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Garden waterfalls are wonderful additions to any landscape. Garden waterfalls provide a beautiful oasis environment, as well as much needed oxygen to any pool, pond or fountain. If you're designing a garden waterfall, there are a few things to consider.
The garden waterfall provides continuous motion, the relaxing sounds of running water and an oasis for any outdoor environment. However, the garden waterfall does more than just that. Here are three reasons to have a garden waterfall.
For maximum enjoyment of a garden waterfall, think of the setting as an extension of your home. Create a living space with a good view of the waterfall. Study the garden to determine the best seating area. Select outdoor furniture that is comfortable and able to withstand changing weather. A strategically placed table and chairs offers the pleasure of alfresco dining. If trees do not provide a canopy of shelter from the hot sun, an attractive gazebo, covered patio or deck or even large umbrella increase outdoor comfort. A hammock or chaise lounge is perfect for an afternoon nap with the soothing background music of water. And, if the garden is large, several garden benches positioned in different shady locations offer ever-changing views.
Plants are a key parts of garden pond waterfall. Grow seasonal favorites and perennials for year-round beauty. Add interest with unique trees that flourish in the region. Citrus trees fill the air with a lemon/lime scent. Pick fruit from figs or plums for a garden snack. Avoid the problems of falling leaves with evergreens. Learn the art of trimming a stylish bonsai tree. Fill decorative pots with lush greenery and brilliant blooms.
Choose garden fountain accessories that complement the garden theme. Statues and engraved memory stones are favorite garden accessories. Outdoor fireplaces are popular for chilly nights. Locate outdoor lighting to highlight the waterfall and other special garden elements. A word of caution: Less is often more when it comes to garden statuary. Too many accessories unrelated to a central theme create a cluttered garden and detract from the relaxing ambience.
Adding a moving outdoor water feature to your garden or backyard can enhance the natural beauty of what you already have. A moving outdoor water feature can also help drown out traffic noises with its own soothing sounds. Here are three ideas for adding a moving outdoor water feature.
Pond Waterfall – Punctuate a peaceful pond with the sounds and movement of a waterfall. You can integrate the water and pond into a landscaping combination that blurs the lines between the two. Have the waterfall emerge and seamlessly flow into the pond.
Barrel Waterfall – Not every waterfall has to emerge from rocks. Creating a waterfall pouring out of one barrel into another is a great solution for areas where space is a consideration.
Landscape Waterfall – Perfect for a sloped corner of a yard in even petite backyard quarters, the landscape waterfall can be created as a series of self-contained tiers. This water feature enhances an otherwise unadorned outdoor corner.
Fish add another level of good fortune and interest to a garden waterfall pond. Fish swimming around a waterfall pond represent wealth, fertility and harmony. The word for fish in Chinese -- yu -- also means abundance. Although goldfish or Koi in a garden waterfall pond require attention and care, the pleasure and good fortune they bring makes the effort worthwhile for most nature lovers.
Before purchasing fish for an outdoor pond ensure that it is large enough and deep enough to sustain them. In winter climates, there is a risk of the water freezing if it is too shallow and fish must be overwintered. Different fish require different pond depths. Koi typically need at water that is three feet deep. More hardy goldfish can thrive in water around two feet deep.
Size of the waterfall pond also determines how many fish can live there. Most experts suggest that for every two inches in size a fish requires one square foot of space. Thus, for each six-inch fish a pond needs three sq. ft. of water space. And because they may grow to two feet, Koi need 25 sq. feet of water per fish. Another plus of a waterfall pond, the aeration allows you to increase the number of fish.
Depending on the size of a pond, Feng Shui principles recommend selecting an odd number of fish in mixed yin and yang colors for waterfall ponds. For instance, four red and one black fish. On a final important note: Consult an aquarium fish expert for advice on stocking and caring for fish in a garden setting.
If building a garden waterfall from scratch is not desirable or practical, there are a myriad of sculpted and pre-formed garden rock waterfalls to choose from. A few popular examples of pre-formed garden waterfalls include:
Note: Custom waterfalls can also be designed around special themes and personal preferences from virtually any material.
Besides proportions, scale, pump size and impact, you also have to consider the overall aesthetic of garden waterfalls. Garden waterfalls should appear to be natural. A waterfall can have a spectacular impact or be a subtle presence. Either way, waterfalls are most successful when they appear integrated with their setting. Also, keep the source of the waterfall discreet. Consider having the waterfall emerge from well-positioned rocks or another subtle place. When an observer doesn't notice where your waterfall is coming from, you've got a successful design.
The outdoor waterfall can be as simple as one steady stream culminating into a small pond or as complicated as a series of tiers working its way down to a pool. Whether an outdoor waterfall is on a small or large scale, there are some standard components to be aware of. Here is our outdoor waterfall glossary so you can familiarize yourself.
Outlet pipe - This is where the flow of water exits and turns into a descending stream of a curtain of water.
Header pool – In a series of descending waterfalls, this is the flat area of moving water before the stream ends at the base.
Edging stones – These can be any rocks which serve to decorate or create a border for the edge of a waterfall or stream.
Flexible liner- This lines the base of the waterfall to create a waterproof area.
Flexible tubing – This carries the water upstream from the pump.
Pump – This uses electricity to re-circulate the water from the base of the waterfall back to the top.
