David Domoney's Guide to Mental Health Benefits of Water Gardening
Satisfy your senses in the garden by bringing water into the mix. The movement of flowing water brings joy with its sights and sounds. Sitting in a relaxing space and watching water cascade and listening to the soft noises is great for mental health. Meanwhile, wildlife also benefits from it too, so it’s an all-round winner.
Stainless steel waterfalls are an eye-catching addition to add some charm to your wall. Whether it flows into a pond, or into a water reservoir filled with stones and embellished with water loving plants, you can create a stunning feature that is timelessly beautiful. With rocks and pebbles of different sizes placed at the base of the waterfall feature, complement them with the sword-like leaves of Iris ensata (Japanese water iris). These irises love poorly drained soil and thrive in watery areas, so are a perfect fit for your focal feature.
Keep it looking its best by cleaning the stainless steel regularly, so calcium and debris doesn’t build up. Then, add backlighting to illuminate the water so you can enjoy the enchanting visuals and sound of running water on a cosy evening too. The sounds can also mask and drown out sounds of neighbours, traffic, or noise from within your home, making your garden a welcome escape from unwanted commotion.
Achieve a natural stone look, well suited to cottage garden styles or Japanese inspired gardens. Modular watercourse elements have a natural stone appearance, creating a relaxed and magical base to direct the flow of water. The wide range of design options available mean you can produce a unique feature that perfectly suits your space.
The cascading water adds movement and sound, curving and meandering through your garden. There’s a Japanese style garden called Tsukiyama, where artificial hills are created to form a miniature representation of natural scenery. So, incorporate the sandstone appearance and complement them with trees using the popular Japanese art of cloud-pruning. Together these elements will help your garden to become the Zen space that you can relax and reflect in.
Take a swim
What better way to experience the benefits of water gardening than to immerse yourself in a swim pond? Whether you want a natural swimming space or a top-spec technologically enhanced one, you can design your perfect pond.
Introducing a swim pond will give you instant access to fresh water to swim in, so you get the benefits of exercise as well as a much-needed break from the stresses of daily life. Not only can you enjoy it, but wildlife like birds, amphibians and hedgehogs will appreciate it too, as a space to shelter, drink, and bathe.
On one end of the spectrum opt for a fully natural space that the biological processes are left to their own devices, using plants and pond organisms to keep the water at its best. Alternatively, choose a fully equipped model that requires minimal maintenance due to being fitted with high-performance systems with regular cleaning by a robot.
Spending time in your own swim pond provides you with a safe place to swim outdoors, engaging with nature as well as benefiting skin and exposing you to healthy nutrients like vitamin D.
Whether you have a large pond or a small container to fill, water gardening brings new opportunities to grow new plants that can’t be grown in your beds and borders. This gives you a new challenge to work towards in your garden, and the chance to learn about a different range of plants.
From moisture loving Hosta (plantain lily) ‘Honeybells’ to marginal plants that grow in water up to 20-30cm deep, there are a huge selection of new plants to bring into your garden. Plant up Myosotis scorpioides (water forget-me-not) in aquatic baskets or in soil in shallow water and they will flower in spring, blooming dainty blue flowers. Or inject some cheer into your pond with Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) that thrives in poorly drained soil at the edge of a pond where bees, butterflies, and hoverflies will pay them a visit.
Being around and in water works wonders for our mental health. Whether we are sat reflecting whilst listening to the soothing soundtrack of water or immersed in a swim pond, there is much to gain from water gardening.