Thinking about adding a water feature to your garden?

A fountain inside a cermic pot in a tropical garden

A water feature, whether large or small, brings so many wonderful new aspects to your outdoor spaces.

Water, still or moving, adds tranquil and cooling effects, the sound of moving water is very calming providing white-noise that can dull down background distractions, such as traffic, sunlight playing on the water creates wonderful, near hypnotic ever-changing patterns. In short, they are a delight to so many of the senses.

There was a time, not that long ago, when adding a water feature was a messy affair.

Fishponds were most often made by digging a hole in the ground, lining this with sand or plastic, making a chicken-wire form and then layering on the concrete. Needless to say they were often pretty hit or miss projects. Chances are you can recall a pond in a yard somewhere that spent more time empty than full!

Well, technology and simplicity have caught up with water features and no longer do you need a conga-line of tradesmen to install one correctly. A water feature can simply be created by mixing and matching a range of easy to use products, putting them together and filling with water.

So if you’re considering anything whether it be a dainty little balcony fountain or a full-size fishpond read on for the answers to your water gardening questions.

What are my choices?

At the simplest level there are two types of water features – in-ground and freestanding.

These can then be still features – without a pump – or moving ones that use a pump to circulate water through filters, fountains or cascades. Both types have one thing in common – they need a leak-proof reservoir or receptacle to contain the water.

How do I add a freestanding water feature?

If you’re looking at a ‘pond-in-a-pot’ style feature the most popular option is to select all of the components individually to create a unique feature. All you’ll need is a pot or other receptacle that is, or can be, water sealed and a pump of suitable size. Then just add the extras like pebbles, plants and fish.

If I assemble one myself do I need a special reservoir or base?

You can buy ready-made bases in a range of shapes or you can create your own from just about any sort of pot or bowl as long as you can seal it and it can hold enough water for your needs. Sealing a pot can be as simple as plugging the drainage holes with a waterproof putty and then painting the inside with a pond waterproofing paint.

What if I want an in-ground pond?

Larger hardware stores, garden centres and water gardening specialists will stock a range of pre-formed ponds. These are generally plastic, such as low density polyethylene, or fibreglass with some moulded and coloured to look like very realistic rock ponds too. You simply dig your hole and drop one of these ponds in. Too easy!

 What about larger or free-form ponds?

If you really want to add something unique and special you can shape and seal your own pond easily using rubberised pond liner. Simple dig and shape your hole, line with sand if require and lay the liner before trimming it to size.

Do I need a pump?

The best ponds will always have a pump. Moving your water helps to keep it clean and healthy. Pumps will have a filter of one sort or another and this helps clean out larger, mobile material. The water movement oxygenates the water to keep it in perfect condition for fish and plants. Water movement also discourages pests like mozzies.

What can I use for my spout or fountainhead?

When you buy a pump most will come with a range of different heads from a spray-rose to an elegant water-bell. Try these out first as one may suit your needs. Otherwise you can create your fountainhead from just about anything as long as you can stick a pipe in one end and the water comes out the other!

For more elaborate water features you may want to build a rock cascade or mini waterfall. You’ll even find these come ready-made in lightweight, moulded rock-look fiberglass.

Where should I put my pond or water feature?
This will depend on what you plan to do with your pond. If you want to add almost any plants then you’ll need at least a bit of sun. If you want the flowering water plants, such as waterlilies, then you’ll need a spot with 4hrs or more a day of full sun.

Are ponds and water features easy to care for?

Absolutely. You will need to monitor your pond or feature, but this is as simple as keeping an eye out for any water changes, keeping water topped-up, especially in warmer weather, occasionally replacing around 20 to 25% of the water with fresh water and treating any problems that arise. AquaPro have an extensive range of safe and easy-to-use pond care products to make professional level care easy for you..

Are there other things to consider?

If you’re looking at a free-standing potted-pond on a deck do remember that water weighs 1kg per litre so a 100L feature with pot, gravel and plants could weigh as much as 100KG. A dead-weight such as this should be positioned over a bearer, preferably one with a post either directly underneath or nearby.

It’s worth knowing too that there are council restrictions on water depths that are allowable before fencing is required. Most pre-formed ponds have been designed with this in mind but do check with your local council.

Top Tips:

  • Whether freestanding or in-ground make sure your feature is level and stable.
  • When buying a pump make sure you know the maximum height you need to pump water to (the output point) and select a pump that will move an appropriate volume of water to that height.
  • If you include flowering plants, especially water lilies, you’ll need to ensure the pond or feature is positioned where it gets at least five hours of summer sun a day.
  • Include a couple of small fish in ponds, especially still ones, to ensure you don’t end up with a mosquito problem.

Pump Power

You’ll find pumps available in three power options;

Mains Powered – plug directly into a power point. This means that you will need an exterior power point close to the pond or feature and you will have a mains voltage power lead running to the pond.

Low Voltage – these pumps run on low-voltage, generally 24V or less, which is provided by a transformer that plugs into mains power. This means you won’t need a power-point as close to the pond and the power lead running through the garden will be low-voltage.

Solar Power – the perfect option when you don’t have easy access to power. Set-up your solar panels, drop your pump into the pond, run the lead, plug in and you’re off! These rigs use low-voltage pumps.