Large or small, a water feature will enhance your garden. With a little planning, a water feature can be installed in an afternoon or a weekend, depending on its size and the effect you wish to create.
Complete kits containing all the supplies you need are available, or you can design and install your own. Here are some points to take into account when you are still in the planning stage.
Choosing the site
If you are planning on having water plants in your feature, choose a site that gets at least four to six hours of direct sunlight a day. Locate a pond away from trees and plants to minimize the amount of debris that falls into it. When you are going to dig into the soil for medium to large ponds make sure that you avoid areas with underground cables or pipes. Pick a spot close to an electrical source to run pumps and lighting.
Type of feature
Water features vary in many ways and you will need to do a bit of research to ensure that the site you have chosen, the feature you envisage putting there, and your style of garden all suit each other. A flower bed might just need a grinding stone or birdbath; a front entrance: a pot with cascading water or a small fountain; a larger area could accommodate a preformed shape or a flexible liner pond – the range is vast. To choose a feature that suits your garden style consider something rectangular or square for a formal garden, while curved lines or oval shapes would suit a more informal garden. Also ensure that the feature will be in the right proportion and scale to its surroundings.
Plants and fish
Medium to large ponds must not be too shallow because they heat up too easily, sometimes to the detriment of fish and plants. Consider the conditions in your area – if it gets so cold that water freezes then your plant selection will be limited and fish need to be protected. Submersible and marginal plants add interest to a pond and also act as natural filters to keep the pond clean. In the beginning don’t overload your pond with plants and fish; otherwise they will grow quickly and exceed the pond’s carrying capacity.
Paving, rocks, stone, plants and fish serve to integrate a water feature into the environment. Artistically-placed ornaments and lighting can further enhance the area.
Deciding on products
For flowing or circulating water and to prevent water from becoming stagnant a pump is necessary. Choose the pump based on the amount of water in your pond and your requirements – for example if you want to create a waterfall a bigger pump is required. Various attachments (fountainheads) are available to give you different fountain effects. Pumps, biological filters, UV lamps, pre-shaped and flexible liners are available in various sizes and capacities. Ask you local garden centre for advice and read The Gardener’s water gardening section every month for the latest on water features.