A well-placed water feature has the potential to turn your garden into a more peaceful, tranquil space.
Why a water feature
Water features are unique in their ability to turn a garden into an incredibly meditative space. Whether you find the sound of moving water soothing or are captivated by the simple reflective qualities of still water, water features can act as focal points in a new garden or give an existing garden a new lease on life. And with so many ways to integrate a water feature into your garden design, you’re really only limited by your imagination. But incorporating a water feature into your garden requires a little thought and planning.
Style and effect
You really need to consider what effect you would like to achieve – visual or aural? Once you have decided, it’s time to choose a style that will create this effect, whether it’s a simple natural pond, a meandering stream or an elaborate fountain. You have to remember though, that whatever style you choose, it should always complement the other features in your garden, rather than detract from them.
Formal gardens tend to have a strong, geometric layout so a pond is the perfect choice as ponds are essentially just bodies of water framed by geometric shapes: usually rectangular, square or round. They’re often edged with concrete, paving, stone or bricks. They can be raised or sunk into the ground with a centrally placed statue or fountain to create a focal point. You should carefully consider the position of your pond. It is lovely in large, open, rural or semi-rural settings, to find a pond situated amongst manicured lawns, with a stand of trees planted behind it as a backdrop. Or if you have a small, urban space, you might like to use a pond to create a centrepiece for a patio or other paved area. Just make sure you choose plants to complement the formal framework rather than overcrowd it. Simplicity is key!
Oriental or natural themed garden
If you have an oriental or natural themed garden, you could create a more informal style of pond using irregular, curved shapes. The trick is to get it to blend into its surroundings. Edge it with natural stone, rocks and boulders and soften the boundaries with plants and pebbles. A deck or platform can easily be incorporated into this style of water feature, creating a pleasant spot to sit and enjoy it or providing access around it. And if you want to put fish and aquatic plants in your pond, remember that both require regular maintenance. Wait at least a month before introducing fish so that plants have time to establish themselves. If you introduce fish prematurely, they can disrupt the plants’ growth and cloud the water by disturbing the soil and compost.
A decorative feature – there are three broad groups of aquatic plants: those that float on the surface, those that take root on the bottom of the pond, but have leaves that float on the surface and marginal plants the raise their leaves and flowers above water. Oxygenating – all aquatic plants grow under the water and provide oxygen, which is vital if the other plants (not to mention fish!) are to thrive. An oxygen-starved pond will also be murky and prone to algae. Planting formula – if there are too many plants covering the surface, the oxygen levels of the water drop. The rule of thumb is to cover no more than a third of the water surface. Also, plants that are overcrowded tend to fall victim to pests and disease more easily. But ponds are just one of many ways to incorporate a water feature in your garden design. You could also consider overflowing urns, pots or bamboo spouts. Or if you are lucky enough to have the space, streams, waterfalls and ornamental lakes are all beautiful options.