Third Water Feature

By the time we got to these last water features I had a much better idea of what I wanted of water in the garden. I wanted to hear the water. I wanted a place for perching birds as well as waders. And I wanted it to look more natural.

The biggest lesson learned from the previous water features is that you need a water basin larger than the rock to allow for the splash that happens as the water comes off the rock. If the rock just barely covers the grate, you have no leeway for heavy burbling. I did a lot of reading about pondless water features. Go ahead and Google the term. You’ll see a lot of neat looking rocks with water bubbling out of the top and disappearing into the pile of rocks. No standing water. Sometimes they are set up as bubbling urns. Same idea. Water trickles down the sides and disappears under the rocks.

The reasoning behind a pondless is that with no standing water you don’t have to worry about mosquitoes or algae bloom. But there’s not much room for birds to take a bath. I started wondering if there was a way I could utilize the technology but make it work for me. What they do with any “pondless” feature is dig a big hole with a huge water basin that is strong enough to hold not only the burbler, but all the rocks to hide the basin and I that some of the water basins had a nice lip on the edge. My idea was to not fill them to the top with rocks but to get some thin flat rocks to cover the surface and leave an inch or two of water for the birds. It was an idea that worked perfectly!

The basin I used was the Aquascape¬† small aquabasin which is about 30x30x10. If I had been doing this from back before we ever planted anything, and had the room, I would have used the larger one just because I want the best for my birds, but the small works just fine. They don’t come cheap but they are durable and have a lifetime warranty. One thing that’s great is that they have a little grate that comes out easily for taking care of the pump so, if you need to get to the pump you don’t have to dismantle the entire water feature, just the part that is covering the grate.

I went to the rock yard and bought a bunch of flat rocks to help cover the edges and to go on most of the bottom. I added rocks of various sizes around and in the basin and the results have been pretty spectacular. I have birds visiting the bubbling rocks through-out the day.

We replaced the two previous water features in the backyard with this new one and added a third water feature of the same type in the front yard at the top of the dry creek bed. The hardest part about this is just adjusting the flow of the pump so you get the burble you want without splashing too much outside of the basin. We ran a drip line on a timer to all the water features.

I’m sharing a lot of photos because, if you’re anything like me, when I’m doing something like this I want to see as many views as possible so I can really understand the process. I think the key to this set up is 1) cover most of the bottom of the basin with flat rocks. This gives an inch or so of water for the bathing part. 2) have a few rocks that come up out of the water so the birds can wade in cautiously 3) adjust the flow so that a lot of the rock is covered in water. Some birds perch on the side but a lot of them like to stand in the water basin and stare at their reflections in the rock.


  • Rosalinda

    I love this! Where do you get this Aquascape? I am in Southern California and half my yard is California natives. I’m looking to replace my bird bath.

    September 15, 2012
    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Hi Rosalinda,
      I got mine at a local place up here in Northern California. What you need is called a “pondless water Reservoir” or “water basin”.

      Amazon has some, including this one, which is what I bought:

      You could also check with places that install ponds in your area and see if they have access to any.

      September 19, 2012

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