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Different Types of Water Features for Garden, Fountains, Birdbath, Waterfalls, DIY Water Features

Updated on June 2, 2013

Water features are there to turn your garden into a piece of heaven. The soothing sound of flowing water through rough surfaces, the sparkles of water from the fountain or just think about their natural ability to attract birds and butterflies. A true and complete garden must have water features.

Nothing can offer more tranquility to your garden than the water features.

Don’t think water feature will waste a lot of water; almost all the water features today recycle water. They use a pond or hidden reservoir. Once you fill it, the water will circulate in a closed loop and will only lose water by evaporation.

Different Types of Water Features

Garden fountain
Garden fountain


Garden fountain can be a piece of artwork for your garden; these water features require little maintenance and have a widely varying price range to fit in any type of budget.

The water blowing from a fountain, sparkling in the sun and making a soothing sound when dropping on the water surface can be irresistible. You can use garden fountains as a standalone feature or a part of a pond. And for the spray of water, you have multiple patterns to choose from. Simple single spray to complex multiple spray of water, water only to water gushing from statue or sculpture.

Soothing sound and dynamic visual can be brought to your garden by these fountains. You can either blend the fountain naturally into your garden or showcase it in a well designed landscaped area. If your fountain is large enough you can even add fish (goldfish, Koi etc.) to it making it even more delightful.

Picture of bird bath
Picture of bird bath

Bird Baths

Bird baths are a beautiful welcoming note for the birds. In the summer birds would come, cool off and drink water from your bird bath. Want to see birds in your garden, want to hear their songs, install a bird bath in your garden. These are the simplest type of water features for the garden. There are so many artistic models available and you can always design one yourself. Bird baths with fountain are the trendiest but costly as well.

When building a bird bath by yourself, do not use materials that can contaminate the water like painted plastic or treated wood.

Birds like warm and moving water, so you can customize your birdbath with drippers, heaters with automatic shut off system and water movers. A well maintained clean garden bird bath will ensure you a year-round enjoyment from varieties of bird species that will come to the bird bath and play with the water.

Garden waterfall
Garden waterfall


A waterfall can be the best compliment to your water garden system. Or you can use waterfalls as a standalone water feature for the garden. The soothing sound of flowing water through irregular surface can provide a calming influence in your garden.

DIY waterfalls are very much popular and easy to build. If all the materials are in place, one weekend’s effort will give you a nice waterfall in your garden.

Thinking about a water garden, don’t miss out on garden waterfalls. It will keep the water clear and aerated for fish and plants. The sound and visual appeal of garden waterfalls are just too much to resist.

Streams and waterfalls are essential parts of classic gardens. You can either use waterfalls alone or a part of a big water garden system.

Pondless waterfall is a new concept but has some advantage over their counter parts; they do not require you to maintain a pond. If you don’t have enough space in your garden or just don’t want a pond, this can be the right option. And as you can assume these garden waterfalls cost less. Small size, less maintenance and flexibility to move around make these water features for the garden a perfect match.

Water Garden
Water Garden

Water Garden

Water garden can be called as the complete water feature for any garden. It can be defined as a pond with fishes and water plants, a complete water ecosystem. The most basic water garden should have some gold fish, a few water plants and a water circulation system to keep the water flowing and oxygenated.

You can either buy a pre-made water pond or flexible pond liners to design your own pond. And a basic pond can always be turned into a full-fledged water paradise. You can add waterfalls in the sides, fountain in the middle and can join two or more ponds through streams and make your own water world.

Water gardens or ponds are not complete without fish and water plants. Make sure the habitat is suitable for those to thrive comfortably. If installed properly, it can be your all natural, low maintenance, piece of paradise. And you can add almost all kinds of water features for the garden with the water garden.

But you need to make sure the ecosystem is balanced, which is of course the main criteria for the ecosystem to survive.

Here are a few basic tips to make the ecosystem in your pond balanced.

>Maintain proper flow of water in the pond. It will require plumbing and pumps but will ensure the movement of water and optimum oxygen level for the fish and plants.

>Water garden filters are necessary to keep your pond clean. Use both biological and mechanical water garden filter. Biological filter will provide sufficient surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize and remove excess nutrient from the water while the mechanical filter will remove debris and prevent accumulation of organic material in the pond.

>However, aquatic plants and fish also act as Mother Nature’ s original filters. Fish eat algae and bottom feed from the pond floor whereas plants eating excess nutrient from the water reduces the chance of excessive growth of algae.

>Rock and gravel are a must if you want a natural outlook and their purpose doesn’t stop at that only, they work as water garden filters too. They provide surface space for beneficial bacteria to grow and also protect your pond liners from UV light degradation.

The important thing is to keep with Mother Nature, don’t go against her.

To have a large or complex water garden it would be wise to consult an expert for the set up.

Solar powered water feature
Solar powered water feature

Solar Powered Water Features

Solar powered water features come with solar powered pumps and battery storage system to run the feature constantly. Normally the pumps are run in low voltage (12 to 24 volt DC) and because of that, solar water features have a lower water flow rate and cannot support large spray of water. But if you are looking for a small fountain or something like that, solar systems are the perfect choice. The main cost involved in solar powered water features is the cost of the solar panels. Usually, expensive ones have smaller panels and vice versa.

