Simple Water Features

If you don’t have room for a pond in your garden, you can still enjoy the pleasant sound of water by installing a simple water feature. Kits for features like pebble pools are readily available or you can buy the components separately and construct one yourself. Small children and water features don’t mix – so think about a plant feature instead if you have kids.

Basic Components

A water pump: The size of the water pump is determined by the proposed feature. Solar-powered pumps are available but may not pump enough water for your purposes. Mains-powered pumps should be fitted by a qualified electrician unless a low-voltage type is used and protected by a residual current device.

A sump: A sump is used to collect and hold all the water in the system. The collecting area to collect the splashing water should be as wide as the outlet is high.

A pipe: You will need to run a pipe from the pump to an outlet nozzle.


  1. A sunny position will bring out colours on wet stones and pebbles.
  2. Try to locate your feature reasonably close to an electricity outlet.

Sample designs

Sink feature: An old enamelled sink can be very effective as a water feature. The pump sits inside the sink with the outlet pipe emerging through the plug hole (sealed to prevent leaks). The outlet could be the tap, or a plaque on an adjacent wall. Water then cascades into the sink.

Large pots: A similar arrangement could be constructed inside a large wide-brimmed pot with the outlet in the centre, creating a fountain or bubble effect.

Pebble ponds: These consist of a sunken reservoir with a fountain on top. A liner is laid sloping into the sump – wide enough to collect splashing water – and covered in pebbles. Alternatively, have water bubbling from a hole in the top of a large stone. Imitation stones made out of plastic are available and look very effective.

Design your own

Using the principles above it is quite easy to construct your own design. A pebble tower can be made by drilling holes in large pebbles that are held vertically by a piece of copper piping. A plastic pipe leads up from the pump to an outlet at the top and water streams down the sculpture.


  1. Pumps need periodic cleaning and maintenance.
  2. Empty the water out of your feature in winter to avoid freezing.
  1. I want to put a water feature into my garden. However I have three limiting factors that mean I cannot find a suitable one.

    Firstly, I need a water feature that does not require me to dig a hole, as the part of the garden I wish to locate it in is concrete, and the sewers from the house run just under the surface.

    Secondly, it must be suitable for very young children, so must not have any large amounts of standing water.

    Thirdly, I would like one that is self-contained as a single unit as children have a habit of trying to dismantle things.

    Do you have any suggestions?


    1. Hi, Laurena

      I’m a little worried that your sewers appear to be just below the surface – there’s usually a minimum depth specified by Local Authority Regulations – maybe you should check this.

      Moving on to the water feature. These usually work on the principle that water is recycled from a sump below the feature by a pump to emerge at the top and then cascade down over the feature itself. The sump itself is usually below ground level to maintain the illusion that the water is seeping away naturally. You will lose this illusion if your entire feature is above ground level, but it should still be possible to construct something reasonable.

      If, for example, you obtain a waterproof half-barrel, and fit a sturdy open metal grid over this, fixed securely to the barrel itself, you could then place the sump inside the barrel or, in fact, use it as the sump itself.

      If you can’t find anything that would fit you may need to construct a feature of your own, and this is not too difficult.

      The simplest type would consist of the barrel with a large ceramic ball resting on top. These can be obtained pre-drilled with a central hole. The idea is that the pump contained within the sump of the barrel would then eject water at the top of the ball. The water will cover the surface of the ball and then drip down back into the sump. You could carefully cement the ball to a number of large pebbles covering the structure so that the children will not be able to remove any of the pieces of the feature. Be sure, however, to leave plenty of gaps between the pebbles to allow the water to go back inside! Such a feature would be quite safe as the children would not have access to the reservoir of water below.

      There are many other ideas you could use in place of the ball – and many garden centres these days have large rocks with holes bored through ready for such constructions.

      One problem could be the power supply to the pump. Although this will be a safe low voltage type, properly connected to your electricity supply (preferably by a qualified electrician), you will still need to get the cable from the house to the water feature. If this is near to a wall the cable could be fixed to the wall itself and then descend to the feature itself, otherwise you may need to use ducting of some type.

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