Have you ever wondered what design decisions might take your garden to the next level? Whether you’re into gardening and enjoy pottering around pruning bushes and planting flowers, or prefer a low-maintenance space just to kick back and relax, a garden water feature may be just what your garden needs.

If you’ve been considering adding a water feature, but aren’t sure what type to choose, whether it’s worth it, and what installation entails, keep reading to learn why people are raving about garden water features this year.


What are the different types of water features?

There’s a water feature to suit gardens of every shape, size, and style. They can be big or small, simple or elaborate, add drama or subtle beauty to your garden. Here are the most common types of water features:


Fish Ponds

Any kind of pond can be turned into a fish pond provided they’ll be able to live safely in the water, which means you’ll need it to be deep enough for them to overwinter without freezing, have some rocks or other areas to find shelter from predators, and enough water to stay chemically balanced. A local aquatic shop will be able to advise you further here.

Goldfish, koi, and golden tench are popular, and smaller varieties of goldfish won’t outgrow smaller ponds. If you have the space, a large koi pond with a deck or wooden bridge will always be a pleasure to sit by and watch.

Fish Ponds

Water Garden

A water garden is an outdoor space that uses water for ornamental effect. They originated in ancient Egypt where royals channelled water from the river Nile into their gardens. These gardens were home to sacred lotus plants which they also used for medicine. Today, water gardens include everything from gentle waterfalls to ultra-modern channels with carefully placed stone steps.

Water Garden

Reflecting Pools

Reflecting pools normally serve as the central feature of a garden. They tend to come in geometric shapes and have walking surfaces overhanging the edges. You’ll typically find a reflecting pool near a decorative landscape feature designed to be reflected in the water’s shimmering surface.

Reflecting Pools

Ornamental Pools

Ornamental pools are usually designed to highlight another piece of outdoor artwork such as a statue. In ornamental pools, water may be coming out of a fountain or statue.

Ornamental Pools


A waterfall adds sound and motion to any water feature. Waterfalls are typically created using natural stone boulders or slabs, bringing a beautiful vertical dimension to an otherwise flat landscape. Larger gardens often lend themselves well to multi-tiered waterfalls, which incorporate a mixture of streams and ponds. Some public gardens also feature large waterfall gateways in which slabs of rock and bricks make up a gate for water to fall through. If you’ve just got a small space, a small waterfall can add the gentle sound of trickling water to your entertaining and relaxing area.



Streams are another lovely way of adding a little movement to your garden. They’re at the best when installed alongside meandering paths or walkways, designed to flow down a multi-level garden. A well-installed stream can cascade into a pond at the end, helping to sustain the water feature’s entire ecosystem.



Fountains dramatically jet water into the air and are often associated with opulence and luxury. Originally, fountains were purely functional and were connected to aqueducts or springs, providing drinking water to cities, towns, and villages. Until the 19th century, the majority of fountains would only operate if there was a water source higher than the fountain. These days, they adorn the city parks, piazzas, and private gardens of the world, providing a gently trickling sound and fresh moving water.



What are the benefits of having a garden water feature?

There’s more to a garden water feature than meets the eye; check out these ten fantastic benefits of having a water feature in your garden:

