Making a splash in the garden – water features

Water is central to many gardens. Japanese gardens have natural pools with stepping stones and bridges and geometric Persian paradise gardens have formal rills. By including a water feature in your garden, you can turn an ordinary garden into a far more enticing space. They can also be fantastic for enticing wildlife into your garden. We have just completed a garden in East Lothian with a contemporary water feature, wrapping round the patio. A ‘zig-zag bridge’ crosses this and the pool will be planted with water lilies in the spring.

Here are 5 tips if you are considering introducing water into your garden.

  1. Think about the effect are you trying to achieve by having a water feature in your garden

    Stunning reflections of a beautiful building? A mirror that reflects light from the sky into your garden and home? A haven with soothing trickle to draw your attention away from the hustle and bustle going on outside? A magnet for blackbirds and robins to come down and wash, a home for fish, frogs and dragonflies? Movement, ripples and jets creating a splash to add excitement to your garden? This will influence your water feature design.


    I love this example of a tranquil reflective pool that we designed for a garden near Haddington. Beautiful sunset reflections could be seen from the main windows of the house.

  2. No outdoor space is too small

    Vertical water curtains and bubble jets can be incorporated into even the smallest of spaces.  The water blade at Shepherd House Garden,  another stunning East Lothian garden that is open to the public through Scotland’s Gardens is a good example of this. The mill wheel water feature (pictured below) also takes up no space at all.

  3. A water feature for a garden with different levels

    Water blade at Shepherd House
    Shepherd House

    Water blades and cascades can really enhance a garden with different levels.

  4. Safer designs for a water feature for children

    These include water features where there is not a large body of water. For instance where a spout recirculates through pebbles. In deeper pools, it is possible to install a grid just under the surface.


  5. Add a touch of magic in the evenings

    A strip of lights just under the rim of a contemporary pool or illuminating a cascade brings your garden to life at night. This adds interest to your garden through the long dark winter months, as well as when you are sitting out on warm summer’s evenings.


Endless effects can be created by including water in your garden. This natural pond we created in an East Lothian garden soon became a haven for birds and frogs. Fountains and cascades to pools, rills, streams, bog gardens and natural swimming ponds with stepping stones, bridges and islands. The style can be contemporary or traditional to fit with your surroundings. It can be as extravagant as gardens at the Villa d’Este (budget permitting) or a modest container water garden.