Trends in Backyard Design: Water Features Are Enjoying a Rippling Effect
In a recent online post on what’s new in outdoor design, hgtv.com (House & Garden/TV) set water-feature-loving hearts a pumping. They have found that one of today’s top outdoor trends in backyard design is the backyard water feature.
In our experience at Deck and Patio, there are many reasons for this popularity. In addition to water features providing an attractive focal point all year through — be it a simple easy-to-install single portable fountain, or a gorgeous deep natural swimming pond complete with waterfalls and streams — the sound and sight of moving water is instantly soothing. And when created on a large-enough scale, such a feature can even block out unwanted noise.
Another major factor in their popularity are the many options available. Whatever one’s taste, there’s a feature to match it — from historic rustic to contemporary and sleek.
That brings us to perhaps the biggest reason for the growth in this backyard trend:
Any budget can absorb it!
Relatively inexpensive, bubbling rocks, single urns, and multiple rock fountains bring the sounds and sight of moving water to your backyard effortlessly.
When Deck and Patio’s designer was completing this garden, he noticed that “something was missing.” The clients agreed that a modest water fountain would add more life and provide a focal point in the garden. The “stacked stone urn” design they chose is the smallest kit available from Aquascape Inc. (32” tall), which suited their style and was the perfect scale for the garden.
While this bubbling rock is part of a larger rainwater harvesting/pond project (Brooklyn/NY), it can be installed on its own to provide the sight and sounds of moving water. When sitting out on their patio, the fountain offers the homeowners a serene focal point that also helps irrigate the garden.
Sheet waterfalls are a popular choice for people who enjoy a sleek modern look. Also called Sheer Descent, these waterfalls provide a particular soothing sound unique to their design.
Space was at a premium in this yard and the usual type of large water feature (e.g., pond fed by streams with waterfalls etc.) wouldn’t have fit. The Deck and Patio designer suggested adding two sheer descent waterfalls flowing out of the new stone bar we were constructing for them. The flowing water is collected underground and re-circulated, eliminating the usual above-ground presence of a pond.
Waterfalls/Ponds and Water Gardens
Cascading water in our backyards offer more than beauty. They can help eliminate noise problems.
These clients had a backyard noise problem. Their home is located close to a very busy street and the solution we came up with is for this lovely pondless waterfall. The noise is completely eliminated by the flowing water cascading over imported moss rock boulders. It’s beautiful to look at whether you are lounging on the patio or taking a swim in the pool — and when outdoors, the family feels like they are far away from the hubbub of daily life.
Backyard ponds and water gardens have been growing in popularity for some time; recent trends are for adding aquatic plants. These plants are not just beautiful to look at. Carefully chosen, they absorb nutrients an pollutants and help purify the pond. Along with the water, these plants become a magnet for local birds who come to bathe and rest on or near the plants. In this project, we added ornamental grasses and lily pads inside the pond surrounded by flowering perennials for color and charm.
Water Features are for All Seasons
When our clients ask our experts if they should close down their ponds or fountains for the winter, our answer is frequently, No! Most ponds — even stocked with koi — can operate during winter.
Crafted in delightful old-world charm, this fountainscape is part of a fountain/miniature pond feature that is as peaceful in winter months as it is in summer. Note how the small stream of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice during winter’s icy blasts.
Natural Swimming Ponds
Being able to swim in your own backyard pristine natural pond is perhaps the ultimate in backyard water features. The best natural swimming ponds are built big and deep enough to allow for snorkeling and provide ample room to swim.
It requires expertise to create a natural swimming environment and be able to enjoy it much like we did swimming holes in years past. It takes, for example, the correct underlayment, liner, Biofalls (Aquascape Inc.), bog filtration, as well as the ideal water plants etc. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.