Components of Well Done Water Features

koi-pondWater features have been popular for over a decade now. They can be as simple as bubbler column and as complex as a Koi Pond.

Many local landscapers offer to build quality water features, and it’s easy to tell if it’s attractive–just look at it.

More difficult is knowing if a feature is well designed and properly installed.

Let’s look “under the hood” at some of components of a well done water feature.

Pond Pumps

submersible-pumpA water feature will usually have one of two types of pumps. The most common is a submersible pump (pictured).

This pump simply sits in the water, pumping to create the flow of water that makes a water feature so enjoyable. Submersible pumps used in water features should be “continuous duty” pumps. To cut costs some will install a sump or “garbage” pump. These are not designed to run for days on end and should never be in your pond!

The second type of pond pump is a centrifugal or in-line pump. These sit out of the pond and provide several advantages. They are extremely durable, many times lasting a decade or more. A centrifugal pump is also efficient, requiring about half the electricity of a comparable submersible pump. In line pumps are more expensive, but pay for themselves many times over.

Auto-Fill Devices

There is some debate about the merit of auto-fill devices. These valves add water to the pond when it loses water.

All water gardens will lose water to splash and evaporation. However, if you have a leak, it may be hidden from you by the auto-fill device. Most homeowners, though, would take that risk over running a pond dry and ruining a pump.

Most auto-fill devices are a simple valve triggered by a float- similar to the valve in your toilet. They should be installed in a protected, but easily accessible part of the pond. Make sure your pump is protected by an auto-fill device.

Water Feature Filtration

Filtration is an often overlooked part of a quality water garden. Pondless or formal fountains may be kept clear with chemicals and periodic cleaning. Most other types of water features should have some filtration built in.

Any pond that will house fish must have robust filtration if the fish are going to be healthy and happy.

Here is what to look for:

  • Skimmer. This removes leaves and other floating debris from the pond.
  • Bio-fall. This box at the start of your stream houses good bacteria.
  • Plants. Plants help keep your water oxygenated and full of good bacteria.
  • UV Clarifier. For ponds with a lot of fish, these kill algae and disease causing bacteria.

So, as you can see, a well built water feature is about much more than just the sound of running water. Water gardens can be a source of joy for many years- as long as they are built properly. Now you have the tools to make sure your backyard pond is a successful project!

Koi Pond image credit


  1. Hi Ben. Sure but then again it keeps you busy, right!

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