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How to design and build a pond or water feature


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

How to design and build a pond or water feature
A pond or water feature is a major project that will have a considerable impact on your garden. With the following guidence you can plan a design the whole family can enjoy. 

Plan water schemes for success

Take time to consider what you want from your water feature. This could be a comfortable place for sitting and relaxing with an area of decking or paving, or a more natural-looking feature to attract birds and other wildlife into your garden.
  • Create formal elegance with a large pool. A good position will be crucial to success, both visually and practically: an open, sunny site is far better than one overhung by trees. Construction — usually of concrete block-work walls and a concrete base — is probably a job for the professionals, but if you have the space the effect of a large expanse of still, reflecting water can be breathtaking.
  • Build a raised pond for easy maintenance. A rectangular, square or circular pond raised up from ground level with an overhanging edge that is wide enough to sit on makes a lovely garden feature that is eye-catching as well as practical. With no plants around the edges to care for, maintenance is straightforward.
  • Enjoy a sense of tranquillity with a rill. These slow-moving ‘streams’ contained within narrow channels are a traditional feature of formal gardens. They can work well in smaller spaces when combined with restrained planting and introduce gentle soothing movement to a garden.
  • Transform a small space with water. A wall-mounted spout and basin or letterbox-style waterfall will add soothing sounds of water to a town or city courtyard garden and muffle traffic noise. Position a small water feature close to a window if possible, so that you can appreciate it from indoors.

Enhance your water feature

beautiful water feature
Plan adequate access to new ponds and water features, and include space for seating so you can make the most of the opportunities for relaxation that water offers, and the effects you can achieve by understanding and exploiting its visual properties to best effect in your space.
  • Create illusions with water. Still water brings reflected light and an impression of space into a small garden. A pool with a black liner reflects light best and you can also add a special non-toxic black dye (in powder form) to the water for an even more reflective mirror-like surface — although you will need to be scrupulous about scooping out any floating debris to maintain the effect.
  • Choose the right surround to maximise light. Use light-coloured materials, such as pale paving, for the surround of a pool to enhance the illusion of light and space. Reflective surfaces such as stainless steel also work very well in contemporary spaces or you can paint the faces and edges of a raised concrete pool in white or another light colour for a cool, relaxing effect.
  • Add immediate interest with a crossing. Adding a crossing to even a small body of water brings interest and excitement to a garden. A bridge made of a simple, stout hardwood plank securely fixed at both ends is a straightforward option — or consider stepping-stones if the water is shallow. For a larger pond you could incorporate a bridge of timber boards, complete with a decorative handrail.
  • Save money by using free energy. Solar-powered pumps are improving all the time, and regular pumps as well,  and using one to power your water feature saves on the expense and upheaval involved in laying mains electricity as well as being more environmentally sustainable. Many pump and fountain kits now come with a solar-charged battery so that your fountain won't stop as soon as the sun goes in.

Make a family-friendly water feature 

Boy by pond
Water fascinates children, but toddlers can drown in a very small amount of it. If you have very young children or grandchildren, a bubble-jet feature is a safe choice and makes a fantastic focal point.
Features of this type have a jet of water spilling over a millstone or other large stone, or a pile of pebbles, with a safely concealed reservoir beneath from where the water is recycled. The water reservoir may be covered by pebbles, or take the form of a heavy-duty plastic tub sunk into the ground.
  • Provide a mini-pond for youngsters. Even though it is wise to wait until children are older before building any kind of large pond, a mini-pond in a large container, such as a half-barrel, is a great idea for youngsters, especially if it attracts frogs or other aquatic creatures to watch. Consider fitting it with a detachable metal grille across the surface for extra safety.
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