Flowing, cascading, misting, burbling, gurgling or serenely still, water adds another dimension to your outdoor space. Water features actually cool the air, provide a calming atmosphere and block out background noise. And, water is a big drawcard for all sorts of wildlife, including pollinators and insect eaters, so even a small feature can boost your outdoor living experience. It’s a doable DIY project, as you can dig and line a hole, turn a pot into a pond or buy a freestanding fountain, without paying big dollars for landscape design. Or you can go the whole hog and call in the pros to transform your deck, patio or backyard.
1. Up the river
A sunny courtyard is lovely, but lots of paving and stone can be too hot to handle, even with a shade tree. The solution? Running water. Here, the main bed is on a slope – to maximize planting space and create depth – and has a real stream! A waterfall feeds a pebbled waterway that snakes between rock-lined banks to end in a small pool, containing a submerged pump. From here, the water is pumped (via poly pipe) back to the top – a perfect man-made stream!
2. Take the plunge
This kind of plunge pool-style water feature doesn’t require as much space as you think, but it definitely isn’t DIY. The pond is a metal trough and the timber wall stands proud of the fence to hide the pump and fountain mechanism. It works well in a hardscaped area like a courtyard or under a pergola.
3. On the rocks
Want something simple and quick? A rock bowl is the ultimate low-maintenance water feature. It doesn’t have any plants to care for, or need power for a pump. Choose a decorative glazed pot – cobalt blue is always a crowd-pleaser – and fill it with river rocks (buy don’t steal them!) in different sizes, then add water. Done! PS, add a drop of vegetable oil to create a surface film on the water to smother mozzie eggs.
4. For the birds
If you want to kill two birds with one stone and add a water feature while attracting feathered friends (pun intended) then a birdbath is the way to go. They look great against a backdrop of trees and shrubs with a bit of structural foliage – think fern or monstera – and low-growers in front.
5. Boardwalk beauty
Extend the deck with steps to a boardwalk that skirts a pond. Try it in a small to mid-size garden, especially if you’re happy to forgo a lawn – no grass means no mowing! You won’t have to call in a landscaper, as you can buy a rock-look preformed pond from Bunnings. They come in
several sizes, and there is even a cascade version. Add river rocks and driftwood, and green the scene with ornamental grasses, ferns and hostas.
6. Still waters
An in-ground pond is best left for large gardens or rural properties, but is an amazing thing if you can manage it! Here, the pond is ringed by oversize pavers and the pondside plantings are in a garden bed, which doesn’t limit the selection to marginal varieties. In the water are potted aquatics and floating plants.
7. Off the wall
Team a cascading wall of water with a vertical garden on either side for a lush jungle-style display. To get the look, seek out a metal (or metal look) water-wall feature with reservoir, then install off-the-shelf vertical garden panels on either side. Plant up with ferns, grasses
and other lush foliage.
8. Pond life
Hardscaped ponds suit more formal landscapes – save the forest-style pools for bush gardens. A paved surround offers access to this pond while a Buddha head in a nest of pebbles and a fountain spray add decorative drama. A feature like this needs aquatic life, in this case, water iris, lily pads and fish. Goldfish are easy-care, but if you don’t want to provide a buffet for birds and cats, consider an aquatic dye or a cover net, from pond suppliers.