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Make water work for your garden; GAYNOR WITCHARD An outsider's view.

The sound of water, its reflections and movements can add a much more interesting dimension to any garden design.

There are many water features available - from natural ponds to formal rills and tinkling fountains. There is also a range of styles to choose from among ready-made kits to building your own, and your surroundings will determine which feature will be most appropriate.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

When choosing a water feature, take safety first. Do small children use the garden, or could a child wander in from the street? The only truly childproof features are those that have no standing water, like pebble pools, so consider covering water with metal grids which still allow plants to grow through.

Most garden ponds try to look "natural" and in essence they should have sloping sides for marginal plants or a shelf set around the edge of a deeper pond. The size can be as large or small as you'd like, but be aware that the smaller it is the more likely it is to dry up in hot weather.

Streams are a great alternative or as an addition to a pool. If you have sloping ground, they are an obvious choice to make use of an otherwise difficult aspect.

If your garden is flat, construct a mound from which the stream will emerge to tumble down natural rocks.

The stream will need a reservoir of water at its lowest point in order to operate, which can be a pond or a hidden tank beneath the ground.

A rill is very similar to a stream in that it is shallow running water, but here it is more formal and symmetric in style, and does not try to mimic nature. Very often it takes its lead, as do formal pools, from the surrounding architecture.

Formal pools can be built from ready-made kits, or you can design and build your own to suit your individual style. They have the capacity to create stunning focal points and are often sculptural. Consider using materials like stone or wooden sleepers to form the shape, while metal will have a distinct modern edge.

No room for a pond or stream? Don't forget containers!

These are a versatile choice as they can house a small fountain and miniature plants. A simple glazed pot, a half barrel, and even an old water tank are great ways to add an interesting feature to your garden.

Before constructing any kind of water feature or adding fish to an existing one, it's worth taking advice from your local aquatic experts who often have their own departments at garden centres. The people here have a wealth of experience and knowledge about construction, the right pond liner to use, which type of pump you need and the correct plants.

Gaynor is the winner of the 2010 and 2011 RHS Cardiff Best in Show Garden. See www.witchardgardens.com

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The water feature from Gaynor Witchard''s 2011 RHS Garden entitled East Meets West
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 23, 2011
Words:501
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