As water is one of the basic elements of life, it seems somehow to complete a garden, however large or small. A still pool can bring a sense of calm, especially if there is an open expanse of water that reflects a portion of the sky, while the gentle gurgle or splash of a flowing fountain can add a soothing distraction from unwelcome noise elsewhere.
1. A pot
Any watertight pot of a good size can be turned into a mini-pond. Surround it with lush planting to integrate it and add one or two aquatic plants to help keep the water algae-free.
2. A wildlife pond
An informal wildlife pond calls for some clever camouflaging: it is essential to make the edges look as natural as possible and to disguise the butyl liner required to make it watertight. Use natural stone if you can and create a beach effect at one side with cobbles and/or small stones and gravel.
3. A solar water feature
Solar powered water features are both an energy efficient and eco-friendly option to consider when designing your garden. Solar water features draw power from sunlight via solar panels. These panels can either be on the fountain itself or can be separated from it using a cable. Separated solar panels allow you to put the water feature where you like, as long as the panels are in direct sunlight. Fountains with panels attached must be placed in the sunniest spot in your garden. Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells which convert the sun’s energy into electricity.
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4. A large pot
A large Chinese pot makes a self-contained pond in a partially sunny, sheltered spot, provided it is frostproof or at least fleeced when a freeze is expected. Dwarf water lilies are most suited to this size of pot – try white-flowered Nymphaea tetragona, yellow N. ‘Pygmaea Helvola’ or apricot-orange N. ‘Aurora’.
5. A stream
A stream is perhaps the ultimate water feature in a garden. If you are fortunate enough to have one, you can enhance it with carefully chosen planting along its margins. Vary the leaf shapes for contrast, using sword-like plants such as variegated Acorus gramineus and white or blue Iris laevigata and yellow I. pseudacarus, alongside glossy-leaved pickerel weed Pontederia cordata, which bears pale blue flower spikes.
6. Copper pipes
A trio of copper pipes, evenly spaced, can create a soothing splash as water pours into a slate-lined pool. Site where high winds won’t blow the water off target and use a submersible pump to re-circulate the water.
7. A sink or bath
A ceramic Belfast sink makes an excellent small pond. Position it to get good light but not full, all-day sunshine. Seal any drainage holes with silicone and provide a leg-up for wildlife with bricks, logs or a wooden ramp. An old bath can look just as good if you have a the space.
8. A half-barrel
A half-barrel is ideal where space is limited. Submerge its base, as the earth acts as insulation and makes it less likely to freeze in winter. Add marginal plants such as Iris laevigata and bulrush-like Typha minima in aquatic baskets.
9. A fountain mask
A fountain mask above a stone trough or sink will give a relaxing trickle of water – especially welcome near a seating area. This lion’s head has been garlanded with honeysuckle and clematis with a ruff of hostas in front.
10. Japanese gardens
Japanese gardens are traditionally serene, with water an integral part of the calming design. Evoke a similar atmosphere by introducing a few Japanese features, such as cobbles, bamboo poles, a stone lantern and dipping bowl.
11. A raised pond
A raised pond provides a still body of water that reflects both the sky and the planting around it. Here, the effect has been created using corten steel tanks. Starting out as blue steel, the material gradually weathers to this rich rust colour, forming a patina that protects against further corrosion.
Top tips for pond care
- Install a pump (have it done professionally) to re-circulate water and provide a continuous flow
- Experiment with water-flow rate to achieve a pleasing sound from a running tap or fountain
- Net your pond before autumn leaves begin to fall to prevent them from clogging the water
- Combat algae growth by floating a mesh bag of barley straw; remove when it turns black
- Make your garden pond reflective with fish-safe dye such as Dyofix Pond Black or Blue
- Top up the water level in dry weather using rainwater, if possible, collected in a butt