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Our current environments and lifestyles can be filled with stress and negativity.  In this past year the fear of the pandemic, overwhelming news cycles, and for some working longer hours have weighed heavy on our shoulders.   Finding a relaxing state of mind can be difficult in the constant pressure of everything around us.  Nature is one most accessible stress relievers out there.  In a study done by Frontiers in Psychology in 2019, it was found that spending 20-30 minutes immersed in nature provided the biggest drop in cortisol levels among the individuals in the study.   Now pairing nature with flowing water does not have an academic study, but it has been determined that flowing water produces a heavy number of negative ions.  Negative ions increase serotonin levels and raise mood levels.  Imagine being next to a large waterfall with crashing water and the feeling that is invoked.  This feeling can be added to a backyard on a smaller scale.  A Yellowstone size waterfall is not attainable for the average yard and budget.  Waterfalls and ponds are still attainable for the residential site, but it is possible to achieve the benefits of flowing water on an even smaller scale.

Bubbling rocks, decorative fountains, pond-less streams, and contained water gardens are all options that are space and budget-friendly.  These features can be dressed up or made very simple.  Fountains, pond-less streams, and bubbling rocks work by using a pump that pulls water from a reservoir where water is recycled and may only need to be topped off every few weeks.  Bubbling rocks and streams are truly one of a kind as the rocks will never fit together the same from one feature to the next.  Both provide a naturalistic look and will create a white noise that can drown out traffic, neighbors, and other noise pollution.   Fountains are less natural-looking but can provide a better aesthetic by being more colorful.  It is best to think of fountains as a focal point of the landscape.  There are many styles and options for fountains that are on the market.

Contained water gardens are a relatively new trend that has become popular.   Patio ponds would be another term that would describe this style.  It consists of a decorative planter or tank that has a small footprint.  The planter must be sealed and watertight to prevent leaks.   Aquatic plants should be added to create a lot of interest and contrast.   A small pump can be added to create the element of flowing water.  This pump can be solar-powered if an outlet is not located nearby the planter.  Fish such as guppies can also be added to this setup.  There are more variables when adding fish, but the plants act as filtration by absorbing the waste from the fish.  The benefit of patio ponds is low up-front cost, maneuverability, and they are highly customizable.

Installing a water feature is a big step in reducing stress, muffling noise pollution, and creating interactive elements in the garden.  Waterfalls and ponds are great for larger spaces and can create an entire ecosystem within a backyard.   The smaller water features described here provide alternative options for tighter spaces.  These features can be one of a kind works of art that will provide joy for years to come.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” — Loren Eiseley