An outdoor space without water is a place that lacks soul. Drama, depth, excitement, mystery, the lure of the natural world - even the simplest pond can hint at water's expressive qualities. Underwater life also plays a part in its appeal.

Moving water adds vivacity and sparkle, whether arched in jets, backlit by sunlight, or falling over rocks. Alternatively, water can be misted, sprayed, bubbled, or used to create harmony. Water flowing through or across paving is another of the effects you can achieve.

New materials and modern technology allow us to control and contain water in almost any form. Even in today's smaller plots, it is possible to distill traditional elements, bringing much-needed refreshment into our stressful lives.

Formal pools are geometric in shape with clean, hard edges: circles, oblongs, squares ellipses or narrow channels. As planting has a softening effect, most formal pools are sparsely planted, if at all.

Reflective pools can add depth to the garden, bringing the sky down to earth and introducing a mood of contemplation. Aim for a depth of approximately 30 inches. The base must be dark to catch the best reflections. The influence of canals or pools is especially soothing in densely populated areas, where reflected light can relieve the oppression of surrounding walls and enclosing buildings, and can even help to brighten the interior of a house.

Informal pools are more organic in shape, often edged with rocks and stones and deliberately 'natural' in planting

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