  1. They’re aesthetically pleasing and allow you to play with colour, texture, movement, and shape. A great water feature will stand out against your garden’s foliage and you can use it to create focal points around any outdoor space. If you want to draw attention to one spot, go with a single fountain, or create several eye-catching spots with a trickling waterfall.
  2. They make your garden experience even more tranquil: these days, we’re on constant alert and are often in desperate need of something to relax us. The soothing sound of a stream or waterfall calms the brain, offering an effect similar to that achieved through meditation. Spending any amount of time outside is great, but the benefits are even greater when your outdoor area is so effective at relieving anxiety and stress.
  3. You can create something unique to you. Gardens are a fantastic way to express your creativity and taste, and a water feature provides even more ways to do so. Whether you choose muted colours to allow your flowers to stand out or prefer the idea of something bright and expressive, the choice is yours.
  4. They engage another sense: Most gardens, even the most beautiful garden can only engage our senses of sight and smell. With a water feature, the sense of hearing is engaged, with the sound of trickling water heightening the already engaging experience of being in the garden. The calming sounds of gently moving water can also serve as a noise blocker which may serve as a welcome relief if you live near a busy road.
  5. You won’t have to worry about much maintenance. Ponds, fountains, and waterfalls continuously recirculate water from within, limiting how much water is used and reducing the chances of stagnant water causing excessive bacteria growth. Aside from having your installer initially fill up your water feature, it’s almost entirely maintenance-free once established. Even fish ponds largely take care of themselves – the larger the body of water, the better it will take care of itself.Benefits
  6. They attract wildlife. Before long, you might notice that birds, dragonflies, and other small creatures visit your garden, adding to a sense of harmony and peace around you. Who doesn’t love the idea of enhancing the natural ecosystem in their back garden?
  7. You don’t need a massive garden to benefit from a water feature. They’re more flexible than you’d imagine! Water features come in all shapes and sizes- if you have a smaller garden, you can opt for a miniature fountain or if you have a larger space, you can use waterfalls to create multiple “zones” within your garden.
  8. They can add value to your home. A well-kept and properly designed landscape can drive up the value of a home by adding curb appeal. This makes your home more likely to sell for more, provided the new buyers are happy to continue maintaining your water feature. If you’re looking to sell your home and know that a prospective buyer is a fan of classic art, then a fountain with statues of muses or animals may mean you’re on to a winner!
  9. You’ll benefit from cleaner air. A water feature filters the air by attracting bacteria, pollen, germs, and dust particles and through the formation of filtering water vapors. With global pollution levels rising each year, more and more people are looking to their own gardens as ways of breathing cleaner air.
  10. They add a talking and focal point. As the evening winds down and you and your guests have finished eating, there will be inevitable lulls in conversation. The addition of a water feature gives you and your guests something to focus on and talk about when you’re entertaining. With the gentle sound of water in the background, any awkward silences between people who don’t know each other as well will be a lot less awkward.

Water Garden Benefits


What should I know before getting a water feature?

While any new garden project is exciting, it is important to be realistic when investing in a garden water feature. Here are a few things to consider before having one installed:


The size of your garden: a water feature should be the right scale for a garden. A large pond would look amazing in a two-acre plot but would shrink a smaller garden. Make sure you leave space for any patio furniture, a shed, and any other features that would make your garden more enjoyable. Similarly, if you’ve got the space, don’t be afraid to go big – water features make a big impact, look luxurious, and the bigger they are, the less you’ll have to worry about algae and other issues that can develop quickly in very small water features in direct sunlight.


Your garden’s current layout: is it possible to move anything around to make space for a water feature, or is everything literally set in stone? Consider how your garden is laid out when planning where your water feature will go. It’s a good idea to avoid putting your water feature too close to overhanging trees and shrubs so there’s less risk of leaves falling into the water feature and clogging any spouts or filters.

Your current garden layout may also affect the cost of the project – if you want to replace a flowerbed or lawn, most of the work will be digging a hole, but if you want to replace a patio or deck, there will be a lot more work to do.


Your garden lighting: you’d be surprised how much there is to think about when it comes to garden lighting. While some lights can be easily moved, you may need to consider where your water feature will go if your lights are installed into the decking or walls. Do your garden lights pave the way back inside? Do you have a lit-up path or wall lights? Are they solar-powered?

Lighting can change the way we perceive something, so if you want to make a fountain look big and grand, under-lighting it will do that. Similarly, if you want to minimize the visual imposition of a stream, place lights around it or over it.


Your design taste: do you want your water feature to blend in with nature or be the star of the show? If you like the natural look, opt for a water feature made with slate, stone, or even bamboo.

If you’d like to add contrast between nature and your water feature, go with a ceramic, concrete, or copper sculptural fountain. Classic water features with cherubs and small statues look great when placed amongst plants, but in more modern settings, you might want to look at materials like concrete and glass.

Whatever you choose, you want to ensure that your water feature’s material and style work well with the rest of your garden so it doesn’t look out of place.


The availability of water to be used in your garden: If you’re looking into a moving water feature, you’ll likely have to invest in a water pump and sort out an electric supply to drive it. If you’d rather do something a little more eco-friendly, you could also look into water features with solar-powered pumps.


The kind of sound you’d like from your water feature: While the primary sense a garden should engage is the sense of sight, it’s good to factor in the sound, too. When you’re planning your water feature installation, you also want to consider why you’re making this addition to your garden. If you live on a relatively busy street, a tall fountain or waterfall will reduce noise pollution. If you live in the countryside and want to echo the sound of a gently trickling brook, a stream might be a better option.

What should I know


Final thoughts

Whether you’ve got a large outdoor space to work with or want to enhance a smaller garden, a stream, pond, or fountain is an excellent way to do so. It adds drama and class while maintaining the peaceful feeling of a quiet garden.

When done right, a water feature can transform a garden entirely, taking it from a nondescript outdoor space to a magical space where you can relax and feel restored.

