Waterwise Water Features
Water features can be waterwise
Small recirculating water features provide calm respites for people and wildlife without using much water. The sound of trickling water softens the noise of the city and creates a psychological sense of cooling on a hot day.
Water features create soothing oases in our dry climate. The sound of trickling water softens the noise of the city.
Birds require a clean, fresh water supply to thrive, which is often hard to find in urban and suburban areas. Adding a birdbath or water feature will not only provide fresh water but also transform who visits your yard. Birds as tiny as hummingbirds and as big as hawks may stop by to bathe and drink..
A simple ceramic dish or even a pan filled with water works perfectly as a bird bath and is easier to pour out and clean than fancier or more expensive bird baths. We like to elevate them on a log or a stack of pavers or blocks so it’s easier to see the birds and to make it a bit easier for birds to escape cats or other potential predators. And the wet zone at the base of a bird bath is a perfect place to grow some plants that appreciate a bit of extra water. Yarrow is one of our favorites for this purpose.
To keep water clean and healthy for birds, it should be emptied and refilled every day, so be sure to place baths in convenient reach of a hose. Changing the water daily will prevent mosquito issues as well, since mosquito larvae need relatively still water for 72 hours to mature into adults Be sure to empty bird baths if you will be away longer than that. Birdbaths should also be sanitized and scrubbed at least once per week as well. We recommend mixing 10% bleach with 90% water in a spray bottle for the most effective and least expensive option.
There are many options for simple water features with bubbling or recirculating water, either in a self-contained pot or trough, or built over a buried reservoir. Small features will most often use an electric statuary pump to circulate water. A platform or shallow dish for birds to stand in and bathe within recirculating water features will draw many more birds than features that have only deeper water. Plan a visit to our Demonstration Garden (link) to see multiple examples. Sometimes the recirculation of water in a small water feature is not sufficient to prevent mosquitos, so use Mosquito Dunks, a monthly water additive containing a natural bacterial extract that disrupts the life cycle of mosquito larva and prevents them from becoming flying adults. Mosquito Dunks can be purchased at most hardware stores.