water as a powerful element in garden designWater as a sacred design tool is one of the four classic elements along with air, fire and earth. It can be represented in the form of fountains, pools, ponds and a variety of waterfeatures. Water is the essence of life. Think of the “fountain of youth”. But in the context of garden design, the symbolism is not as important as the physical presence of water including its movement and its sound or sense of tranquility.

We all enjoy swimming pools, but not everyone wants them to cool off in the summer or to swim.  From a spiritual standpoint, a negative edge pool is looked at as an element of water that merges with the landscape beyond and not so much for its use as a pool for swimming.

This pool was integrated into the natural landscape and gives the illusion of water falling over the edge of a cliff as a waterfall. Its just as effective as a visual point of interest as it is as a place to cool off, relax and enjoy the weather.

bird bath fountainSince water adds a dynamic quality to the garden, it must be visible whether that is in the form of a bubbling fountain, a pool of water or flowing as in these tiered bird bath bowls.

Water adds movement to the design and the speed at which it flows can have an invigorating effect or provide a sense of tranquility as in a still reflecting pool.

Waterfeatures and fountains will attract wildlife if they provide access and platforms so they can drink.

Birdbaths as Sacred Drinking Fountains

Birdbaths not only provide perches, but they are shallow enough so birds can drink, take a bath and rinse their feathers. Thus water as a sacred design tool is evident in birdbaths as well.

Butterflys will be attracted if there are shallow stones placed just above the water surface.

The Use of Water Without Water

earth 1024px-Japanese_Zen_gardenSymbolically, sand, gravel or small pebbles can be used to represent water in the form of a lake, dry stream or ocean. The sand can be raked as shown in this picture to represent waves on the water’s surface.

Natural Boulder Waterfeatures

Red rock Sedona waterfeature

Red rock Sedona waterfeature

Natural boulder waterfeatures mimic the way water flows in nature and thus forms a connection between us and nature. This sacred bond is something inherent in us as we attempt to connect Heaven and Earth. Water purifies our soul. Water washes away the negative emotions of our mind. Water removes the toxins from our bodies. Water as crystalline structures are sacred geometry.

Water is sacred no matter how you think about it. Water as a sacred design tool just makes a garden that much more interesting and provides that connection to nature beyond the plants, soil, wildlife and sky. It balances out the other essential and classic elements of air, fire and earth.