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  • Andrew Christopher Dunne

Water water everywhere...

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

One of the most commonly requested features in a garden design is a water feature. These can be large or small, simple or enormously complicated. What ever form they take, done right the can be a valuable assit to any garden scheme .Done wrong they can be at best an eyesore, at worst a health hazard. Well this month I hope to guide you through the potential minefield that is the world of water features and hopefully help you to avoid the some of the most common mistakes.

There are so many reasons to include a water feature of some description in your garden. Firstly, a flowing feature will add sound and movement to a scheme and positioned carefully can help to ease those stresses away while you sip a glass of red in the all to illusive sunshine. A static feature such as a pond can be an invaluable haven for wildlife that will attract birds, animals and insects into the garden. Frogs, which somehow appear from nowhere as soon as you instal a pond are a welcome addition to any garden as they are one of the worlds best organic pesticides. They will quickly rid your garden from many unwanted pests such as slugs and snails whilst being a subject of great interest for any child. A word of warning though, frogs are a protected species and removing frog spawn from the wild to populate your garden pond is illegal.

There are a pew points you need to consider when choosing a water feature. The first of which is safety. Water of any depth can be a serious hazard to our children and you can be guaranteed that it will also be the centre of their attention as soon at it appears in the garden. If children are lightly to be in the garden it is advised to consider an enclosed water feature. These are any feature where the main water sump or storage are is concealed under ground and then covered with a steel mesh to prevent unwanted access. A small pump can then be placed in the sump to create a bubbling effect as it pumps water over a rock. Very simple, cheap to instal and safe.

The second point to consider is maintenance and as usually low maintenance gardens are both a desire and a necessity in a modern garden therefore this is a point to be considered carefully. Water features of any kind will require regular maintenance. This fact can often result in me advising my client that they shouldn’t include a water feature in the scheme as they are certainly not essential to creating a successful garden. However there are some features that require far more maintenance than others. An informal pond, for example, with aquatic plants and fish will need constant maintenance to keep plants under control, fish healthy and water clear.

The third point to consider is style. This is a matter of personal taste but it should always be considered as part to the overall style of the garden. For example a contemporary or urban garden scheme should have a simple formal feature such as a formal ( rectangular) pond or combine steel or glass with water to form a contemporary water fall. A more informal or country garden is better suited to a wildlife pond or traditional fountain. What ever style you chose I would urge you to avoid statues and ornaments. They looked good hand sculpted in marble in Roman villas a couple of thousand years ago but as the centre piece for a lawn in a back garden in Ireland they are a feature that are best avoided.

This brings me to the final point to consider when choosing a water feature. Location. Location, location. Think where to position your feature. It should be in earshot of your seated area but is is a good idea to keep it away from your house. This will ensure that you don’t need frequent visits to the bathroom whilst trying to sleep due to the constant sound of running water. It is also a nice to have a water feature hidden from initial view so that you hear the sound of water first and then are encouraged to explore the garden further. Most importantly always consider the planting that surrounds the water feature. Large leafed plants and small splashes of colour will set it off and prevent your feature from becoming to dominant in the garden. Remember the idea is that your garden works as a whole and no one feature should dominate.

There are simply thousands of ways to include water in our garden and as always I would encourage you to be creative as to how you do this however they do require a bit of thought to work successfully and mistakes can be costly. So have a go but don’t rush into it and always do your homework before taking a spade to the front lawn!

Andrew’s tops tips.

Keep it simple. Even our most complicated water features are designed to look simple.

Do your research, Water feature Books, web sites and YouTube.

Lighting, Water features at night can be truly stunning and can create moving shadows at the back of a waterfall

Safety first always get a qualified electrician to instal circit breakers to any pumps or pond lighting.

If in doubt seek a professional.

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