Pros and Cons of Landscape Water Features

November 18, 2011

Water FeaturesA landscape water feature is a great way to incorporate art into your outdoor living space. Whether the feature is a focal point in your landscape or simply a complementary piece, water feature designs serve more than an aesthetic purpose; the sound of trickling water can help you relax and feel calm.

When it comes to water features, Portland residents have it lucky because the mild temperatures of the Pacific Northwest allow them to install almost any design desired. If you want to install a landscape water feature but aren’t sure what type to choose, consider the benefits of each and compare them to your landscaping needs. Here’s a look at the pros and cons over several common water feature designs:

Natural Pools

Natural pools are some of the most popular and basic landscape water features homeowners install. Individuals generally build a natural pool by lining a hole in the ground with a flexible or rigid liner. Submersible pumps and filtration systems help keep the water clean, and you can add a fountain or artificial waterfall to drown out the noise of the pump. Such water feature designs look the most natural and are the simplest to install.


  • Can be simple to install.
  • Looks natural.
  • A pond can be as small or large as you like.


  • Flexible liners are susceptible to punctures and leaks.
  • These water feature designs can require a lot of digging.
  • Keeping the water clean and algae free can be a big challenge


Wall Fountain

If space is an issue when it comes to water features, Portland residents should consider a wall fountain. These they come in several vertical water feature designs that are good for compact spaces. This type of landscape water feature has a basin that catches and circulates water using a pump, as well as a set of tubes or pipes that are behind the fountain and out of sight.


  • Good for small spaces.
  • Available as ready-to-plug-in units or in kits that are simple to assemble.


  • Wall fountains that do not come with an adjustable valve do not allow you to control the amount of water that flows down the fountain.
  • Depending on the design, there may not be a significant price difference between purchasing a wall fountain kit and making one on your own.


Container Ponds

Container ponds are also a good landscape water feature for small yards. You can make a container pond out of a glazed pot or a wine barrel cut in half. Alternatively, such water feature designs also come in kits. In a space that has a diameter as small as three feet, you can include fish and aquatic plants such as water lilies or grasses.


  • Digging is not required for installation.
  • Good for small spaces.
  • A good way to test drive having landscape water feature in your yard.


  • It may be difficult to clean a deep container.
  • Deep containers may pose a drowning risk if you have children.
  • Sealing the feature to avoid leaking.



Great for large yards, man-made streams are water features Portland homeowners can use in conjunction with natural pools. It is popular to install a stream whose course ends at a waterfall that pours into another landscape water feature.


  • Perfect for informal landscapes.
  • Good way to expand upon a landscape water feature that already exists.
  • You can create a natural scene in your landscaping by planting decorative grasses and adding river rocks.


  • You will need to install a pump and plumbing system that routes water from the pond to the beginning of the stream.
  • Streams that look the best are at least 15 feet long, which can require a lot of digging.
  • These can be expensive to build and maintain.


Additional Considerations

Regardless of the type of landscape water feature you choose, you should always use a pump to circulate the water. Circulating water helps detract mosquitoes, wasps and other insects that prefer still water. Make sure the pumps, filters, and cleaners you use are appropriate if you plan to add fish or plants to any water feature designs. In addition, be advised that water features Portland residents install can attract unexpected wildlife such as frogs, raccoons and herons.