Looking to add to your home and garden?
Adding the smallest feature to your Garden can improve your landscaping design and make for a more relaxing area.
From a small trickling fountain to a full-scale pond, water adds interest to any landscape. Depending on its design, a water feature complements formal, informal, modern and traditional home and garden designs. There are some things every homeowner should consider when adding a water feature to the landscape.
The first consideration is the amount of space available and its location. Like any other hardscaping, a water feature should be kept in scale with the rest of the house, lot and any outbuildings. A large fountain or pool can overwhelm a small area; too small of a fountain or pool will be lost in a large expanse. Water features are best sited in a location that is fairly open but not necessarily in full sun. Water placed under trees will accumulate debris such as fallen leaves, spent blossoms, and storm damaged twigs and branches. This debris creates a cluttered appearance, and will eventually clog the filtration system of the water feature. If there is no filter or aerator attached to the water feature, the rotting debris will create a fetid, rank nightmare. Water features that receive several hours of sunlight will need to have water lost through evaporation replenished frequently. Sunny conditions will also promote algae growth, increasing maintenance demands.
Second, the area should be easy to plumb and to wire for electricity. Fountains, ponds and pools require recirculating pumps and a convenient method for filling and draining the basin. This means that piping, drainage and electrical lines will also have to be installed. Before making a final decision on where to locate the water feature, call and have the underground utility lines marked out. This will avoid accidentally rupturing a buried gas main or electrical conduit.
Third, establish a budget for the project. The budget needs to cover the costs of grading the area, the materials used in hardscaping and the cost of installation. The initial cost of a small fountain may only be $200.00, but the cost to run piping and electricity to the site can add an additional $1000.00 or so. In some areas, building codes may also require obtaining a permit. For larger projects such as building a realistic looking pond complete with a small waterfall, the cost begins in the $20,000 range.
Finally, will fish or plants be added to the pool? If the final product includes koi or other fish, then a recirculating pump and biological filtration system are musts. The pump adds enough oxygen to the water to allow the fish to live and keeps the water from developing surface scum. The biological filter effectively cleans waste left by the fish until sufficient composting bacteria are established in the pond to maintain an optimal oxygen/nitrogen balance. A fish pond also must be deep enough to give the fish adequate swimming area and to prevent the pond from freezing completely during the winter months. Fish can survive outdoors in a pond that is at least three feet deep. Native water lilies can also winter over in a pond that is at least two feet deep; the tropical varieties have to be brought indoors as soon as frost threatens, which means that a small indoor aquarium is also needed for overwintering the roots.
One final suggestion comes from a large manufacturer of outdoor pond kits: to get a sense of how a water feature will look in the location chosen, lay a large mirror reflective side up in place. View it from all sides, and see how the light changes from sunup to sundown. Good planning and good placement make a backyard water feature a landscaping gem.
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