How to Create a Sustainable Water Feature

Guest post by Andy Peasgood (@andypeasgood)

I live near a busy road and whilst this provides transport convenience, there is one thing that in all honesty frustrates me and that is the noise. 

I long to sit, listening to the dawn’s chorus whilst sipping on my coffee knowing that the day’s soundtrack is that of songbird and the rustling of trees. Poetic right? It is poetic and it is also quite the rarity these days and so I need to look at it from a different angle. It comes in the form of layering sound. 

It is impossible for me to block out the sound of road noise and the sound itself is amplifying. What I can do though is add certain elements to the garden and/or green space to develop a soundscape that has layers, distracting one’s attention from the road noise. 

Mature trees and hedges can dampen sound, however, the sound of wind rustling through them is an effective additional layer. The next step can be to add a water feature.  

Personally, I believe the sound of flowing water to be integral to the garden. It provides acoustic movement, visual relaxation and develops the sense of balance to the space. Like many garden installations, these can be expensive projects, with labor, electrics, equipment, and decoration all adding up. I am going to show you how I created my water feature by myself, on a budget, and using solar power. 

The first step was to decide on where to install the water feature and for this I considered the viewpoints and distance. I wanted my water feature to be at ground level and surrounded by planting, so I chose to put it near a seating area. This is where my family and I benefit most from it. Using the principle of how clearly you want to see and hear the water will guide you well. 

Equipment needed:

• Reservoir
• Galvanized grid
• Pebbles/Rocks
• Pump
• Flexible plastic pipe
• Spade
• Spirit Level
• Screws and screwdriver (for the solar panel)

Step 1 – As I am sinking my reservoir into the ground, I begin with digging a hole and checking the reservoir against it regularly as a guide. Once I am satisfied with the size of the hole, I place the reservoir in and check if it is level and secure. If not, I make any necessary adjustments by adding or removing soil. 

Step 2 – I am using a solar powered pump and to accommodate the power lead I dig a small trench going from the water feature to the shed where the solar panel will be secured to. Now I have a hole and a narrow trench and with some spare permeable pond protector I line the hole, but this is optional as your reservoir casing should be thick and strong. Now it is time to put the reservoir in the hole and secure it. 

Step 3 – Moving on to the pump, I am using a flexible plastic pipe to protect the lead in the ground. Once the lead is threaded through, I place the pump in the reservoir, add the lid and galvanized grid. I then put the lead and tubing into the trench and backfill. 

Step 4 – I then install the solar panel onto my shed with screws. For your solar panel to generate the most power, you ideally want it facing south.  

Step 5 – Before I move on to organizing the pebbles/rocks on the galvanized grid, I want to check the complete set up to see if it is working well. 

Step 6 – It is all working well, and I can now begin to organize the pebbles/rocks to a pleasing effect. 

Top Tips:  

Select a pump that has a relative LPH (liter per hour) to the number of liters your reservoir will hold. 

Choose a kit that has a reserve battery otherwise it will only work in full sun. 

Adjust the pebbles/rocks to alter the flow of water, this will create plenty of visual and acoustic interest.  

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