Whimsical Waterfalls & Fountains
Photo courtesy of Caviness Landscape Design, Inc.; Photograph by K.O. Rinearson
Add a visual and acoustic element to your pool or backyard with a water feature.
By Debra Maurer, poolspaoutdoor.com
Water features are a welcoming addition to any backyard. They can add a level of excitement and sense of tranquility, depending on the type you choose. The main kinds of backyard water features are fountains, waterfalls, and ponds. Fountains and waterfalls can stand alone or be incorporated into a pond or swimming pool. Ponds and water gardens add natural elements to your backyard, while pool features enhance the design of your pool.
Each type of outdoor water feature can vary greatly in size, style, and complexity so it's best to decide where you'd like the feature to go and how much space you have. From there you can determine which feature fits your style and budget.
Types of Fountains
Fountains provide an elegant touch and create a serene outdoor environment. They come in many different varieties, including tiered fountains, wall fountains, bubbling urns, fountain bowls, and even bird bath fountains. Tiered fountains have a waterfall effect, while bubbling urns offer tranquil acoustics. Wall fountains can have a stone appearance but are often composed of fiberglass, reducing both the weight and the cost. Surround a wall fountain with flowers and ivy to create a beautiful focal point.
As stand-alone water features, fountains are simple to install. Most come with an electric pump (though some are solar-powered) and must be placed in an area where you can run the wire to an electrical outlet. You can then hide the wire with surrounding plants.
Stand-alone fountains can be purchased at garden centers and big box stores. Their availability and simple DIY installation make them a popular choice.
Rock waterfalls are another common feature. They establish a tropical resort-like theme and can be custom designed to the exact size you want for your yard, pool, or pond.
You may choose natural stone or faux rock for your waterfall. If you prefer real stone, you may want to explore local quarries to save on hefty shipping costs. Natural stone is typically cheaper by the ton, but the added cost of freight and installation makes it comparable to the cost of artificial versions. Faux rock is often composed of GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete), which is molded from natural rock formations and colored to match the grain and texture of various stone types. Compared to the real thing, GFRC is lighter in weight and easier to install.
Water features are often incorporated into swimming pool designs as well. Fountain bubblers, also called foam jets or sun jets, are like mini geysers that shoot water up out of the pool floor. These are typically placed in a very shallow part of the pool called a sun shelf, tanning ledge, or wet deck. Because fountain bubblers are built into the pool's shell, they must be installed during original construction or a major renovation.
Rock waterfalls are common in tropical style pools, while sheer waterfalls (or sheetfalls) provide a more contemporary flair as water flows from a thin flattened spillway. Sheer waterfalls are often installed on a raised wall along one side of the pool.
Deck jets shoot narrow arcs of water from the edge of the deck into the pool. The streams contain air, meaning the water sprays slightly apart in droplets. Deck jets create the effect of water "dancing" across your pool.
Laminar jets are a type of deck jet that produces a quiet, steady arc of bubble-free water, creating the illusion of a glass tube. These are considerably more expensive than standard deck jets but create a crisp, dramatic effect, especially when lit by color-changing LEDs.
Other types of water features for pools include rainfall curtains and water spouting from decorative sconces, such as rosettes or lion heads.
Crystal Helps Create New One-of-a-Kind "Smart" Fountain for Washington Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
See more on Crystalfountains.com
Opened in August, 2012, Washington Park in central Cincinnati preserved its history as an important civic space but also added new amenities to revitalize the neighborhood. As a start, the park expanded from 6 to 8 acres and added a state-of-the-art 7,000 sq. ft interactive fountain at its heart. The fountain is the first in the world to combine Smart Controls that let the Fountain lights and jets dance to any music.
Integrated into one zone of the park is "The Walk of Fame" experience combining classical music, arts education, urban redevelopment, a public park, cutting-edge technology, and the Smart Interactive fountain. Visitors to the park can view the paved stones engraved with the names of Hall of Fame inductees. They can also use their mobile devices to request short musical excerpts for listening to privately or to be heard on public speakers in eight zones throughout the park. And, they can opt to have the water in the park's large fountain "dance" to their choice of music.
Gardens Tap Into Rill Water Features
Rooted in ancient design, this water feature is popular again as a way to help contemporary landscapes flow
Of all the water features we use in our gardens, the rill perhaps has the most interesting history. The rill is a man-made garden canal that creates garden ambience through the pleasant sound of moving water. The earliest style of rill was found in ancient Persian gardens, but perhaps the most famous are in the Moorish Alhambra gardens in Granada, Spain. The rill was a popular water feature of Edwardian garden design and often used by Gertrude Jeckyll, one of Englands most famous garden designers.