Here's how to build your own miniature pagoda water feature

Give your garden the water feature it deserves!
Christopher McFadden

If the video player is not working, you can watch the video from this alternative link.

If your garden is lacking a little je ne sais quoi, you might want to consider giving it an interesting water feature. Who about, for example, a lovely miniature pagoda

Follow this guide to find out how. 

mini pagoda complete
Source: Construction General/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

  • Bricks
  • Pebbles and rocks
  • Plastic pipes for roofing tiles
  • Scrap wooden lengths
  • Wooden poles
  • Cement and trowel
  • Hot glue gun
  • Digging tools
  • Spray paints
  • Digging tools (shovel, etc)
  • Cement mix and sand

Optional

  • Supervisory pack of dogs

With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.

Step 1: Build the foundations and earthworks

The first step is to find a suitable site for your miniature pagoda. Then, you can mark out the extent of the foundations needed using either spray paint or a string and poles.

In this case, the pagoda will be situated on a mini island in a manmade watercourse. To copy, mark out a large keyhole-shaped structure. With that done, begin to excavate the ground the make the main channel for the watercourse.

mini pagoda bricks
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Next, take your pile of old bricks and begin to line the walls of the watercourse as needed. Cement them into place. Keep going until all walls are lined and then add a skim of cement over all bricks. 

Since this will be submerged and/or lined with pebbles, you don't need to be obsessed with making it perfect. Skim the bed of the watercourse as well with cement as needed. 

mini pagoda skim
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Step 2: Make it look pretty

With the main earthworks now complete, we can begin to add some decoration to the structure. Mix up some more cement, if needed, and then begin to line the banks of the watercourse with your rocks and pebbles. 

Arrange them as your see fit and cement them into place as needed. Try to use a variety of colors and shapes, but choose whichever type you'd prefer.

diy pagoda stones
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Keep going until all the banks of the watercourse are completed and lined with stones. You can also add to the small island, but that is not necessary for this particular project.

Step 3: Build the pagoda frame

With the main features of the watercourse now complete, we can move on to the main event - the miniature pagoda. Mark out the dimensions of the foundations for the structure in the center of the island as needed with lengths of wood. 

Then, begin to pour cement into the wooden frame. Level off the cement as required, this will need to be as perfectly flat as possible to ensure the main pagoda structure doesn't slope. 

mini pagoda foundations
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, the next step is to take your wooden poles that will form the main columns of the pagoda. Line them up and then measure them to the length needed for the pagoda structure. 

Trim the wooden poles down to size as required. 

mini pagoda poles
Source: Construction General/YouTube

The number and size needed will depend entirely on the design of your pagoda. With that done, mark out the position of any joints needed on the poles, and cut them out as needed. 

In this case, basic tenon and mortise joints will be used to build the frame of the pagoda. Watch the video for more details on how to do this if you are not familiar with the process. 

Sand down all the wooden poles as needed too. 

diy pagoda joints
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Once ready, begin to assemble the pagoda frame directly onto the cement foundation you laid earlier. Ensure the main uprights are cemented into place firmly to ensure the structure is as robust as possible. 

With that done, build out the mainframe of the pagoda using beams, and also build the main pitched roof structure too. This may need you to customize joints on the fly as you assemble the structure. 

diy pagoda frame
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Again, watch the video for more details on how this is done for this particular pagoda. Once done, you can then start to build out the "first-floor" lean-to roofs or platform eaves as needed. 

Ensure you add lintels to any of the roof structures too to fit the roofing tiles too when the time comes. In this case, most of the frame elements have been glued together with superglue, but you can also use woodglue. 

diy pagoda eaves
Source: Construction General/YouTube

Step 4: Finish the pagoda

To make the roofing tiles, if you can't find small enough ones, take your lengths of plastic piping. Cut them in half, and then cut the half-pipes down to make mock clay tiles. 

Before installing them, ensure you paint the lengths of plastic piping red. Once done, begin to install them to the main roof structures as needed. Ensure they overlap one another to give the roofs their characteristic "Eastern" style. 

diy pagoda roofing tiles
Source: Construction General/YouTube

In this case, the roofing tiles are glued into position using a hot glue gun. but you could also pin them using small nails or tacks. 

Use more lengths of piping for the ridge tiles as needed. 

Next, use lengths of string and short lengths of bamboo or similar material, to hang down from the eaves and partially enclose the openings in the frame. 

Make as many as you need and glue them into place as needed. 

diy pagoda screens
Source: Construction General/YouTube

With that done, make other structures as needed, like a small bridge over the watercourse, and install them as needed. 

With that done, paint the inner surface of the watercourse blue and install turf around the pagoda and rocks. 

Lastly, flood the watercourse and then sit back and enjoy your hard work! 

If you enjoyed this little project, you might enjoy making another small building

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