The sight and sound of a water feature in the garden is enough to entice many a homeowner to have one installed; however, water features like ponds, pools, waterfalls, cascades, fountains, streams, and even bird baths provide numerous ecological benefits as well.
Every creature needs water in some form or another, but delightful insect and animal visitors to the landscape like bees, butterflies, birds, and lizards are especially glad to have a place to replenish their stores.
With so many environmental challenges threatening bees, a beautifully-landscaped yard is a kind of safe haven. Bees will drink anywhere it is shallow enough, so attracting them to a water feature is merely a matter of settling pebbles or stone in the water to make it accessible.
Butterflies, on the other hand, often do something called “mud-puddling”: some species derive the minerals and salts they need from the water-logged soil of muddy areas. A small saturated shore of a water feature can provide a place for these species of butterfly to congregate.
A small feature like a bird bath is all that is needed to attract most species of songbirds, who will seek out clean water for both bathing and drinking. Larger water features, like ponds, can attract dabbling waterfowl like ducks.
Lizards (if they are a part of the local biome) appreciate a warm rock on which they can sun themselves, and nearby water will also attract insects for them to eat.
Beyond occasional visitors, a more substantive water feature can become a permanent home. Ponds in the landscape can provide an enduring habitat for amphibians like frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Provided the water chemistry is right, and that there is plant life, it’s very possible to have a generation of tadpoles born in a pond within a year of installing it.
Beyond these examples, there are myriad other kinds of life in every local ecology that will appreciate access to a space for a drink and a bath.
Though landscaping for wildlife isn’t the primary goal of every garden owner, it’s a noble way to share the space. Attracting wildlife to the garden makes the space double as a habitat, so a landscaped area can also function as a refuge: a little investment can go a long way towards conservation.
For many of the smaller creatures in the world, enticing them to the garden is as simple as leading them to water.