It’s no wonder that so many people love to escape to the seashore or to a lakeside cabin to rest and relax. The sight and sound of water can be calming for many. It covers most of the planet and makes up most of our bodies, and yet there’s still something that calls us to it.
But you don’t have to wait for a vacation to enjoy this tranquil feeling! Adding a water feature to your yard is a fantastic way to enjoy anything from a tumbling waterfall to a babbling brook to a mirror-like pond. There’s a wide range of types of water features that can fit almost any space and budget, too! Add some plants and other decorations around it to complete the look.
We’ll look at nine types of water feature you can have at home. But one of the great things is that you can combine these in so many ways! All it takes is your imagination.
A pond is a magnificent way to enjoy the stillness of water. All it takes is a hole in the ground, a liner, and a filter.
Ponds can come in any shape and size. You can be preformed pond shells in many pet shops, home improvement stores and elsewhere. Or you could go for a custom shape and size and line it with rubber or PVC liners.
Preformed shells are often made of plastic, fiberglass, or are box-welded. They can be round, rectangular or irregularly shaped, as most natural ponds are. Many even have bottoms that have different levels, creating a more realistic feel. The sizes we’ve seen range from about 35 gallons (136 liters) to 270 gallons (1022 liters), but the range could be even broader than that.
You can decide what you want to add to your pond. Rocks, gravel, and aquatic plants make awesome decorations. And the pond may attract beautiful insects like dragonflies as well as frogs, salamanders, and other small creatures. If you’re lucky, other creatures like rabbits, raccoons, and even deer may decide it makes a good watering hole!
Within the general classification of ponds, koi ponds hold a special place. Koi are a relative of goldfish but grow much larger and have long lifespans when cared for properly. Like goldfish, they are able to live in a broader range of water temperatures than tropical fish. With the right care and a deep-enough pond, they can even survive an average winter in the northern US.
Koi ponds offer all the benefits of a regular pond, but with the addition of these beautiful fish. Usually orange, they also sometimes have white or black patches. They’re very docile as well and have even been known to poke out of the water to be fed.
Besides the beauty, another advantage of having koi in your pond is that they help control the insect population. Mosquitoes and some other insects gravitate to the water and breed there. Koi will eat the bugs and eggs as well.
Another variation on a pond is the reflecting pool or pond. Often rectangular, this feature is usually surrounded by a simple walkway or grass. It’s not stocked with fish, either.
Instead, it serves to mirror the trees, house, and other features around it – and even reflect the viewer. It’s a great place to pass the time peacefully thinking.
While it’s still a good idea to have a filter to keep the water clean, the surface movement is usually kept to a minimum so that a more mirror-like image is preserved.
You may not be looking for something as larger as the reflective pool on the National Mall in Washington DC, but even a small one can go great in your yard!
If you’d like a bit more movement in your water or want to make good use of the incline out back, a stream could be exactly what you’re looking for.
A small stream can easily be carved out of the surface and works great where there’s at least a slight downward pitch.
If you have a natural spring on your property, so much the better. However, even if not, you can construct a pumping system that will move the water from the end back to the beginning.
You’ll love the sound of the water splashing across the rocks. Adding some plants along the edges helps complete the look.
Streams have a gentle, peaceful sound to them, but waterfalls add just a little more. These are great complements to either a pond or a stream. You could build one into your stream following the natural lines of your lawn. Or you could construct a larger waterfall that uses a pump to direct water to the top where it will splash and fall to the bottom again.
Waterfalls are one way of adding a more “3D” effect to your garden. Since they rise above the level of your grass, they’re easier to see. Unless you really go big, they won’t be “loud”, but they will definitely make a bit more noise than the other features on the list.
You might even find a broader assortment of animals that find their way here. Some amphibians may love the space behind where the water drops. Birds may prefer to perch higher up on a tall fixture.
While the best waterfalls are custom-built ones – even DIY projects – there are pre-made ones as well. These, too, come in a wide variety of sizes and you can even find smaller ones that are fit for your deck or in a corner of your outdoor kitchen. Just fill it, plug it in, and start enjoying!
A fountain generally is a more formal look than those we’ve mentioned above. It may have a lot in common with a waterfall, but a fountain usually doesn’t have that natural look to it.
Like any of these features, only imagination, space, and budget constrain you. A fountain can be tiny and use just a couple of gallons of water. Or if you really want to go all out – and have the yard to fit it – you can add one that rivals those in any city park.
You’ll enjoy the sight and sound of water spurting into the air then falling down again, either directly into the base or pouring across various tiers.
Sometimes the greatest beauty is in simplicity. If you’re just looking for something small and also love to attract our feathered friends, a birdbath can be a perfect addition.
These small stands with a shallow bowl of water offer a great place for birds to visit and clean themselves, especially when it’s been dry and they can’t find a lot of standing water.
Birdbaths come in different styles and sizes so you can be sure to find one that goes with the overall look of your yard.
Scuppers and Sconces
These are two words you might be less familiar with, although “sconce” is probably a bit more familiar. Both of these are part of a wall feature. Water pours through them.
Sconces are a tiny bit like gargoyles but on a flat wall. They may be carved to look like a lion, and the water spits out of its mouth. Or perhaps an angel holding an earthenware jar and spilling the water.
Scuppers are similar, but in themselves not as ornamental. But they allow a greater volume of water to pass because they’re wider. Rather than the water coming out as it would from a hose, with a scupper it pours down in a sheet.
Both of these obviously work in connection with other water features, like a reflecting pool that the water pours into it. They’re great if you have a two-level feature so that water can pass from one to the other as well.
Small-scale Water Features
Don’t forget that you don’t need a lot of space to add these water features to your home. We already mentioned the small waterfall units that you can buy for your deck or other outdoor areas. Many of the other features we’ve discussed here can also be found in smaller versions that will work in whatever space you have. Tabletop fountains, water walls, and other items can fit almost anywhere. Most of them will even work indoors!
When you long for the cool, refreshing sensation of being at the beach or the lake, don’t despair! You can bring fantastic water features right into your own backyard. They can be simple or elaborate and match your needs in terms of size and budget as well. Adding one will help you escape from the stress of everyday life and immerse yourself in an outdoor experience without going farther than the patio!