There are many benefits to adding a homemade water feature to a garden. Water features create a trickling sound that is pleasant to the ear and create visual interest in the garden. Additionally, water features attract wildlife such as birds and squirrels that bathe, drink and play in the water. A homemade water feature is much less expensive to add to your garden and maintain than a store-bought water feature.
According to "A Short History of Water Gardening" by Kit Knotts, fossil records show that aquatic species are among the first flowing plants. Pictures painted on ancient Egyptian tombs show that the pharoahs kept pools filled with floating lotus plants in the earliest form of ornamental water gardening. Water features were a major facet of gardening in ancient Middle Eastern cultures, and later in Japanese gardens. The medieval formal garden with pond features were popularized by crusaders who brought ideas to Europe from the Middle East. Interest in water features was later renewed when travelers in the 1700s brought exotic plants. The craze for water lilies, including giant species from the Amazon region in the 1800s, kept this interest strong.
According to the website Aquascape.com, a water feature can become a focal point for a garden and a place where the gardener can unwind. Water features attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife that many gardeners enjoy observing. At the same time, the splash of water creates a relaxing sound that can soothe the senses.
The style of water feature can vary greatly based on the landscaper's available space and tastes. Water features can include a small fountain tucked into the corner of a balcony, a large garden pond or reflecting pool filled with lily pads, a so-called "pondless" waterfall that emerges from rock and seemingly disappears into the ground, or even a simple bowl of water in a Zen garden.
Although the style of water feature might vary, most water features have some common elements. Water is always present in a water feature. The water is typically contained in some way. Large pools, streams and pondless features can be dug into the ground or sculpted into a hillside using a pre-formed plastic liner or a tough plastic film. Half-barrel pools, such as the kind made from a whiskey barrel, can also be lined in this way. Water features that contain moving or falling water can utilize a pump system to circulate this water. Fountains might contain their water in bowls, but will still circulate water using a pump system.
A number of misconceptions about water features prevent gardeners from installing a feature, or enjoying one once it has been installed. One common misconception is the idea that a pond's ecosystem will maintain itself once it has been set up. Conversely to this is the idea that a pond requires constant maintenance. The truth is that pond maintenance is a balance between these two extremes.