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Stepping stones can be the perfect design element to complete your water feature. Not only do stepping stones provide a subtle means of breaking up a body of water, they provide a pathway to experience a pool or garden pond up close. We've put together some ideas for designing stepping stones for your water feature.
Have larger boulders project above the surface of your water. It provides a very natural looking pathway through the water. The bottom of the boulders should be flat to avoid movement. You can set them in a bed of concrete in order to keep them in place.
You can shape stepping stones to any desired shape you like. Have a series of round stepping stones cutting through your garden pool. Or have square shapes to form a pathway through the water.
Pouring concrete slabs is another option for stepping stones. Stepping stones, unlike bridges, need more planning since they will become more or less a permanent part of your water feature. The upside to this is you can design any shape or configuration your imagination allows.
The Five Elements of water, fire, wood, metal, and earth are Feng Shui foundations for balancing yin and yang and attracting good fortune. Each of the five elements plays a significant role in nature and in homes and offices. Greatly simplified, water is the substance of life. Moving water is especially auspicious. The light and warmth of the sun signify fire complemented by an outdoor fireplace, lights, candles and incense burners. Wood is represented by plants and trees and their products. Silver, gold, copper, bronze and stainless steel are a few symbols of the metal element. And, earth is symbolized by the soil that nourishes plants and provides sustenance for all life. Rocks, stones and gemstones are also considered great storehouses of earth's energy, strength and endurance.
Stones are an integral part of Feng Shui indoor and outdoor home and business design. Stones paired with moving water in a rolling ball stone fountain, stone statuary fountain, or stone waterfall fountain are a particularly powerful combination for attracting positive energy (chi) and adding great beauty and relaxation to an indoor fountains and outdoor fountains in a home or business setting.
In spite of a bounty of beautiful ready-made stone fountains, cast stone fountains and fiberglass stone-like fountains, individualists often want a stone fountain that is uniquely their own. Do-it-yourself craft enthusiasts also enjoy creating their own unique stone garden outdoor fountain setting featuring stone.
There are many important considerations when building your own stone fountain or creating a garden stone fountain setting.
One way to incorporate stone into your garden pool is through the use of stone edging. Some common choices include flagstone, brick and any type of flat masonry material. Here are some ideas:
Flagstone is a durable, attractive stone you can use to border a garden pool. You can also use flagstone as a material for walkways throughout a garden.
Brick is lightweight and uniform in size. Because of this, it's an easier material to install than flagstone and makes an excellent choice for the edge of a pool.
For a dramatic effect with a natural appearance, you can use large boulders to line the entire edge of a pool. Using native stones to match your landscape, varying the size, and partially burying some of the large stones will create a cohesive appearance.
For a natural looking, inexpensive edge to your garden pool, add gravel to the surrounding paving. You also have the added benefit of creating a non-slip surface around the water's edge.
Create a pebbled beach that will allow guests to walk right up to the water's edge. By gently sloping the area next to your garden pool and adding pea gravel or pebbles, you create a beach-like environment that encourages interaction with the water.
Although the fiberglass fountain fares better in freezing temperatures than its stone fountain counterpart, you still have to take care to maintain it when the chill of winter sets in. The stone fountain should be completely dry and water-free to prevent cracking during wintertime weather when there is a freeze and thaw cycle. The fiberglass fountain, though not porous, should also be completely dry. With both fountains, you should take care to make sure the pump and basin are free of water. Water expanding in the basin of a fiberglass fountain can damage it. You can remove the pump and keep it indoors as an added precautionary measure.
The look natural look of stone blends well with any outdoor environment. Stone fountains can be sleek architectural elements or they can be organic water features. If you're looking for some design inspiration, here are a few ideas for stone fountains.
Stone Fountain Pool – A zen-like addition to the outdoor space of a home, you can create a stone fountain pool whose edges rise out of the ground to frame a linear form. Line the base with a bed of pebbles for visual interest and add a sculptural urn or simple statue at one end for emphasis.
The Ledge Stone Fountain – Created as a series of steps off a sloping site, flat irregular stones deliver tiers of water to descend into a natural pool at the base. Surround your ledge stone fountain with low growing plant life and flowers to accent the water feature.
The Meandering Stream Stone Fountain – Rather than a pool, set up a shallow meandering stream just wide enough to plant a series of stepping stones throughout. The water feature can appear to be a natural part of the environment or take on a zig-zag geometric appearance to break up the site.
The lion is a special Feng Shui symbol. The “King of the Beasts,” stands for power, prestige and protection and is a natural subject of stone and faux stone fountains. Dating back to early Greek and Roman history, a lion guarded the entranced and welcomed guests to homes. Today, a pair of sculpted lions often protects the gates of an estate or important government or corporate offices. A stone or faux stone lion's head fountain combines the power of the lion with the timeless Feng Shui power of moving water and the earth element.
