By Jay Ladell
If you are like most urban Ottawa residents, you may think that your outdoor space is too small for a stream, waterfall or fountain. But now you can have striking water features – that add sensory appeal to your landscape – without taking up too much space.
Moving water animates our outdoor space as it flows, interacts with light and delights us as it trickles, gushes or splashes.
Water is a source of life and it draws us to it just as it draws birds to our water displays. Water features improve our moods, reduce noise pollution and delight us with their sights and sounds.
I love how my outdoor water feature lulls me into a deep state of relaxation. The sound stops the chattering going on in my head and also filters out traffic noise.
Children gravitate to water. They play in it, put their hands in it or even dip their feet in it to cool off on a hot day. Now water features are child safe thanks to the advent underground basins from which the water is re-circulated with a pump. Since there is no pooled water, children can engage in natural play with less worry for parents.
Installing water features is one of the most enjoyable aspects my work because of the many creative choices available and the enormous benefits which they provide.
The speed, size and volume of water movement will determine what sound the water will make.
An energizing choice is a cascading pondless waterfall that mirrors the sounds and look of a natural stream.
Other clients may prefer to meditate alongside an overflowing vase fountain with slow moving water that pours down the sides and sounds like the soft overspill of a spa pool.
A quiet fountain, or a pond-free waterfall feature will fit into any small patio space typically found in Ottawa urban yards.
I always place the water feature as close as possible to the outdoor living space so people can physically interact with it.
For one client, I located the waterfall close to the patio so they could hear the rush of the waterfall. For added viewing pleasure, I snaked a stream around the seating area. To travel from the house to the patio, I added a stone bridge so the homeowners had to pass over the water and perhaps be tempted to sit and dip their feet on the way.
The most popular water feature is a bubbling rock. The bonus is that they are extremely easy to maintain.
The water is cycled through a hole in a boulder so it cascades around the face of the stone. The flowing water is caught in a basin underneath the ground that is covered with round river stones.
Thanks to this new technology, water features require less maintenance than ever before. In the spring, the maintenance can be completed in as little as just half an hour.
Simply connect the pump, drain, clear out the debris from the river stone, clean the stone and refill the basin. Very occasionally you might have to treat the water, but even that can be done simply with natural bacteria or organic amendments. Shutting down in the fall often takes 15 minutes just to disconnect the pump and clean out the leaves.
Another great option for high visual impact is a vertical water wall feature. The effect of a screen of water is dazzling. Water is pumped up and sheets down either a mirror, sheet of glass or textured metal surface to create the effect of rain on a window. These stunning fountains can be purchased as free-standing features or can be custom built as a garden divider.
When considering what water feature is best for your yard, choose one that is proportionate to the size of your property and select a style that complements your existing garden.
Water features work wonders: they turn back yards into a peaceful retreat, enhance the existing landscape and their sensory appeal encourages us to use our outdoor space more often.
Article originally published in the O.S.C.A.R. newspaper