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Looking for ambiance in your backyard? Just add water.

A water feature will provide beauty and sound but should also blend in to the natural landscape.

A water feature will provide beauty and sound but should also blend in to the natural landscape.

t’s summertime and the living should be easy, relaxed and tranquil. Adding a water feature to your landscape can help promote all three, but only if you choose the right addition and have it properly constructed. 

Water features can range from a simple concrete fountain or pondless design such as a bubbling boulder, streambed or waterfall to a full-fledged running stream with cascading waterfalls and a recirculating pond that could accommodate fish and plant life. While expense, maintenance and construction will play into the planning, the ability to blend in to the natural landscape should be a consideration as well, according to Bill Goodner, who owns Personal Touch Landscape & Design with his wife, Joanne. “The purpose of a water feature is to provide beauty and sound,” Goodner says. “But we live in Colorado and whatever is created should incorporate the natural landscape.”

Goodner, who is involved in the design of every project for his clients, explains that choosing the location for a water feature is important as it will help determine the size and scope of the project. “Once we have a basic plan, then we can add the bells and whistles,” he says. “The stones, boulders and plant materials will help soften the look.”

EASY DOES IT

Pondless water features are an easy place to start because of the scalable size, low maintenance and safety. “A pondless water feature recirculates the water in a hidden basin so you still get the movement of the water and sound coming through,” says Brandon Elrod, vice president of C&C Sand and Stone, a local supplier of materials for such landscaping projects. They offer bubbling rocks or boulders that can be placed on a flat surface in the yard near your outdoor living space. The rock is-pre-drilled for the water to rise up and then cascade down over the boulder, creating a tranquil setting. Other pondless features can be constructed to resemble waterfalls or small streams. For a busy homeowner, the pondless route is an excellent option, as it lacks the maintenance required with a pond, and with no open standing water, there is no need for a fence to keep small children or animals out.

A MORE ELABORATE LOOK

For someone with a more sophisticated taste, the sky is the limit. C&C Sand and Stone offers everything from river rock and stones to large boulders and flat rock to create a fast-moving, noise-making stream of beauty. 

Goodner says the addition of the pond creates another element that can be fun but time-consuming. “If you are thinking about having a pond with fish and plants, you essentially need to create your own micro-environment,” he says. “It requires a significant amount of plant material to produce an ecosystem, but once it is established, having the pond with fish, frogs and turtles can be a lot of fun.”

Goodner says there are many different types of plants to choose from including lilies, iris and cattails, most of which are perennials. And as long as the pond is deep enough and the creatures have somewhere to hide from predators and sunlight, they, too, will survive the winter. 

Water features can run thousands of dollars depending on the materials chosen and whether you use a contractor to design and install it - or you do some of the work yourself. Note: proper installation is critical for the mechanical aspects, particularly the pump, which keeps the water moving. 

“A water feature is about quality of life,” says Bill Johannsen, president of C&C Sand and Stone. “It can mask traffic and other noises, but more importantly a water feature provides serenity to an outdoor living space. It really makes for a peaceful setting.”