There are many choices for lion's head water fountains. There are free-standing lion's head fountains and lion's head wall fountains. Four of the diverse leading lion's head stone-style fountains include:
Sometimes called faux stone fountains or fake stone fountains, cast stone fountains, GFRC and fiberglass fountains offer an appealing, affordable and practical alternative to natural stone in outdoor and indoor fountains. Compare the difference of stone fountains made from cast stone and look-alike fiberglass:
For beauty and drama, natural stone is unmatched for creating distinctive tabletop stone fountains, freestanding stone stones and stone wall fountains. Some of the most common natural stones used in indoor fountains and outdoor garden stone water fountains include: granite, slate, marble, sandstone and limestone. Mexican stone fountains carved from natural cantera and travertine and marble are also popular natural stone fountain choices. Precious and semi-precious stones like amethyst, rose or smoky quartz, obsidian, aventurine, onyx, sodalite, agate and leopardite are used in gem stone fountains. Geodes are created in sedimentary and certain volcanic rocks. Limestone is a common rock housing geode rock cavities (vugs). When split, the rock's interior contains sparkles with quartz crystal formations or intriguing concentric banding. And, geodes create striking stone fountains.
The primary drawbacks for natural stone fountain are weight and cost. The larger the rock fountain, the heavier it is. For instance, a medium-sized 14'' x 14” granite sphere fountain weighs about 140 lbs. A 40” high freestanding granite fountains weighs over 450 lbs. Not only is a natural stone more expensive than cast-stone or fiberglass, shipping charges are much more. And, locations for natural stone fountains may be limited. A table, pedestal, foundation or wall must be able to adequately support the added weight of the stone fountain and water.
Stone accents can do a lot to alter the appearance of your fountain. They can be accent pieces, they can create borders and they can be part of the actual fountain itself. For some ideas on stone accents for your fountain, read our list of ideas.
Stone border – Line the edge of a small garden pond with a double row of flat stones. This will take less than a day to complete and will create a natural, yet distinct border for your water feature.
Stone Base – Use cinderblocks to build up a pedestal for your garden fountain. You can arrange a circular pattern around the central piece for a patterned effect. The stone base can be used for smaller self-contained fountains, as well as slightly larger pieces, like bird baths.
Stone Bed – Make the base of a shallow pool visually interesting by lining multi-colored rocks and pebbles inside of it. You can also use this method to camouflage a submersible pump or raise the level of a water fountain.
Stone steps – Placed strategically in a garden pool, stepping stones can make a safe passageway through a body of water that is visually interesting and part of the design of the water feature itself.
Stone Ledge – The stone ledge can be the perfect delivery point for the sounds of a bubbling waterfall. You can have smaller stone pieces for a broken curtain of water or a larger flat stone for a smooth curtain of water.
If you want to create a focal point for an outdoor area, one project that will add splash to any yard is a tiered stone fountain. The tiered stone fountain can be completed for just under $2,000 if you do it yourself. If you hire professionals, you'll end up paying about three times that much. Here are some hints to help get your project up and running.
You'll need to create the tiered stone fountain in three main steps. Start with the understructure, set in the liner and then put finishing touches onto your stone fountain.
The understructure will consist of determining an area for your fountain, clearing the site and digging a 12-inch deep basin. Next, you'll need to add a ledge with a 28-inch drop to create the sounds of splashing water. Use pressure-treated wood timber ties to create a frame for the fountain. You can use two to three foot long 1/2 inch rebar to drill through the timber ties into the ground for reinforcement.
After the frame is in place and secured to the ground, the next step is installing the liner. A 20 mil waterproof liner should work well to create this stone fountain. You'll want to sandwich the waterproof liner between two layers of landscaper fabric to help prevent any tears or punctures. You can secure the layers with hammers and nails to the timber ties.
The final step is the finishing touches. Add stone ledges for the water to spill over. For a dramatic effect, select stone that is rich in texture with a beautiful cut and use the whole slab rather than breaking it into smaller pieces. To fill in gaps, wedge in smaller pieces and pour pea gravel into the crevices.
Lightweight slate panel fountains bring the beauty and Feng Shui benefits of natural stone and flowing water to a home or office. A myriad of types, styles and sizes complement home or office décor and personal taste. Here are a few indoor fountain samples to whet your appetite:
If a purchasing a custom stone fountain or building your own a natural stone fountain is impractical or impossible, turning an indoor fountain or outdoor fountain into a stone water feature is as simple as incorporating creative stone fountain accessories.
If you're looking at one of the larger outdoor fountains, you'll find that many of them are either a cast stone concrete or made of fiberglass. Each type of fountain material has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice you make depends on your personal needs and restrictions.
If you're shopping for an outdoor water fountain, you will undoubtedly find a lot of types and varieties. Cast stone concrete is a material that is commonly used to create an outdoor water fountain – especially those which are larger in size. This is because it's easier to create a specific shape and the overall durability of a larger scale outdoor water fountain.
The cast stone concrete fountain is typically made by pouring concrete into a pre-made form and requires some method of reinforcement during the process. Wire lath, iron reinforcing bars and steel rebar are all forms of possible reinforcement. The concrete itself can then take on a variety of colors through pigmentation. The types of aggregate used will have bearing on the cohesion of the concrete once it's cured. Overall, the materials used and proper curing process will lend itself to creating a solid outdoor water fountain that will last for years to come.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|