Who doesn’t love to hear the bubbling of water in their garden? A water feature provides pleasing ambience, serves as a focal point, and works as a drinking fountain for birds and other wildlife. Best of all, you can set up a small, simple water feature with just a few easy steps.

Garden-15_05901pick a container
Decide what type of vessel will showcase your DIY water feature best. The easiest and least expensive containers are the ones you recycle from items around your home. If there is a hole in the bottom of the vessel, simply fill it with plumber’s putty, which you can find at your local hardware store.

add a pump
Water pumps are available in a variety of types and styles, but for a small water feature, all you need is a $10 to $20 pump and tubing. Tubing size will depend on your feature, but the most common size is 1/2-inch inner diameter, 5/8-inch outer diameter. Solar pumps, which come in a variety of sizes, make a good option when there is no voltage power source nearby.

set up
If you are using an electric pump, place your water feature in an area close to an outdoor outlet. You’ll need this power source to operate it. Surrounding plants make a good cover to conceal the power cord. And remember that solar-powered pumps will need plenty of sunshine to work at an optimum level.

Place the pump near the center of the vessel, and fill the vessel with fresh water. Cut the tubing to a length that will fit your design, and slip the tubing onto the pump spout. The water should cover the end of the tubing by at least 8 inches to reduce evaporation. And make sure the pump is fully submerged to prevent it from burning out.

Adding plants to your water feature not only increases its beauty, but also helps keep algae in check and deters mosquitoes. Three good plants to try are:

« Louisiana Iris (Iris fulva, Iris hexagona, Iris brevicaulis, Iris giganticaerulea, and Iris nelsonii)
« Yellow Floating Heart (Nymphoides peltata)
« Graceful Grasses Baby Tut Umbrella Grass (Cyperus involucratus)

Now just sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of your new water feature!

[P. Allen Smith, host of two public television programs, is an award-winning designer and gardening expert. He is the author of several books, including Seasonal Recipes from the Garden.]

Photos by Mark Fonville