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WATER FEATURES

SIGHTING

Water features are among the most useful items you can add to your garden.

They provide a visible feature, a talking point, a source of movement and a contrast in a sea of planting. They can add height, colour and texture to make a garden complete.

The sighting of the feature is as important as the size and shape of the feature you choose so initially it is important to look at your garden from different locations to find the site most suitable.

Sighted close to a patio where you generally sit outside will give you the sound of the water as well as the view but it is also nice to also see a feature from a window, perhaps in a kitchen or conservatory. In thinking about the view, the size of the feature required will also become apparent so the importance of looking before buying is well worthwhile.

CHOOSING

Natural Stone. Granite, Marble, Limestone or Sandstone are generally the stones used in making water features although other types of stone can also be used. Of these, the Granite is the hardest stone type and is less porous than the others and so, less likely to absorb the grime associated with water running over stone. All features left outside will need to be cleaned from time to time unless, of course, you like weathered features but Granite will require less attention than other stones.

Composite. These are usually made from plastic, concrete, fibre glass or some form of fibre resin mix. They can look quite authentic and give rise to more free-standing features than Natural stone features which generally require an addition of a tub for the water. Most Composite feature store less water than ones using a tub and the water is above ground level so there can be an issue in winter with frost. Underground tubs are unlikely to have frost problems in all but the most severe winters.

Stainless Steel. A huge variety of shapes and sizes are available in this range, both as free standing and tub required features. They have a reflective quality that can add a new dimension to a garden and are modern looking features, not as the more traditional Natural Stone ones.

Wooden. Generally, wood comes into use as a water feature by the use of Oak Barrels mostly reclaimed from the whisky industry. The addition of a steel pump for the water to flow from produces a good effect from a free standing feature. A good range of sizes and features are available.

REQUIREMENTS

You will not need a permanent water supply for most features. The water is held in a tub or in the free standing features container and is recirculated around the feature. You will, however need to fill it initially and top up the water occasionally. Additives can be added to help to keep the water free from algal growth.

A pump will be needed to circulate the water. A Solar pump needs no electricity supply although the performance will vary with the weather and the water flow may be difficult to control. Generally an electric pump of the correct size for the feature is the best option. These are now quite cheap to run although you will need an electricity supply. Most pumps come with 10mtrs of cable so will reach an outdoor or indoor socket.

FITTING A WATER FEATURE

Generally, water features fit into three categories.

Free-standing features. These hold water within the feature. The water recirculates through the feature and the pump is held in the water holding area. Sometimes the water held is a small amount as in wall plaques but in others such as wooden tubs, the water area is larger. Some wall fountains have a hole at the back for the pump cable to fit but others, like the Oak tubs, have the cable over the side of the tub. The cable leads from the pump to a suitable electricity supply, perhaps clipped to a wall or run in a conduit underground.

Waterfalls. These are features usually, although not always, fitted at the side of a pond, perhaps as part of a rockery and they carry water from the pond through a hose to the top of the fall and recirculate the water back into the pond. A pump is used to push the water to the top of the fall. The cable from the pump is usually fitted through a conduit to and electricity supply.

Features requiring a tub. The tub is usually placed in a hole dug to the right size so the top of the tub is at ground level. Generally the tub is put on a sand base and the outside of the tub is also packed with sand. The tub can be in a patio or in decking but the principle is the same. A steel grid is placed on the tub to hold the feature and cobbles or similar are used to hide the grid. A pump, placed at the bottom of the tub, takes the water through a hose to the top of the feature and the water then recirculates to the tub. A light can also be fitted in the feature so the water lights up as it exits the hole at the top.

The tub and grid are chosen for the size of the feature. If the tub is too small, water will be lost in splashing and the tub will need to be topped up more regularly. The pump is also chosen for the amount of water required. A small pump may produce a trickle and a larger one a gush of water. It all depends what you require, the more water movement the larger the tub will need to be.

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