Liquid assets

Our world is a watery one. Humans, animals and plants are all dependent on water for survival, but people are passionately attracted to the sounds and mesmerizing qualities of water.

The history of water for irrigation and ornamental use in gardens is ancient. Egyptian wall paintings and hieroglyphics depict walled gardens with canals and pools. Centuries ago Italian, French and Moorish gardens featured formal waterfalls and elaborate fountains. Naturalistic pools, streams and ponds are part of the Japanese gardening tradition.

Northwest gardeners are inspired by babbling brooks, roiling waterfalls, serene mountain lakes and the rhythm of the ocean. Any size garden can be enhanced by the sound and ambient feeling that only water produces. For those of us who garden in urban and suburban spaces, a low-volume water feature is a good choice. Think through your options. With a little planning and maintenance, the right water feature will transform your garden into a place of serenity and revival.

A semi-translucent curtain of water sheets down a glass panel creating a sophisticated yet simple curtain. The water feature functions as a window viewed from both sides of the wall. The combination of materials creates an artful approach to focusing on light and shadow play. The water is recycled through tubing from the catchment vessel back to the top of the panel inset in the stained concrete wall.  2012AugSept LiquidAssets 01
 2012AugSept LiquidAssets 02 Sheeting water pours from three spouts into a pool below in a narrow side garden camouflaging the facade of the building next door. Water walls can take many forms from stone lion heads to watering cans pouring water into a basin. Falling water is mesmerizing, transporting us to the bank of a babbling brook while also baffling traffic and neighborhood noise. An auto-fill device maintains the water level.

Water pots are easy to install and maintain, making them perfect for gardeners who want the sound and ambient feeling of water in the garden but don’t want to deal with cleaning a pond. Water pots, including those that are self-contained, can be placed on terraces or in the garden, creating instant focal points.

 2012AugSept LiquidAssets 03


Things to know

  • Auto-fill valves help protect pumps by maintaining a constant water level. Use a hose to top off water features without auto-fill devices. Refill before the water level drops. Water evaporates more rapidly in windy, hot weather. 
  • In the fall, remove leaves from the water feature before they decompose. 
  • Test ceramic containers to be sure they are watertight. If they sweat, paint the inside of the pot with a waterproofing solution. 
  • Look to the style of your house and garden when choosing water features. Make sure scale and proportion are right for the space. 
  • Disconnect the pump and drain ceramic water pots before the onset of winter. Store in a garage, shed or basement. 
  • Mosquitoes breed in still water. Mosquito dunks contain a biological pesticide that kills larvae. Dunks are effective for 30 days and won’t harm people, pets, wildlife or fish.