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Choose the best type of water feature for a garden

When the sun's shining and the air is warm, we are all drawn naturally to water. Most people can't resist dipping fingers into a cool pond and the sound of trickling and sprinkling attract people like a magnet. There's a practical side to adding a pond to a garden too. Water, particularly if it's moving, cools the air around it. Tempted to add a pond to your garden? DO IT, it's probably a lot easier than you think!

Ponds have many different benefits and cooling the air for us is just one positive aspect. The next is wildlife - they need water too. Birds drink from ponds; insects lay their eggs; and frogs and newts soon colonise a natural pond. Plants move in too, but you can choose the best varieties to ensure that they don't consume too much area. A pond can transform the atmosphere. It creates reflections, adds interest, movement and bounces the light around. What's not to love about water in a garden?

Safety comes first

So, how do you do it? Ponds can be as simple as you please. The main consideration is safety and it's important to remember that small children and even vulnerable adults can drown in just a tiny amount of water. If your garden is likely to be accessed by people in these categories it should always be carefully supervised. There are also plenty of grill or cover options that work well too.

What you choose will depend on your space and style. Formal ponds look great in a garden that matches and these would generally be square, rectangular or circular.



I‍nformal gardens, for example, might benefit from having an irregularlly-shaped pond. Naturalistic gardens could accommodate a bog-garden that culminates in a shallow pond, offering the very best conditions for wildlife. Bog gardens would ideally be situated in low-lying depressions in the ground so that rainwater is encouraged to drain down into them.


If you want fish in your pond, you'll need to provide some shade. Even water lily pads floating on the surface will suffice, provided there's enough of them. Ideally you will cover two thirds of the surface. But they don't like moving water so any trickling or splashing water feature will have to be positioned away from the lily pads. Beware of over-feeding your fish because decomposition of food in warmer weather will increase ammonia levels.


Pond construction and positioning

There are rigid liners and flexible pond liners which need to be sunk down into the ground, also free-standing water features, which could be just a simple bowl. Some people who have heavy clay soil will be able to create a pond which doesn't need any sort of artificial container - but the ground will need to be carefully 'puddled' or compacted to make sure the clay is smeared together in order to create a waterproof base.

All these have varying degrees of attraction. If simplicity is the aim, a container filled with water will suffice. Make sure there's an easy escape route for wildlife. This can be provided by rocks, plants or a sloping side with enough grip to make it non-slip.


Things to avoid when creating a pond

  • Artificial rock formations which rarely look authentic;
  • Gushing water features that sound at best like a sewer and at worst, like a urinating horse;
  • Intricately balanced urns trickling into each other, with a cable leading to the mains;
  • Ponds flanked by an ugly box containing a filter and pump;
  • Any sign of cables and pumps;
  • A water feature sitting in a bare landscape or monoculture lawn - it can look as if it's dropped out of the sky!
What are the three main achievements to aim for, when making a pond?
  • Harmony within the setting;
  • Intrigue, often achieved by planting so that you can't see the whole feature in one glance;
  • Simplicity. Overly-ornate pond features are only at home in a highly decorative setting - such as Baroque gardens


Where will it go?

Firstly, decide why you want a pond or water feature and what you want to use it for. This will affect the positioning of your pond, and the design. You might want to sit on the edge with a glass of wine or to have it close to an eating area so that your guests can hear the trickling water.

If it's for wildlife, you will probably want it to be discreet and it can be tucked away where disturbance will be minimal.

Whatever you choose, make sure it blends with the style of the garden. For example, try to avoid the creation of a country stream within your modern, city garden. You'll probably want to create a restful scene that fits in with the surroundings but beware of adding something that appears it fell randomly from the sky. Avoid overhanging deciduous trees which will give you a lot of maintenance during the autumn and choose a site where there is some sun.  

Other considerations

Lighting. You can use lighting in a creative way in order to make an impact in and around your pond. Submerged LEDs are effective in a formal pond, and gentle lighting of planting around the pond can also looks amazing.

Within a moving water feature you would be wise to use larger pipes rather than small diameter, where possible. This will save you a lot of maintenance as smaller pipes tend to get clogged up. Incorporate a drain into your pond so that you can clean it periodically. Test a fountain for sound as well as appearance before you buy - you don't want to upset the neighbours!

Do a bit of research before buying a water pump. Go for an energy-efficient pump, maybe with a timer or motion sensor. Consider solar pumps too. But remember, these will need a solar panel in order to catch the rays. Most importantly, make sure your pond is pleasing to your eye. You'll want to spend as much time around it as possible! Enjoy.

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By Perfect Plants


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