Backyard Boat Pond

This is a super fun post I’ve been keeping in my back pocket since I got the backyard boat pond completed last fall!

Don’t you just love the sound of water? I sure do! The calm soothing sound of a water fountain is so pleasant in the summer. At every one of the past 3 houses we’ve had, I’ve created a different type of water feature. I wanted a water feature in our backyard at our new house, but did not want the commitment, or cost of a built-in pond. I got a little creative and made a DIY backyard boat pond after seeing a similar one on Facebook a while back!

Yup! It’s a pond INSIDE a boat!

This was a fun project to do. It is a fairly easy way to add a water feature to one’s backyard without have to dig a hole! It’s also just plain ‘ole fun to have!

Shopping links for this project are found at the end of the post.

I found an old aluminum boat… Well, actually it sorta found me! I put a ‘wanted… looking for an old boat’ type of notice out there on Facebook Marketplace, and the gentleman that owned this boat contacted me. For $50 he was happy to get it out of his yard and I was glad to get it at a low cost investment for my boat pond.

After we got it home, we set it in the backyard to be sure it was going to fit how I envisioned it. This also gave us the opportunity to mark the lawn where it needed the grass gone and landscape fabric and rock laid. I had a vision of it looking like the boat was on the edge of the water, on an island of sorts.

To work on the boat, we set it up on sawhorses in the driveway. I sanded and scraped every loose and flaking bit of paint off it. I was planning to repaint it inside and out and really wanted the new paint to stay on.

The boat I chose was aluminum, except for a wooden board on the inside back. The board was showing signs of rot, and since this would be totally submersed in the pond water. I thought that maybe I could just remove the board and not need to replace it. Without the support of the board, the back of the boat was just too wobbly. There would be a considerable amount of weight pushing against it when the boat was filled with water, so I decided to replace the wood with something waterproof.

We traced the existing board, with a few minor adjustments to cut the replacement one. This time around though, instead of wood, we replaced it with Trex dimensional lumber. Trex is a composite wood, made from plastic type material. We had a wide piece of white Trex left over from work on the front porch. (You can see how we used it for trim around our front porch in THIS POST)

It was finally time to paint the boat! I had scraped, sanded, washed, rinsed and let it dry. Whew! That prep part is never fun, but it’s really necessary for the finish to last.

Since the inside would have plants and fish in it, and because it would be submersed under water I wanted to be sure I was getting the right kind of paint for the inside boat pond. After some research, I found a paint specifically for inside ponds. It’s not cheap paint! But I figured it was worth it.

The exterior received a coat of bonding primer, (see below for a link!) and then a couple coats of white exterior paint with the addition of blue for the trim.

The final bit of fun detail was the reference to the S.S. Minnow.

My husband and I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island. A boat pond is whimsical in itself, so to add a little more fun was easy! I kept this Gilligan’s Island part for a surprise for him. The wording is a custom decal I ordered from a gal on Etsy, (see link for her at end of post too). She was extraordinary helpful with sizing, font to match the Gilligan show and directions for installing it.

The S.S. Minnow reveal was fun! The day I got the lettering put on the boat, I timed the ‘big reveal’ for my husband so that right before he got home, I was playing the Gilligan’s Island theme song on the porch speaker.

This verse of the song was kinda perfect for our boat pond… after all, it did set ground on this tiny un-chartered isle… in our backyard. 😉

I love a little whimsy in decorating, (or a lot)! I can be like a kid with my imagination and setting the stage ‘for the story’ of the decorating.

We have spent a lot of time in Maine. Yet, the one authentic lobster trap we purchased there, stayed there at the cottage we had. When it was time to landscape around our new backyard boat pond, hands down, we both knew it needed a lobster trap. This is the funny part, I found one for sale, in Wisconsin! I just think that’s so funny! It’s about the furthest you can be from an ocean… and yet that’s where I found one for sale.

To add to the nautical feel, we got a big green treated log. My husband cut it down for some ‘wharf piers’ with the chainsaw. I didn’t want them perfectly placed, and didn’t want to have to dig them in down below frost line and all that. Instead, we secured them to the ground by drilling holes in the bottom of each cut log piece and pounded re-rods in them.

Those re-rods then pushed into the ground and hold the posts firm.

I added a fun curly ‘Corkscrew Rush’ bog plant inside a plastic pot inside the boat, along with some other floating water plants.

Where the pond sits, is pretty much full sun, the water in the boat was heating up too much during the day, so I placed umbrellas around it to shade it most of the day and help keep the water cooler.

Sort of a funny/sad story about how I learned the water was too warm… We had allowed the paint to cure, just how the directions on the pond paint instructed, and were finally ready to introduce the fish. Two of our young grandkids, nearly 2 and 5 at the time, were here for the big event of putting the fish in the boat pond, After they helped release the little fishies into their new home, we all went inside to have lunch. 30 minutes later, my husband went outside to see all the fish floating dead in the pond. (Fortunately, we bought small goldfish! and fortunately he went outside before our grandkids did!) He quickly scooped them out and discarded them before our grandkids went out, but. It was an awkward moment of answering, the questions of where the fish were… Hiding???

Researching afterward, I found out the warm water doesn’t hold enough oxygen for the fish to survive, hence the umbrella shades. The black and white stripes coordinate with the vintage window awnings I painted. (You can see that post HERE)

Plants, like lily pads, growing in the pond and shading it with their leaves will help keep the water cooler. I just didn’t have time so late in the season to get many plants growing.

It was late last summer when I finished the backyard boat pond. For the winter, we drained the water and covered it with a tarp. I am excited to get it uncovered and going again this spring! I’ve already ordered several more water plants!

On the landscape rock ‘island’ I planted free flowing ‘Maiden Grass’ that hopefully will fill in around the boat pond, and around the little bridge.

This boat pond gives my ears that soothing trickling water sound, in a fun and pretty darn kitschy sort of way. LOL

What fun garden or landscape project do you have planned this summer?

Shopping List:

Did you know that I am an interior (and some exterior) decorator? Frame and Frills I do e-decorating consultation, from my office to your home!

Here are some more of my gardening and landscape posts:

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Reader Interactions


  1. Donnamae says

    I was “cleaning” my inbox….and found your post. This is wonderful! Talk about clever! You did a fantastic job on this with your husband! Cheers…and stay safe! 😉

  2. erika says

    Your boat pond looks wonderful and i love the piers, etc. around the pond. I did the very same thing about 20 years ago with a fiberglass boat. The difference that i did was i cut the bottom of the boat away (about 3 feet by 6 feet) and then i dug a deep hole of that was slightly wider and longer (4’x7′) where i was going to place the boat. Then i went to a garden center and bought a pond liner and completely lined the boat and hole below so that the 3 foot deep hole would keep the pond cooler and was a way for the fish to go down deep to escape predators. I also took the benches out of the boat so the liner would fit better.

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