of the Capitol, the site everyone who comes to Washington wants to see. But over the years, the pool grew increasingly dank and slimy looking, leaking, smelly. Finally, the Park Service closed it for a complete do-over. Two years later, it’s almost ready.


Dennis Quinn is the lead engineer for the project. Standing on the edge of the pool, he explained it all to us.

DENNIS QUINN: This whole area was at one point a marshland. And during the early 20th century, they dredged material and dumped it. And then they built the Reflecting Pool on top of it. Well, that over time settled some and created the problems that we had and problems that we overcame with his new reconstruction.

WERTHEIMER: Big-time engineering.

QUINN: Pretty strong.

WERTHEIMER: In fact, the pool is not that different from a building. Fifty foot timber pilings driven into the ground to support the bottom, a seven- acre platform of dark-colored concrete. The color is new to make the pool even more reflective. There’s a new sidewalk but the coping stones – the granite edge of the pool is original – is a little shallower to make it easier to clean.

So, when you emptied the pool, was at full of gunk?

QUINN: Well, we had about seven months of material left at the bottom of the pool.

WERTHEIMER: How would you describe that material?

QUINN: Mainly the refuse from waterfowl.



QUINN: A nice, green mucky, not something that you want to be playing around with. That’s what we’re hoping the circulation system will have eliminated majority of that.

WERTHEIMER: A mile of pipes, pumping stations that gently circulate the water, amazingly the old pool was filled with tap water. Now it comes from the Tidal Basin, part of the Potomac River. It’s filtered through sand but it still has the color of a natural body of water.

QUINN: From where you’re standing, you can see there is a black cover there. That’s where the water is entering the pool. They’re 58 of them…


QUINN: …through the length of the pool, so we don’t have any dead spots in the water itself.

WERTHEIMER: The pool was almost half filled when we saw it, the concrete bottom still visible in places. Quinn says two million gallons to go.

We walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to see the view we can with the superintendent of the National Mall, Bob Vogel. He told us the infamous economic stimulus package paid for the new Reflecting Pool.

BOB VOGEL: We have unified the need for the project for many years, but weren’t sure that we were going to get the funding ’cause it’s a very expensive project. And so, we feel truly blessed by the American Recovery Act, which gave us the $34 million that was needed.

WERTHEIMER: This is the stimulus package that we’re talking about here.

VOGEL: Yes, it is. Yes, it is..

WERTHEIMER: And is the stimulus package paid for, the renovation of the Reflecting Pool?

VOGEL: It did. It did and this is the largest stimulus project in the National Parks Service.

WERTHEIMER: I remember being here on lots of great events. And then I remember being here for the Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. And a number of occasions where people were sitting around the Reflecting Pool with their feet in the water. Can they do that again?

VOGEL: People can put their feet in the water. We don’t want people to – it is a memorial space so we don’t want people swimming or wading in it. Just don’t want people actually in the water.


VOGEL: We have, you know, we do have a lot of huge events here. And this is still a very popular gathering place for American discourse. In fact, a year from now, August 28th, will be the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. And we’re planning a huge events with hundreds of thousands of people here for that.

WERTHEIMER: I can also remember some other kinds of events, like I think the last time was during the Reagan administration, when we had a terribly cold winter. People were ice-skating on the reflecting pool.

VOGEL: Yes, there’s a history of doing that too. And we don’t allow that anymore but we have lots of historic photos of it through the ages and, you know, people with a wooden boats, model boats, out on it, too.

WERTHEIMER: And there will be people sitting on the steps, as we did, watching the clouds reflected in the water; maybe watching the Fourth of July fireworks over the Washington Monument appear on the surface of the pool. Thousands, maybe millions of us will march on the Mall and sit on the edges of the pool to hear speeches. We’ll go with our families to see the monuments lighted at night, reflected in the pool.

There is still some cleanup to do; fences to come down, grass to be restored. But by the end of the month, the Reflecting Pool will be back.


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When people think of Washington DC they are sure to think about the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall.

This long, thin, and shallow pool was built in the 1920s runs between the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial. It’s one of my favorite places to photograph in DC, especially for sunrise.

From Martin Luther King’s Iconic “I Have a Dream” speech to Forrest Gump reuniting with Jenny in the water the Reflecting Pool has seen many historical & cultural events. The Reflecting Pool is about 2,029 feet long and runs between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.

View of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument

There is nothing like viewing a great sunrise or sunset at the Reflecting Pool. Its large reflective pool of water creates the perfect framing for many of DC’s monuments.

