From the employee-owners of Gardener's Supply

Water Features for Birds

How to create a backyard attraction for neighborhood birds.

This water feature uses a pump to recirculate the water. The water is stored in a basin that sits just below ground level. The basin has a perforated top that supports the gravel and the blue pot. The pump pushes water through a tube that goes into the blue pot. Water overflows onto the gravel and percolates back into the basin. To see how it comes together, take a look at my Flickr slideshow, also shown at the end of this post.

Four years ago, I built a small water feature in our back yard. It was a blue ceramic pot that overflowed onto a bed of gravel that concealed a reservoir. It was nice, but the scale wasn’t quite right. It didn’t seem to have enough space around it. The surrounding plants engulfed it; the lawn threatened to grow right up to the pot. Plus, the whole thing was jury-rigged and fragile. When I built a new patio last fall, I decided it was time to remodel the water feature, making it more sturdy and integrating it with the patio. Plus, I had a client who wanted a similar feature for her yard, so I was looking for a more professional solution.

For my client, I used the same system to create a bubbling birdbath with a ceramic saucer as the basin. Instead of a large pot, her water feature is a shallow, bird-friendly pool that overflows from a pedestal.

Turns out that there are many kits that make it easy to create water features. The Poppy Fountain is one of the simplest; for something larger, consider the Flexible Pond Kit. It comes with everything you need to make a little backyard oasis.

Poppy Fountain

My project took the better part of an afternoon, and you can see it come together on a Flickr slideshow, below. Just click on the photo to get the captions. After a week or two, I’ve seen very little bird activity at my fountain. My client hasn’t seen much either. We’re hoping that it just takes a little time for the birds to get used to things. Plus, we haven’t had a day without rain for so long, the birds aren’t looking for any baths.


-David Grist, Online Content Coordinator

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


  1. August 7, 2008    

    Have found that birds at my house prefer a still pool that is relatively shallow. The 2 baths that get the most activity are shallow basins with a fist sized river rock in the middle. The birds seem to move off the rock to the water or move from rim in to water.

  2. Anonymous
    August 11, 2008    

    In colder climates, do you have to take the pot in for the winter? Or just empty?

  3. August 11, 2008    

    Yes, there are some winterizing tasks up here in the north. Because freezing and thawing would shatter the pot, it must be brought in for the winter. Usually I remove the pot and turn it upside-down, leaving it outside for the winter. It’s also important to remove the pump and store it indoors.

  4. September 12, 2008    

    Hi, David. Thanks so much for sharing a link to this post for the GGW Design Workshop. Seeing the slide show was especially helpful. I think I could actually do this!

  5. Anonymous
    November 1, 2008    

    Great post! I’ve found some of the self-contained water features are good for attracting birds too. Especially the ones with pools of water.

  6. Anonymous
    November 19, 2008    

    Very interesting. I find water features are perfect for bringing birds into your garden.

  7. June 9, 2010    

    The water features are a great way to add beauty to your homes and offices. Your landscaping view is incomplete without any water feature installed either at workplace or at home. Apart from this, one also feels relaxed and comfortable when they are near any water fountain. It is not only the sign of the natural beauty but also an attractive feature. The peaceful atmosphere that is created by it is just incredible.

  8. July 30, 2010    

    Don’t worry – the birds will appear! They will be thirsty in the summer and in the winter, when other water sources will be dry or frozen. The features look great, by the way!

  9. July 16, 2011    


    A water feature is an economical way of adding style to a courtyard or outdoor entertaining area.


  10. December 7, 2012    

    It’s true, birds do love Garden Water Features. I think it’s the sound of trickling water along with the styles that allow birds to bathe. Not recommended for people who have little dogs though that love to bark at the birds! lol

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