Chapter 3 - Stone vs Plastic

Stone v PLastic

You hopefully now have an idea of the types of water features that interest you. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming knowing which one to choose as there are so many available. To help you decide which one might be best here’s a look at some of the different materials used in water feature construction and the different qualities of each.

Nothing says classical water feature like a figurine or ornate fountain carved out of stone or marble. It affords a little piece of renaissance magic and indeed country estate class to your outside space. However, just because it looks like sandstone or granite doesn’t mean that’s actually what it’s made from, as polyresin (a form of plastic) is fantastic at recreating the look of all manner of natural materials and intricate shapes. It has also had a big hand in helping to make ornate statues, previously a preserve of stately homes, much more accessible to us all. There are also benefits to plastic that might make it a more attractive choice for your garden or patio than the pure stone alternative. Or it could be stone ticks more boxes in terms of personal preference.

Here’s a look at the highs and any lows of each material to help you decide:

The low down on stone

It could be said that a real stone feature conveys a sense of history, representing decorative water fountains and statues which have been enjoyed throughout the ages. Much heavier than plastic, this totally natural material can provide an elegant, classical look that is hard to beat. Of course it is more challenging to move about because of its weight but if you know just the perfect spot then that really doesn’t matter. Over time stone can attract lichen and moss growth which may need to be removed but otherwise once in place it will also stand firm against even the strongest winds, making it a reliable, very resilient option.

The main types of stone available include:

Cast Stone

Strong and low maintenance, this is known as one of the most reliable materials when it comes to building anything so it’s able to handle the unpredictable British weather with resilient gusto.

Primrose water feature buyer, Vincent says

We offer a lot of polyresin water features with a real-stone effect. They are lighter than natural stone but heavy enough to ensure stability in your garden. Other materials like Glass Fiber Reinforced concrete combines the finish of stone but with a much lighter material, which makes it much easier to handle during the installation, or at a later stage if you wish to change its location in your garden. We’ve been designing water features for more than a decade, and we are always looking to improve the quality of the finish of our features. We are working very closely with our factories to ensure our demanding quality standards are met during production (not only the visual finish but also the sturdiness of the product in harsh conditions). We’re regularly looking at new materials to use in order to create new astonishing and unique designs! Stainless steel is a great option for a sleek modern design, while zinc or corten steel will bring a more industrial rough-looking touch to your garden.

Polyresin as a viable alternative

A long lasting form of plastic, this clever material makes an attractive and viable recreation (and substitution) for a number of natural materials including stone, rock, fossilised wood and ivory. It can effectively adopt the rough texture of water-eroded rock which looks as though it has been maturing nicely in your garden for years, as easily as it can transform into the smooth, polished finish of a classical ivory figurine. More lightweight than real stone, it is extremely portable as a result. This may in turn make it a more practical option for your garden, especially if you’re planning on moving home at some point in the future and really don’t want to leave your water feature behind.

The material is also durable with UV and frost resistance, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

View all resin water features.


For a lighter-weight-granite-effect we have developed “Stone Touch” — this is a method of electroplating stone powder onto stainless steel giving the advantage of being more portable and easier to install, whilst retaining the full look and feel of real stone.

Cast limestone

A product which has a similar surface texture to Portland stone.


No two sandstone pieces are ever the same which is part of its charm. Due to natural mineralisation the material boast variety in colour, pattern, texture and veining. With the application of water varying shades of grey, black, pearl and copper almost magically appear.


Beautiful, durable and naturally very weather resistant, it makes a nice choice.

View all stone water features.

Primrose head of buying, Justin says

As with most items, there are water feature trends which seem to go around in circles like fashion; copper is on the up, corten has seen a revival which is now starting to diminish.

Modern design materials

Stainless steel exudes contemporary, and this material is used to great effect in a range of attractive, modern water features. From stunning water walls and spheres to tubes, cascades and many more design-led shapes and structures besides, it’s no wonder these statement pieces are popular with garden designers. Yet you don’t have to be a professional to easily incorporate one into your backyard.

Customer case study — Roger Warner and his polyresin waterfall cascade

Cascade effect water feature

A big fan of water features, Roger has a total of seven in his back garden, including this one. He was looking for a more powerful display with a built-in pond to add to his collection, and as such this waterfall really caught his eye.

The inspiration for this most recent addition came by way of his local garden centre where he was browsing for ideas. Although taken with the selection they had on offer, Roger was most delighted to save a considerable amount of money by purchasing it instead by way of the Primrose website.

Roger’s mother was a keen gardener and it was when she died that he started getting into it himself. Over the years, he has modified and designed the outside space single-handed, and his tastes have evolved and changed. Friendly with Patrick Moore, Roger used to be really into astronomy which was reflected in the domes he had in his garden at the time. More recently, water features have become a prime focus. For his latest addition, Roger designed a rockery area complete with a small hydrangea, rosemary and assorted planting.

He explains, “The assembly of the feature was dead easy. It’s quite loud when the water is flowing down into the pond below, it’s really nice. You can also adjust the flow if you prefer a quieter sound. We have it switched on all the time we are here unless it’s raining. People tell me how lovely it is and I think at least one of my friends is now interested in getting one for themselves as a result of seeing mine.”

A keen wildlife photographer, Roger travels a lot in search of his latest picture. When he’s not out tracking kingfishers or wasp spiders, his back garden affords him with an equal sense of back-to-nature enjoyment. With its beautiful lawn and low maintenance water feature-themed aesthetic, Roger and his wife enjoy spending a lot of time here.

In nice weather, they’ll sit outside on sun loungers, enjoying the sight and sound of the running water. When it rains they are still able to appreciate the view over lunch or dinner by way of their log cabin which looks out over the space. Roger has installed thousands of lights all the way round the garden so at night time the whole garden is lit up in a vibrant display.

The space itself also attracts a lot of wildlife with birds in particular drawn to the water features there. Frequent visitors include pigeons, robins, dunnocks, sparrows and blue tits so there’s plenty of wild inspiration for Roger as he plans his next photography expedition.

“I’ve always been a creative person,” Roger reveals, “I do most of the work myself and get appreciation from that. My wife enjoys the space but I’m the gardener. I’m really happy with how it all looks and so pleased to be keeping alive the green-fingered-tradition of my late mother.”

About the feature

Crafted out of high quality polyresin to create a rock-like pool, this waterfall cascade makes a stunning addition to Roger’s garden. It’s fully self-contained which means that no additional reservoir is required; the water gently flows through the stone-effect tiers before being recirculated around to the top again via the base. The large pool can also be used as a pond if so desired. The structure comes with an attractive life-like moss effect and is UV- and frost-resistant so very suitable for outdoor use.

As Roger found it is also incredibly easy to set up. Simply remove from the box, connect it to a power source, add water and within just a few minutes it will be up and running. Then all you need to do is to factor in time to sit and enjoy the highly relaxing spectacle.