Ever wish you could feel like you’re on vacation in your own backyard? Who hasn’t? If you’ve already achieved comfy seating and tranquil mood lighting but still feel like there’s something missing, perhaps it’s a water feature. The soothing sounds and mesmerizing appeal of cascading water can instantly transport you to a calming paradise. Your setup can be as elaborate as a sparkling pond complete with a waterfall and a school of koi fish or as simple as a decorative fountain surrounded by your favorite plants. Micah Miller, managing member of Newport News-based Easton Outdoors, shares some considerations for choosing the right water feature for your yard.
Location Is Key
Surprisingly, the backyard view isn’t the only consideration for determining the location of a water feature. Instead, Miller says that the view from inside is what he focuses on first.
“You’re not going to be outside 100 percent of the time, but when you walk in the door and set your keys down, I want to make sure the water feature is positioned within that viewshed,” he says, explaining that the sight of flowing water can be just as appealing as the sound.
When considering small pets and children, waterfalls and decorative fountains are the most secure option, but even ponds can be designed with safety in mind. “If we know they’ve got a pet that likes water, we’ll make the pond more interactive by building shallower ledges so the pet can jump out,” Miller says.
Young children should always be monitored when spending time near a pond, but versus being off limits, most families encourage kids to interact with the pond to get closer to nature. Some favorite activities may be feeding fish, learning about the life cycle of dragon flies or gazing at migratory birds stopping in for a bath.
Speaking of wildlife, ponds can attract frogs, turtles and occasional snakes. Contrary to popular concern, however, mosquitoes won’t be an issue as long as the water is constantly moving, and the pond is kept clear of algae.
Leaves and yard debris cleanup are part of standard maintenance. Easton Outdoors offers monthly or annual maintenance services to remove buildup and ensure things are running smoothly, but for those who prefer to do their own maintenance, Miller says five to 10 minutes a week is all it takes.
For water features with fish, owners will need to take special care in the colder months by purchasing an aerator or ensuring there’s a hole in a frozen pond so that proper gas exchange can allow fish to just keep swimming.
There are several ways to elevate your water feature, from specialty plants to decorative fountains. Miller’s top recommendation, however, is lighting. With the right lighting, a water feature can transform into an entirely different experience at nighttime, creating an enchanting flicker when light hits the water.
A recent trend Miller mentions is incorporating fire into a water feature by using propane or natural gas. So, instead of deciding between a firepit or a fountain, combine these two elements together for a soothing mix of flame and flow.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF EASTON OUTDOORS