Stavordale Priory. Photo Jason Ingram

What you need to know before building a rill

Formal water channels, known as rills, are a stylish addition to any garden, but there are a few things you need to know before building one. Visit these places to find design inspiration, plus water garden specialists to ensure you design it right first time.

A rill is usually a formal channel used to bring a bit of water into our gardens. They come in every shape and size and are so simple and easily customisable that they can work in pretty much any style of garden. However, there is little room for error and any rill you build must be perfectly engineered. So invest in a water garden specialist (see below).

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Whether you have a small, urban garden or a vast, bucolic pile, the rill is an effective way to bring water into your outdoor space. Here are a few places to visit to find inspiration to design your own rill.

Stavordale Priory. Photo Jason Ingram
Photo: Jason Ingram

Places to visit to see a rill

If you get the chance to visit Shute House near Shaftesbury in Dorset then grab it with both hands and your teeth. The rill there was designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and is one of the best in the world. The water runs over copper waterfalls designed to make different sounds. It is open to groups by appointment. Tel 01935 814389.

The Palacio de Generalife gardens are part of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. A fascinating garden showing obvious influences from Islamic and Moorish gardens. alhambra-patronato.es

Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton in Somerset features long, stone-lined formal rills with circular pools designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. hestercombe.com

Recommended water garden specialists

Martin Kelley at Fairwater Limited. Martin, who is also the author of Water Garden Construction (Packard Publishing, 2015), established Fairwater Limited in West Sussex in 1993, and has extensive experience in the design, construction and maintenance of water gardens. fairwater.co.uk

Nick Roberts at Fountains Direct. Nick’s Surrey company specialises in fountains. fountains-direct.co.uk

Note that details regarding suppliers, etc are subject to change.

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Words James Alexander-Sinclair, garden designer and TV garden presenter.