Monday, May 4, 2009

Adding a Water Feature

Night lighting is something that you should revisit in your outdoor considerations adding a water feature. The sounds made by a waterfall are equally as desirable as the visual affect. The style of the fall, affects the sound it makes. Noise will be made by the disrupted water hitting the rocks at various levels.

An echo chamber can be put in place by creating a void behind the falls, the deeper the chamber, the louder the echo becomes. The sound is also relative to the thickness of the stream of water coming over the falls, the thicker the stream, the louder the sound.

A formal plunge is a smooth sheet of water with very few air bubbles, dropping vertically off the rocks and free falling over most of its height. This style makes the least amount of noise.

Cascade falls are formed when the water stays in contact with the rock that is sloping and there are many small vertical drops, spaced closely together, reminiscent of stair steps.

Another falls appropriately named for the shape is the horsetail, which is a long column of free falling water three to four times higher than it is wide.

Rapids are usually characterized in streams or creeks where loose stone dams up the water and the grade changes happen over greater horizontal distances causing the water to pool and rush around the rocks.

Existing conditions should dictate plans for a future water feature. If you plan on flowering aquatic plants, your pond will need to get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Keep in mind that hot sunny conditions and excessive wind will cause water to evaporate faster. Sunlight and shade can deal different challenges, algae growth becomes an issue in full sun, and water clarity can be a problem if there is too much shade. A nice balance of full sun areas, but having dappled shade over parts of the water feature gives the fish a place to cool off as well as offers a seating area in a cool spot for guests. A sheltered area becomes important where winds can be a problem. Winds speed evaporation and blow debris into the pond; they can also knock over tall water plants. If no protected spot is available, an evergreen or solid fence would be a suitable screen or windbreak.

Another trick to ensure that the water feature looks a bit less contrived is to hide the point where the water originates. To see a stream running from behind a group of trees bordering the wood line gives the sense that it could be a natural creek. Instead of showcasing the pond as the focal point of the views, camouflage the pond so visitor catches a glimpse and their curiosity is piqued. This creates the interest of a destination in which to travel to and enjoy the sights along the way. Reflection is an important view that is sometimes overlooked. Still water makes a perfect mirror in which to double the display of flowers and fall colors to enhance the visual show. We hope some of these thoughts or ideas inspire you this year as youconsider your landscape needs.

At Twin Lakes Nursery, our design team, with over 130 years of combined experience create landscapes that fit our unique west Michigan environment. We work with you to develop plans that fit your unique situations. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your landscape needs. Please call us at 616-949-5230 or visit us online

References cited: “Complete guide to water gardens ponds and fountains” Kathleen Fisher, Hardscape Magazine Sept. 2005 issue “Know your waterfalls” Gary Whittstock


What is your ultimate goal? What mood are you trying to create, what feelings would you like to evoke?

How do you use the overall space? Where do you feel drawn to sit, and how much room will you need there? What are the circulation patterns for the walkways?

What is the lay of the land? Where would the water naturally run if it had always existed? Where would grade changes make sense and not seem obtrusive?

Will you view the water feature from the inside? What will the views be from where you will sit outside? What frames the water and where will your focal points be?

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