The pond tool is more versatile than you think!
Ponds are probably one of the best additions to the base game’s Build Mode to date. Although it took quite a long time to get the pond tool in the game, The Sims 4’s pond tool is so much more powerful and versatile than the pond tools from any of the previous Sims titles.
There is a small learning curve to using the pond features but it’s much easier to create and customize the water feature of your dreams, even if you’re a player who is nervous using the terrain tools. We’re going to show you just how creative you can get with this powerful feature.
Shaping Your Vision
Unlike past Sims games, there is no “ready-made” pond tool where the terrain automatically fills up with water as you drag the curser over the terrain. You will have to use the terrain tools first to lower the terrain, which you can then fill with the water tool. This allows you to customize how much (or how little) water you want in your pond. You can have a full pond practically overflowing, or you can create a dried up river with just the smallest trace of water sitting at the bottom. It allows for a lot of creativity.
To start, navigate to the terrain tools and select the Lower Terrain tool. Take a second to drag the brush speed down to about 25%. The default speed is quite fast and you can end up with a huge chasm instead of a nice smooth dip in the ground. Then just sculpt the terrain in the general shape you want your pond to be. You can do all kinds of things here, like raise up a portion of the terrain in the middle of your pond to rise above the water level. This will create a little island in the middle of your pond when you fill it with water.
When you’re happy with the general shape, switch over to the Water Tool. You can either select Raise Water Level and click the terrain until you’re happy with the water level, or you can quickly fill up the whole area with Fill to Height. By default, it will fill to the brim but you can use the [ and ] keys to get a more precise water level. Personally, I find it easiest to just use the default Fill to Height setting, then use the Lower Water Level tool once or twice so it looks a little more natural.
Once there is water in your pond, you can click the Water Level Map to see how deep the water is. We don’t recommend making ponds that are super deep; it can cause some of the pond effect spawners to float above the water or sink down too far under the water. A nice gradual dip is ideal.
Now you have a very basic pond! If you’re not quite happy with the shape, you can go back and play with the terrain more. The water will automatically adjust itself as you sculpt.
Making it Pretty
We have a pond now but it looks pretty bare bones. It seems to just sit awkwardly in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t look natural. A real pond would have dirt, sand, or mud along its shores and a lot of foliage and wildlife growing in and around it. The water shouldn’t look like chlorinated pool water, either.
I used a combination of two different base game dirt terrain textures to outline my pond on the softest brush setting and give it a natural looking gradient of dirt going to mud at the water line. Now it looks like a more natural part of the landscape but it still needs vegetation and wildlife.
The Outdoor Water Décor section is going to be your best friend here. You can change the texture of the water to something more natural looking, like a mossy pond or a pond strewn with leaves. If you have DLC packs, you may have even more options available.
This tab has all kinds of pond decorations. Logs, lily pads, grasses that can be placed in the water, and even fishing signs. Placing a fishing sign in a pond will allow your Sims to use the pond as a fishing spot! Want to add an extra touch to your ponds? Click on logs and lily pads to enable turtles and frogs to appear on them!
Logs and lily pads aren’t the only wildlife that can be added to ponds, though! In the bottom tab under Outdoor Water Décor, you have a wide variety of creature spawners to choose from for your pond. You can add everything from ducks to trumpeter swans, fish, mosquitos, tadpoles, fireflies, and even alligators! All of these will really make your pond come alive! When you place down these spawners, they will show up as a flat tile in Build Mode but the tiles will disappear in Live Mode and be replaced with all the animated wildlife!
Building over Ponds
Want your Sims to get up close and personal with nature? You can build over ponds using decks and the stilted foundation style! It’s easy, too!
Just build a deck and raise the foundation height to be above the water level, then add to it as desired to create the deck shape you want. Apply the stilted foundation style to it to make it look more natural and your Sims will be able to enjoy a BBQ, picnic, relaxing nap, or anything you want on a deck overlooking your beautiful pond.
You can really go crazy with building over ponds and build all kinds of stuff over the water so feel free to play around with this feature and see just how far you can push the limits with it!