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Tips For Designing a Safe Water Feature

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 17 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Garden Water Feature Safety Water

If you are considering a water feature for your garden, it's important to make safety a top priority, especially if you have young children. Anyone can stumble or fall into a water feature, with young children being particularly vulnerable.

Types of Water Feature

The term 'water feature' encompasses a whole range of design possibilities. From lagoons to ponds and babbling brooks to wall fountains - these are just some of the options and you can buy small pools and fountains which are ready to install from most good garden centres. You can also make your own although it might be a good idea to seek expert advice from a landscape gardener first if your project is quite ambitious.

Safety With Children in Mind

A water feature that doesn't contain standing water, such as a fountain without a pool at its base is probably the safest. Or perhaps one which is situated on top of a pedestal or is wall mounted. However, remember that, where young children are concerned, its safety relies on you situating it in the right location and at a suitable height.

But what if you want a pond? There is really only one safe answer and that is to surround it with a fence or cover it with heavy duty steel mesh which won't collapse if a child fell onto it. A ringed fence around it, however, is definitely the safest bet.

Although some garden centres will sell protective devices such as alarms and pond covers, don't expect these devices to protect children. It only takes a second for a child to fall into a pond and they can drown in even an inch or two of water so any pond should be fenced off or fully protected in some other way from even the remotest possibility that a child could fall into it.

Planning Your Water Feature

You need to plan for its location. Before excavating any area for a pond, you'll need to check the location of any utility pipes. Avoid placing a pond beneath any trees that might cause it to become filled with leaves, twigs and other falling debris. If you're considering a spray fountain, place it in a location that is protected from the wind.

You should also consider scale, proportion and size which should be in keeping with the size and style of your house and the rest of the garden. A water feature should complement a well-kept garden not totally dominate it.

If your water feature is going to be especially deep or if it calls for electrical wiring or connection to home plumbing, you should check with your local planning department first to find out if it meets any regulations.

Remember that stagnant water attracts mosquitoes and other flying insects which may be a consideration, especially if you have children. If you're installing a pond, it's useful to know that if you intend growing water plants in it, still water is best and you should also locate it in a place which will receive a good deal of sunlight but moving water is more favourable if you're keeping fish as it provides more oxygen. Fish, also, help to keep the mosquito population at bay.

A water feature can dramatically enhance a garden and can provide peace and tranquillity. However, the important thing to remember is that safety is paramount. If you're unsure what to do, seek advice from a landscaping expert or your local garden centre.

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