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Tips On How To Pick The Perfect Water Feature For Your Garden
Whether you choose a traditional sunken pool to brighten up your garden or want to relax to the gentle sound of a fountain at the end of a stressful day, we have some great ideas and buys to suit any outdoor space.
What you need to know
Choose the best position
If you’re installing a running water feature like a fountain, stream or waterfall, you may need a sump, so keep that in mind when choosing the best location. Fountains and running water also need access to electricity to operate the pump, unless they are powered by solar energy.
If you want to install a pond, it should be in a place that has at least five hours of natural light a day – preferably sun – to keep the water clean for the fish and plants. Avoid overhanging trees and shrubs, as fallen leaves can choke the pond and poison the water.
Take care of your function
Ponds and water features will benefit from an annual cleaning. The best time to do this is in the spring, which will give the aquatic plants time to re-establish themselves before summer.
Cautionary note Safety is important, especially if you have small children; in which case it would be best to delay the water feature until they are older. Use a qualified electrician to install the cables. Find a NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) registered electrician in the yellow pages or call 020 7564 2323.
Electric powered water features
Transform a terracotta pot
Placing a beautiful pot or urn between your borders and then using it as a water feature will give your garden a rest. You can buy complete sets from Crocus, such as the Terracotta Grill, £449, or create something similar to the one pictured yourself. Simply choose the right pot or urn from your local garden centre, find the perfect spot for it in your garden and then have a qualified electrician install the cable to run the water pump.
Make it a focal point with a feature wall
For a timeless look on your patio, install a traditional wall fountain. You’ll need an electrician to connect a water pump (from £20 in DIY stores) to the indoor mains, which will feed water from the sump through a pipe behind the wall to the mouth of the fountain. For a selection of wall fountains, try Arcadian.
Create a two-level cascade
Give your garden an informal look by using recycled materials such as old stone tubs and sinks – your best source will be local architectural scrap yards (see http://www.salvo.co.uk for your nearest one). Expect prices to start at around £40. To create this tiered water feature, water is pumped up through a hidden pipe from the sump trough to the tub at the top. The water then flows naturally back into the tank. Have a qualified electrician install the wiring necessary to operate the pump.
Be different with a pebbled design
If you want something a little unusual, a pebble fountain is ideal. You will need to place a small water tank and a pump under the pebbles, which will need electricity to circulate the water. Use a qualified electrician to perform electrical work. Buy a bag of pebbles from B&Q and let the water spill over them.
Solar powered water features
Choose solar power for easy installation
The charming Copper Solar Cascade Fountain by Greenfingers is entirely solar powered, making it much easier to install as no electrical work is required. Place it in a large pond or in a smaller water feature to make it an attractive focal point. Check out the Greenfingers website for similar solar features.
Try a floating fountain
Add interest to your pond with a solar pond island fountain. It simply floats on the surface of the water and creates a solar-powered water feature that runs on direct sunlight, so there are no installation or operating costs.
Add interest to a sunny spot
A tiered solar cascade fountain is a great feature for a sunny patio spot. As long as it is in direct sunlight, the water will gently trickle from one level to the next. A mains adapter is included in the price, so you can move it inside the house during the winter.
Build a raised pond in kit form
If you’d like a garden pond but don’t want to go to the trouble of digging a hole, you can buy a charming raised pond as a kit, complete with liner and pump. Try Garden Oasis for many pond options.
Turn your bathtub into a swimming pool
For a small space, tubs and tubs (available at home improvement stores and garden centers) are ideal for creating a mini pond. Ready-to-use waterproof barrels cost around £20, and you can recycle an old one by lining it with pond liner, which sells for around £3 per square metre. Secure the mat in place with flexible metal strip from Screwfix – 81cm length costs £1.99.
How to create a traditional pond
Make sure the site for your pond is level and then mark its shape on the ground. So that wildlife can safely jump in and out of it, choose a design that has edges at the edges of the pond no more than 6 inches deep.
If you are using a flexible mat, dig a hole of the desired size and shape, or if you have chosen a pre-shaped, rigid mat, dig a hole that will fit its shape. No matter how sturdy your pond liner may seem, it needs to be protected from the sharp rocks underneath, so add a layer of moist construction sand before installing the liner.
For flexible lining, leave about 15cm of overlap all around and hold the edges in place with bricks. For a rigid liner, place it in the hole and check that it is level, then weigh it down with 5cm of water. Fill all holes between the edge of the liner and the soil with construction sand or friable soil.
Fill your pond with water – smooth out wrinkles with a flexible liner as water flows into it. Trim the excess flexible lining from the edges, leaving enough to attach under your chosen edging material: use cobblestones or pebbles for a natural look.
Six aquatic plants that are easy to grow
Bring plants in between April and September – wait a few days after filling the new pond with tap water for the chlorine to dissipate. Place your plants in lined plastic planter baskets, using a special pond compost such as Westland Aquatic Compost, which costs around £2.49 for 10L from garden centres. Sprinkle peas on top to weigh down the basket and prevent the compost from washing into the water. Place the basket in the pond to the required depth after reading the grower’s instructions on the labels attached to the plants.
o Canna lilies: few plants can match the spectacular appearance of canna lilies, which bloom like gladioli from mid-summer to early autumn and can grow up to 1.8m in season. Canna thrives in full sun and rich soil and is an ideal plant for the edge of your pond.
o Rushes: To make the most of the space in a small pond, plant tall slender plants such as thin soft rushes.
o Water Lettuce: Preferring sun with some shade, water lettuce will add an exotic touch to your pond. It has fine feathery roots that turn from white to purple and then black.
o Water Lilies: These are a must for any pond – we love the dwarf water lily, which has tiny, star-shaped, yellow flowers and many different gently scented varieties.
o Taro: Taro, known for its large heart-shaped leaves, can be grown on the edges of a pond. It likes sun or partial shade and prefers rich, moist soil. Larger varieties can grow up to 1.8 m tall.
o Fire or Painted Nettles: Painted nettles will add intense, hot color to the edges of the pond and are ideal for partially shaded sites. It can grow up to 90 cm tall, and its highly colored nettle-like leaves come in a variety of shades, from lime green and yellow to bright red and aubergine.
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