Water features offer fountain of design ideas

You can dive into a new look for your property by incorporating a water feature, small or large, into its design.

The array of choices and styles for fountains, waterfalls, ponds, spas and pools can fit the architecture of any home, whether it’s traditional, Cape Cod, contemporary, mid-century modern ranch, French country or Colonial. Fountains and birdbaths can even be enjoyed at homes with limited outside space, including condos or townhomes.

Incorporating water features is gaining in popularity, with landscape architects and garden designers in Georgia and other states receiving more requests from homeowners.

The 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects found that fountains/ornamental water features were the third most popular (83.9 percent) landscape and garden elements among those who responded. Also on the list: ponds/streams (60 percent) and rain gardens (58.3 percent).

When the survey looked specifically at the most popular outdoor recreation amenities, water features ranked high, with 86.1 percent of respondents interested in decorative elements such as waterfalls, splash pools, ornamental pools, grottos and water flowing through runnels. Spas (76.4 percent) and swimming pools (73.8 percent) were next.

Adding a waterfall is a stylish way to spruce up a pool, with metro Atlanta companies such as Hearthstone Environments showcasing water features in their backyard designs.

Refresh your space

A rustic waterfall with boulders, a spa for easing tense muscles, a kids’ play fountain coming out of pavers and a small contemporary fountain are among the options for bringing a water element into your yard.

“People have come to realize that a water feature really changes the ambience. We use a lot of fountains near the front entrance as a calming way to welcome guests to the house,” says Danna Cain, a landscape architect, garden designer and contractor with Home & Garden Design (homegardendesign.com). “In the outdoor living space, any kind of water feature there just makes the area a lot more relaxing.”

One thing to consider is the sound that is most appealing to you, whether you’re in your yard in the morning or entertaining at night, or if you want to buffer any street noise. Your preference for a trickle or rush of water, or even still water with no sound, can determine whether you go with a waterfall, fountain or pond.

Pondless waterfalls, koi ponds and streams next to patios can add to the relaxing aspect of the backyard and offer various levels of sound and maintenance, said Shayne Newman, a member of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), which is becoming the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) in April. He is president of YardApes (yardapes.com), a Connecticut landscape design, construction and maintenance firm.

Maybe you have a fond memory you’re trying to emulate. If you saw a babbling brook in the mountains or a pond with water lilies, that could trigger a special feeling at your home, Cain said. Using a pond or fountain with a basin can create a still-water effect. Fountains also can be paired with a sculpture, which, lit at night, can create visual interest from outside or inside your home.

A fountain is generally less expensive than a waterfall or pond, which could start at $10,000, she said. Another option, especially if you have a smaller property but want a water element, is a sculptural bird bath, such as those created by Tom Torrens, (tomtorrens.com) a Washington artist whose designs have been sold by Frontgate and other retailers.

If you add a waterfall, an extra option is to use a pool pump with a variable speed that can make the waterfall shift from a trickle to a louder, splashing noise.

Cain uses fountains by companies such as Campania International (campaniainternational.com), a designer, manufacturer and distributor of garden fountains, containers and ornaments. Campania’s new products have included contemporary-style fountains, birdbaths with naturalistic designs and an elegant estate-style fountain called The Charleston Fountain.

Find trends and ideas from award winners, others

The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals’ (APSP) 2014 International Awards of Excellence winners featured the best in pools, spas and water features, and spotlighted trends in design of water elements.

One winner, Colorado-based Diamond Spas (diamondspas.com), uses stainless steel and copper to custom fabricate its spas. Its award-winning project had a spa built from recycled copper metal sheets, which was stretched into a curved shape that followed the lines of the seating areas and deck in a Colorado home.

Also consider where the spa or water element is placed. A custom jetted spa for a home in Florida built by APSP award-winner Van Kirk & Sons (vankirkpools.com), a Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based company, was in an area with a pergola and two fire bowls.

Some spas may seem bulky, especially if you prefer a minimal look, but landscape architects and designers are seeing more modern designs with clean, straight lines, for spas as well as fountains and pools.

One company, Bullfrog Spas (bullfrogspas.com), introduced in 2015 the STIL hot tub, which has an ultramodern design created in collaboration with its European partners. Bullfrog Spa dealers in metro Atlanta include Georgia Leisure (galeisure.com) and Brown’s Pools and Spas (brownspools.com).

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