Rills are small, quite formal, canals of moving water, simple in design and tempting to dip the fingers into.

Rills have been used in the oldest garden in history to carry precious water into irrigated fields and into gardens, often through a main axis and spilling into a central pool.

In modern gardens too, they can effectively lead the eye around or bring focus to the garden and although their man-made water source can be hidden, rills tend to look right only when they have a water ‘destination’ to feed into. To match the formality of the rill, I’d always go for a formal water pool as this end-point.

Getting the water speed is important – somewhere between sluggish and rushing is good, according to taste! Extra movement and sound can be introduced with disruption to the material at the rill’s bottom, or with one or two drops in the rill’s length, but aim to retain at least 1.5 metres of flat for each drop, otherwise classic, calming rill becomes riotous waterfeature.

Depending on garden style, materials could range from tile to steel or dyed black concrete.

The cost of installing a rill – its pump system, hidden construction and sharp lines – is comparatively high given the amount of surface water we get at the end of the job…but as water features go, its also a uniquely engaging, bold and sexy feature within the garden.

water rill