Garden water feature

Ideas for garden water features

From babbling fountains to sleek rills, find inspiration in our favourite garden water feature ideas.

Water features enhance any garden, providing ornamental interest, soothing sound and a habitat for wildlife.

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Adding a garden water feature needn’t cost a fortune. Something as simple as an attractive bowl filled with water can make a real impact, reflecting light and neighbouring plants. Calming trickling sounds can be generated by a rill or fountain, while a pond will allow you to grow aquatic plants and provide a home for newts, frogs and dragonflies.

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We share nine inspiring ideas for creating a water feature, below.


Water rills

Water rill with pittosporum and libertia

Rills are shallow channels that provide a flow of water from one area to another. Their flow provides a constant tranquil noise and they can suit any garden. For inspiration, take a look at the water rills at Rousham and Coton Manor gardens. The rill pictured is made from metal that has oxidised to a warm, burnished tone.


Water bowls

Reflective water bowl

Water bowls, like this wooden one, can be placed anywhere in the garden, but they’re particularly useful in shady areas where they help to bounce light around. They’re easy to set up and come in lots of styles, from pretty stone bowls to sleek metal bowls with a more contemporary look.


Garden ponds

Garden wildlife pond

A garden pond will work in any size of garden or design style. They can be wildlife havens packed with plants, or minimalist, contemplative pools with linear boundaries. Add bubbling sound with a fountain or rill.


Streams

Artificial garden stream

If you’re lucky enough to have a natural stream running through your garden that doesn’t dry up in summer, you can surround it with colourful, moisture-loving plants like candelabra primulas and ligularias.


Pouring jugs

Terracotta jug water feature

Pouring jug water features like this terracotta olive jar have a romantic, classical feel to them. Purpose-made jugs with a hole for the pump to discreetly slot into are easy to find and they can be either be free-standing features that pour into a bowl, or used as a starting point for rills, pouring into a pond or even a swimming pool. Plant around the jug to integrate it in your overall design.


Water fountains

Slate ball fountain water fountain

Decorative water fountains are ideal if you have an area in the garden that’s in need of a focal point. There are lots of different styles to choose from, including polished metal spheres and stone monoliths and columns.


Whirlpools

Whirlpool water feature

Vortex or whirlpool water features have a mesmerising effect and as the water swirls it creates a lovely swishing sound. The burnished copper bowl in this image is the perfect foil for the surrounging drought-tolerant, angular plants like yuccas, aloes and agaves.


Pebble piles

Pebble pile water feature

This pebble pile is one of the simplest and cheapest to set up. A pile of artfully placed stones and pebbles conceal a pump and water reservoir beneath. You can use a similar set up with a millstone – a pump hidden in the central hole of the millstone will radiate water out, and if needed, can be concealed by a heap of pebbles.


Troughs and tanks

Rectangular water feature
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Watertight troughs and containers can be filled with water to create interesting unique features. This upcycled metal trough has a bed of grey pebbles to precent the water looking too dark and murky, while a colourful planting of achilleas, stipa, echinops and pennisetums softens the hard edges.


Avoiding mosquitoes

In ponds, you can rely on invertebrates and other pond wildlife to eat mosquito larvae, but this can be trickier in water bowls and other containers containing still water. From hatching, the larvae take around 10 days to become adults, so change the water every 10 days or so, if you spot mosquito larvae.

Watering can