If you are visiting DC I would recommend stopping by the reflecting pool in the middle of the night or for sunrise. You feel a great level of tranquility when visiting the pool during these times since it’s often empty. Just sitting on the steps and seeing the Washington Monument lit up at night or watching sunrise over the pool is well worth the visit.

I have traveled to the Reflecting Pool countless times, here are some of my favorite photos from the Reflecting Pool.

Reflecting Pool on Google Maps

Photos of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Getting to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

If you’re planning a trip to the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool there a few options to get there.

Metro: Taking the metro is typically the best way to get around DC and if you are visiting the Reflecting Pool there are two stops that are close. The closest stops are Smithsonian (on the Mall), Foggy Bottom, and Arlington Cemetery.

Parking: If you are going drive parking can be tight, especially at peak times. There is public street parking along Constitution Avenue, Pkwy Dr NW and Ohio Dr SW. Just be sure to read the signs since some of these areas are restricted parking during rush hour.

How Deep is the Reflecting Pool?

The Reflecting Pool is surprisingly shallow.It is about 30 inches deep in the middle while the edges are about 18 inches deep. Since it is so shallow it might be appealing to put your feet it but the water is often very dirty and entering the pool isn’t allowed.

More about the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on its .

How to Build a Bird Reflection Pool

Getting close to your subject is one of the biggest challenge facing wildlife photographers, so it’s often necessary to devise ways of attracting birds and other animals nearer to the camera. Attracting birds with food is one way that works well, but what is equally effective is to provide birds with a reliable source of water for drinking and bathing. Birds need to drink all year round, but from my experience I have found that the optimum months for pond photography are late April until late July.

So first things first, you need a suitable pond. Most often, an established garden pond is not ideal for the purpose of photography, and so it is a good idea to start from scratch with a design that allows you to create tailor made images. There are several things to consider here. The pond needs to be accessible and user-friendly for visiting birds. It should be sited in a position that receives front lit early morning sun as this is most often the time of day when bird activity is greatest. And thirdly it needs to have a good, preferably plain background such as grass (although this can be overcome with a false wooden background and good painting skills!).

My original garden pond was a ‘dish-shaped’ design sunk into the lawn, which worked well, although to achieve a low shooting angle I had to lie on the ground for long periods and this can be very painful! So, the solution was to raise the pond off the ground. Not only does this make it easier to shoot at water level, but it also produces cleaner backgrounds and better reflections. This is not new of course; Bence Máté pioneered this technique in Hungary a number of years ago, but if it’s a good idea then it’s worth copying!

The basic design of the pond is very simple but you may want to adapt this to suit your own situation. I used an 8×4 foot standard sheet of 12mm marine plywood as the base and formed the sides using 170mm x 45mm softwood although you could use smaller dimensions for the sides, which would be cheaper. The front and back of the pond were formed with 130mm x 45mm softwood thereby making them lower than the sides. The logic here is that you want birds to drink at the back of the pond. So to deter them from drinking at the sides, they should be higher, making it harder for them to reach the water Alternatively, you could make all four sides at 130mm depth and then nail on additional strips to the sides to make them higher.

This wooden tray was then lined with thick horticultural black polythene (it must be black to get good reflections). Take care to make the fit of the polythene as neat and tight as you can on the back edge, pulling it down and tacking it onto the wood (above the intended water level!!). I then nailed additional strips of wood onto the two sides to hold it all in place. I have raised my pond by placing it onto ‘joists’ and cross members (to support the weight) so that the bottom of the pond sits about 180mm off the ground. The key here is to make sure that everything is absolutely level. Check and re-check using a spirit level so that when filled, the water is level. Once everything is spot on, fill the pond using a garden hose.

You now have a basic pond, but to make the ‘photographic’ end more attractive to birds you’ll need to back-fill it to form a shallow end suitable for bathing. To cut down on loose material I used 3 concrete blocks butted up against each other and then laid some coarse grit and small pebbles over the top so that the water depth was a maximum of 40mm sloping the back edge. Make sure that the black polythene in covered completely but you’ll find you need to re-cover this each time you photograph as it can easily get washed off. An alternative is to lay a log or a flat stone along the back edge for birds to perch on when drinking. If you have swallows or house martins nesting close-by also provide a source of gloopy mud for nest building in late April/early May.

I then sunk a hide into the ground at a distance of approximately 5m from the far edge of the pond, which is about right when using a 500mm lens. But of course there is a big size difference between a blue tit and a collared dove, so a telephoto-zoom such as a 100-400mm is ideal – or if you have two camera bodies, then set up both with different focal length lenses. A semi-permanent (wooden) hide is best so that visiting birds are well accustomed to it and this also means that you can quickly pop into the hide whenever there is good light.

