A begginner’s guide to water feature selection.

Sunken and raised water features with design space fountains.

An important decision you will need to make about your water feature is whether the water surface will lie below the surrounding ground level or be raised above it. The choice you make will affect the character of your water feature and will depend upon a number of factors, from child safety to the location of the water feature within the design space.

Sunken water features

In nature, water collects in low-lying areas, creating water features whose size and shape is dictated by the contours of the ground. Sunken water features with the water surface lying below the level of the surrounding ground appear to settle comfortably into the design space even where they have a deliberately formal appearance. They can be any size or shape and edged with any material, hard or soft, and are the obvious choice for an informal and naturalistic feature or a wildlife water feature. Brimming water features are those where the water level is flush with the surrounding surface

Raised water features

Raised water features effectively lift up the surface of the water and allow you closer contact, particularly if you make the water walls and rim wide enough to sit on. This makes them an ideal choice for elderly or disabled design space and is a safety feature for families with very young children who could easily fall into sunken water features. Raised water features suit formal or asymmetric designs and, being man-made s, relate well to the architecture and hard landscape associated with terraces and patios near the house. To achieve a successful result it is important to key a raised water feature into the built landscape and construct it from matching materials. Raised water features and s require some practical skills for installation, but they also reduce the amount of excavated soil to be removed and so may be an option where there is no obvious place in the design space for the excess soil.