10 Great Ideas for Small Water Features

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Lawn & Garden

Outdoor living has become increasingly popular, especially during warm weather, when people enjoy cookouts, pool parties, and relaxing on the patio. Adding a small water feature can enhance your outdoor space and make it even more enjoyable. A small water feature can take many forms, such as a fountain, waterfall, rock pond, or birdbath, and can be a great way to add something extra to your space without spending a lot of money. In this article, we will explore ten ideas for small water features that you can build in your backyard.

10: Water Fountains

There are many types of outdoor water fountains available, so it’s important to research which one will complement your space best. Fountains come in various shapes and sizes, can be placed on walls or waterfalls, and can feature decorative toppers. They also come in different materials such as copper, cement, brass, and stainless steel. Fountains can be used as an accent to your garden, yard, or patio, and can even be placed in an outdoor pond. Remember that bigger is not always better; the fountain should enhance your landscape without overpowering it.

9: Miniature Ponds

When building a miniature pond, location is key. You should choose a location that gets 4-6 hours of sunlight each day, which will keep the water clear of algae and provide a suitable environment for fish and tropical plants. Avoid areas that are subject to runoff rainwater or foreign debris that can disrupt the pond’s ecosystem. The pond should be at least 2 feet deep and 3 feet wide, but you can expand the width according to your preference and available space.

When starting to create your own pond, consider adding a shelf along the edge where you can plant vegetation and line the area with waterproof plastic before filling it with water. If you don’t want to dig a hole, you can sink containers into the ground and coat the inside with waterproof material. To prevent bugs, you may want to aerate the water. Research which plants will thrive best in your pond, and consider adding goldfish from a local pet store.

8: Birdbaths

Birdbaths are a great addition to any space, and can attract a variety of birds. Consider purchasing a heated birdbath for the winter months, or adding a fountain mist to attract hummingbirds. When selecting a birdbath, keep the safety of the birds in mind by choosing one with a nonslippery surface and water no deeper than 3 inches. Change the water every other day and avoid using chemicals.

7: Japanese Water Gardens

Japanese water gardens provide a peaceful and reflective atmosphere. Keep the garden quiet with soothing water and accent with plants and rocks, leaving enough space between them as Japanese water gardens symbolize space.

6: Rock Ponds/Rock Gardens

Rock ponds and gardens use various sizes, shapes, and colors of rocks and can be accentuated with water features and blooms designed for rough terrain.

There are two types of rocks that can be used in ponds: natural and artificial. Artificial rocks are easier to handle as they are lighter than natural ones. Also, natural rocks can crack over time due to constant water contact. However, natural rocks provide a more authentic look and can make your garden look more genuine. Adding plant life to your rock pond can also make it look more natural. To create a rock garden, evaluate your garden’s layout and the sun/shade patterns to determine which plants will thrive in your pond. Position the rocks in the lowest, front part of the garden first and work upward, then add soil to anchor them firmly. Let the soil settle for a few days before adding plants.

A bubbling container is a compact water feature that requires a pot, a pump, and a fountain. You can choose any pot size, preferably with a hole in the bottom to insert the pump’s cord. If not, drill a hole or let the cord stick out and hide it with greenery. Set the container near an outlet to avoid using an extension cord. You can also add goldfish to the pot to prevent mosquitoes. Bubbling containers offer various design options, such as setting three pots of different heights in a cluster or submerging the container(s) to appear as if water is bubbling from an underground spring.

Water basins are decorative bowls that catch water from a nearby spout. When the basin fills, it overflows onto decorative rocks that hide a reservoir buried under the ground. The water is then recirculated back into the spout. Basins can be made from various materials, such as copper, aluminum, stone, or wood. Similarly, spouts can be made from materials like bamboo or metal. Water basins originated from Japanese garden design, with Chozubachi basins near garden gates for guests to drink or splash water on their brow, and Tsukubai basins set low to indicate entering a sacred portion of the garden.

3: Spas

If you have a budget and enough space, you may want to consider having a spa pool in your backyard. It involves installing a small pool or whirlpool with a water feature at one end, such as a cascading waterfall fountain or spouts that shoot water in attractive arches. Since this project serves multiple purposes – relaxation, aesthetic and audible appeal – it is important to consider all aspects. Choosing the right size and shape for the pool is crucial, and it is recommended to install the waterfall fountain and/or water spouts in a scenic and sheltered location where they can be seen and heard even when you are not in the water. This way, you can fully enjoy the investment and feel relaxed and surrounded by beauty when you are near the sprays.

