Body, soul and gardening - water to soothe the senses

As the weather heats up, having cooling water in the garden is all the more appealing.  It creates a calming focal point, adding gentle sound, movement and sparkling light to your outdoor space.

Water soothes the senses: you can hold your hand under a cooling chute of water, dip your toes into its surface or feel the fine spray from a fountain.  The gentle murmur of running water is useful for blocking noise and evokes nature’s rivers and waterfalls.  Flowing water is also said to produce negative ions, believed to increase the production of serotonin – the chemical that lifts our mood.

A birdbath, nestled into a border, is a simple way to introduce water, with the added benefit of attracting birdlife.  A water bowl or trough will give you a tranquil body of still water to reflect light, the sky and nearby plants.  On a larger scale, ponds can be contemporary and geometric or naturalistic in design, to grow aquatics in and attract wildlife such as frogs and dragonflies.  Or, if space allows, what could be more ‘feel-good’ than a natural swimming pool?

For soothing sound, fountains can be a simple bubble of water coming up through a stone or metal sphere or column – looking beautiful as it trickles down and twinkles in the sun.  Alternatively, they can be a spout in the wall producing a cascade of water running down into a bowl, from where it’s pumped back up.  Rills - from Rousham’s meandering example to simple metal versions - provide a constant peaceful noise and flow of water around the garden.

Whatever you choose, large or small, it’s amazing how relaxing a small amount of water in the garden can make you feel.