When designing gardens for my customers I typically go through a list of the main options that clients might wish to include in their design, which helps to create the design brief and it's perhaps no surprise that water features often tend to be high on a client's wish list.

Water features are an extremely attractive feature to have in any garden, and as a design element, the idea dates back thousands of years. Anyone visiting a historic garden will witness that pretty much every garden will have a water feature of some kind, somewhere. As along with the gardens themselves, they were often an expression of wealth.

“What style of water feature do you want”?

On a more practical level, water features offer benefits in many different ways. Primarily, a natural water features bring significant benefits to wild life in a garden and subsequently to the owner. This particular avenue also opens up the design to a much wider spectrum of considerations. These will include but not be limited to;

  • How will it be constructed – Butyl or EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) liner, pre-cast or even concrete
  • Site suitability. If the site is sloping it will add complexity to the build and design.
  • Choices of aquatic and marginal plants, which subsequently introduces a greater range of insects and birdlife to a garden.
  • Will the effect of moving water within the design have an impact of the type of plant that can be used?
  • Are fish going to be part of the feature?

Natural water features come with more complexity. It is also true, that natural water features and ponds will increase the level of maintenance significantly. Personally, I'm an advocate of natural ponds. It's just a more complex journey and probably the subject of a future blog.

 Garden Designer in Essex and Suffolk

 “Unnatural" Water Features

If you prefer to keep maintenance to a more modest level then many other benefits are still achievable with (for want of a better decription) an ‘unnatural' water feature.

One very important aspect is the sound generated by moving water. Whether this is through a cascade, waterfall or fountain. The sound of moving water will deliver a sense of peace and tranquility in your garden and this facet can also be achieved through a more straightforward ‘off the shelf' water feature system. There are literally hundreds of this type of water feature to choose from. These systems can be simple ‘self-contained' units (shown right) or put together using off the shelf components (shown below), as water features with moving water all contain the same 4 components. A sump, a pump, an outlet and the decorative feature itself.



 Garden Designer in Essex and Suffolk

    Garden Designer in Essex and Suffolk

It is important before installing a water feature that all considerations have been taken into account, these are as follows:

  • Is there electricity available near the site of the water feature? This would appear obvious but if power is some distance away the cost of bringing it to the feature could start to mount up.
  • As with a natural pond, site suitability is still relevant.
  • What type of water feature should I buy? Anyone who has ever looked into this will recognize that is a broad question, as there are (as mentioned earlier), hundreds to choose from. The important thing to remember is; will the feature you choose sit comfortably within the surroundings of your existing garden?
  • For example; a modern minimalist garden would need something with clean linear lines made from modern materials such as steel, glass or chrome or even a modern stone with clean lines. A cottage garden would require something much more rustic. If you are planning of having your garden re-designed then the designer will steer you in the right direction.
  • Another point to consider is the sound. The sound of moving water in a garden brings a new dimension and has a significant effect on one's mental well-being. Water features can range from a gentle ‘bubbling' effect with minimal sound to a noisier cascade. If you are lucky enough to live in a quiet area you may find the sound of a noisy cascade quite annoying over time, defeating the original objective but sound can also be used for what is known as ‘white noise', which is where the noise of a water feature can mitigate the sound of other noises you may not wish to constantly hear in your garden like local traffic. It won't obliterate the noise but it can interfere with it sufficiently to make ambient sound more pleasing.
  • Maintenance. Even the simplest of water features will require maintenance even if it's changing the water or cleaning the pump. Usually, the bigger and more elaborate the design, the higher the level of maintenance
  • Finally, your budget. Water features come in a mirage of choice, catering for all budgets from small ‘polyresin' or ‘cast stone' self-contained features to large, bespoke, ‘built-on-site' water features. Prices can be anything from a just below a hundred pounds to many tens of thousands for a handmade or landscaped design feature.

Overall water features are a great addition to a gardens design so if it's a major part of having your garden redesigned, enjoy the journey!!!