I’m looking to add a water feature to my garden. Any recommendations? What should I be aware of as I begin planning this? Should I do it? — Susan
Susan, close your eyes and imagine a summer day. You’ve got no plans but the sun is calling you to go outside. The page-turner you got from the library keeps running through your mind and you can think of nothing better than enjoying your day and relishing your book in the comfort of your garden. Does this perfect scenario need the trickle of a fountain to make it complete? Does slate blue water create the balance to the green around you? If a water feature jumps into your mind as you’ve been envisioning this perfect day, then it answers whether or not you should add it!
The Defining Piece
A water feature can be the defining piece of a garden, Susan. As long as you are prepared for the maintenance required, you should definitely consider it.
Adding a water feature can fit within almost any budget. It can include one of those clay basins you see at the hardware store. It can be an already-assembled piece you’ve seen more than once at the nursery. It could mean a waterfall in the corner of the yard or a stream that runs through your garden. It could even mean a pond or a swimming pool. The cost and amount of maintenance varies significantly between these options. The biggest question to consider is: what works for you? Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
On the Small Side
If you’re looking at a small fountain or contained water feature, be sure to keep in mind the kind of container you use, the types of plants you’d want, and your options for filters and pumps.
For the container, just about anything that can be waterproofed could work. You’ve surely seen ceramic and concrete options, but you can also think outside the box — a wine barrel might give your garden an added piece of character, for example.
Keep in mind what kind of plants (or animals) you want in your water feature. Water hyacinths can survive in shallower water whereas water lilies need much more. If you were thinking fish, you’d need even more water and enough space to fit a pump and filter.
A pump and filter system is generally a good idea as it oxygenates the water and make everything look better. When considering a pump, make sure you know how many gallons of water you want to have, and your ideal pace for the water to cycle through. You can find pumps and filters at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
On the Large Side
If you’re thinking about something bigger, you’ll need to dig a hole, spread out liner, place the pump, and fill in the pond.
When it comes to digging a hole. Map out what you want the feature to look like, to the point that you’re tracing it out on the ground. Then, dig deep enough to fit the pump and give your pond or pool the appropriate depth.
Once dug, you’ll want to lie out underlayment and liner. The underlayment protects the liner against rocks and roots, essentially working as a large seal. The liner becomes the floor of the water feature.
Next comes the pump. Make sure to set it at the correct height and keep it secure by placing rocks around it. Once placed, you can complete the rock decorations on the floor of the water feature.
At this point, you can add water, filling it up to the desired level before attaching the pump to the water source. At this point, if you have a fountain aspect to the water feature, plug it in and test it!
Finally, you can design the surroundings of the water feature, whether it’s more rocks or plants.
Water features can be the defining aspect of your garden, Susan. The place you want to go with a good book on a warm day. Hopefully some of these ideas can give you a head start!
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