THE SOUND of running water in a garden is delightfully relaxing and charming. However, if the sight is also to be delightfully relaxing and charming, bear in mind that any water feature where the water is spurting out of something's open jaws at high velocity is more alarming than charming (all-too-popular examples - lion, frog, gargoyle). Crude approximations of peeing cherubs and/ or Grecian maidens carrying brimming pots are also to be avoided.

Much easier on the eye, and a practical way to introduce running water to even the tiniest patio, is a self-contained unit where the water is circulated by a small electrical pump from a reservoir below. To sit on top, there is a wealth of gorgeous alternatives: perhaps rounded pebbles through which the water bubbles; a set of copper dishes through which it trickles; or a terracotta dish that perpetually overflows.

Green algae looks particularly sculptural and attractive if allowed to build to a glossy coat on terracotta; the downside is that it eventually necessitates a clean-out. Do not volunteer; an energetic scrub with an old-fashioned brush will remove algae, but not without spraying everyone and everything in the vicinity with slimy clots.

If all this seems too much effort, a simple birdbath is extremely low- maintenance. But broken drainpipes, dripping gutters and dribbling overflow pipes, while they make the right trickly noises, are both unsightly and a health hazard.

Copper cascade, from a selection by Chenies Aquatics. For a brochure or information, call 01753 646989 or 01494 764549.