If you love the idea of having a beautiful garden but don’t fancy all the digging, pruning, and potting of gardening, a water feature is the perfect way to elevate your garden.

Installing a water feature isn’t often something you can DIY; if you’re looking to get a water feature in Essex, we’re here to help. Our expert team can help guide you through the process of your garden redesign to ensure you come out with a garden you truly love using. To find out more about our garden design services, click here.


While not everyone has the luxury of having a sprawling garden to design, small gardens come with the bonus of requiring less maintenance. Small gardens can feel a little uninspiring, so today we’re going to share 14 small garden design ideas you can use in your own garden, or at the very least, spark your imagination for what you can do in your own small space.


14 Design Ideas for Small Gardens

Even the smallest of gardens can be arranged in a more functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing way. Small doesn’t have to mean limiting if you’re creative enough! Let’s look at 14 ways you can make the most of your compact garden, no matter where in the country you live:


1. Create multiple spaces using zoning.

Doing something that separates areas within the garden might seem counter-intuitive, but it can make a space look even bigger. By enlisting a design technique known as “zoning,” you can create visual interest and turn your garden into a multi-purpose area.

There are several ways to create zones within even the smallest garden: you can use potted plants, small, clipped hedges, walls, or screens to differentiate between areas. You can also use different materials from one corner to the next; not only will this create more visual space but it’ll also create the effect of several different spaces within one.

If you’re considering having decking installed in your garden, it’s best to have it installed horizontally to create a sense of additional space.

small garden design ideas


2. Light the path to your garden and let your lighting create a cozy atmosphere.

Use small lights on the floor, within a hedge, or overhead of a path to create depth. This lighting should be subtle – you don’t want to emulate the look of a football pitch! Soft solar lights can be underwhelming, but you’re looking for the soft glow they create.

For the sitting or dining area, a string of outdoor fairy lights around your sitting area or overhead creates just the right atmosphere when the sun is setting on a warm summer day and looks romantic when you’re looking out of the window in the depths of winter.


3. Consider going ‘grass-free’.

A typical garden has grass on the ground and a brick wall, but this design trick can make any garden look fantastic: try hardscaping with plenty of plants on the walls or fence, or use a hedge.

While this may sound strange at first, it’s a great way to reduce the cluttered look of a garden, making each design choice look deliberate. It also helps you reduce the amount of maintenance work you need to do. When possible, create multiple levels in the garden as it helps create a greater sense of space, and if you want areas for planting, raised beds add visual interest while also being more practical.

For your living walls, you can attach wall planters, allow climbing plants to grow up your boundary (just remember that this will put additional strain on your fence panels, or plant tall shrubs or small trees by the fence line. Fruit trees and bay trees are popular choices here.



4. Use oversized planters in urban gardens.

If you’re partial to a little light gardening, you can use oversized planters around the edge of your garden. Here, you can use your imagination and choose whatever plants you’d like for your planters. Opt for lavender, rosemary, mint, and fennel for hardy herbs, plant foxgloves and cornflowers for color, or opt for something like bamboo for year-round beauty and privacy. Place or build-in benches in front of these planters to incorporate an area to relax and entertain.

oversized planters


5. Use mirrors to create a sense of more space.

A trend of using mirrors outdoors has emerged over the last few years, and for a good reason. The use of garden mirrors cleverly adds the sense of more space, with window- or door-like “portals” into another space. Garden mirrors are significantly cheaper and less prone to breakage than indoor mirrors, so this is also an inexpensive trick you can create with some trellis, a mirror, and a few climbing plants to add a natural “frame” effect. The result is well worth the effort!

mirror garden


6. Embrace the tropical.

Think of your favorite (or dream) holiday destination – do you remember your fondest weeks in the sun? You can emulate those memories at home. If your favorite place to visit is hot and tropical, consider replicating this look through the use of trees. A potted palm tree lends any garden space an air of exotic coolness, while an olive tree brings a sense of Mediterranean vitality. Small trees also serve as an excellent divider if you’re looking to create distinct areas within your garden. If you only have room for one statement tree, place it in a back corner and add decking around it, with a built-in bench for relaxing with a good book, cup of tea, or glass of wine.

