Gardens are a wonderful place to unwind and relax, to reconnect with nature, and forget about the rest of the world. Adding the element of water into your garden design can really emphasise this, with peaceful pools that reflect their surroundings, and the tranquil ambience of a bubbling stream or gentle waterfall.
Even the smallest water feature can have a big impact on your garden, balcony or patio, tying your design together and making it an all-round more peaceful place to be. If you’re looking for garden water feature ideas to incorporate into your outdoor style, here’s just a taste of the variety available.
How to choose the best water feature for your garden:
- Before you invest in a garden water feature, you’ll need to consider a few things like maintenance and the logistics of your water and power supply. Here are eight factors to think about before making a purchase or starting your DIY project.
- Firstly, be open-minded when it comes to the style of your fountain. As you’ll see from some of the garden water feature ideas in this list, very modern features can look incredibly striking in an otherwise traditional garden, next to a historic home. It’s harder to blend more old-fashioned styles in with an otherwise contemporary space, but it can work.
- Most garden fountains are self-contained when it comes to their water supply, meaning that you simply need to fill it once and then occasionally top it up as the water evaporates.
- However, fountains almost always have a pump to pull water from the main reservoir and push it back up to the fountain spout. Choose a solar-powered model or consider how you will connect your fountain to a power supply.
- Where are you planning on positioning your fountain? Under trees and among flower beds can look pretty, but will mean it fills up with leaves and petals more quickly.
- On that note, be prepared to clean your fountain, as the water will get slimy over time. You’ll need to drain it, dismantle it and clear the reservoir every so often (anything from annually to every few months, depending on the size and location of your fountain).
- Check that you enjoy the sound of the water feature before you buy it. No matter how pretty it is, it’ll be annoying to set it up only to discover it produces a distracting, gushing faucet kind of noise (or even worse, a pathetic trickle).
- Finally, what kind of safety features will your fountain need? If you have pets or small children this is particularly important – look for enclosed designs that don’t have large open water elements (or find a way to cover it with a net).
Structural garden water feature ideas
There are so many types of water features, but we’ve loosely categorised them into two variations: structural garden features (typically with man-made elements), and natural-looking water features. Let’s take a look at some structural water feature designs that will add interest and style to any size of garden.
Bubble fountains are created using a simple mechanism that gently pushes water up through a vertical spout, into a surrounding vessel. They’re quite common, as they’re one of the most straightforward garden water fountain ideas to execute, and generally make a very pleasant noise. Bubble fountains can be added to most ponds to add visual movement (and help to aerate them for pond life).
Classical water fountains
Classical water fountains are elegant, sophisticated water features that look beautiful next to a historic home. Often found in French garden design, these multi-tiered fountains make stunning centrepieces among other traditional garden elements, like gravel pathways, manicured hedges and pruned flower beds.
Clay pot water features
Water tumbling out of a clay pot is an understated way to add a fountain to your garden, especially if you like a bohemian style space or are looking for Greek themed garden ideas. Stand your pot upright, lean it over, or stack several pots together to create a cascade.
Glass water features
Glass (or Perspex) water features can look absolutely stunning in any style of garden. If the water runs over them just right, the structure can appear completely transparent, as if the water is defying the laws of physics. In motion, the effect can be hypnotic.
Wall-mounted fountains are perfect if you want to add some personality to your garden but don’t have a lot of floor space. They can make a bold statement on their own, or act as a subtle accent feature within a well-planned flower bed. This whimsical, wall-mounted fountain would be a delightful surprise to find in an enchanted garden.
A cascading sheet of water creates a striking focal point in any garden, and can also act as a privacy screen if you position it in the right spot. Some designs look like a graceful curtain of water, while others evoke the image of rain gently rolling down a window pane. Either way, the effect is incredibly calming. Looking at the picture below, you would be forgiven for thinking water walls come with a hefty price tag – this is actually a DIY water feature, with full instructions available if you click the link in the caption.
Bamboo water features
Bamboo fountain systems are another choice that’s popular thanks to their versatility and compact size. You can find bamboo water features in all kinds of varieties, from simple spouts to elaborate water runs. Combine your bamboo fountain with other ideas on this list (like Japanese water bowls, or ponds) to build your own unique water feature.
Stone water features
Stone is a popular material for water features, thanks to its durability and the way it fits so seamlessly with natural surroundings. Combining stone with more modern elements – like this small rock fountain – has a striking impact in contemporary garden spaces.
Water bowl garden features
Running water features can quickly get complicated (and expensive) to install. If you’re looking for budget-friendly garden water feature ideas, why not try building a simple, DIY water bowl? You can find water bowls, or bowl ponds, all over the world, but they’re particularly common in Japanese garden design. The best part is that bowl water features don’t need a reservoir or pump, and therefore won’t need connecting to a power supply.
Building a DIY water bowl for your garden
You can use any bowl or pot to create this kind of miniature pond, but shallow, saucer-type shapes often work best. It’s also important to choose the location of your bowl pond carefully – it will be difficult to move once it’s in place. Whether you decide on your vessel or location first is up to you, but the two factors generally impact each other.
Once you have your bowl or pot, you will need to make sure it’s watertight – seal any holes and coat the surface with a sealant or varnish.
Next, position it in your garden and fill it with water. Using rainwater is better than tap water, whether that’s from fresh rainfall or collected from a water butt (tap water is higher in minerals and particles that can encourage algae).
Plants are the final step. A garden centre will offer you the best, most specific advice for the kind of design you’re going for, but you may need a combination of aquatic soil, gravel and aquatic baskets to keep your plants in place and help them grow.
Of course, you could add a fountain or spout to turn your bowl pond into a moving water feature.
Natural-looking garden water feature ideas
If you prefer celebrating outdoor beauty at its most natural, these garden water feature ideas will be much more suited to your space. Remember that surrounding your water feature with flowers, plants, natural rocks and logs can help it blend with its environment better.
Ponds are a well-loved garden staple. They can really help you appreciate all of the life in your garden, thanks to the various flora and fauna that they attract and sustain, like dragonflies. You can enjoy ponds as a still body of water, but adding a fountain or other flowing water feature to a pond creates a much more pleasant ambience (and can reduce the amount of maintenance needed, too).
This is one of those timeless water features that can fit into almost any style of garden. A great way to implement this into your garden (if you have the space for it) is to create a cascading waterfall by adding “levels” to the set-up. This creates depth in your water feature and gives your waterfall a much more realistic and complex look. Do keep in mind that this requires more space, and it isn’t very ideal for a small garden.
Unless you’re very fortunate, if you want a stream or creek in your garden, you’ll have to build it yourself. That won’t affect the final result though, which is complete serenity. For your stream to have a current you’ll need some way of circulating the water, but even that can be aesthetically pleasing (as this photo shows).
These are just a few of the many possible water features that you can incorporate into your own backyard or garden, so don’t restrict yourself to just this list! Let your creativity flow and use the water features presented here as inspiration for creating a space that is uniquely yours.