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Water features


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.


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.


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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