Water Features

Garden Place Little Pond

Water is one of the most desirable elements in the garden and because of this, it is the most important element in the design. When designing with water, it is important to think about its inherent characteristics: it runs downhill and collects in low spots. Try to respect and design within these characteristics in mind. For example, even the most well-designed pool will look silly perched on the top of a hill in the middle of a garden. It is also very important to consider the scale of the water feature in comparison to the scale of the space that it is placed in.

Water can be informal or informal. This is decided upon based on the design of the garden. A formal reflecting pool would not work in an informal landscape design for example. When designing an informal pool look to nature and the surrounding local ponds. Use the informality to inform your plant selection; use native water-loving plants for the best results. Formal pools have many more rules to follow because applying a strong rigid form to a loose, fluid element. The formal pond should be set in a space that helps define it. They tend to be free-standing and set in the middle of flat open space. A formal pool can be many shapes including, rectangles, ellipses, as long as it’s a formal, well-defined shape.

A pool tends to be the focus of the garden that it is a part of, because of this an important consideration is its appearance in the winter. To look nice in all seasons a pool needs to have a refined proportion, clean lines, and well-designed lines. Plants can play into the winter landscape as well. Ornamental grasses and other plants should be chosen for their winter shape, form, and winter interest. Making these important considerations will make your pool or water garden have plenty of year-round interest.

Streams and brooks bring movement, sound, and an opportunity to introduce naturalistic plantings to a landscape. Streams also act as an axis in a garden, dividing spaces, and defining them. A stream can cut a landscape in two or create an edge for the design. A stream forces the garden design to form around it and with it. Bringing informality or formality to the landscape can be accomplished by using a stream as well. Fast-moving water should be focused on, the banks should be treated simply. Slower moving water can be treated with a seating area and more elaborate planting areas.

Fountains are amazingly dynamic focal points. Water in a fountain can be used as a gentle gurgle or in a huge, forceful jet. The best fountains work within the context of the body of water that they are part of. Elaborate displays of water work in simple spaces; where the plantings or the planning is complicated the water display should be simple and fade into the background. When designing a fountain think about the visual effects: How high should the jets rise?; How wide should the basin be?; How many different levels should there be?; What angles should the jets be at? These are always good questions to consider.