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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.