Easy Ways to Improve Your Home’s Yard – and Value – Using Water
April is National Landscape Architecture Month, which means it’s the perfect time to start thinking about the landscaping around your home and how you can shape it to improve your everyday quality of life. Some of the most popular, and most enjoyable, landscaping features involve the use of water in one way or another.
While incorporating water into your landscape architecture might sound overly complicated and costly, it’s actually much easier than you think – not to mention the amazing rewards that you and your family will enjoy. So read on to learn about eight stunning water features for your home landscape.
By far the most traditional type of water feature in home landscaping, fountains are also one of the most versatile because of the wide array of styles and designs available. Many home-improvement stores sell fully functioning fountains made out of sturdy stone or concrete, which you can actually install yourself (with a bit of planning and some materials) to enhance the outdoor living aspects of your home. Depending on the size and layout of your lot, you may not need to dig much in order to connect to your water system.
Choosing the right type of fountain depends on the style of your home as well as the climate. Some fountains might be better suited to warmer-weather climate or certain types of architecture (courtesy Home Landscaping, left, and Mile High Landscaping).
Beyond the installation requirements, one of the biggest benefits of fountains is the fact that you can almost always find one in a style that suits your existing yard motif. Victorian homes and European-style houses can include classic European fountains, while modern homes can sport contemporary designs that even use reclaimed materials. They are the epitome of form meets function when it comes to landscaping water features.
The Zen of Reflecting Pools
If you’re looking for a more serene water feature to add to your landscaping, a reflecting pool may be just the right fit. These water features are, as the name implies, more subdued and designed to bring about contemplation and calm rather than put on a grand, splashy spectacle. However, these water features almost always require a decent amount of work to install, depending on size and materials, and something interesting to reflect!
Reflecting pools are a great way to incorporate a soothing water feature into your yard, and they can also become a home to certain types of fish (courtesy Decoist, left, and Angeleno Living).
Commonly, reflecting pools involve digging out a space in the yard and fitting it with a liner (often butyl or a similar material) to keep the water clean and make maintenance easier compared with natural ponds. The clarity of the water is important in reflecting pools because it helps enhance the serenity of the space – murky water rarely makes people feel more at ease. You can customize the design around the exterior rim, using stones and plants to give it a more natural appearance.
Bubbling Ponds and Water Gardens
Similar to reflecting pools, ponds are also freestanding bodies of water but are often much more intricate in terms of both design and appearance. The amount of digging they require depends on the size and scope of the pond, as well as whether or not you want it to appear more natural or more manmade. Just as with fountains, this type of water feature affords you more control over the final appearance due to the amount of work and the items you choose to incorporate.
Adding a pond to your home can give you a quiet place to sit and relax, and gives you a chance to introduce new types of plants and landscaping designs as well (courtesy Firebird).
Some ponds feature additional raised sections, which can allow you to create distinct areas with a different overall appearance or aesthetic and encourage some natural water flow throughout the space. While many homeowners choose to limit the pond to a specific small section of the yard, other choose to incorporate it – as a water garden – throughout the space in order to create a lusher appearance. These ponds can also attract wildlife in the area, such as birds or even deer, which can be educational and enriching for your family to observe.
When you hear the word “waterfall” you might start thinking about the large natural water features you’ve seen at parks or in movies, but you can actually install one in your own backyard without needing acres of free space. Of course, the size of your yard will influence the size of the waterfall you can create, so you’ll want to be mindful of the entire area’s features (as wall as your proximity to any neighbors) before you begin construction.
Installing a waterfall in your yard allows you to enjoy the soothing sounds of falling water whenever you like, and you can even incorporate waterfalls into an existing pond or other water feature like a swimming pool.
The type of waterfall you choose to add to your home landscaping depends on the materials available as well as your own style preferences. Here a waterfall create a resort-like atmosphere for a swimming pool in a backyard (courtesy Home Landscaping).
Most waterfalls need to back up against some kind of wall, though it is possible to create one using a non-traditional design. This can include boulders or large rocks stacked on top of each other, structures built of out bamboo reeds, or even modifying a sculpture to include sections for flowing water.
If you have a large enough property, creating a stream can be a fantastic way to add water features into your home landscaping. This may be a good choice for outdoor living homes or any lot that includes a large yard with trees. It can make your yard feel like a quiet forest, bringing a sense of scenic beauty to the space. Even if you live in an urban area, creating a “stream” can help you build the outdoor paradise of your dreams.
Bringing a stream into your backyard can be a wonderful way to enhance the natural beauty of your home, especially if the backyard already faces an open forested area (courtesy Ecogreen Corp.).
The process will involve digging up sections of the yard in order to build the stream, and you will also need to account for a starting and stopping point with the water. However, when planned correctly, the payoff can be a truly breathtaking visual feast that elevates your yard to the next level. It’s also a great choice if you already have a natural water source on or near your property that you can utilize in the project.
Fab Feature Walls
Just as in interior design, feature walls can be incorporated into your outdoor landscaping in a variety of ways. They can be free standing or built into an existing structure, but in both cases they borrow the same water elements as a waterfall.
The benefit here is that you can make them more showy and use them as a focal point for an entertaining area. Some water feature walls also utilize lights and similar elements to make them stand out even more.
A great way to dress up a privacy barrier is by incorporating a feature wall to create a focal point in the landscape. The falling water from the discreet fountain provides a soothing, serene backdrop to the scene (courtesy Mile High Landscaping).
Bird Baths for Fun in the Sun
These types of water features are among the simplest to work with, as they don’t require you to build elaborate structures in your yard.
You can choose from a huge selection of designs at your local garden store, or even create your own for a truly unique look. They are also perfect if your main focus is in bringing more local wildlife into your yard, especially if you want to attract more birds.
Bird baths are simple, classic water features for your yard that also allow you to enjoy the local wildlife in your area (courtesy NatJLN).
Tranquil Nature Scenes
When you can’t decide on a single type of water feature for your home landscaping, it might be time to consider going all out and creating a full nature scene. These projects can turn into entire yard makeovers, with the end goal being a realistic slice of nature for you and your family to enjoy.
Creating your own custom nature scene that incorporates multiple water features can truly transform your home landscaping into a work of art (courtesy Karen Roe).
It might include streams, ponds, fountains, and an array of different plants and flowers, all in the name of a cohesive garden oasis that uses water to simulate the great outdoors.
There are no rules or limits when creating your own private nature scene – or incorporating any or all of the ideas presented here – so let your imagination run wild!
Footnote: the lead image for this article shows a small pond and waterfall, ideal for backyard use. For more information, click here. Image licensed through Creative Commons.