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Which Type Of Water Feature?  The Pros and Cons
  • 07 July, 2021

Which Type Of Water Feature? The Pros and Cons

When you think of landscaping your garden you probably picture lush green lawns, colourful flower beds, and perhaps some neat decking or a patio area. A water feature is often last on the list, but you might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of benefits to adding one to your garden. 

Whether it’s something trickling and slow-flowing, a sparkling fountain, or a cool, calm pond, exposure to water, including the sight and sound, can improve both your psychological and physical health. Studies have shown that it can induce positive thoughts, and promote psychological restoration and spirituality.

All sounding a little bit hippy-dippy to you? Fair enough, but there are other reasons. For one, water is nature’s mirror, and depending on what type of feature you choose, it’s reflective properties can make your garden look bigger. It also means you can introduce aquatic plants, encourage different types of wildlife, and keep the garden feeling cool on a hot day. It’s also a low-maintenance way to add a little bit of ‘wow factor’ to your garden; ponds and fountains are simple and cost-effective to clean, and as long as you do it regularly to ensure that any pump system are kept free of blockages, you can just let it get on with it and do its thing. 

Of course the term ‘water feature’ covers quite a lot of different options, and some might suit you better than others. Our article takes a look at the pros and cons of some of the most common types of water feature available.

Container Ponds

Container ponds, sometimes sold in kit-form as a “pond-in-a-pot” make a great landscape water feature for smaller gardens. You can make your own from an old wine barrel or large glazed pot if you want something bespoke, and can add aquatic plants and grasses, or even small fish if you want to go a little larger.

Pros

Container ponds are super quick and easy to install. There’s no digging required, so there’s no disruption to your garden and no real outlay in manpower or hours.

They are relatively cheap - some of the very small kits are available for as little as £40.00, and the larger ones less than £200.00. If you were to create your own it could be even less!

As we’ve already touched upon, container ponds can be placed in even the smallest spaces such as a balcony or patio.

Container ponds are ideal as an introduction to water features before you decide on something larger for your garden, or even as an addition to a larger water feature if you have a bigger garden. 

Cons

The can be more difficult to clean than some other water features as it requires removing any plants, getting rid of sludge and algae before replacing the water. New water means chloridamides, so the water will have to be left to mature before you re-add plant life, and especially if it’s a larger container pond that has fish.

Deeper container ponds can pose a drowning risk for small children, so caution is always advised. 

Pond/Natural Pool

A pond is one of the most popular and basic types of water feature and involves lining a hole in the ground with a flexible or rigid liner and using submersible pumps and a filtration system. They are also easy to add a fountain or waterfall to, which has the advantage of drowning out the noise of the pump as well as adding a bit of flair to your feature. 

Pros

This type of water feature looks really natural

They are one of the easiest types of water feature to install

A natural pool can be as big or as small as you like and can be designed in any shape you desire in order to fit in with the style of your garde

Good for encouraging wildlife to your garden - birds, frogs and insects will use it as a source of food and water, as well as a breeding ground

Cons

A natural pool will require a flexible or rigid liner, both of which can be susceptible to punctures, cracks and leaks

There’s definitely some work required in building a natural pool, including a lot of digging!

It can be relatively hard to keep a natural pool clean and free of algae

Encourages wildlife - not always a pro to some!

Can be a safety risk to pets or children

Wall Fountains

Another great idea if you have limited space is a wall fountain - perfect for a garden landscaped in a classical style and can be as ornate or as simple as you like. Wall fountains consist of a basin that catches the water and circulates it using a pump system - with all the pipework out of sight hidden behind the fountain and out sight. 

Pros

Even the smallest of spaces can accommodate a wall fountain

Like a container pond, there are ready-made kits available that are easy to assemble and suitable for all budgets

Cons

There’s no significant price difference between ready-made kits or making one of your own - so there’s really no ‘cheapest option’ when it comes to wall fountains

Not all wall fountains come with a valve that allows you to control the amount of water flowing from the fountain

Streams

If you have a large garden, a man-made stream could be an impressive way to go. When coupled with a natural pool or ending in a waterfall that flows into another water feature, a stream can be a spectacular and aesthetically pleasing addition to your landscape. 

Pros

Adding a stream can help create a beautiful natural scene, especially if you add rocks and decorative plants

They’re a great way to extend or breathe new life into an already existing water feature

Ideal if you’re going for a more ‘informal’ style in your landscaping

Cons

Definitely a more expensive water feature to build and maintain

They require a more complex plumbing system than some other water features in order to route the water

The longer the stream the better it’s going to look; a minimum of 15ft is generally recommended, so a lot of space (and digging!) is required

Water Blades

A modern take on the more traditional wall fountain, a water blade can make a stunning feature to a garden with a more contemporary aesthetic. This type of feature consists of a wall-mounted metallic blade that allows a continuous curtain of water to cascade into a pond or other body of water. 

Pros

If you want a water feature that’s going to be show-stopping and impressive, a water blade is definitely going to deliver

There’s the option to get really creative with it, by adding LED lights to illuminate the blade of water at night for a really atmospheric addition to your garden

Cons

Unlike a wall fountain which has a built-in bowl to catch the water, a water blade will require you to have a reservoir or pond for the water to flow into

Water blades are normally built into a brick wall so aren’t the cheapest option and will likely require you to hire a professional to install it

Pondless Waterfalls

Ideal for families with young children, a pondless waterfall is constructed from rocks and pebbles and, as the name suggests, doesn’t require a pool or pond for the water to fall into. Water is pumped to the top of the waterfall where it trickles down through the rocks to the bottom before being pumped back up to the top. 

Pros

From a safety point of view, a pondless waterfall is the perfect choice if you have small children or pets

If you’re after a water feature that’s really unique, a pondless waterfall could be the one for you

Cons

They can be expensive to build

You’ll need a heavy-duty pump in order to pump the water back to the top, as well as plenty of rocks to build it

You’re likely to need professional help to construct a pondless waterfall, so probably not the best option if you are after a DIY water feature project

Rills

A rill is an eye-catching water feature that channels a shallow and narrow stream of water in a straight line. Ideal for a more contemporary style garden, a rill can be used to draw the eye to another feature in your garden.

Pros

Doesn’t pose a safety risk

Provides an impressive talking point to your garden

Can be used to channel water into another body of water such as a pond

Cons

Not ideal if you’re after a more natural look

One of the more expensive options when it comes to water features

Drilled Rock

Very popular a few years ago, and now enjoying a bit of a revival, drilled rocks do exactly what it says on the tin. It is a drilled rock - normally smooth and spherical - but available in more natural looking incarnations, that is fitted with a pump and spouts water from the top which runs down the sides and into a reservoir. 

Pros

Lots of different options available; limestone, sandstone, slate...so it’s easy to find a style of drilled rock to match your garden aesthetic

You could achieve this type of water feature by using a natural rock, giving you a truly unique piece

Cons

You might consider this a bit of a ‘done-to-death’ idea

A drilled rock water feature isn’t one of the more dramatic or eye-catching options

Although you can get them to suit all budgets, if you want something really large and impressive you need to be prepared to shell out

It’s important to remember that whichever type of water feature you choose to enhance your landscaping, you need to always use a pump to circulate the water. This will help to keep away mosquitos, wasps and any other insects that are attracted to still bodies of water. You also need to ensure that the pumps, filters and cleaners that you use are suitable if you want to add plants or fish to your feature. 

If you’re planning on adding a water feature to your garden and are interested in speaking to an expert, why not give us a call and arrange a free, no-obligation quote.