DIY Bathtub Pond

DIY Bathtub Pond

Old bathtubs can easily be converted into wonderful container garden ponds, lets reuse it! I’ll show you the supplies needed and how it’s done.

See how to make a little pond: tips, tricks, and project ideas. Personally, I’d rather take the old tub outdoors and repurpose it into a water feature. I just wanted a cheap and quickly made little pond in my garden, so decided to try this bathtub pond. 

Setting Up Your Bathtub Pond

  • Choose a  safe, level location near an outdoor GFCI elelctrical outlet.
  • Clean the tub.
  • If you want to paint the exterior, do it before setting up your pond.
  • Close up the bottom drain and overflow hole.
  • Add water.
  • Set up the pump/filter ( Follow the safety guidelines on the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • You want the pump away from any plants or debris so it can freely take in the water and recirculate it.
  • Add aquatic plants. Find out the best growing depth for each type of plant you are adding and use bricks to set them at the right level.
  • WAIT a few weeks before adding fish—and only do it if you’re sure you are providing a good home. Some natural flora has to build up before fish can survive plus, you need any chlorine present in the water to ‘off-gas’ first—which takes several days or longer. After seeing how happy my pond fish are in 500 gallons, I wouldn’t add any to a smaller pond. They really do like to run around and play in the waterfall.
  • See How to Add Fish to a Backyard Garden Pond for instructions.

Safety first, any water project can pose a risk to humans, pets, and wildlife. Do not add any water feature unless you are certain it’s legal and safe.

1. Choosing a site

Choose a location for the bathtub pond. If you intend on keeping fish in your pond, choose semi-shady location, since direct sunlight stimulates algae growth. When you’re deciding where to put your bathtub pond, keep in mind that it will be heavy, a combination of the porcelain of the tub and the water contained within it. So, put it on solid, dry ground and build up the soil around the tub so it will run away, not toward it. Keep sunlight requirements for plants in mind: many water plants tolerate partial shade, but like sun, especially water lily. Bathtub ponds are also great statement pieces, so although it isn’t necessary, putting your pond somewhere you can see it from inside the house is always a plus.

2. Find a Bathtub

I always suggest you try and buy locally or better yet, get stuff free and repurpose it. Consider the transportation options, better to buy plate tub insted of heavy iron! It really doesn’t have to have claw feet. Just pick something you like. And keep in mind that a slippery container like a tub is best kept above ground so small animals and rodents don’t fall in and drown. If there’s any chance wildlife will use the pond, please research safety considerations.

old bathtub old bathtub

3. Clean the tub thoroughly; rinse and dry it out with the towels

Plugs or other materials to close up drain and overflow holes. Decide whether you want to close up the bottom drain hole and overflow holes temporarily or permanently. If you’re lucky (or have a good plumbing store nearby), you’ll find plugs that fit snugly in both and do not leak. Otherwise, ask at a plumbing shop for a product they recommend for this purpose. Some sealants work in sitting water and others do not, so you need to make sure you choose a marine grade product. If you don't find the right plugs, just put a plastic, stone and sand on the hole. It will drip for a few days but the sand will clog the gaps. 

4. Preapare for painting

Then moved on to the paint. I had decided to keep the old porcelain insides as they were scratched and stained, but wanted to paint the tub outside and started looking for a color. Started with the idea of arctic blue but decided to color the edges with candy apple red. You will need up to 1/2 litre of blue and 1/4 litre of red. I make mix the shades in the shop using colour palette, however if you have a small budget better to use old paints after you ascertain it is not deteriorated. Assign the borders of red and white with duct tape. You will need also sandpaper, brush, diluent and shred for cleaning, newspaper for safety. 

old bathtub painting old bathtub painting

5.  Legs

I have dreams of recreating this pond with an ornate clawfoot tub, but in the meantime, we used a standard metal tub. I had them put a brick beside each leg, didn’t want it sitting up too high but didn’t want it sinking into the ground either. If you have trouble finding one, I'd try asking someone in the construction business. Houses are getting remodeled all the time, and those fixtures have to end up somewhere! I painted this leg in 2 layers.


