Water Gardening

Course CodeBHT307
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Create Better Water Gardens Confidently

  • Learn to Create a Water Feature
  • Learn to design and manage a water garden

Water gardens add a new and unique dimension to gardens, and can be used in many different ways to create many different effects. Still water in a tranquil garden pond or pool creates a feeling of serenity and peace, while moving water in fountains, streams and small waterfalls gives a more dynamic feel to the garden, generating a sense of life, movement and sound.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and nature of water gardens
    • What size water garden
    • Water supply: rain, tanks, etc
    • Water quality
    • Siting the water garden
    • Evaporation rate, water depth, safety
    • Water in garden design: formal, informal
    • Edging, Water sculptures, shade
    • Water effects: sound, reflection, movement, light, cooling,
    • Water life: algae, fish, mosquitos, wildlife, plants
  2. Water Garden Construction
    • Introduction
    • Planning the water garden
    • What effect do you want
    • Matching the effect with the type of garden
    • Shape, size and location
    • Type of construction
    • Surrounds
    • Using a liner
    • Pre formed water gardens (Kits)
    • Pond edges
  3. Equipment: Pumps, lights, filters
    • Submersible pumps
    • Lighting: power source, DC power
    • Lighting design with water
    • Pond filtration systems: sterile or living water
    • Mechanical or biological filtration
    • Swimming pool filtration
    • Sand filters
    • Diatomaceous earth filters
    • Cartridge filters
  4. Ponds and Watercourses
    • Designing a natural watercourse
    • Siting a stream
    • Water circulation
    • Pond design
    • Dams
    • Bog gardens
    • Reed beds
    • Pond management
    • Oxygenating plants
  5. Spas and Swimming Pools: Design and aftercare
    • Choosing a swimming pool
    • What sort of pool do you need
    • Structural considerations
    • Cost considerations
    • Types of pools: concrete, fibreglass, vinyl
    • Above or below ground
    • Pump and filtration system
    • What shape
    • Special features in a pool
    • Heating a pool
    • Pool care over winter
  6. Indoor and Outdoor Water Features
    • Introduction
    • Pot ponds
    • Water barrels
    • Wall plaques and wall fountains
    • Water walls
    • Water spouts
    • Bird baths
    • Fountains
    • Cobble fountain construction
    • Waterfalls
    • Cascades
    • Canals
    • Using water features in a landscape
  7. Water Plants
    • Introduction
    • Waterside trees and shrubs
    • Bog plants
    • Emergent water plants
    • Floating leaf plants
    • Aquatic plants
    • Water lilies
    • Plants to avoid in water gardens
    • Surrounding plants
  8. Aquatic Animals
    • Introduction
    • Conditions needed by fish and aquatic animals
    • Maintenance
    • Fish
    • Frogs
    • Tortoises
    • Water snails
    • Insects
    • Birds
    • Troubleshooting


  • Understand the nature and scope of water gardens.
  • Identify and describe generic construction materials and techniques suitable for water gardens and pools.
  • Select appropriate equipment for use with water features.
  • Specify the design and construction of a pond or watercourse.
  • Specify the design, construction and maintenance of a spa or swimming pool.
  • Specify the design & construction of a Water Feature other than a pond or water course.
  • Identity the water plants commonly used in water gardens.
  • Identify a variety of aquatic animals suitable for water gardens, and their requirements

What Do You Want From a Water Garden?

Water can be used to create some unique effects in the garden:

The sound of water can range from a quiet trickle through to a loud babble. The volume of water and the design of the pond or stream are the major factors that determine the sound effect.

  • A large volume of water passing through a shallow channel will make considerably more noise than a large deep stream.
  • River stones, or other obstacles, placed in flowing water will create a babbling noise as the water bounces over the obstacles. Stones with a concave upper surface produce the best effects.
  • Evenly spaced drops (as in a series of water steps) create splashes that are similar in sound; varying heights (as in a cascading section of a stream) create splashes with different sounds.
  • Water dropping from a greater height will make more noise than low falling water.
  • Water hitting a rounded surface (like the top of a ball) will make a more subdued splash compared to water hitting a flat surface (such as a flat rock or a metal plate).
  • There is a huge range of fountains available that offer almost endless possibilities for creating different sound effects, including single outlets versus multiple, varying heights of water throw, and varying volumes of water flow.
  • Plants around a water feature can significantly reduce sound levels, so if you are trying to create “loud” water noises, be careful not to have a lot of plant growth (or other noise dampening features such as fences) between the water feature and any position (eg. a patio or veranda) where you want to clearly hear the noise of the water.

There are several things you need for good water reflections: a still surface, a reasonably large body of water, an expanse of sky overhead (or another source of light), and something to reflect – a tree, statue, building etc. It is important not to clutter the reflected object – be careful not to over plant around the main object featured in the reflection. Avoid windy places and moving or splashing water (ie. cascades or fountains) near the place where you want the reflection.

Without the activity of bird life or other people, a garden can seem lifeless. This is even more apparent in winter when plants are dormant and there is little flower colour. Moving water, including a rippling surface, or running, splashing or squirting water, can bring a drab garden to life, so that it becomes an interesting place throughout the year. The water also attracts wildlife all year round, creating ever-changing interest and movement.


The water feature can be positioned where it will catch sunlight. Droplets from a fountain will sparkle in the sunlight, while light on rippling pond water will produce soft shimmering effects. Careful placement of artificial garden lighting can create a huge range of effects, particularly when combinations of lights (and different coloured globes) are used.

As air flows over or through water it cools the surrounding air.

The effect is most dramatic near a large body of water such as a lake or dam, although a fountain spraying mist in a well-ventilated place will still have a significant cooling effect. With this in mind, consider a water feature that sprays or runs water across heat traps such as paving or large brick walls.


Who Will Benefit From This Course?

  • Landscape designers and contractors
  • Gardeners and landscape industry workers
  • Horticulturists and horticultural managers
  • Passionate home gardeners and water plant enthusiasts

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