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Water features in gardens

We are fortunate in Scotland to have lots of water — as part of the landscape and in our gardens. The Scottish mainland has 6,100 miles of coastline and more than 30,000 freshwater lochs. Meanwhile, more than 200 gardens registered with Scotland’s Gardens Scheme have some sort of water feature, ranging from natural lakes to man-made ponds and burns flowing through the grounds.

There are many benefits of having a pond or other body of water in the garden. Water adds a special quality to a garden. Water bodies heat up and cool down slower than land. In effect, it regulates temperature therefore helps to avoid extremes (especially true for large bodies of water).

Being around water during summer months has a cooling effect. Evaporation helps surrounding plants to cope with draught. Water attracts insects, birds and amphibians that play a key role in many food webs, increasing biodiversity of a garden and allowing for the balance between pests and natural predators.

Water is known for calming nervous system, adding a wellbeing factor. Well-designed and maintained water feature adds to the beauty to our outdoor space and may increase the value of the property.

Water feature ideas to recreate in your garden

Are you looking for garden pond ideas for your own garden? There are various water feature designs ideal for different types of gardens - big or small, formal, or natural. Why not visit real gardens where you can see applied designs, or even speak to the owners about maintenance?

There will be many opportunities to see private gardens with water features in Scotland this year. Come to our open days and decide on the type of a water feature to install in your garden.

Modern water feature
10 Shaw Road ©David Blatchford

Ornamental or formal ponds

An Cala, Ellenabeich, Isle of Seil, 1 April - 31 October

A spectacular and very pretty garden with streams, waterfall, ponds, many herbaceous plants as well as azaleas, rhododendrons and cherry trees in spring.

Formal pond
An Cala ©Maurice Wilkins

Shepherd House, Inveresk, Musselburgh, Tuesdays and Thursdays until 27 July, groups by arrangement.

Artist’s garden full of surprises including a shell house built in 2014, lavender parterres, a rill and fountains.

Shepherd House
Shepherd House

Broadwoodside,Gifford, East Lothian, open along with Gifford Village on Sunday 9 July.

In the walled garden, the formal pond, with water lilies, is fed by the run-off from the extensive roofs of the steading. On either side of the pond, and on the terrace above, lie the only real ‘flower beds’ in the garden.

Formal pond
Broadwoodside ©Robert Dalrymple

Corsock HouseCorsock, Castle Douglas, Sunday 28 May and by arrangament 1 April - 30 June

This is an Arcadian garden with pools and temples. It has artfully designed water features set within formal walled garden and more natural bodies of water in richly planted woodlands.

Formal pond
Corsock House

LangwellBerriedale, Highlands, Sunday 30 July

This spectacular old walled garden includes a formal, attractively-shaped lily pond, accompanied by large herbaceous beds and framed by mature hedges.

Formal pond
Langwell ©Colin Gregory

Claremont HouseRedmill, West Lothian, Sundays 18 June, 16 July & 6 August

There are three ponds, a rockery, a dovecot, a newly created rose garden and interesting trees.

Formal pond
Claremont House ©Yerbury Studio

Natural style ponds

Mill of Forneth, Forneth, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Sunday 4 June and by arrangement 14 April - 21 April 

The rocky waterfalls and tranquil lily pond at this former watermill are fed by an old mill lade. The lade originally took water from Lunan Burn to power the mill.

natural pond
© Graham Wood

Dal an Eas, Kilmore, Oban, by arrangement  1 April—30 September

An informal country garden with the aim of increasing the biodiversity of native plants and insects. It has a natural pond and waterfalls.

natural pond
Dal an Eas ©Nick Edgington

South FliskBlebo Craigs, Cupar, Fife, Sunday 30 April & Sunday 28 May and by arrangement 1 April - 30 June

A very special garden with spectacular views, and the large flooded quarry full of fish (and the occasional otter) and planted with impressive marginals. Must-watch video tour of the garden is up on our YouTube channel.

natural pond
South Flisk flooded quarry ©Mike Bell

Dundonnel HouseLittle Loch Broom, Wester Ross, Saturday 15 April, Thursday 1 June, Saturday 29 July, and by arrangement 1 April - 31 October

An ancient walled garden with exciting planting, Victorian glass house, riverside walk and arboretum.

natural pond
Dundonnel House

BurnsideDrongan, Ayr, by arrangement 1 April - 30 September

The owners are happy to receive any size of group, large or small, even individuals. The garden boasts herbaceous beds, ericaceous garden, screes, three alpine glasshouses with award-winning plants, an extensive Streptocarpus collection, polytunnel, pond and arboretum.

Wildlife pond
Burnside ©David Blatchford

The Pond GardenMilnathort, Kinross, by arrangement until 31 October (except July).

A wild woodland and wetland garden supporting birds, bees, butterflies, red squirrels, swans and other less visible wildlife. Sandstone features gather moss, and waterside benches welcome you to rest by the pond. Watch this beautiful video tour of the garden.

The Pond Garden

Old Manse Garden, Wanlockhead, Biggar, Lanarkshire, by arrangement 1 April - 31 October

Gardening at 1,530 feet — Wanlockhead is Scotland’s highest village — presents a challenge. But this one-acre garden in the Lowther Hills is a haven of biodiversity and quirkiness. The pond provides a habitat for amphibians, insects and other creatures… as well as amusement for the owner’s cat.

