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Water features

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A wall fountain can be as simple as a tile spout that funnels water into a cistern.

Nearly everyone loves water features. Like a mirror, the glassy surface of a still pool reflects the blue sky and shifting patterns of clouds. Water ripples with the slightest breeze and sparkles in the sunlight. The sound of moving water is always soothing; it is especially refreshing on a hot day.

I once thought having a water feature in my garden would require a major investment of time and money, as well as a lot of space. I was wrong. There’s a water feature suitable for any size garden. Whether it’s a tiny container water garden, a constructed waterfall, or a soothing fishpond, a water feature can make your garden more inviting.

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No garden is too small for water. You don’t need to install a pond; any watertight vessel can be transformed into a water garden. Appealing options include kettles, urns, glazed pots, and stone troughs. Millstones make attractive fountains, and there are many distinctive carved-stone and concrete fountains and basins, available from specialty garden centers.

Basically, anything that holds water is fair game for a container water garden; it can be small enough to sit on a tabletop or as big as a barrel or trough. The secret is to find a pot without holes in the bottom or to plug any holes so the water won’t drain out. Add some plants, and some fish, too if you like.

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If you want the sound of trickling water, place a small, submersible pump at the bottom of your container. These are low-voltage, waterproof units, and all you have to do is plug them into a nearby outlet. They recycle water through the pump and through a “jet” tube that can be topped with various heads for different fountain effects.

Another benefit of water gardening is that wildlife flocks to water like obsessed gardeners to a rare-plant sale. Dragonflies dart through the garden on gossamer wings, and frogs lull you to sleep with their curious serenade.

Use your water feature as a focal point in a garden bed, or at the end of a vista. Place a basin where you can view it from a window, surrounded with contrasting plant forms. Try a simple reservoir of still water or add a bubbler for sound and motion. You can also float glass balls on the water’s surface to create moving sculptures and dancing reflections. Water features are magical, whether you choose a simple birdbath, a still reflecting pool, or an ornate fountain.

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