Top Tips For Choosing an Outdoor Water Feature


The tranquil sound of moving water and the beauty of an art-inspired water feature already have you eager to get the ideal fountain for your garden. But, with a massive variety of gorgeous outdoor water features on offer, you may find yourself a little spoiled for choice. Here are a few tips to help you make that important decor decision and get results you’ll absolutely love.

Did you think it was complicated? Relax. Let’s do this the easy way! It’s just a matter of design principles with a touch of personal taste thrown in! You’re going to love the selection process almost as much as its outcome. Count on it!


1. Link Your Home Decor Style to Your Garden

Your home and your garden should combine to form a harmonious statement about who you are and what you like. Choosing a romanesque classic when your house and decor design is supremely modern could create incongruity. On the other hand, a super-modern, sculptural style won’t suit a classic home furnished in antique style. 

Unifying home and garden to form an unforgettable image is easier than it sounds. Remember that your outdoor water feature is a focal point. And, you want to form a “sense of place.” That means matching indoors and outdoors. Your fountain should look like something that wouldn’t be out of place if it was in your home rather than your garden. Use your imagination. Look at what you already have. Remember that your garden is as much part of your home as your lounge.

2. Think About the Site

While my personal preference in landscape design is to choose a very prominent location for an outdoor water feature, there’s no denying that a secluded corner can become a quiet oasis for you and your guests. That could mean a journey down a pathway to a less-than-obvious location – but before you choose this option, consider whether you already love the spot and visit it often. 

If you choose to follow this philosophy, you can break our first rule and use the contrast between your home and your  “happy place” outdoors to introduce an element of surprise.  In this instance, think of the walk as journey and your fountain as the ultimate destination. Create magic. Be sure to incorporate a place to sit and read, meditate, or just relax.

Another site-related consideration is sun exposure. While a fountain near a patio already allows for enjoyment from a comfortable vantage point, a distant water feature in a sunny spot may be too exposed for up-close enjoyment during the summer months. If the fountain is most comfortable viewed from afar, that’s probably how it will be seen, at least, most of the time. Distant focal points become trickier and demand a stronger design statement.

3. Colour, Texture, Rhythm

No matter what kind of design you’re considering, the three visual qualities: color, texture, and rhythm will have an important role to play in making ideal choices.

  • Color: Decide whether to match or to contrast. The former is safe, the latter is riskier, but can produce amazing results if used well.
  • Texture: This is an oft-overlooked visual characteristic: smooth versus rough, fine versus chunky. Once again, you’ll play it safe with matching or take a calculated risk with contrast.
  • Rhythm: In both your home and your garden, predictable “rhythm” of elements (i.e repetition of form, colors, and textures) adds to the harmony of designs. If you’re going to go offbeat, it can work as a dramatic highlight, or it can just look out-of-place. Design is the process of creating music for the eyes. What song would you like it to sing?

4. Your Personal Taste – Do What You Love!

As a landscape designer, I entered a few design contests. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that the ones that included a brief that excited me and inspired me produced the best results. 

I’m not just talking about personal satisfaction. When I truly believed in what I was doing; when I went all-out to please myself and was less interested in whether it would impress others; the judges liked what I did. 

So, here’s the best tip of all: love what you’re doing. Love shows. Love inspires. Love produces brilliant results. And, in the very unlikely event that your passion doesn’t please others, who cares? It’s YOUR home! 

My tip? If you love it, it’s going to work. If you think other people may love it, it may not be the best choice.

Enjoy the Ride: So Will Your Guests – Including the Birds

Choosing an artsy water feature for your garden isn’t as hard as it sounds. We’ve looked at the aesthetics, but other garden visitors won’t be as fussy. Do remember that there’s more to water features than what you may have perceived. If you’re into providing a hospitable place for birds and wildlife, a water feature is an essential element to include. 

While you will be considering both yourself and the impression you’re creating when human guests come around, other visitors, especially birds, will just be happy to find your eco-friendly oasis. Be sure to have a vantage point to enjoy the color, movement, and wonder they’ll bring with them. 

The easiest design guideline of all is this: “Bring joy to your own heart, and the rest will follow.”