One of the most desirable inclusions to the outdoor area is a water feature. Be it big or small, a water feature creates a feeling of tranquility and an overall cooling effect.

If you live in an area where there is traffic noise, or noise from neighbors, a water feature can subtly cut out this noise with the gentle and soothing sound of trickling water.

You need not worry about wasting water, as it is recycled continuously through the water feature system. At set-up time you fill your feature with the hose and every now and then top it up when water evaporates, water requirements are very minimal.

Pumps

Water pumps are essential for healthy water features. Some points to remember about water pumps:

Size: this will depend on the number of liters of water that will be pumped per hour and also the height the water needs to be pumped to.
Cleaning: most pumps come with a sponge filter that needs to be rinsed clean regularly. The outlet pump slows down when it needs cleaning. On top of this you should keep leaves and dirt free from any water feature
to prevent blockages.
Voltage: a 240 volt pump is the standard if there is an electricity socket close by. If not a low voltage pump is safer.

Common problems & solutions
Stagnant water

The main reason for putting a pump in a water feature is to circulate the water and break the surface of the water. A still pond will soon be starved of oxygen and will grow green and smell. A fountain or water feature breaks the surface of the pond and forces oxygen back into the water.

Algae

A combination of sunlight, heat, certain elements in the water and lack of oxygen cause algae. To combat green water you can use an algaecide but do not over use as you can increase the algae.

Some plants work as algae inhibitors, such as Papyrus and Irises but use an oxygenator such as valliseneria, eel grass and ludwiegia with these. Plants that inhibit algae absorb many of the elements that algae use to grow.

Blanket weed is a different kettle of fish. This algae is a stringy net-like growth and will not respond to most algaecides. It is also a very good sign of an unhealthy pond, usually a lack of oxygen or overcrowding either plants or fish.

It is extremely important that the pond size has at least 1.5 square meters of surface area or the pond will become starved of oxygen and the problem will increase dramatically.

Chemical Imbalance

The most important test kit for a pond is a ph test kit. This will be the first indicator if there are problems generally. If the ph is outside of 5-8 then there is a problem. You need to look at what filtration is being used.

Is there enough oxygen, overcrowding of the pond and is there too much waste sitting at the bottom of the pond?

Plants for water features

Selecting the right plants is very important step. They provide an additional highlight to your water feature but also will help to keep the pond water clear.

Lilies: these need at least 30cm of water covering them. Lilies will become dormant between April and August but this does not mean they are dead. If you have lilies growing in water you need oxygenator plants.
Oxygenator plants: as a rough guide you need one oxygenator plant per two normal pond plants. These include eel grass, elodea and bacopa.
Irises and papyrus: these plants assist in the reduction of algae. Irises create a beautiful display when they flower and papyrus have year-round interest.
Potting mix: never use this for pond plants. Use a mix of three parts river sand to one part loamy soil.