Embrace the tropical


7. Create a Zen garden.

When it’s warm outside and all you want to do is sit and soak up the sun, what better place to do it than your very own Zen garden? These Japanese-style gardens aren’t typically huge anyway, so you’re right on trend if you’re working with a smaller space. Use miniature versions of potted trees like Japanese maples, bonsai plants, and even apple blossom trees to create an oriental feel in your garden. If you’re not a fan of grass maintenance, consider replacing part of your garden’s grass with a graveled area. Pairing these Asian trees with simple bamboo furniture is an excellent way of making a small space feel airy and spacious.

zen garden


8. Raise part of your garden with decking.

Raising your dining area or seating space onto a deck will separate it from the rest of the garden, making it the ideal alfresco living space. If you’re struggling to decide which part of your garden to raise with decking, find a nook where you might like to eat, drink, or relax with a book without feeling too overlooked by your neighbors. If you can, raise it a full foot or two, but don’t go higher than that if your garden is short front to back – you’ll end up making your garden feel smaller.



9. Build-in a U-shaped seat in the bottom half of your garden.

By creating a designated seating area by your home, you effectively create an area to sit and relax, and the second area of your garden, beyond the seating, can be used for gardening, for growing vegetables, for a pond, pergola with a barbecue, or summerhouse. Make sure the seating reaches at least the ⅓ point into the middle of the garden, otherwise it won’t create enough of a divider.



10. Think up!

It’s important to make use of every square inch of your garden if it’s on the smaller side. By making use of vertical space on the back of your house and the boundary, you bring the eye up, helping to prevent the temptation for the eye to run along the ground to the boundary.

If you’ve got access to a wall or strong fence, consider fixing planters or shelving to it for plants, lanterns, and tools. If you don’t have room for a whole shelving unit, you can always install hooks and opt for hanging baskets instead.

small garden design ideas


11. Try a water feature.

There’s nothing more relaxing than the sound of flowing water, and a water feature is a beautiful focal point in a small garden. There are endless possibilities here – from a long flowing channel with steps down for the water to flow over down to the end, a pond, a raised trough with spouts, a more traditional statue flowing down into a pond, or even just pebbles below.

water feature


12. Create layers of plants in your garden.

Sometimes, an abundance of accessories, furniture, and plants, can make an outdoor space feel cluttered, but it can also work the other way. Combine ground-level beds and raised beds to add layers and height, suggesting that the space boasts much more foliage than it really does.

layers of plants


13. Add some pots on your hardscaping for added shape.

If you’re more of a potted plant person than a gardening aficionado, the selection of planters and pots is your time to shine! To create a nice blend of similar hues, go for pots and flowers within the same palette. For example, if you’re thinking of planting lavender and pink tulips, you can echo that pastel tone with baby blue pots or powder yellow outdoor accessories.

For a splash of excitement and variation, look out for plant pots with different patterns, textures, and tones. You can group your larger plants in twos and threes or space them out around the garden at varying height levels. The colors you choose for your plants and their hangers can either complement or contrast with the other colors you use for outdoor furniture, rugs, cushions, and lighting.

small garden design ideas


14. Don’t be afraid of curves.

It can be tempting to stick to right angles in a small garden, but don’t be afraid to try curves. If your garden is square, try a sweeping path that takes you to a seating area in the middle, with a circular paved area under a pergola. Plant up around the curved path to the rear and lay the front of the seating area with a curved grass area, surrounded by more plants. Opt for low-maintenance plants and an artificial lawn if you want to keep things easy.

Whether you’ve chosen a home with a smaller garden because you don’t have time for maintenance or it’s simply what was within your budget, there’s always something you can do to make your outdoor space look great. You can create cohesion between your home’s interior and your garden or you can opt for something totally different.

By using some of the tips we shared above, you can turn your outdoor space into somewhere you’re proud to bring family and friends. With a new and improved outdoor area, you’ll soon have more options for entertaining on warmer days, where before you might not have had the space for guests. If you’re not sure how to implement these tips in your garden design, our design team can help.

Don’t be afraid of curves

Expert in Small Garden Design Ideas

If you live in Essex and are thinking of updating your garden, we’re here to help. Our highly skilled team has been transforming unexciting outdoor spaces into beautiful and functional gardens for years.

SE Landscapes specialises in garden design and build. So, if you’re ready for your garden to be transformed into something fantastic, click here to learn more.

Even the smallest of spaces can include a self-contained feature to bring water into the garden and extend the range of plants grown. However, water features can sometimes be difficult to maintain. When planning a garden water feature, the following factors should be considered:



Site a pond in a sheltered, sunny spot well away from deciduous tress whose fallen leaves will pollute the water in autumn. Usually informal ponds are best located in depressions or low points, never on top of a mound. Formal ponds can be located at high or low points. Streams obviously start at higher ground and run to a lower point. The start and finish of a stream should normally be hidden from view, usually with heavy plantings. Water features create a focal point in your garden and will be better appreciated where they can be seen.



