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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Add Fountains and Ponds to Improve Your Landscape

When designing a landscape I like to add special visual features. Fountains and in-ground ponds are great visual accents in gardens. Fountains are available in a huge selection of sizes, materials and types. Ponds can be designed to virtually any specification and made with a huge array of materials. Ponds can be used in conjunction with fountains and the depth and coolness of the water enables you to add aquatic plants. Fountains and ponds both provide a focal point for the eye and soothing sounds for the ear and are so versatile; there is one suitable for any location and application.
Choosing a fountain is like choosing furniture, very individualized. The style of the fountain, traditional, contemporary, etc., is an important consideration and should compliment the architectural style of your home and landscape. Also, the size of the fountain should compliment the scale of the home and garden. For example, pairing a small fountain fashioned like a Grecian urn with huge Ranch style garden is not the most graceful choice. Being under-scaled for the area, the fountain will not have the visual impact you are looking for and the styles may clash. On the other hand, there may be some instances where this pairing works. It all comes down to your personal taste.
Installation and assembly of fountains is actually quite simple and instructions vary depending on the size, shape and quantity of components. Many fountains re-circulate the same water with their submersible pumps. They do not require a water supply or float valve in order for them to operate. Just fill them with water and plug them in.
Maintenance is a snap with stone and concrete fountains.  There are two maintenance issues to handle. First is the mineral build-up that occurs because of the Valley’s hard water and evaporation. Clean up is easy and infrequent if the fountain water is changed regularly. The second is cloudiness and algae that is easily avoided with water clarifier.
In-ground ponds are simple to install and fairly easy to maintain as well. The key is to line the pond so it doesn’t leak. Place a geo-textile fabric on the ground after the pond has been dug to size and shape. This prevents the liner from being punctured. Then, use a specially manufactured, heavy-duty pond liner to provide a seal on the pond so water doesn’t leak out. Note: the entire pond structure needs to be lined, even under the big boulders used in waterfall features, essentially anywhere the water goes needs lining.
A new type of in-ground pondless water feature uses a rigid vault for the water basin rather than a pond liner. The water vault is installed in the ground to a depth of one foot. An industrial plastic grate is placed on top of the vault and then covered with a geo-textile fabric. The geo-textile fabric on top of the grate acts as a filter for leaf litter and other items that would plug the pump. To finish the underground portion of the water feature, a landscape material like river stones or granite is used to cover the fabric lined grate. The water feature itself can be almost anything from a ceramic pot or fountain that overflows dripping down into the water vault below where the water is re-circulated with a pump up to the top of the above-ground water feature. Another example of this type of in-ground, pondless water feature can be seen in the included photo that shows basalt stone spires. The spires have a hole up through the middle where the water bubbles out and over the spires down into the water vault below.
The aesthetic design of the pond will dictate what materials used on the interior and exterior of the pond. Ideas for materials to line the interior are sand, pebbles and grout. The exterior edges and water features use any number of materials like natural rock and exterior patio tiles-the sky is the limit here, let your imagination go.
Mechanically speaking, you will need a re-circulating pump and filter system, a water filling system to maintain the water level, and algae control like ultraviolet sterilizer, bio-controls or clarifiers.
Surprisingly, water plants can be added to pondless water features and in-ground water features with ponds. There is a wide selection of blooming and non-blooming water plants that are very attractive. Fish, however, can only be used in water features that utilize ponds.
Fountains are available at garden centers. A licensed landscape contractor with experience in design and installation can offer options for an unusual pond or waterfall.

Fountains and ponds create a relaxing ambiance and can be visually stunning as an accent piece in any garden. So, kick up your garden’s style and add water to your garden.


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