Shade Structures for Ponds

Ponds benefit from shade, particularly if there are fish living in them.

Scrap Materials

Koi benefit from access to shade.
The shade allows fish to get out of the light and to hide, giving them a chance to rest in safety. Shade structures can be strictly functional or they can offer a mix of beauty and functionality. Angled properly, a cover over a pond can provide shade during the hottest part of the day. It can also be arranged to include a picnic table or hammock near the edge of the water. .

Underwater shade structures can be very important in ponds that have fish in them, especially if the pond doesn’t have much in the way of natural shade. Since these canopies will be covered by water, it doesn’t usually matter what they look like. These can be made from pallets or wooden boxes arranged to create shady spots on the bottom of the pond, often by laying them around the edges. This type of pond shade is best placed when the pond is being built, before it is filled with water.

Artificial Caves

Fish that live in ponds exposed to a great deal of direct sun will require shade as well as hiding places in order to remain healthy. A pond that is home to any type of sport fish, especially bass and catfish, should provide shade that simulates the natural habitat as much as possible. This both shelters the fish and encourages spawning. Artificial caves made of large, flat stones, such as flagstones, can serve this purpose. Concrete blocks can also be used to create small caves on the floor of the pond. These are best sized to hold a single fish and should be at least 4 feet underwater, facing toward the deepest part of the pond.

Decorative Covers

One commonly used type of shade structure is a simple roof or gazebo design. A roof that covers most or all of the pond can make the entire area much cooler. Typically, this type of covering will be built with an openwork pattern, leaving spaces of 2 or 3 inches between each board across the top. This lets plenty of light reach the pond but still provides adequate shade. Including a section of land next to the pond provides a place for picnicking or resting out of the sun. The structure can be painted, carved or decorated with climbing vines such as grapes, Virginia creeper or wisteria.


Considerations when constructing shade structures for ponds are the general characteristics of a shade structure. It should be of a size suitable for the purpose but not so large that it overwhelms the surroundings, especially if built in a yard over a small pond. The wood should be able to stand up to a lot of moisture, such as cedar or redwood. Any posts that touch the ground should be pressure treated but should not have any added chemicals that may leach into the ground and possibly contaminate the pond.