By Sandra Nelson
It used to be that your choice in water features was limited to a fountain or a pond. While both could be stunning, they didn’t always fit with the existing landscape or mesh with the environment. Today, there are all sorts of alternatives available, offering the perfect choice for any situation. While our list certainly isn’t exhaustive, it does give you a glimpse of what the market has to offer.
Still one of the most popular water features among homeowners, natural ponds are designed to bring a slice of the great outdoors to the residential landscape. Often constructed using local stone and surrounded by native plants, natural ponds convey a strong sense of place and tie us to our roots. Offering a safe haven, natural ponds attract all sorts of wildlife from frogs and turtles to birds, butterflies and even families of deer.
Promises of a profusion of enticing blooms tempting the eye and heady fragrances filling the air (convince) homeowners to add lily ponds and water gardens to their landscapes. With many of the plants “drop and go” varieties, day-to-day maintenance can be minimal, fitting well with the busy lifestyle of many families.
Tranquil, serene, mesmerizing — a place to restore your soul and lift your spirits after a stressful day. Imagine the pleasure in having a school of tamed Koi dash to the water’s surface eagerly vying to be the first to eat from your hand.
A natural addition to a pond, waterfalls add another dimension to the landscape. The sound of falling water is not only relaxing, but can work to block unwanted noises. The moving water from a waterfall helps to keep the pond clean by slowing the growth of algae and prevents mosquito larvae from coming to the water’s surface to breathe.
If access to open water is a safety issue for small children or pets, or if small is tight, then a pondless waterfall could be the answer. Since water is recirculated from an underground reservoir, there is no open standing water to tempt children or pets.
While pondless waterfalls are ideal for small spaces, streams are impressive features in large areas, especially when paired with ponds or waterfalls. With travel being limited today, adding a well-designed stream to the landscape can instantly become your favorite destination.
For a taste of elegance and luxury, incorporate a water wall in your landscape design. Perfect next to a swimming pool or an outdoor kitchen, a water wall can also function as a unique privacy screen. As with a pondless waterfall, the water reservoir can be hidden, or it can be incorporated in a small container garden setting. Because the water cascades down a solid surface, the texture and size of the surface can alter its sound.
Once reserved for swimming pools, rain curtains are becoming the “WOW” factor in many home landscapes. Placed in a garden, they become a unique focal point, while next to a patio they create the peaceful illusion of a soft springtime shower. The slow free fall of tiny droplets of water into a specially designed trough keeps splash to a minimum, making a rain curtain an option for even highly trafficked areas.
For literally thousands of years, people have included fountains both in their public spaces and in their private gardens and atriums. To the ancient cultures, fountains symbolized the life-giving power of water. Today, while much of the symbolism has faded, we still recognize and crave the benefits that water flowing from a fountain can give. The choices in freestanding fountains are endless. On one end, they can be huge and elaborate moving water across multiple levels, while at the other end, they can be the ultimate in minimalistic design. Typically, freestanding fountains are meant to be a standalone focal point.
Limited outdoor space doesn’t have to limit your access to a water feature. By hanging a fountain on a drab outdoor wall, you can turn a bleak deck or patio into the perfect personal retreat. Hanging fountains are easy to install and since they usually require only a 110v outlet to operate are great for renters to remove when they leave.
Most often described by their happy sounds, bubblers are designed to make it appear that water is welling, or bubbling, up from underground. Especially good for small spaces, bubbling rocks give a quiet ambiance to the landscape and offer birds and butterflies a refreshing drink of cool water on hot summer days.
Often overlooked in the quest for the perfect water feature, a bird bath can be exactly what you are looking for. Widely available in a huge variety of sizes, styles and prices, bird baths do not need a power source, a water source or even a complex installation plan. Instead, simply place the piece within view, add water, wait for the birds to come and then enjoy their antics.