Spray of water from an outdoor fountain

The Wonder of Water: Take your Garden to the Next Level with a Water Feature

Pond Scene in Japanese Garden in Fort Worth Botanic Garden in Texas
The Garden is full of water features such as the koi ponds in the Japanese Garden. With some time and effort, you can bring the serenity of these water features to your own home.

We love our water features at the Garden, especially in the heat of summer. The long, tranquil basin that greets guests as soon as they enter the gates, the gushing fountain that stands in the center of the Rose Garden, the serene koi ponds of the Japanese Garden—there’s nothing else like the relaxing sound and sight of water.

What if you could bring that peace and serenity back home with you? With a little time and effort, you can—with water features for your home garden.

“Water features are one of the most fun, relaxing and welcoming items you can place in your garden,” says Garden Projects Coordinator Stephen Haydon. “They can become a focal point that will bring great joy to your family’s experience outdoors.”

Water fountain at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Before you dive into the wonderful world of water features, here are a few things you need to know:

Types of Water Features

Water features come in a wide range of sizes and complexity. The type of feature you choose will depend on your space, your budget, and the level of time you want to devote to maintenance.

The simplest and easiest types of water features include bird baths and tabletop water gardens. These are relatively small features that require little effort to set up. Maintenance is easy: you will need to replenish the water regularly and periodically clean the feature. Tabletop water features can become centerpieces for parties or gatherings; since they are small and portable, they are great for apartment balconies or small decks. Bird baths are larger and heavier than tabletop features, but they can be moved when necessary, making them idea for renters. You’ll be doing your feathered friends a favor, and you’ll never tire of watching the birds who will frequent your yard.

Slightly more complicated but still easy to create and maintain are fountains. You can purchase fountains and fountain kits at garden centers and home improvement stores, or make your own with supplies such as flower pots, inexpensive water pumps and simple tubing.

More elaborate and therefore more costly water features include ponds, waterfalls and water streams. Ambitious DIYers can tackle these projects themselves, or you can hire professionals to help you design, install and maintain these features. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to these more complicated projects. Want a formal European-style fountain like you find in the Rose Garden? Or a koi pond reminiscent of those in the Japanese Garden? Anything is possible.

Safety first

Keep a few tips in mind before you install a water feature.

Water bursts into the air from a water fountain
  • Make sure the feature is safe for small children and pets. Consider installing pondless water features that don’t have standing water at the base. Educate children about drowning risks, always supervise children around water features and make sure you are trained in CPR.
  • Get the right permissions. Large water features may require a permit from your local municipality. Homeowner’s associations also might have regulations you will need to follow.
  • Don’t mess around with electricity near water. Follow safety instructions when completing DIY projects. For large projects, hire a licensed electrician to ensure all work is safe and up to code.
  • Stop mosquitos from breeding. Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water, so an easy way to eliminate the pests is ensure the water in your feature is moving. Keep your fountain or bird bath clean to prevent algae from forming, since mosquito larvae need it for food. If you are building a pond large enough to hold fish, they will naturally keep the water larvae free, but you can encourage other bug-eating insects and birds by surrounding the feature with native plants.

Why water?

Sources online debate whether or not adding a water feature to your yard adds value to your property, but it can certainly add value to your life. The very presence of water is soothing. Birds, insects and other wildlife will benefit from a source of fresh water. The gurgling of a fountain or the splashing of a waterfall banishes the noises of traffic, neighbors and the city.

“People are naturally attracted to water,” says Haydon. “The next time you visit the pools and fountains of the Garden, we hope you are inspired create your own water feature to capture that feeling at home.”

Related Articles

Herbarium specimen from AABP project - Blakea spindet

Armchair Botany and the Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program: Volunteers Make Scientists’ Hard Work Accessible

Important botanical science happens in the field. Researchers tramp across habitats, sometimes in remote and rugged regions of the world, collect plant samples, document the distribution of species and study ecosystems in action. Later those scientists return to the lab with boxes of specimens, and a new and equally important phase of research begins. Scientists label, mount and digitize specimens to make them accessible to the global science community. They become a resource that can be studied in multiple contexts–as part of an ecosystem or as a member of a particular plant family, for example.

Read More »
Group of students practice tai chi

Meditation in Motion: Discovering Tai Chi

Slow, deliberate, beautiful movement is the essence of tai chi. A practice that melds the mind and the body, tai chi improves balance and muscle strength while reducing stress and calming the mind. And you can learn all about it in the Garden’s upcoming wellness series, 24-Form Tai Chi.

Read More »
Two yellow lemons on a tree

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Citrus Trees

Picture it: you wake on a lovely fall day, walk onto your patio and pick a Satsuma mandarin from your very own tree. You peel back back the bright orange skin and bite into a perfectly ripe, tart yet sweet, orange. This could be you–with a little time, a little knowledge and a citrus tree of your own. The good news? You can find the knowledge and the trees at the upcoming Fall Plant Sale. The time you’ll need to provide yourself.

Read More »
Mother and daughters on the way to school

Strengthen Family Connections with Back-to-School Traditions

The start of a new school year can be both stressful and thrilling. Certainly for families with school-age children, it’s a time of nervous preparation, of anxiety about the year ahead, of shopping and scheduling and strategizing. But mixed into that stress is excitement about new things to learn and new friends to meet. To foster excitement and reduce anxiety, Education Program Coordinator Joanne Howard encourages families to mark the start of the new school year by establishing family traditions.

Read More »
Thyme, rosemary and lavender on a white plate

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Exploring the World of Herbs

For many people, herbs may conjure a mental image of an aisle at the grocery store and tiny bottles filled with dried flakes labeled “Rosemary,” “Oregano” and “Thyme.” But this is only one way to experience herbs. Certainly herbs can enhance your cooking, but they offer much more. “Herbs provide a lot of hope,” says Andrea Garcia, Fort Worth dietician and herb enthusiast. “They may not be able to fix everything, but they can ease things, make things better.”

Read More »