The Wonder of H2O: Upgrade Your Home With a Water Feature
The zen sound of a bubbling fountain, sunlight bouncing off the surface of a majestic koi pond, a watering hole for your avian neighbors: all of the above are ample reasons to add a water feature to your landscape plan. We tapped four Scouted experts for their advice on what to consider and how to best execute the installation of a water feature that will add value to your abode and endless enjoyment to your at-home life. To find an expert in your area, consult The Scout Guide Directory.
Keep it close. When beginning to plan for a water feature Brian Fitzsimmons, owner of Fitz’s Fish Ponds in central New Jersey, urges clients to consider the location first. “I always like to position a pond closer to a patio or outdoor living space to allow for easy viewing.” He adds that taking into account how the water feature will be viewed from both inside and outside of the home is crucial. “Customers who can see the feature from a window they frequently look out of are able to enjoy it even more.”
Return on investment. The addition of a water feature can be a huge asset to a home, without the exorbitant expense a lot of other house upgrades tend to be. David W. Young, ASLA, principal of DWY Landscape Architects in Sarasota and Naples, Florida, warns that in order to make sure you are getting a return on investment, it has to be executed properly. He suggests a simple modern option like a low rim bowl with a small recirculating fountain placed in the bottom. “When this is placed at the entry of your home or within a courtyard, it’s a widely appealing and timeless choice.”
Create peace. For tranquility in the garden, landscape experts Adam Millhouse and Will Howell, owners of Millhouse Howell in Mountain Brook, Alabama, enjoy incorporating water elements in most of their designs. “Traditional or contemporary, water features are focal points that not only please the eye, but muffle undesirable noises that would otherwise interrupt a moment of serenity.” This can be especially desirable if you live close to a busy road or noisy neighbors.
Lending light. While the benefits of having a fountain installed in your outdoor space are numerous, Young argues that light playing off the water is one of the most attractive reasons to explore adding one. “Reflection of the sun during the day and the brilliant light dance on the surrounding surfaces in the evening will lend a level of elegance to any space,” he says.
Use what you have. “Since a pool is not feasible on every project, we often yield to creating custom-built fountains or even reconfiguring large concrete planters to be recirculating bubblers,” Millhouse and Howell report. Not only is this a cost effective option, but it allows for creative freedom when choosing what vessel you would like to utilize.
Consider your climate. If you’re interested in adding a pond to your property, it’s important to take account of the weather in your area year round. Fitzsimmons confirms that while no climate zone is technically off-limits, in areas that experience extreme cold or heat, ponds should be dug deeper to protect their slippery inhabitants. Another, often overlooked but wonderfully bold option, is to build your pond inside—a surefire way to guarantee year round enjoyment.
Breakdown borders. A recent trend on Young’s radar are water features that become one with their surrounding materials, as with the image above. “Breaking down the edge of the water feature and allowing the adjacent elements to co-mingle with water, makes for a more modern option versus the more conventional fountain or pond,” he explains. “By removing the definitive edge that separates the water from the landscape, you’re able to create a stunning, organic feel.”
A nod to nature. A natural ecosystem pond, one that replicates something found in nature, is a lovely way to add character while still maintaining a harmonious feel in your outdoor living space. For these ponds, Fitzsimmons goal is to bring boulders and rocks sourced naturally from the land and incorporate waterfalls or plantings that amplify the natural beauty of the pond.
TSG Tip 462 from Brian Fitzsimmons, owner of Fitz’s Fish Ponds in central New Jersey. David W. Young, ASLA, principal of DWY Landscape Architects in Sarasota and Naples, Florida. Adam Millhouse and Will Howell, owners of Millhouse Howell in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Fitz’s Fish Ponds appears in The Scout Guide Two Rivers & The Shore. DWY Landscape Architects appears in The Scout Guide Naples. Millhouse Howell appears in The Scout Guide Birmingham.