Using water in garden design
There’s something special about using water in garden design. Even the smallest water feature offers a whole host of benefits. In this article I’m exploring different ways of using this most basic of all elements.
There are dozens of reasons for using water in garden design and at least a million different ways of going about it. I always do a little internal happy dance when clients ask for some sort of water feature. It’s great to have an extra medium to work with, especially when it comes to defining the mood of the space.
Why use water in garden design?
- Wildlife interest
- Visual interest
- Supports a range of hobbies – fishkeeping or photography
- Rainwater management
- Introduces a new genre of plants to the garden
- Creates ambience – especially when combined with lighting
Using water in the garden for sound and movement
When I’m designing and building gardens I try really hard to appeal to all five of our senses. Sight, sound, touch, scent and yes – even taste. Very few water features appeal to the taste buds but when it comes to sound and vision, nothing beats water.
Sound has a huge influence on our mood. A bubbling brook can be soothing or energising – depending on what your mind needs at the time. A gentle trickling sound reminds us that the garden is alive. And you don’t need a lake-sized water feature either!
I talked about another use for water in my most recent blog – Landscaping to block noise. Because water can be used to distract your ears from unwanted sounds such as traffic noise.
Water features to attract wildlife
A wildlife pond is a valuable asset in any garden. I personally love to sit by a pond and watch the comings and goings of all the insects, birds and mammals that visit it for sustenance. It’s educational and relaxing at the same time!
It’s not just wildlife ponds that attract wildlife though. A small water feature such as a pebble fountain can become a drinking hole for bees (they prefer shallow water). Or what about a bathing pond for the birds? Brilliant – especially if you can see it from inside the house.
My good friend and fellow landscaper Paul Holland from Essex has written about designing rain gardens to help cope with climate change.
A rain garden harnesses the power of nature to collect excess rainwater and put it to good use in the garden. In winter, or during wet spells, the rain garden acts as a soakaway. Rather than inundate drainage systems with a deluge of water which then gets flushed out to sea, the rain garden allows excess water from hard surfaces to be absorbed back into the soil. It makes for an ever changing garden feature which is fascinating to observe.
Plants for your water garden
Water plants are incredibly diverse and usually very low maintenance. If I’m honest, I don’t think they get as much publicity as they deserve. Most of us are familiar with water lilies from reading frog-orientated stories during childhood. But what of reeds, sedges and iris? Then there are marginal plants, floating plants, bog plants and deep water plants. If you are interested in plant shapes and colours, you’ll be fascinated by water plants.
Water in garden design to create ambience
The sound of water, the sight of it sparkling in the sun, the reflections in and around it and the biodiversity surrounding it all contribute to the ambience in a garden. But what really takes water in the garden to a whole new level is lighting.
There are so many interesting effects to be had from installing lighting in and around a water feature. Obviously there needs to be an electrician involved. And of course the installation needs to be integrated with the landscaping so that you’re not seeing ugly wires all over the place. But it’s so worth it.
When you have water AND lighting in your garden, the whole space can be transformed into magical place after sundown. Sitting with a glass of something delicious watching the light play on moving water is so good for the soul. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Planning a garden makeover?
If you are thinking about a garden makeover, why not use water in your garden design? A still reflective pool, a wildlife pond, or even a natural swimming pool will all help to ensure that your new garden works really hard for you.
Dan Richards of Silver Birch Gardens offers a garden design and build service in and around Bridgewater, Somerset. Contact him today to find out how much your beautiful new water feature would cost to install.