Good things about solar powered water features for the garden

  • Easy to set up.
  • Good for the environment.
  • Various stylish models are available.
  • No energy cost.
  • No need of electric wire in your garden.
  • Not enough to drown out the traffic sound but can calm yourself by the trickling sound of water if you sit nearby.

Negative side

  • Large water features are not available in solar powered system.
  • Trickling of water is the best you can expect from these features.
  • Will not work if the conditions are not good enough for solar charge.

Electric powered water feature

Most water features available for the garden comes with electricity driven pumps. It does not require a lot of electricity, and thus won’t make a big impact on your energy bill. But what many people find difficult or rather complicated is to draw electric line to the garden. One option is to take the power from the outside light, but make sure it does not depend on the light being on. When moving across lawn and soil you can bury the wire in the soil easily but moving across hard surfaces (patios or paths) would take some efforts. But it is not that difficult and a handy electrician could easily handle that. It does not matter from which point you take the power, only make sure the electric cables are protected and not visible in the garden.

The good thing about electric powered water features for the garden is they use little power and you can always try some lights with the water feature which is not possible with solar water features.

DIY water feature
DIY water feature

You can build a few water features for your garden by yourself

Water features for the garden are not that difficult to build, especially if you are planning to build a small one. For large and complicated things, it is better to hire an expert. Water feature like a rock with bubbling water coming from it or a bird bath are quite easy to build for anyone that knows how to use a screwdriver.

If you are going to build a pond or something larger, first point out the location and shape. You can use a garden hose to mark the spot and shape, if you are not satisfied, try again, but make sure you find your preferred shape for the pond.

All waterfalls are built with a base waterfall made with a liner or a cement base and then rocks and stones added for the style. You can build one yourself by using a few rocks and a few household things like tub or water container. You can hide the water container by the rocks and the pump must be placed below the water level in a safe place. Only make sure the water falls on the rocks and then flows into the container to get the process running again and again.

Tips for Buying Water Features

Whatever water feature you buy, it will be a part of your home for a long time; you will see it every day. So, getting the right pond for your home with the right options is critical. And it is not necessary to buy a large and complex feature in the beginning; you can always add new accessories over time.

Only focusing on the initial cost and getting the cheapest offer available for installation will inevitably result in regrets.

When choosing a pond installer, make sure you get a complete list of all the details from your pond installer/designer.

The main factors to consider when buying water features for the garden are

  • Finding the right location for the feature.
  • Style and design, if you are using more than one feature make sure they complement each other.
  • Size and shape must be suitable for your garden.
  • When buying large water features for the garden, what accessories to add (ex. Cascade, streams, waterfalls or fish/plants).

Maximum enjoyment and minimum maintenance should be your target. A simple rule of thumb is, when it comes to water feature costs, the larger it is, the higher the price will be.

Useful Tips for Your Garden Water Features

  • Choose a pump with the capacity to pump the entire volume of water in the pond in an hour
  • Open water is always a big invitation to the kids. It would be wise to keep a close eye on them as their activities can harm water gardens.
  • Keep patience in developing a balanced ecosystem for a water garden as it takes approximately two to six weeks to get that balance.
  • Never build garden water features or ponds under or near a tree as the roots of the tree can do serious damage to the pond liner. And in autumn, the falling leaves of the tree will cause more problems for your water feature.
  • Sometimes we dig holes in the center of the rocks to install a pipe (attached to the pump) so that the water would flow to a certain pattern, when doing this make sure that the rocks are not directly over the pump, because in that case, you would have to remove all the rocks before you can service/remove the pump.
  • When buying solar water features for the garden, make sure the solar panels are movable so that you can adjust them toward the sun.
  • The location of the water feature should be good enough to be seen easily especially from the window. You don’t want to miss out on that option.
  • Do not keep your water feature alone, Nestle it with plants to make it more natural and pleasing.

A little bit of history and why we love water features in our garden so much

How many beautiful romantic scenes have you seen in movies that include waterfalls? An island movie cannot be complete without a waterfall or something like it. We cannot live in those islands, but we can always add some flavor of that in our garden.

In ancient times water features were a symbol of beauty and status. One great example of it is the Great Alhambra in Spain.

In the old times, people used gravitational force to build water features. As science progressed they began to use hydraulic rams. At the beginning of 18th century, with the invention of steam engine, people began to use steam powered engines in the water features. Current water features for the garden are mostly electric driven, but solar powered features are getting popularity and as people are getting more and more concerned about energy costs and the safety of the environment, who knows we might see new kind of green water features soon.

For making your garden more welcoming, water feature is a must. No garden is complete without water elements. Sit nearby the water feature in your garden and calm yourself with the soothing sound of flowing water.

Enjoy your water feature; make it an oasis for birds and wildlife.

The world today has become too complicated and competitive; you need a personal retreat, your own peace of heaven. With water features, your garden can be that place for you.

Discussions about water features for the garden.


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    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      7 years ago from Sweden

      I love water features in the garden and this hub is so inspiring! I had a pond with a little waterfall in my former garden but it was of course left behind when we moved. I have plans for some water features in our new garden also so this hub was very welcome! Beautiful photos and great ideas! Thanks. Tina


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