The Garden Guide

Water features - review

Landscape and Garden Product Directory

Garden designers, writers and owners agree on one point: EVERY GARDEN SHOULD HAVE A WATER FEATURE. But it seems rather easier to go wrong than right in the design.

WATER SUPPLY alternatives:

  • use a natural water course [the best solution but also the least common]
  • excavate to the water table, thus forming a natural pond [very successful if the water table is high in your garden]
  • collect rainwater water runoff from roofs, pavements, lawns etc [most gardens should do this - but few do]
  • use piped water from the mains supply [the most expensive and the least sustainable solution]

WATER RETENTION alternatives:

  • natural retention [as mentioned above]
  • a flexible rubber or plastic pond liner [relatively cheap but damageable - and ugly if visible]
  • a rigid fiberglass pond liner [more durable than a flexible liner - but ugly if visible]
  • waterproof concrete [structural concrete - a 1:2:4 mix - is waterproof but needs to be well detailed with with waterbars at joints. Concrete is also ugly if visible.]

WATER BODY alternatives:

  • lakes and ponds (with irregular shapes)
  • tanks and pools (rectangular)
  • streams and channels (linear, with flowing water)


  • gravity
  • mains powered pump
  • wind- or solar-powered pump

WATER MOVEMENT alternatives:

  • streams and cascades
  • bubbles
  • fountain, sprays and jets
  • whirlpools

ECOLOGICAL alternatives:

  • chemically sterile water
  • ecologically unbalanced (euthrophic) water - usually unclear
  • ecologically balanced water - usually clear