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Tips On How To Pick The Perfect Water Feature For Your Garden
Whether you choose a traditional sunken pool to enhance your garden or want to relax at the end of a busy day with the gentle sound of a water fountain, we’ve got some great ideas and buys for every outdoor space.
What you need to know
Choose the best location
If you install a flowing water feature such as a fountain, stream or waterfall, you may need a reservoir tank, so keep this in mind when choosing the best location. Fountains and running water also need electricity to run the pump, unless they are solar powered.
If you want to install a pond, it needs to be in a place that gets at least five hours of natural light a day – preferably sunlight – to keep the water clean for fish and plants. Avoid overhanging trees and shrubs, as fallen leaves can choke the pond and poison the water.
Take care of your character
Ponds and water features will benefit from an annual cleaning. The best time to do this is in the spring, which will give the aquatic plants time to re-establish themselves before summer.
A word of caution: Safety is important, especially if you have young children, in which case it’s best to postpone the water feature until they’re older. Use a qualified electrician to install the cable. For registered NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) electricians see the Yellow Pages or call 020 7564 2323.
Electrically-powered water features
Transform a terracotta pot
Building a beautiful pot or urn among your border plants and then using it as a water feature will give your garden a relaxing feel. You can buy a complete kit, such as the terracotta urn water feature, £449 from Crocus, or build something like the one pictured for yourself. Simply choose a suitable pot or urn from your local garden centre, find a suitable spot for it in your garden and then have a qualified electrician install the cable to run the water pump.
Make a focal point with a feature wall
For a timeless look in your yard, install a traditional wall fountain. You’ll need an electrician to connect a water pump (from £20 in DIY stores) to the house mains, which will feed water from the water reservoir through a pipe behind the wall to the fountain mouth. For a selection of wall fountains, try Arcadian.
Create a two-tier cascade
Give your garden a casual look by using recycled materials such as old stone tubs and troughs – your best source would be a local architectural salvage yard (see http://www.salvo.co.uk for your nearest one). Expect prices to start from around £40. To create this tiered water feature, water is pumped from the reservoir tank through hidden pipes into the tub at the top. The water then naturally overflows into the reservoir below. Get a qualified electrician to install the cables needed to run the pump.
Stand out with pebble design
If you want something a little unusual, a pebble fountain is ideal. You will need to install a small water reservoir and a pump under the pebbles, which will require electricity to circulate the water. Use a qualified electrician to perform electrical work. Buy a bag of pebbles from a place like B&Q and pour water over it.
Features of solar powered water
Go to Solar for Solar Installation
An attractive copper solar cascade fountain from Greenfingers is completely solar powered, so it is very easy to install as no electrical work is required. Place it in either a large pond or a small water feature to make an attractive focal point. For similar solar features, take a look at Greenfingers’ website.
Try a floating fountain
Add interest to your pond with a solar pond island fountain. It simply floats on the surface of the water to create a solar-powered water feature that runs in direct sunlight, so there are no installation or running costs.
Add interest to a sunny location
A tiered solar cascade fountain is the perfect feature for a sunny spot on the patio. As long as it is in direct sunlight, the water flows gently from one layer to another. A mains adapter is included in the price, so you can move it indoors for the winter.
Build a kit-form raised pond
If you want a garden pond, but don’t want to go to the trouble of digging a hole, you can buy an attractive raised pond in kit form, complete with liner and pump. Try Garden Oasis for a variety of pond options.
Turn a tub into a pool
For smaller spaces, tubs and half-barrels (available at DIY stores and garden centers) are ideal for creating small ponds. Ready-to-use water-tight barrels cost around £20, but you can recycle old barrels by lining them with pond liner, which sells for around £3 per square metre. Secure the liner with a flexible metal strip from Screwfix – 81cm length costs £1.99.
How to build a traditional pond
Make sure your pool area is level and then mark its size on the ground. So wildlife can safely move in and out, choose a structure no deeper than 15cm at the edge of the pond.
If you’re using a flexible liner, punch holes in the size and shape you want, or if you’ve chosen a preformed, rigid liner, punch holes to match the size. No matter how hard your pond liner looks, it needs to be protected from the sharp rocks below, so add a layer of moist builder’s sand before placing the liner.
For flexible liners, allow 15 cm of overlap throughout and hold the edges in place with bricks. For a hard liner, place it in the hole and check the level, then weigh it down with 5 cm of water. Fill any holes between the edge of the liner and the soil with builder’s sand or compacted soil.
Fill your pool with water – as the water seeps in, smooth out wrinkles in the flexible liner. Trim any excess flexible liner from the edge, leaving enough to secure underneath your chosen edging material: use paving stones or pebbles for a natural look. .
Six easy-to-grow aquatic plants
Introduce plants between April and September – wait a few days after filling a new pool with tap water to give the chlorine time to dissipate. Place your plants in lined plastic planting baskets, using a specialist pond compost such as Westland Aquatic Compost, which costs around £2.49 for 10 liters from garden centres. Top with pea gravel to weigh the basket down and stop the compost from washing into the water. Place the basket in the pond to the required depth after reading the manufacturer’s instructions on the labels attached to the plants.
o Canna Lily: Few plants match the spectacular appearance of the Canna Lily, which produces gladiola-like flowers from mid-summer to early fall and can grow up to 1.8 meters in one season. Cannas thrive in full sun and rich soil and are ideal plants for your pond edge.
o Rush: To make the most of small pond space, plant tall slender plants such as Slim Soft Rush.
o Water Lettuce: Water lettuce, which prefers sun with some shade, will give your pond a fantastic feel. It has fine winged roots that change from white to purple and then black.
o Water Lilies: These are a must for any pond – we love pygmy water lilies, which have small, star-shaped, yellow flowers and come in a variety of mildly scented varieties.
o Taro: Known for its large, heart-shaped leaves, taro can grow along pond edges. It likes sun or partial shade and prefers rich moist soil. Large varieties can grow up to 1.8 meters tall.
o Flame or Painted Nettle: Painted nettle will add intense, warm color to the edge of a pond and is ideal for partially shaded spots. It can grow up to 90 cm tall and its highly colored nettle-like leaves come in many shades from lime green and yellow to bright red and aubergine.
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