Pond Features

Although a stretch of still water has its own appeal, you may decide to add lighting or a pump that will put the water in motion, either as a fountain or cascade. Depending on available space, this can be a gentle trickle or something much more dramatic.

Lighting can be appreciated when it
is warm enough to sit out at night.

Can I have lights in the pond?

You can buy special aquatic lights 
that sit at the bottom of a pond and cast their light upwards. The light 
can be white or coloured. The wiring for these must be installed by a qualified electrician.

What is a watercourse?

A watercourse is a set of linked 
pools on sloping ground. Water 
spills from one to the next and collects in a final pool or reservoir, from which it is pumped back to the first, or header, pool.

Are there any special considerations when constructing a watercourse?

In order to be effective, the pools should accommodate a sufficiently large volume of water to maintain 
a consistent flow while the pump (housed in the lowest pool) is in use. In practice, it is wise to make the lowest pool, or reservoir, as large 
and deep as possible. Once the watercourse is up and running, there will inevitably be water loss through evaporation and splashing as the water cascades from pool to pool. If the reservoir is too small, you may find you need to top it up every time you want to run the water.

How do I know how powerful a pump to buy for the watercourse?

Once you have decided the length of the watercourse and the height the water has to be lifted, contact a specialist aquatic garden supplier. Support staff will be able to advise you how big to make the final pool. The pump must also be powerful enough to lift the water to the height of the header pool.

How do I make a watercourse?

Create a series of shallow pools that feed into a final, large pool. It is usually simplest to make and line the final pool separately. Line the pools that feed into it with a single length of butyl pond liner that trails into the large pond. Trim off any excess liner. Attach the water pipe to the pump and put this in the bottom of the lowest pool. Take the pipe up to the highest pool and decide on its position. At this point, it is worth filling the pools with water, then running the pump. A watercourse always needs adjustments to create the desired even flow. You may need to lift the edges of the liner at certain points if water is being lost at the sides. 
You may also decide to place rocks in the water at strategic points to create eddies and currents. Once you are satisfied, turn off the pump. Disguise the pipe and the liner edges with rocks and/or plants.

Can I grow plants in a watercourse?

You can grow many water plants in the linked pools. Water lilies will not grow in moving water, but, provided the system is not run permanently, they can be incorporated in the lowest pool – the water in the higher pools 
is usually too shallow. Bear in mind that too many plants will impede the water flow.

Fountains can be constructed to suit
any size of pond.

I would like to have a fountain in a pond. Can I install this myself?

Yes, but the connection to the 
mains supply should be carried out 
by a qualified electrician. Usually, 
the connection will be made on the outside of the house, with the plug and switch concealed in a waterproof casing. You can also ask to have a switch installed inside the house. 
All outdoor electrical cables must be laid underground and buried as deep as necessary to comply with legal requirements. They should also be laid along the boundary, as far as possible, where there is least likelihood of them being disturbed 
by digging.

What is a bubble fountain?

A bubble fountain is one of the smallest types of water feature, and is suitable for use in a small garden. 
You can buy these ready-made in garden centres and DIY stores, but you can easily make one yourself. Sink a plastic bucket or large washing-up bowl in the ground to act as a reservoir. Fill it with water and place 
a small pump in the bottom. Lay a metal grid over the reservoir and cover with cobbles. Turn on the pump. Rearrange the cobbles so that the water falls over them evenly and the majority returns to the reservoir.

What is a shishi odoshi?

A shishi odoshi is a Japanese device designed to scare deer from a garden. Usually made of bamboo, it contains one or more uprights with a hollow, pivoting arm attached, into which water pours from a tube or pipe above it. When the arm gets full, the weight of the water causes it to tip over and empty. The empty arm then swings back upwards for refilling. A shishi odoshi can be used to deliver water into a watercourse, or to be the focal point of a water feature. It is very effective in an oriental-style garden.

Can I add an island to my pool?

An island adds interest to a large, informal pool. Although it is preferable to incorporate such a feature into the construction from 
the start, a small island can be 
added at a later date. If this is the case, drain the pool and build a retaining wall on the liner, following the outline of the island, until it is level with what will be the surface 
of the water. The area inside the wall can then be filled with soil, which should be graded into a gentle 
mound above the water level.

What types of rock should I use to build stepping stones?

Stepping stones can make a naturalistic feature across narrow stretches of water or streams. You will need to use flat-topped rocks or boulders for ease of passage, and preferably those with a rough hewn surface so that they don’t wear smooth too quickly and be a danger to users. These rocks will be heavy, so you will need help to move them into position. Suitable rocks are available from stone merchants and suppliers. A more natural effect, helping to pull the design together, is achieved by placing the same top stepping stones in the grass on either side of the water. Timber rounds can be used as an alternative to stepping stones in a 
bog garden.