Water Garden Idea Book

by Lee Anne White

Want to make a big splash in your landscape? Add a water garden -- a bubbling urn, soothing fountain, naturalistic pond, or cascading waterfall. Water Garden Idea Book brings these ideas to life, with more than 300 creative examples for any type of landscape. Sage advice on design and placement ensure your water feature will look at home, either as a striking focal point or subtle addition in the landscape. Instruction on how to install simple water features makes this a complete visual sourcebook.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1
Simple Basins
Bowls and Basins
Waterproof Plants: Tropicals
Controlling Algae
Waterproof Plants: Lotuses
On the Wild Side: Luring Wildlife
Container Water Gardens
Nuts and Bolts: Staging Plants
Mosquito Control

Chapter 2
Soothing Fountains
Spouting Fountains
Nuts and Bolts: Statuary Fountain in a Trough
Creating a Garden Room
Waterproof Plants: Floating Plants
Nuts and Bolts: A Simple Spray
Cascading Fountains
Altering the Sound of Water
Winterizing a Fountain
Nuts and Bolts: Running Water Spigot
Tiered Fountains
Wall Fountains
Nuts and Bolts: Hanging a Wall
Spot-Lighting a Fountain
Japanese Fountains
The Symbolism of Japanese Fountains
Nuts and Bolts: Japanese Deer Scarer
Bubbling Fountains
Fountain Maintenance
Nuts and & Bolts: Bubbling River
Wiring Basics
Indoor Fountains

Chapter 3
Naturalistic Ponds and Streams
Garden Ponds
The Bottom Line on Gravel
The Flexibility of Pond Liners
On the Wild Side: Fish
On the Wild Side: Ducks
On the Wild Side: Keeping Critters Out
Streams and Waterfalls
Nuts and Bolts: Designing a Waterfall
On the Wild Side: Turtles
Waterproof Plants: Marginals
Visualizing the Flow of Water
Playing with Boulder Placement
Dry Streams
Nuts and Bolts: Designing a Streambed
At the Water's Edge
Nuts and Bolts: Designing a Bog
Waterproof Plants: Bog Plants
Invasive Aquatic Plants
Waterproof Plants: Floating Island

Chapter 4
Large Fountains
Waterproof Plants: Water Lilies
Nuts and Bolts: Raised Pools
Creating Ambience with Underwater
Wall Fountains
Nuts and Bolts: Structural Wall
Nuts and Bolts: Sunken Concrete
Waterproof Plants: Submerged Plants
Building Codes and Regulations
Swimming Pool Features
Nuts and Bolts: Sheet Waterfalls
Nuts and Bolts: Floating Steps





Among my earliest and fondest childhood memories is feeding the goldfish with my grandmother in her small backyard pond on Sunday afternoons. I had never seen such large goldfish in an aquarium, and watching them swim around was probably one of the few things I would sit still for as a child. These days, I take equal pleasure in watching my nieces feed the goldfish in their grandmother's pond. And I can still sit for long periods watching the fish as they dart about the water, hiding beneath ledges or lily pads, and kissing the pond's surface for air and food. Often, it's these simple pleasures that bring us some of the greatest joys in life.

Of course, it's not just children and grownups that enjoy water gardens. All creatures need water for survival, and the addition of a water feature to any landscape is a sure way to attract birds, butterflies, bullfrogs, and other wildlife to the backyard.

Water features of all kinds -- with or without fish, in the house or out in the garden, filled with plants or little more than a basin of still water reflecting the sky -- add a soothing element to any setting. The sound of a trickling fountain or cascading waterfall is a compelling element in the landscape -- beckoning you to explore and inviting you to relax, if only for a few moments, to forget the day's worries. Gentle gurgles and soft splashes can help mask the sounds of a modern world filled with ringing phones, rumbling traffic, and roaring mowers. If we close our eyes, we just might be transported to a quiet spot beside a mountain stream or to the crystal clear pools beneath a tropical waterfall. A wall spout or tiered fountain can make a courtyard seem 10 degrees cooler on a blistering hot summer day, and a tiny tabletop fountain can bring the atmosphere of the garden indoors.

Although water gardens can take the form of striking architectural waterworks or expansive naturalistic ponds complete with recirculating streams and waterfalls, what I appreciate about water gardens is that anyone can have one, and at little or no expense. It's truly as simple as filling any interesting nonporous container with water and placing it thoughtfully in the landscape where it can reflect the spring flowers, summer skies, and fall foliage. A single floating plant or cut flower can add the perfect finishing touch. 

Or a small, inexpensive fountain can be added for the sound of running water. Often, restraint is the key to designing the most attractive water features.

Thanks to advances in technology that have made submersible pumps smaller, more affordable, and easier to operate, many water features now can be assembled in an afternoon or come ready-made from the store shelf -- just fill them with water and plug them into a nearby outlet. Preformed and flexible pond liners have, at the same time, simplified the construction and maintenance of garden ponds. Plant breeders have introduced a plethora of garden plants in compact sizes ideally suited to the home water garden. And specialty nurseries and water gardening stores have sprung up throughout the country offering a wide variety of plants, fountains, pumps, and other water gardening supplies.

The goal of this book is to provide inspiration. While there are many how-to books on the market, Water Garden Idea Book is about creating a relaxing environment with water features -- where to place them in the home and landscape and how to complement them with appropriate plantings. In addition, we have provided a series of drawings that show how basic types of water features are constructed so that you can design plans that suit your style, environment, and budget. Most of all, we hope that the photographs of hundreds of different water features from across the country will spark your imagination. Whether it's a simple water-filled basin, a quiet reflecting pool, a dramatic courtyard cascade, or a fishpond for the grandkids, there's a perfect water feature for every home and garden.