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A dove flies into our water feature and starts flapping its wings – it’s 7 p.m. and it’s bath time.

We’d love to live on a lake, but we don’t. Luckily, the sound of water attracts wildlife to the 60-centimetre-wide, recirculating bird bath on our tiny back patio. Under a tree, next to our sitting area and in plain view of our indoor dining table, our water feature has become the virtual reality show of our garden.

So, if you love the call of the wild, but can’t afford a lakeside lot, consider the second-best thing this summer: a bird bath or other backyard water feature.

If you do decide to add a touch of water to your property, consider three things:

1) Free-standing pools are easiest Free-standing means you don’t need to dig up the garden to install a liner, rocks and plants. It also means you eliminate leaks into the ground or in the gaps between rocks that can be common with traditional in-ground ponds. We fill up our birdbath as water evaporates – about once a week.

2) Shallow is best Any pond over a centimetre deep might drown butterflies and bees as they drop by for a drink. Eroded bricks in our bath, sitting up in the water, allow insects to sit and sip right through the brick pores.

3) Keep the water moving A small pump in our water feature comes out of the base of the bath and runs behind the tree, plugging into an electrical outlet. This keeps the water oxygenated, minimizes slime and eliminates mosquitoes, which prefer stagnant water. Solar systems are also available to bubble water, a good option if your water feature is in an area with lots of light.

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