2: Waterfalls

Waterfalls come in various sizes and designs, giving you plenty of options to choose from. There are two main types of waterfalls: those with ponds below and those without. Typically, homeowners install ponds in their yards and top them off with a decorative waterfall feature, such as a small stream of water flowing down a pile of rocks. These ponds usually feature beautiful plantings and colorful fish, but they can be expensive and require a lot of maintenance. For those who do not have the space or interest in having a pond, pondless waterfalls are a great alternative. With pondless waterfalls, water flows down a structure, such as rocks or a stone wall, and onto a bed of decorative gravel. The gravel covers a basin that catches the water, which is then sent back up to the top of the waterfall by a pump.

1: Stairway Water Features

One unique water feature you can incorporate into your home is a stairway water feature. It is a combination of a waterfall and a fountain, and it involves setting up a hidden waterfall or spout at the top of your stairs or in the middle of a paved walkway. For example, the waterfall can be within a boulder sitting in a shallow basin, which is connected to a small reservoir at the bottom of the stairs through a channel that runs down the walkway or stairs. When the waterfall or spout is operational, water flows down the walkway, trickles down the stairs, and eventually ends up in the basin below, where it is then pumped back up to the top. This water feature not only adds the soothing sound of water to your home, but it also surprises and delights your guests.

To learn more about water features, check out the links on the next page.

Additional Information Available

Related Articles

  • Bubbling Fish Garden Fountain-Pool
  • Instructions for Installing a Fountain
  • Steps to Create a Water Garden Pond
  • Ideas for Rock Gardens
  • Top 5 Water Features for Backyards


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1. What are some examples of small water features?

Some examples of small water features include fountains, bird baths, waterfalls, ponds, and bubbling rocks. These can be installed in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and can range in size from a tabletop fountain to a small pond in the backyard.

2. What are the benefits of having a small water feature?

Small water features can provide many benefits, such as improving air quality, reducing stress, and creating a calming atmosphere. They can also attract wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, and add visual interest to a space.

3. What are some factors to consider when choosing a small water feature?

When choosing a small water feature, it is important to consider factors such as the available space, budget, maintenance requirements, and personal preferences. Some features may require more maintenance than others, and some may be better suited for certain climates or environments.

4. How can I incorporate a small water feature into my garden?

Small water features can be incorporated into a garden in many ways, such as adding a fountain or pond, using a small waterfall or stream, or placing a bird bath or bubbling rock. It is important to choose a feature that complements the overall design of the garden and fits within the available space.

5. What are some tips for maintaining a small water feature?

To maintain a small water feature, it is important to regularly clean and replace the water, remove debris, and check for any leaks or damage. It is also important to monitor the water quality and add any necessary chemicals or treatments to prevent algae growth and maintain a healthy environment for any fish or plants.

6. How can I incorporate lighting into my small water feature?

Lighting can be a great addition to a small water feature, as it can create a dramatic effect and highlight the beauty of the water. Some options for lighting include underwater lights, spotlights, and string lights around the perimeter of the feature.

7. What are some creative ways to use small water features indoors?

Small water features can be used indoors in many creative ways, such as adding a tabletop fountain to a living room or office, incorporating a wall-mounted fountain in a bedroom or bathroom, or using a small pond or waterfall as a room divider or focal point.

8. How can I make my small water feature more eco-friendly?

To make a small water feature more eco-friendly, it is important to use sustainable materials, such as recycled or natural materials, and to choose a feature that is energy-efficient and uses minimal water. It is also important to maintain the feature properly to prevent any negative impact on the environment.

9. What are some benefits of adding fish or plants to a small water feature?

Adding fish or plants to a small water feature can provide many benefits, such as improving water quality, reducing algae growth, and creating a more natural and balanced ecosystem. Fish and plants can also add visual interest and create a more dynamic and engaging feature.

10. How can I incorporate a small water feature into a small space?

Even in a small space, there are many ways to incorporate a small water feature, such as using a tabletop fountain, adding a wall-mounted fountain or waterfall, or using a small pond or stream. It is important to choose a feature that fits within the available space and complements the overall design of the area.

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