The bigger the pond, the easier it will be to keep the water clear. Pools under 2x3m are most likely to be susceptible to green water. If a pond is too shallow, it will be difficult to develop a balanced ecology that will keep the water, animal and plant life in a healthy, self-sustaining condition. Ponds should be at least 35 centimetres (or 14 inches) deep.


Moving or Still Water

Moving water can be used as either a fountain, waterfall or stream. Moving water will require a pump, and while that is an added expense, moving water is much easier to keep clean. It is also easier to grow fish and plants in.


Types of Water Feature

• Wildlife ponds
• Fountains
• Pebble pools
• Wall water features
• Dry stream features
• Tub pools


Type of Pond Lining to Use

• Concrete
• Brick or stone
• Fibreglass
• Fabric pool liner
• Waterproofing the ground


Maintaining Healthy Water Quality

Water can be cleaned either by using chemicals, filters or by improving the biology of the pond or stream. Where persistent water quality problems exist, filtration may be the only solution. This can be achieved using two different types of filter; physical or biological. With physical filters, water is pumped through a physical barrier which filters out waste products, algae build ups and helps oxygenate the water. With biological filters, water passes through a bed containing materials such as gravel, scoria and sand. The microorganisms present in these materials break down impurities and remove them from the water.


Pond Plantation

Pond Plantation must be carefully chosen as different plants prefer different environments. For example, some prefer to have their feet wet, some to remain on the margin of a pond or some prefer to have their stems fully submerged with just the flower of the plant on the surface of the water.



Looking for professional garden design in Essex? Our team of creative and talented designers will put together a complete landscape solution that will transform your garden into a unique your outdoor living space. Call us today on 01245 80 71 80 for a free consultation or click here for more information.



Water Feature Essex


Even in small gardens, ponds are beautiful and ever-changing features that provide an ideal environment for moisture-loving plants and a habitat for wildlife. Most gardens only have space for a small pond but there are many different possibilities and variations that can be used when it comes to creating a pond for your own garden.


It doesn’t need to be a difficult task to build a pond but it is important to do the job properly and use quality materials. Here is a short guide to help you build a pond using flexible liner.


1. Firstly, decide upon the size and shape of the pond and mark it out using a hosepipe. To work out how much liner you will need, measure the maximum depth of the pond. Then multiply the depth by 2 and add this number to the length and the width allowing a little extra for the liner to sink. When buying liner, make sure you choose a good quality material such as butyl.
2. Dig out the shape, leaving a planting shelf of approximately 30cm deep around the edges to allow for the planting of marginals. Or, if you are looking to create a wildlife pond, give the sides a gentle slope.
3. Next, spread a layer of soft sand around the hole to prevent stones piercing the liner.
4. Spread the liner out to cover the hole and begin to fill with water. As the water level rises the liner will begin to sink under the weight so you will need to adjust the excess material to suit.
5. Hide the edges of the liner either by burying it into the ground and covering with pondside plants or alternatively you can lay paving to cover the join.



If you are looking to build a water feature in Essex we are here to help. We design and install custom water features for clients throughout Essex. To arrange for a free consultation call our friendly team today on 01245 80 71 80.



Garden Maintenance Chelmsford


Here are a few tips to help you maintain a healthy garden pond:


• Use a fountain, waterfall or biological filter to help keep the water clean and oxygenated if you have fish.
• Use pond netting during autumn and winter to prevent dead leaves from rotting and fouling the water.
• Using Ramshorn snails will help keep the water clean by feeding on plant material and fish waste.
• If you have Canadian pondweed you will need to thin it out every few weeks or so during the summer to prevent it from choking the water.
• Remove spotty or decaying leaves of waterlillies and marginal plants otherwise they will foul the water.
• Deadhead flowering plants during summer to encourage more flowers. Leave flower heads intact if you want to attract birds into the area.
• Keep an eye out for algae and treat accordingly.
• Remove all marginal plant foliage as it fades to prevent decomposition in the water.
• Leave waterlily foliage to rot away naturally. The oily scum that appears on the water will disappear naturally.
• Just before winter sets in, remove the plants growing in containers and put them in a frost free place such as a shed or green house.


Are you looking for a local gardener in Chelmsford? Our friendly and reliable team of Essex based garden maintenance staff can take away all the hard work and stress that maintaining your garden brings. Why not give us a call on 01245 80 71 80 and arrange for a free consultation today.



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