As an alternative I have now extended the length of the pond to 16 feet (5m) by using two pieces of 8’ x 4’ plywood and extending the sides. This means that I can now place perches part way down the length of the pond instead of along the back edge and photograph birds with water directly behind them. This isn’t necessarily any better than the other approach but it gives more options and means that it’s now possible to photograph either in the middle or at the end of the pond depending on where I create the shallow area.

Photography doesn’t have to be restricted to the morning of course, and on bright but overcast days it’s possible to shoot all day with good even lighting. In some ways this can be preferable to all but the earliest sun because it can get too bright and create problems with contrast and harsh unflattering shadows. Another option is to shoot later in the day from the same position and make use of low backlighting during the early evening, This can work really well if the birds are bathing as is emphasises the water splashes especially when shooting against a dark background.

And that’s it! Keep adapting and fine-tuning your pool to get exactly the types of photographs you want. If you do create your own reflection pool, please submit a photo of it in the comments below – we’d love to see!

How to Build a Water Garden

Until recently, water gardens were beyond the reach of many gardeners. Concrete — expensive and difficult to install — was the main material used in construction. Concrete also required special care to use and maintain. Most people had little choice but to call professionals for planning and installation, adding to the expense. A water garden was something one dreamed of but did not actually own.

Times have changed. With more modern pool lining materials — PVC and fiberglass are currently the main ones — material costs have dropped enormously and installation is easily carried out by anyone. You don’t even have to know how to nail two boards together to be able to install a water garden.


Although water gardens can be placed just about anywhere, you may find the choice of sites limited depending on the type of plants you want to grow. If your goal is a simple reflecting pool, the choice of a location is up to you. But most people dream of a water garden brimming with water lilies and other aquatic plants.

This places a major limit on where the water garden can be placed, since water lilies require at least six hours of full sun per day to grow well (a few species will tolerate as few as four hours). Most other flowering aquatic plants also require abundant light; plants grown for their foliage alone are more tolerant. If you want to get the most out of your water garden, select a sunny location.

The amount of space available is also a factor. Even the tiniest yards have room for a small water garden (people have been known to raise goldfish and a single dwarf water lily in a tub on a balcony), but a truly balanced water garden with a variety of plants and animals takes a fair amount of space.

Pool depth is also a consideration. For a simple reflecting pool, you’ll need only a few inches of water, but very shallow pools are subject to extreme temperature change, which is not conducive to living organisms such as plants and fish. A minimum depth of 18 inches for much of the pond’s area is desirable. To overwinter plants and fish in cold climates, at least part of the pond should drop to three feet.

The shape of the pond will depend a great deal on the effect you wish to create. Square, rectangular, round, or oval ponds give a formal appearance to the yard, an effect heightened by using fountains. If you keep your yard neatly mowed, if shrubs and hedges are carefully trimmed, and other plantings are in formal beds, a geometric pond will suit it perfectly. If, on the other hand, your yard is composed of mixed borders and naturalistic plantings, a formal water garden would look out of place.

An irregularly shaped pond, perhaps with a border planting of bog plants to soften its appearance even further, would be more appropriate. Sometimes rectilinear or circular pools fit perfectly into matched settings. If you’re unsure, try laying out the pool shape of your choice with a piece of garden hose, then look at it from every angle. It is far easier to spend a day or so testing different pond shapes and locations with a hose than to move an established water garden.

The topography of the site should also be considered. Ponds should not be placed in the lowest section of the yard: Any overflow could quickly turn the area into a bog. Make sure there is some possibility for drainage. If you plan to include a naturalistic cascade or waterfall, a yard with a somewhat abrupt slope is most fitting.

Finally, check with your municipality concerning zoning laws and fencing codes. Many cities and towns make no distinction between a water garden and a swimming pool. Security fencing may be required. For further security, you might want to wait until your children are past the toddler stage before you install a water garden.

Learn about planting a water garden in the next section.

Looking for more information about water gardens? Try these:

  • How to Install a Water Garden Pond: Learn how to install a water garden pond by using a flexible liner or prefabricated pool.
  • How to Care for a Water Garden: Learn how to care for a water garden so that it grows and thrives on its own.
  • Water Garden Plants: Explore the different plants you can choose for your water garden.
  • Water Gardens: Check out everything you need to know to get started on your own water garden.
  • Gardening: Learn the basics of successful gardening.

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