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Add a visual and acoustic element to your pool or backyard with a water feature.
By Debra Maurer
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.
Photo courtesy of Caviness Landscape Design, Inc.; Photograph by K.O. Rinearson
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.
Photo courtesy of Fiore Stone, Inc., the manufacturers of Al's Garden Art
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.
Photo courtesy of RicoRock, Inc.
Pool Water Features
Water features are often incorporated into swimming pool designs as well.
, 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.
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.
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.
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
and water spouting from decorative sconces, such as rosettes or lion heads.
Photo courtesy of Dolphin Pools & Spas; Pool designed and built Kevin Woodhurst
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