When the heat is on, water cools down you and your garden. Fountains, ponds, sprinklers - even birdbaths - take the steamy edge off a hot summer day. You don't have to invest in a big fountain: All you need is a little splash.
Last summer I came upon the fancy fountain above in a public square in Stockholm, Sweden; the design reminds me of a dandelion seed heads on a marvelous scale. From a park bench on the square, the sound of water spraying and splashing blocked the noise of traffic whizzing by in every direction. Simple water features can have the same effect at home in your own backyard.
In a garden in my neighborhood, a quiet little fountain next to a patio helps screen out traffic noise, thanks to water trickling off a large leaf sculpted of concrete. The water splashes into a small pond shaded by lush hostas and ferns. This pond is right by the front door. Standing on the porch you feel as if you're in your own secret place, miles from the bustle of the world.
These smart gardeners have several water features on their city lot. There's a brightly glazed pottery birdbath on a pedestal right in the middle of a flowerbed, and a two-tier cascading fountain placed more formally at the center of their charming kitchen garden.
Fountains of all kinds attract birds. They'll land on bubbling boulders to have a sip of water, and swoop down from the trees for a dip in a birdbath. Moving water isn't necessary - you can let the birds supply the splash.
Just turning on the hose to water the roses usually stirs up interest among the birds in my backyard: they show up as soon as they hear the water gurgling. Robins love to hop in and out of the spray of a sprinkler. Once a ruby-throated hummingbird surprised me, coming to dance in the glistening spray from a watering can. It made me feel like dancing myself.
How's the water in your own backyard?
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