6. Painting the tub

I painted the outside in 2 layers with blue and next the also in 2 layers the edges with red. The enamel paint takes approx 4 hours to dry the layers. Finishing the painting I suggest at least 3 people to put the final palce on legs the tub. It is a little bit difficult to balance and put the legs at the same time!

water lily, water plant stone

7. Selecting plants

Some aquatic plants only live in tropical climates, but plenty thrive in temperate areas. “Sunny Pink” hardy waterlily, for example grows to about 6 inches across and blooms from late spring until the first frost. Yellow floating heart (Nymphoides peltata) grows forms charming 6-inch lily pads with up-thrust yellow flowers from late spring to early fall. Most water plants, waterlilies and rushes included, require some soil. The best bet is containers lined with newspaper, filled half-full of good garden soil, topped with a 1/4-inch layer of gravel after planting, to keep soil in. Hardy water plants will survive as well if they never get frozen solid. Tropical pond plants would have to be stored indoors if you live in a cold climate like I do.You won’t need a lot plants: they do multiply quite readily each growing season. My water garden has a water-lily, later I want to install some water lettuce, some irises, and some royal blue pickerel rush. Some of these plants multiply really fast, which is great! In fact, I started with one water lily. Shop at a favourite garden nursery, tell them what your project is, and they can help you pick the best plants based on what’s available in your area.


8. Stone

If you are simply setting a bathtub in your yard and filling it with water, installation may mean nothing more than hauling it out to its intended area. Some people like to bury their tubs so that they are only slightly above the level of the surrounding soil. If you do this, you’ll need to ensure that your pond doesn’t overflow with runoff when it rains, so again, slope soil downward and away from the sides. Also ensure that, if you’re burying the pond, when it drains it does not do so toward your house. Bricks or other materials to hold plants at required level. Each type of aquatic plants has a prefered planting depth in the water. Use bricks or stones to ensure the plant containers sit at the right height.


old bathtub in the garden

9. Fish – Maybe, Maybe Not

Fish need lots of room to have a healthy happy life. You could have just a few cold-water goldfish in a 50 gallon tub if there’s room to swim without too many plants in the way. But don’t add them if you’re not sure. It’s also easier to care for the tub in the winter if you’re not worrying about keeping the fish alive too. If you'd like to add fish, make sure that your water is safe for your fish by testing the water's ph levels, and be sure you don't have too many fish in a small space. As I understand, you should have a gallon of water for each inch of fish. I am not an expert on fish, so if you are concerned, please ask a professional. Comets, goldfish, and some small koi are perfect in this kind of pond.


bathtub pond

10. A recirculating pond pump and filter

You’ll need to estimate the water volume of the tub and choose a pump appropriate for that volume of water. You need pump only in case of having fish. I didn't implement the pump. The pumps are sold by ‘gallons per hour’. If your tub holds approximately 50 gallons of water, you’d want a pump that circulates 50-100 gallons per hour. This will allow extra strength to power a small waterfall or spray feature. Small pond pumps usually come with small sponges inside that gather gunk as the water circulates. Once the pond is established, you may have to clean them every day. A better solution is to use chemical-free pond filter method. Some pond pump kits come with extra gadgets like bubblers or fountain sprays. Check that the pump you’re getting comes with the attachments you want. Outdoor GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) electrical outlet. Don’t mess around with this. If you don’t already have one near the pond location, get a certified electrician to install a proper GFCI outlet that meets all the code requirements in your area.

how to bathtub pond

11. Bathtub Pond Maintenance

Your pump filter may need rinsing out on a daily or weekly basis to keep the water flowing nicely and avoid straining the pump. The aquatic plants may need to be lowered in the water as they grow. I will use a simple kitchen filter for removing leaves and waste.

old bathtub ideas

12. Winter Care

If you live in a cold climate, tropical plants will need to be stored/”overwintered” in a garage during the winter months. Hardy plants can survive most winters if they are placed at the bottom of the tub and the pump is kept running to ensure the water never freezes. I will wrap and insulate my tub in winter season for saving the plants.

Watch the short video about the finished bathtub pond how looks it in my garden.


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