What is the Best Water Feature for Your Garden?

To fish or not to fish…

Thought it would be a good idea to give a bit of guidance about water features as a way to avoid future disappointment for anyone contemplating such an addition to their garden.

Although a relatively simple subject, its surprising how many compromises need to be made if you are unaware of some of the common issues which can be broken up into two categories.

The first decision you have to make is “am I having a fish pond or a water feature?”

What’s the difference you may ask, and that is a good question. I am not intending this to be a full on guide on how to keep fish but just to make you aware of the different needs.


A fish pond requires a medium for bacteria to grow and filter out the water which is normally taken care of by a filter system often incorporating sponges for this to happen. These also require regular cleaning and filter maintenance. If done correctly the water would be crystal clear but you will still get green algae building up on any surface which will require cleaning. These require regular maintenance and looking after. “How often” is a question that gets asked a lot and the only real answer is “as often as it needs it”. This will be influenced by amount and type of fish, and any other organic matter that can enter the pond and break down, leaves etc.

Water Feature

A water feature is just that, something interesting to look at but not an intended habitat for anything to live in.  You can still fit filters and UV lights to these but the important thing to have in your mind is that only cleans the water, there will still be a build-up of algae on all surfaces as the UV and filter only clean the water that passes through it. It does not take care of any algae that grows on the surfaces of the feature.

An alternative to filter systems is to treat the water chemically, either by adding chlorine or bromine to the water to keep it clean, this will stop algae growing on any surfaces but you will still end up with debris on the bottom of the pond over time, which will still need to be cleaned out from time to time.

How much cleaning is required is also governed by organic matter that enters the water and again is as often as is needed.


This is usually a water feature that has then had fish added later. It is often possible to retro fit a filter and these can be very successful, it is just worth remembering that it will require regular maintenance.

Will it be a perfect fish pond? Pretty much the answer will be no but that is not to say life won’t thrive within it.

I hope this helps steer you to what you desire or at least starts you off in the right direction

For buying the kit for simple stuff check out www.pondkeeper.co.uk

For the more fancy water feature design and build we like to go to Bamber Wallace www.bamberwallis.com or Water Artisans www.waterartisans.com

CGLA are an award winning team of Garden Designers, Landscape Architects, Landscapers and Garden Maintenance Operatives working in Buckinghamshire, London and the South East, as well as on prestigious design projects across the UK and abroad. We are currently working in Oman, Jersey and France, and welcome enquires for design, landscaping or garden maintenance. Contact us here