Create a flowing water feature

Homes & Gardens shows you how to set up a moving water attraction that will also encourage wildlife into your garden

Tranquil and alluring, water can transform the feel of a garden. It will also boost your environmentally friendly credentials: birds, bees and insects will be drawn to it and, as long as you bear them in mind when constructing the water feature, they will become part of your garden's natural ecology.

flower water and brick wall

(Image credit: TBC)


With the right equipment, even the DIY-capable among us can install a basic self-contained recycling water feature. You will need a holding container for the water, a submersible pond pump and hose plus attachments for the water outflow. The latter can be directed through a decorative feature, elevated through a spout or used to create a fountain. You could adapt a freestanding tank to fill with water that then cascades out through holes made in the side, to be recycled by a reservoir that is sunk out of sight behind. Alternatively, you could install a wall-mounted design, or one placed into the ground.


A water feature can be made out of any container as long as it is watertight, which you can achieve by lining it with purpose-made rubber or PVC sheeting, and large enough to hold the pump and water. Choose something that will work with your garden and consider whether you want it to be a focal point or perhaps hidden within the overall garden design. One of the simplest water features to create is a bubble or pebble pool. This consists of a reservoir and pump sunk into the ground, covered by a metal mesh and with pebbles or perhaps a millstone arranged over the top, at ground level. The water is pumped up through the cobbles and falls back down into the reservoir below. This design is child-friendly and easy to fit into a smaller garden. A variation is to pump the water up through a tall, decorative urn or container. Or you can buy the reservoirs, container, grids and pumps separately and create your own design. You can implement a moving water system in an existing pond using a pump and fountain head.

KEY CONTAINERS: H&G's pick of vessles for the perfect water feature

Elisa water sphere feature: a decorative planter that can be turned into a water feature; supplied with a pump, a below-ground water sump and a steel support grid. Bury the sump and the steel grid in the garden, or mount the grid flush within a terrace or patio.

Where to buy: try Water Garden

Rectangular planter waterfall cascade: a cascading stainless stell blade and planter that forms a self-contained freestanding waterfall that allows you to add planting. A white LED light strip is build into the cascade and the feature comes with a pump.

Where to buy: try Primrose

Terracotta pots: these are porous and often unglazed so may need to be waterproofed before use. If there are holes in the base, they will need to be plugged and sealed if the pot is to be used as the reservoir. Some companies will line its pots with fibreglass, for an additional fee, on request.

Where to buy: try Italian Terrace

Lead trough: turn a simple trough into a water feature by adding water and a pump. Solid lead troughs will weather to a natural blue-grey patina with a chalky residue, giving it an antique appearance.

Where to buy: try Redfields

Old granite millstone set: use this combination to create an attractive water feature with a rustic look. Millstone water features like this one require a concealed reservoir. A pump, attachments and reservoir suitable for your garden and the chosen site will need to be sourced separately.

Where to buy: try Camtex Stone Products

Pond pump: If you are constructing a moving water feature without a kit, you will need to buy a submersible pond pump. The Oase Aquarius Universal range offers a number of flow rates.

Where to buy: Oase Living Water


Left clear, still water in a container can be restful and prized for its mirror-like properties and surface reflections and patterns. Water can also, of course, provide a habitat for aquatic plants, allowing you to cultivate an entirely different plant group. Bear in mind that space will be restricted in a small container and you will also need to select plants suited to the dept of water. Some plants, such as water lilies, prefer to be in still water.

If you are installing a pump in the container, choose plants that are tolerant of moving water or water spray from a fountain. For a collection of ready-made planting schemes suitable for container ponds, balancing oxygenating plants, surface cover and emergent plants with foliage and flowering interest, try Waterside Nursery.


An electricity supply is usually required to power the pump. You will need an accessible power point. Ensure the pump is fitted to a residual circuit breaker (RCD) and that the mains connection is waterproof. If you are running a hose up from the pump to a raised fountain head, hide the pipe by running it behind a fence or embedding it into the wall, or tain a climber to conceal it.

The size of the pump you need will depend on the feature you are constructing. If the outflow is being pushed through a fountain head, or the head is being raised up high, you will need a pump with a higher flow rate.

Adjust the rate of the water outflow to the desired level. A valve can usually be found on the outlet pipe of the pond pump.

Keep an eye on the water level in the reservoir. It will evaporate, especially in warmer weather, and will need to be topped up occasionally.

It may not be adviseable to leave water in pots over winter as expansion of the frozen water might cause them to crack.

For more gardening ideas, visit the Homes & Gardens website.



Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.