People gravitate to water. Maybe it's because our lives depend on it. Maybe it's because we ourselves are mostly water. Or perhaps it's just because it's so darn beautiful. Whatever the reason, adding a water element to your garden, no matter how small, creates an instant feeling of rightness. Nothing can really substitute for water in the garden, and my feeling is that no garden should be without a bit of refreshing water somewhere, even if it's just a birdbath.
Water features use resources for their construction, require regular top-offs with fresh water (at about the same rate as a lawn), and consume electricity for pumping. Water features may seem like unsustainable indulgences, but if they're incorporated properly, they produce real benefits to the environment that compensate for at least some of the negative effects.
For example, in neighborhoods utterly devoid of natural water sources, I've encountered backyard ponds and running streams that were hubs of life, teeming with bees, birds, frogs, and countless insects (many of them beneficial). I think that a world of diminishing habitats and relentless urbanization argues for more water in gardens, not less.
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