Old Manse Wild Garden
Old Manse Garden

Streams and rills

2 Durnamuck, Little Loch Broom, Wester Ross, Sunday 16 July, Saturday 19 August and by arrangement 1 July - 30 September

It is a coastal plantsman’s garden with a rich mix of herbaceous borders, trees and shrubs, vegetables, drystone wall planting, South African/Mediterranean plants, a wild meadow and stunning views.

2 Durnamuck
2 Durnamuck

GlenarnRhu, Helensburgh, 21 March - 21 September.

The pond was created by widening the burn in the 1860s. Its reformation was one of the first garden restoration projects a few decades ago. Beyond the pond is the start of the glen, planted its entire length with a huge variety of rhododendrons, particularly the big leaf species and hybrids, that give a distinctly Himalayan feel. 


Redcroft, Edinburgh (opening with Innerwick House), Saturday/Sunday, 13/14 May

Redcroft is a mature walled garden surrounding an attractive Arts and Crafts house, with a variety of different features and habitats: old shrubberies, an orchard, a rockery, a pond, a rill, and a large lawn with contrasting longer grass.

Redcroft rill

Shepherd House, Inveresk, Musselburgh, Tuesdays and Thursdays until 27 July, groups by arrangement.

Artist’s garden full of surprises including a shell house built in 2014, lavender parterres, a rill and fountains.

Shepherd House ©Ann Fraser
Shepherd House ©Ann Fraser


Craigieburn House, by Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Sunday 28 May

Garden Manager, Datenji Sherpa has recreated a Himalayan gorge with native plants where the Craigie Burn tumbles down through a series of waterfalls.


Stobo Japanese Water Garden, Sunday 4 June

The garden’s most noticeable feature is the constant presence of water, beginning with the drama of a waterfall at its head through a cascade of ponds, punctuated along the way by steppingstones and bridges.

Stobo Japanese Water Garden
Stobo Japanese Water Garden

Dal an Eas, Kilmore, Oban, Argyll, by arrangement 1 May - 30 September 

You’ll find a burn with waterfalls and pool, a woodland walk, a pond and wildflower ‘meadows’ with five different species of native orchid.

Dal an Eas ©Nick Edgington
Dal an Eas ©Nick Edgington

Fountains, statues, sculptures and ornaments

Hunter’s Tryst, Edinburgh, Sunday 4 June and by arrangement 1 April - 30 September

Well-stocked and beautifully designed, mature, medium-sized town garden comprising herbaceous and shrub beds, lawn, fruit and some vegetables, water features, seating areas, trees and an example of cloud pruning.

tiny water feature
Hunter's Tryst

water sculpture mirror
Hunter’s Tryst

Stobshiel HouseHumbie, East Lothian, Sunday 4 June, also on Wednesdays throughout the year.

The garden is split into four main parts: the walled garden, the shrubbery, the pond and lawns and the woodland areas. On top of smaller manmade ponds, it has a natural pond with a bridge, set amongst the trees.

Stobshiel House
Stobshiel House

pond sculpture
Stobshiel House

Dundonnel HouseLittle Loch Broom, Wester Ross, Saturday 15 April, Thursday 1 June, Saturday 29 July, and by arrangement 1 April - 31 October

Camellias, magnolias and bulbs in spring, rhododendrons and laburnum walk in this ancient walled garden. Exciting planting in new borders gives all year colour, centred around one of the oldest yew trees in Scotland. 

The garden has both natural and designed water features.

Dundonnell House ©Sue Pomeroy
Dundonnell House ©Sue Pomeroy

garden fountain
Dundonnell House

Kirkmuir CottageStewarton, Ayrshire, Saturday/Sunday, 3/4 June

The garden features large lawn area, wildlife pond, and many interesting and unusual artefacts and sculptures.

lily pond
Kirkmuir Cottage ©David Blatchford

5 Greenbank Crescent, Edinburgh, Sunday 14 May

South-facing, newly designed, sloping terraced garden with views to the Pentlands. Colourful plants, shrubs, roses and small trees. Hard features include a gazebo, pergola, greenhouse and water feature.

water sculpture
5 Greenbank Crescent

Eas MhorClachan Seil, Oban, Argyll, by arrangement 1 May - 31 October

A small contemporary garden on a sloping site - the emphasis being on scent and exotic plant material. The delightful, sunny deck overlooks stylish white-walled ponds with cascading water blades.

modern water feature
Eas Mhor ©Maurice Wilkins

Stepping stones, rocks and drystone water features

A Blackbird Sings, Longniddry, East Lothian, Saturday 29 April, Saturday 27 May, Saturday 24 June, Saturday 29 July & Saturday 26 August

Here you will find various water features, an unheated conservatory containing cacti and insectivorous plants, as well as multiple garden ‘rooms’ with planting mostly by type.

modern pond
A Blackbird Sings

stoney pond
A Blackbird sings View down the garden

Ruthven House, Coldstream, Berwickshire, Sunday 25 June and by arrangement until 30 September

The garden’s central feature is two ponds joined by a winding stream. The garden is composed of various areas, herbaceous borders, woodland areas, a gravel garden, a knot garden to name but few.

pond with stepping stones
Ruthven House ©Malcolm Ross

Little SpartaStonypath, Dunsyre, Lanarkshire, Tuesday 27 June, Tuesday 4 July, Tuesday 29 August & Tuesday 5 September

Little Sparta is Ian Hamilton Finlay’s greatest work of art. Individual poetic and sculptural elements, in wood, stone and metal, are sited in relation to carefully structured landscaping and planting.

garden pond
Little Sparta ©Andrew Lawson

Garden in Inveresk village - not open in 2023

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