Water features can add a touch of drama, a soothing background noise and even a sense of serenity to your garden. As well as the traditional half barrels and shell-shaped fountains, there are now plenty of contemporary designs using stainless steel, natural stone and glass to produce dramatic effects, including sheets of cascading water.
What You Need To Know
Most water features need a pump to push the water around. Solar versions are the easiest to install as there’s no wiring. Low voltage models have a long cable (usually 10m) that has a plug and transformer. These can be run into the house or to an outdoor power socket. Mains-powered features will need a certified electrician to install.
Fountains add sound and movement to your garden without the level of maintenance needed for fishponds and other standing water features. The raised feature needed doesn’t have to be the standard artificial rock either – you can now buy sleek glass, steel and stone water walls that create a continuous ‘sheet’ of moving water and water spheres that work in the same way.
All fountains need some sort of reservoir to collect the water at the base. These are either above ground containers that should complement the fountain or plastic below ground containers. Above ground units are good for use on a patio or deck where sinking a reservoir below the surface would be difficult.
Water Walls, Pebble Pools & Spheres
Water walls, pebble pools, spheres and most other features are based on the same principal of taking water from a reservoir at the base to the feature, using a pump.
Water walls can be freestanding or you can buy the aperture and fittings and install them in a garden wall.
This is really a job for the experienced DIYer or a garden design company.
Solar Powered Water Features
Solar energy hasn’t just changed the garden lighting market. Now you can have fountains and pebble pools driven by the sun as well.
There’s no specialist installation to worry about, making these features easy to site on patios and decks. Some have an option to select the pump to switch on in the evening instead of just when the sun’s shining.
The power of the fountain is limited, so it’s more suited to pebble ponds and water spheres, rather than a stand-alone fountain.
Where To Put Your Water Feature
Site your water feature, and especially a fountain, so that it’s in a sheltered location – if it’s exposed, you might find the wind will blow the water away from the reservoir. Sun traps can also be a problem, as the water will evaporate more quickly.
Build a Small Water Feature
Water adds a new dimension to any garden.
This idea is quick and easy to make and requires minimal care.
This small water feature is the ideal place to grow miniature water lilies and other small aquatic plants.
The larger the container, the more impressive the display, although it’s best to limit yourself to one or two well-chosen types of plant.
Use too many and your pond will quickly become cluttered.
- Do it: April – June
- At its best: June – September
- Takes just: an afternoon
You will need:-
- 1 tin bath or other large container
- Waterproof sealant, 6 bricks
- 3 medium planting baskets, 4 litres aquatic compost
- 6 assorted aquatic plants plus 2 oxygenating plants
- Washed pea gravel
- Large feature stone, a little taller than the height of the container
How to do it
- Thoroughly clean the tin bath or your chosen container and seal any drainage holes with silicone. Place the bricks around the container’s edges, ready to raise the plants to the right level. If you’re using a shallower container than the tin bath, you may not need the bricks.
- Knock the aquatic plants from their pots. Put a layer of aquatic compost in the bottom of the planting basket and position the plants. Each basket should accommodate two or three plants.
- Fill in around the roots with more compost, firming as you go, and then water thoroughly to settle the compost. Top it off with a layer of pea gravel across the surface. Plant each of the baskets this way.
- Fill the container two-thirds with water. Carefully lower the baskets into the water, standing them on the bricks. If you’re viewing the pond from one direction, place the taller plants at the back; if viewing it from all sides, place in the centre.
- When you’re happy with the arrangement of the plants, top up the level of the water to around 2cm – 3cm below the rim of the container. Adding a stone to the pond that just breaks the surface of the water gives birds a landing platform from which to take a drink
Pond plants you can use in the small patio type pond
Aquatic plants ensure the small patio pond is pleasing and interesting. Include at least one flowering plant.
These pond plants will do well in this small confined environment.
- Pygmy water lilies
- Hardy oxygenating plants (Canadian Pondweed and Hornwort are good examples)
- Floating plants (water lettuce) and if you create a shallow section try some bog, or marginal rather tall accent plants (rushes, reeds, cattails).
Don’t forget to top up the water during warm weather.