Bring the sound of water to your outdoor space to enhance its restorative, biophilic properties.
Image: A fountain brings movement and sound to a custom raised pond in this design by Henry Scott of Pehrsson Scott.
For some, a water feature in a garden may be considered a novelty – an extra element that’s a secondary consideration in the overall landscaping and planting design.
However, a water feature has more to offer your outdoor space than you may think…
Benefits of a water feature
While water features are great design assets for a garden, offering movement and reflection, one of the biggest reasons why anyone should consider a water feature in their garden is for its audible qualities.
“I often say to clients, if you can just get the sound of water into your garden,” garden designer Georgia Lindsay said during her Grand Designs Live from Home talk. “In an urban environment, you’re refocussing your ear away from neighbours, traffic noise and all those other periphery noises.”
The sound of water also has biophilic properties – recalling us to those positive experiences we’ve each had in nature. This gives a water feature the ability to create a relaxing and restorative feel in the garden.
If space is tight, Georgia recommends even just a small bubbling water feature, placed in amongst the planting, to bring these benefits to your space. “You don’t even need to see that water source, but I love the sound, it’s so relaxing.”
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Image: In this functional family garden designed by Georgia Lindsay, a small water feature makes for a statement that draws the eye through. Photo: Nathalie Priem
You should also think carefully about where you locate a water feature, to ensure that not only it works as part of your landscaping design, but for safety and garden maintenance.
“Large ponds and bodies of water make excellent reflective surfaces which help to highlight features trees,” suggests Henry Scott, of landscape and garden design studio Pehrsson Scott, however, placing a water feature underneath a deciduous tree will mean you’ll have to clear leaves from the water in the autumn.
If you are purchasing a readymade design, consider placing it among planting, rather than as a discrete, stand alone feature, as this will help ground it as part of your design.
As mentioned above, a water feature doesn’t have to be prominently on display to have value to your garden design.
Choosing a design
Image: This modern ater bowl from Solus Decor can be integrated into part of a larger water feature design.
If you have children or pets, you’ll need to carefully consider the style of water feature you choose. Even a few centimetres of standing water present a hazard for young children, but there are many designs that have no exposed pools to minimise the risk.
Ensuring that the size and style of the design fits your garden scheme is also imperative.
“The selection of 'off the shelf' products is vast, but the context and purpose of the water feature should always be carefully considered,” says Scott. “For these reasons, we generally create and design bespoke water features to suit a particular requirement or expectation that our clients have.”
The interaction of lighting and water features should also be considered, while water dyes can also be effective in creating a statement look, especially in a larger pool of water.
Read more: How to successfully landscape a garden
Image: In this garden in Richmond, Surrey, Chris Harrington of Harrington Porter used a bank of water fetaures to create a subtle focal point when using the seating area.
Generally, water features do not require a water supply, as they recycled the water with a pump. This does, however, mean that you may need to keep on top of cleaning the water, especially in the winter months, to keep your feature looking its best.
Your water feature may require an electricity supply. Some designs contain self-contained solar powered cells to operate the pump, but more powerful designs will be mains-operated. This means that it’s good to decide early on in the garden design process if you’re going to have a water feature, and which style, as this will cause less disruption at the start of a garden renovation than retrofitting.
Considering a water feature for your garden? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page.