More and more of us are living in cities where outdoor space is very limited, yet this need not be a block on having a water feature. Even if you only have a small patio, or small nook in the garden there is no reason why you cannot incorporate a patio bowl, a small barrel fountain, or other movable feature in the design.
These small features are generally very low maintenance and just require filling with water to get started. Planting can make a big difference though and incorporating some plants into the design, which could even be house plants that you plant out during the summer, is a key point. A more architectural evergreen plant is a good starting point for an effective design. Around this can then be planted annual or biannual plants to give a lush planting design.
Moving water creates calming sound in the garden, adds moisture to the air on hot days and can help improve air quality. Whilst space might be limited there is no reason why a small fountain, a spitter where water is shooting from one barrel to another, or a wall of water cannot be incorporated into the design.
Small space pond design lends itself to be ‘made-over’ every so often as the plants begin to grow too big or simply because you decide to change the design.
Often changing out the plants and giving them away to friends and replacing them with a new look is not going to be overly expensive yet will give the water feature design a completely new look. Because you need so few plants then perhaps you may decide to grow some more exotic or expensive plants that will bring a real wow-factor, without costing the earth.
However small, water brings another dimension to the garden. This could be something as simple as just a flowerpot filled with water. This will allow you to grow some water plants and give you that standing water pool. Many pots come pre-drilled, but the holes can be filled with silicone sealant to make them water-tight. Be creative, the possibilities for the small garden are endless.
Barrels are often used in small gardens, making the ideal container for a small pool or water feature design.
Remember though that being constructed from wood these containers need to be soaked fully before being filled with water to ensure that they remain water-tight. If a barrel does dry out then check it carefully before use for signs of cracking. Always make sure that you get the position and level of the barrel 100% right before filling it with water. A full barrel is at best going to be very heavworkingy and potentially dangerous to move, so get it right first!
Plants for the small garden need to be chosen carefully and in particular their fully-grown size needs to be taken into account. Small exotic plants are often incorporated in this type of design, as in a larger garden they might become lost or need too much care to be justified. In a small space though they will bring a wonderful focus to the garden, especially when viewed close up.
As in all pond and water feature design, try to keep the different elements in balance. No one element should be overbearing, so keep the size of the plants, pool, any statues or other structures in fitting with the space available. Plants such as Japanese Acers are ideal for small space gardens. Dwarf and bonsai versions are available, allowing you to create a feature in proportion with the space. These plants also prefer to be in light shade and out of the wind, often the conditions found in small space pond design. These plants might be expensive, but they give a great focus to the garden and will live for many years.
Because most of the time you, by its very nature, be viewing the garden from close-up think about the height of the elements. A plinth with a sculpture on top with bring it up to eye-level when sitting in the garden, a much more useable height than having everything set at ground level.
Underwater lights work very well in small gardens, giving a new dimension to the design once at night. You only need a one watt LED for a small pool, that when incorporated with moving water creates moving shadows and shapes around the space.
I never look on a small space as being a negative. OK, you are not going to be able to build a huge koi pool, but at the same time their is a real art to creating a coherent design filled with interest in a small space. From the wooden barrel, to the traditional hand-pump, through to exotic planting and futuristic designs, you really can try anything in a small space without breaking the bank.