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.