Chill out with a water feature – by Diane Morey Sitton

Ah! A babbling brook, a gurgling fountain, a sparkling waterfall … just thinking about water –especially moving water — seems to increase the breeze, lower the temperature, and invigorate the spirit. What’s more, with all the bird activity generated by fountains, pools and other water features, it’s only natural to get caught up in the singing and splashing and to forget about the heat.

Foliage and flowers frame a dramatic waterfall and pool. All images by Diane Morey Sitton. Click image for larger view.

August sizzle? What August sizzle!

Water features range from small tabletop burblers – perfect for balconies and small decks – to custom-designed waterfall/stream combinations that transform ordinary yards into refreshing retreats. And when it comes to style, water doesn’t seem to care if it silently slides across marble slabs in futurescapes, tumbles down waterfalls in tropical lagoons, or flirts with flowers along cottage garden streams. Water is equally comfortable nurturing koi and goldfish in lily-filled pools or burbling out of crevices in rock gardens.

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An exquisite, burbling urn takes center stage in a classic courtyard.

Many DIY water features can be completed in a weekend or less. Contact a professional for help with large fountains, waterfalls, and interconnected water features.

Check out the options below.

Boulders create low waterfalls in this long, narrow stream.

Streams. Like fluid paths, streams create destinations. Let them meander through landscapes—burbling and gurgling—to secret gardens or restful corners. Traverse the water with a footbridge leading from one garden room to another. Add a bench next to the water. In sloping lawns, construct waterfalls to accentuate terraces.

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A footbridge traverses a large backyard pond. Click image for larger view.
Ferns and flowers surround this bird-friendly oasis. Click image for larger view.

Pools and ponds. Luckily for nature lovers, even a small pool or pond can be home to koi, goldfish or a collection of water lilies. Obtain a ready-to-assemble kit for small projects; for large projects hire a professional. Increase the impact by pairing the pond with a stream or waterfall.

A waterfall and a frog fountain keep the water fresh in this pool.

Waterfalls. Waterfalls add drama to gardens whether you surround them with plants and boulders to mimic Mother Nature, direct a thin sheet of water over a ledge “rain curtain style”, or entice water to flow downward transforming a stone, brick or tile wall into a glistening “waterwall.”

Mandevilla adds a colorful accent to an elegant setting.

Fountains. Few water features are as versatile as fountains. They range from major focal points that spew water into the air in intricate patterns to simple do-it-yourself creations that consist of water cascading from an urn or other ordinary object. Either way, fountains add sound and movement to landscapes.

Add a wall fountain to reinforce a theme, add motion and create sound.

Wall fountains. These space savers make the most of entry alcoves, long-and-narrow side yard gardens and small patios by dressing up blank walls, reinforcing themes, and adding motion. But that’s not all. Confined spaces seem to amplify the sound of the trickling water, creating music to the ears.

Birdbaths are simple and rewarding water features.
Burbling water helps attract birds to birdbaths.

Birdbaths. Traditional birdbaths offer instant gratification to birds and gardeners; bring them home, position them in the garden, fill them with water from the hose, and then wait for the show. It won’t be long! Multiply the motion and the activity by adding a dripper or sprayer.

Flowers, ferns and aquatic plants beautify a backyard stream.

Water gardens. Where space is limited, combine your love of plants with a water feature by “planting” a water garden. Start small with a tabletop garden contained in a fish bowl, aquarium, or clear glass cylinder. Later, graduate to a galvanized tub or half barrel. Water lettuce, water hyacinth, water lilies – a new world of plants awaits!

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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