In landscape architecture and garden design, a water feature is one or more items from a range of fountains, pools, ponds, cascades, waterfalls, and streams. Before the 18th century they were usually powered by gravity, though the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon are described by Strabo as supplied by an Archimedean screw. Other examples were supplied with water using hydraulic rams.
Modern water features are typically self-contained, meaning that they do not require water to be plumbed in; rather water is recycled from either a pond or a hidden reservoir, also known as a sump. The sump can either be contained within the water feature, or buried underground (in the case of an outdoor water feature).
A water feature may be indoor or outdoor and can be any size, from a desk top water fountain to a large indoor waterfall that covers an entire wall in a large commercial building, and can be made from any number of materials, including stone, granite, stainless steel, resin, and glass. Most water features are electronically controlled, ranging from simple timer actuators to sophisticated computerized controls for synchronizing music to water and light animation.
Water features often offer additional benefits to homeowners, such as increased curb appeal, home value, reduced noise pollution (due to the sound of water overpowering outside noise), and improved air quality.