Here's how water in our gardens can help nature

copyright Brigitte Perdereau

“Whatever its form, water is vital for gardens and the wildlife they attract."

Throughout history water has played a central role in garden design.

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There's no doubting its potential to soothe, calm and inspire - whether in the form of a humble pond or majestic lake - but its real beauty lies beyond its aesthetic charm.

Wetlands are the most biodiverse habitat on earth, supporting 40 per cent of all species while covering only six per cent of the earth’s surface.

Although commonly associated with large expanses of water such as lakes or marshes, wetlands can include any body of water like a river,  stream or a simple garden pond.

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is campaigning to increase the number of healthy wetlands across the UK by 100,000 hectares to help fight the climate, nature and well-being crisis.

The Wetlands Can! campaign includes asking supporters to do their bit for their neighbourhood by building ponds or mini wetlands in their back gardens or other local spaces, as well as sign a pledge to support wetlands.

National Garden Scheme and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) partnership

Last month the National Garden Scheme announced a new partnership with WWT aimed at promoting a wider understanding of the importance of water and wetlands in nature and in our gardens.

“Lots of our small wetlands have disappeared; 50 per cent of ponds were lost in the UK in the twentieth century and we continue to lose more," said Kevin Peberdy, chief operating officer of WWT.

"As urbanisation has increased, our blue space has decreased and our wetland species are in trouble.

“But mini wetlands can help tempt wildlife back and make your neighbourhood more biodiverse.

“Not only that but building even just a simple pond can help reduce flooding: in towns and cities, rain washes off buildings and straight into the drains, which can overwhelm drainage networks. Diverting your water into a wetland can make a difference if everyone does it.

“This is why we are so thrilled to be working in partnership with the National Garden Scheme to help encourage garden owners and visitors to appreciate the importance of wetlands to the health and biodiversity of our gardens and the wider landscape.”

The National Garden Scheme gives visitors access to more than 3,500 exceptional private gardens in England and Wales, raising funds for nursing and health charities.

This year, for the first time, gardens will open in Northern Ireland and The Channel Islands.

The National Garden Scheme offers visitors inspiration for their homes

“The majority of the 3,500 gardens that open for the National Garden Scheme across England and Wales feature water as part of their design," said George Plumptre, National Garden Scheme CEO.

"Historically water has been a key feature in garden design from the contemplative nature of water in Japanese and Chinese gardens to the highly engineered extravagances of Renaissance palaces and great country houses.

“Whatever its form, water is vital for gardens and the wildlife they attract.”

Among the thousands of gardens that the National Garden Scheme opens, in more than half water forms a significant part of or focus of their design.

The National Garden Scheme's portfolio highlights how water can make a big difference to a garden

From small wildlife ponds and features to water on a grander scale you can find a selection here:

The partnership includes a dedicated hub on the National Garden Scheme website that links the two charities and shares content aimed at raising awareness of the importance of water and wetlands:

The first online talk of the partnership will be held on Tuesday February 15 at 7pm, looking at the practical ways that you can bring water and wildlife into your garden.

Proceeds will be shared between the National Garden Scheme and WWT.

For more information on the talk visit:

Read more about the National Garden Scheme here: