Problems with Water Feature

Answered by Jo Posted in Category Watering

Dear Jo

In a rectangle small flower bed, I have a small water feature which consists of a tank, sunken into the ground , the capacity of which is about 15 to 20 litres. A motor with filter is in the tank and pumps and circulates the water through a hole in a rock. On the tank is a grid and on that pebbles. 
The birds love to drink and bathe in the water. 
The problem: The water smells within a few days due to earth worms, the odd slug and wood lice falling into the watertank, and I guess this is part of the cause of the smell. I do syphon off whilst the motor is going and at the same time using a hosepipe flush through clean water, clean the filter, every few days, BUT, I still need to totally empty the tank, dry it out and start again, even after that.
It was suggested by Richard that I try using the ceramic chips, a bag will last 10 years, for 250 litres. I only have 15 litres.
Once again, the water started smelling unfresh, so dismantled again, and in the ceramic bag, earth worms are caught up in it. This proved difficult flushing them out. So they need to be picked out. Or squashed to pulp, and then flushed, or undoing the knot and dismantling to wash!
Is the net 'trap' part of the supposed function /cleaning process i.e. trapping the worms in the net? Or is this a coincidence.?
I can't fathom out a way of keeping the water feature fresh and bacteria free for the bird's safety, without such a palaver!
Any suggestions, please, Jo!
Many thanks.



Dear Sheila

It sounds as though the worms, etc are entering your water feature under the liner.  The liner will provide excellent conditions for snails and worms to thrive. 

My water feature is sealed with no gaps between the reservoir and the surrounding water capture area.  Clean water cones out if the feature and runs back in.

I think your liner needs to be sealed to the reservoir to ensure nothing can fall into the water.  Obviously, this maybbe tricky to carry out depending on your access to the liner and tank, but until the unit is sealed up I think you will continue to have this problem.

I believe the solution is prevention of contaminants entering the water rather than trying to clean dirty water. 

It may be advisable to find a reputable landscape firm to inspect the feature and give you further advice.

I hope I have been helpful.  P

lease let me know if I can be of any further assistance.


Kindest Regards

 Jo Blackwell

 Kitchen Gardener


Meet the Author: Jo Blackwell
Jo Blackwell

Jo Blackwell is our well-established Horticultural Advisor and the Kitchen Gardener in Stephanie's Victorian style Kitchen Garden. She caught the gardening bug when she bought her first home 21 years ago. Her first greenhouse soon followed and she later gained an allotment.

As well as tending the Harrod Horticultural Gardens, she enjoys maintaining her own vegetable plot at home. She has been a gardener for Harrod Horticultural for over 4 years now and has a wealth of experience in organic vegetable growing, ornamental gardening and in using all Harrod products.


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By Anon29th July 2014

Problems with W?ater Feature cont...

Hello Jo, Thanks so much for replying. Yes, the solution is to prevent the slugs, earthworms, woodlice from falling in. The way it was installed in a rectangle 4'x3' flower bed: The tank is sunk into the ground. A liner is placed over most of the flower bed, over the tank(rectangle cut in the liner but a bit of excess liner overhangs the tank opening,) leaving some grasses and plants. The rock is placed on top of the liner. So I guess the worms are finding their way between the earth and liner. Perhaps some slugs will find their way over the liner and fall in. If the tank is higher than the flower bed and rock, then the water won't run into the tank will it? I guess it needs to be reconstructed. Did you construct your water feature or have a company install it? A landscape gardener did ours a few years ago, but is no longer around. Looking forward to your reply Jo. Thanks again. Best wishes Sheila ________________________________________

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