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Thanks for all who replied to my request.  The reason why I asked is
because most ponds I see have a biofilter of some sort hidden somewhere and
the garden I have is not large enough for me to do that.  I figured that if
it will work for a tank, why not just increase the scale. 

I have come across some plastic crates that I can use as the grid, they
seem pretty strong and all I have to do is to figure out the piping system
to get the water to come out as evenly as possible.    Once I have all that
in place, then all I have to do is to lay down a thick plastic mesh and
fill with 4-5 inches of gravel.  I figured reverse under gravel, as it
would be easier to back wash the system then have all the gunk stuck in the
substrate.  All plants will have to be in large pots or fiberglass containers.

Instead of the customary Koi, I am thinking hundreds of small tropical
fish!  If anyone out there has tried this before, please let me know how it
turned out.