Water Features: Conserving Water

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape December 01, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Water in the landscape can create a soothing feeling, mask unwanted noise, and provide water for bees, birds, and butterflies. Water features can include still or moving water.

Types of water features include, but are not limited to, ponds, streams, birdbaths, fountains, and small containers.

Creative use of containers and other objects can provide an interesting 'water' accent in the landscape.


Creative use of ceramic pots to create a water feature. Photo credit: Anne Hornyak Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


Floating lilies create a beautiful water-surface covering and can reduce evaporation. Photo credit: Jimmy Hilario Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Conserving Water:

  • Minimize size
  • Use recycling pumps
  • Cover the water surface with aquatic plants(40 to 60%) to reduce evaporation from ponds
  • Place the water feature in a partly shaded area to reduce evaporation as well as provide sufficient light for aquatic vegetation (aquatic plants need at least 4 hours of sunlight per day)
  • Create a dry stream bed to give the effect of water
  • Research requirements for fish
  • Obtain design inspiration from traditional Islamic and Zen gardens that minimize the use of water

Problems Include:

  • Surface area evaporation
  • Water leakage
  • Materials that may crack
  • Maintenance (such as algae control)
  • Mosquitoes
  • Expense

Additional Resources:


Utah: Water Features for the Garden


Illinois: Water Gardening

Iowa: Sustainable Landscape Designs and Water Features


Florida: Provide Water to Wildlife

Florida: Water Gardens vs. Water Features

Mississippi: Creating Water Features in the Landscape


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.