Water in gardens, a talk by Alan Eason

Alan has spent the last 20 years building water features in gardens ranging from small to very large. These are a few tips to consider when planning a pond:

Benefits of having a water feature in the garden

  • Reflection of the sky and trees
  • Attracts wildlife
  • Sound and sparkle

To consider

  • Do not be afraid to have a large pond, it will be easier to maintain and give better reflections of the sky… Think of the scale of your lawn, house, the view… As grass makes space between trees and buildings, so does water.
  • Not many sites are level despite them looking level, it is important to create a level area for the water feature.
  • Fish will make it more difficult to keep the water clear without a pump and filtration system
  • Butyl liner is the way to go for most garden water features but it is good practice to hide it, for example behind stone walls and paving or with vigorous planting (e.g. Persicaria,Rheum, Primula, Rodgersia…)
  • Butyl liners need protecting with underlay, preferably below and on top
  • Welded liners can be custom made to 3D shapes, for example for a rill.
  • An overflow linked to a balancing tank will ensure automatic top up to the pond. Most small ponds however are topped up by hand and do not have an overflow. Consider overflow, where will the water go in the winter?
  • Plan electrical supply for water features from the outset
  • The water from tall fountains tends to get blown onto the surrounding paving / lawn… so consider the height of fountain to size of pond.
  • Select waterlilies with the correct vigour for the size of the pond (water lilies prefer lack of nutrients and slow moving or still water)
  • Purbeck stone is very good for building water features
  • To keep water clear, it is important to have a good range of aquatic plants (marginals, floaters & oxygenators). If blanket weed becomes a problem – it usually does at some point in the season – live with it or purchase specific products to deal with it DO NOT USE SALT in the pond, this is not approved for use and may harm wildlife.
  • Elm wood is a good material that does not rot when used to line a water feature / rill.

Other options to a pond
An ornamental ditch with wavy edges
Rills and runnels

Water garden to visit
Longstock water gardens, Stockbridge
 Grade II listed roof garden in London, currently not open but maybe in the future?

 Converted swimming pool at Cothay Manor – Hort Soc visit 2014

 Client’s garden in Devon

 Lady Farm garden near Bristol

 Great crested newt in private garden

Notes &b photos by Angela Morley www.wildgardens.co.uk