How to Plan a Water Garden

Garden pools are often called water gardens. The two terms have become somewhat interchangeable. But if we look at water gardens from the point of view of landscape design, we can define the term more precisely and say that a water garden is a garden (or a part of a larger landscaped area) where water is a predominant feature. There are many examples of water gardens. Leaving aside the gardens of antiquity, like those of Rome, we think immediately of English gardens, whose special quality derives from the presence of pools, streams, waterfalls, and fountains of all kinds. Not all of these gardens are huge parks surrounding splendid castles; sometimes they are private gardens, often of quite modest proportions.

Water Garden

Perhaps you, too, are intrigued by the idea of creating a special effect in your garden by turning it into a water garden. The descriptions and photos of model pools, of running streams, various kinds of water fountains, and of beautiful plants offer plenty of suggestions, so that you will surely be able to “compose” your own version of a water garden. All you need to start with is paper and a pencil so that you can draw a plan. The beginning point is a pool that either exists already or is planned as the centerpiece. A stream will function as a link to everything else.

The simplest model of a water garden, one that can be realized even in a small garden, consists of a pool, from which a stream winds through the garden. Water is supplied by an artificial spring.

More expensive to build are water gardens made up of several pools, all connected to one another, and perhaps including various waterworks. This requires more complicated planning to make sure water will be channeled to all the places where it will be needed. If there is a long enough stream, it can connect a goldfish pond, a pool designed just for swimming, and a small natural pool. Of course, you could have two or more unconnected pools, but then the fascination and the filtering effect of a running stream are missing. Elaborate water gardens of this kind are best realized on a large piece of property.

A precise plan of the entire garden is important because water plays such a predominant role in it. Keep in mind the following points in your planning:

– Since the plants of the garden, the pools, and the stream should combine to create a harmonious whole, you have to have an overall planting plan.

– It is a good idea to coordinate the flowering seasons of the different plants in such a way that something is in bloom in and along the water all summer long and that there are some vibrant colors in the fall, too.

– When you select the hues of the flowers, let your taste and feelings guide you, almost as though you were a painter. Harmony is what you want to achieve, and sharp color contrasts are best avoided. You may even want to restrict yourself to different shades of the same color for entire areas.