A garden waterfall that is beautiful by day becomes magical when the lights come on at night. Most waterfall gardens benefit by a combination in in-water and landscape lighting. Specifically designed in-water lighting floats on top of the water or is submerged for special effect. Carefully positioned unobtrusive lighting is best. Too many bright lights detract from the garden's ambience. Avoid the glare of light shining directly on the surface of still water from above. Instead, place an in-water light behind the waterfall curtain to dramatize moving water.
Garden waterfall lights brighten dark corners of the garden, light garden paths and showcase statuary or special plants. Choose decorative lanterns and lights that complement the theme of a garden. For example, pagoda-style lights look natural in an Asian-themed setting. And, when using non-decorative floodlights or spotlights, conceal their housing among rocks or plants.
Installing lighting in waterfall garden is relatively simple and outdoor lighting is typically safe because of its low voltage. A transformer is used to step down electrical current from 120 volts to just 12 volts and ground fault interrupters are used to prevent shock. Follow manufacturer's instruction or hire an electrician to ensure correct installation. Solar-powered lighting offers an alternative when electrical wiring is not desired or practical. And, battery-powered luminaries and candles add another level of soft lighting around seating areas.
Rocks are an important component in creating the overall effect of a waterfall. Not only do they help to determine the flow and speed of the water, they also determine the sound. Rocks are also an important visual part of the waterfall itself. To find out what types of rocks work best for what, read on.
Gravel and Pebbles – Gravel and pebbles work best as the functional aspect of a waterfall. They serve best by lining the base of a waterfall in conjunction with the sand. Keep in mind that larger rocks are less prone to algae. By creating an assortment of rocks in addition to gravel, you have less of an issue with algae.
Rocks and Stones – Rocks and stones work well as edges for waterfalls and creating the actual waterfall itself. They can also serve to hold down the liner of the waterfall. The best rocks are those that appear worn and weathered, as they would in nature.
Boulders – These large-scale rocks make great accent pieces. Because of their sheer size, they serve best to add a dramatic touch to the top or bottom of a waterfall stream. To maintain a natural appearance, bury a boulder so that only two-thirds of the rock remains visible.
When you're creating a waterfall, you'll need to decide what type of waterfall curtain you want. Water doesn't always flow in the same manner. You can create a number of different waterfall curtain types – a smooth curtain, a broad curtain, an unbroken curtain or a narrow, frothy curtain. The trick is in knowing how to create the flow of water you want.
You can experiment with different stone types, angles and placements to get your waterfall to run just so. In general, a smooth curtain of water requires a smooth, flat stone. A narrow frothy curtain of water requires a stone with bumps and ridges that funnels water to its center.
Rock garden waterfalls create a natural backyard waterfall setting and add visual appeal to landscapes. Pebbles are typically used to cover the bottom of waterfall ponds. The larger the pebbles the less likely they will be stirred up by flowing water and large pebbles are also less prone to algae attacks. Medium-sized rocks and large stones serve as edging of a waterfall and strategically channel water flow. Large boulders, although difficult to maneuver, provide a dramatic frame at the top of the water path. Note: Boulders should be buried or covered by water for one-third to one-half of their surface to look the most natural.
When natural boulders are not practical or available, man-made (hollow) boulders serve the same purpose. Light-weight and easily moveable, “fake” boulders with their flat bottoms look surprisingly natural.
Rocks and smooth stones introduce yin and yang elements to the garden. Use a combination of large, textured rocks (yang) and smooth small stones (yin). And, choose dark to light natural colors that blend and complement rather than contrast rocks in a home garden waterfall.
Dragons are often portrayed as the mythical fire-breathing bad guys in fairy tales, adventure films and video games. On the contrary, in China the dragon is associated with water and is one of Feng Shui's most revered and auspicious symbols. The positive energy and power of both water and the dragon are combined by creating a water dragon with a cascading multi-level custom waterfall. Even when outdoor space is limited, a miniature Feng Shui outdoor waterfall brings good fortune and outside fun to a garden.
There are five components of a garden waterfall dragon. Begin with the tail at the top since it is the beginning of the water flow. Next, fronting pools (ming tang) are where water collects between levels. They hold chi and reflects heaven. Then, the fingers of the water dragon (always odd numbers) are 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 folds or off-shoots from the waterfall. These may be dry mini-paths or they may channel water overfill in wet seasons. And, the mouth of the dragon is the exit point of the water flow at the bottom of the waterfall. Fifth, when planning a Feng Shui water dragon, consider the direction of the water flow. It should flow toward the house bringing chi into rather than channeling chi away from the home. If in doubt about creating your own outdoor water dragon, seek advice form professionals at Serenity Health about creating a custom waterfall.
The garden waterfall not only creates a visually pleasing focal point, it creates the pleasant sounds of moving water – a calming effect for almost anyone. However, a garden waterfall does more than just that. You can have an algae-free water surface without a waterfall, pump or filter, but it's much harder to create the ideal water environment without these things. When a submersible pump pulls water out from the bottom of a basin, pool,or pond and releases it as a waterfall, it provides a natural, continuous cycle that maintains your water feature.
There's nothing quite like the bubbling sounds of moving water striking a pond surface or the surface of a cluster of rocks. It's the sound of a waterfall. However, not every waterfall for your garden environment is exactly the same. That's because depending on the course of the waterfall and the position of the stones, sound will vary. If you want to control the sound of a waterfall you create, you can.
Moving water creates energy (chi) and balance in an environment. Thus, a waterfall portends great fortune. Natural waterfalls are not typical features found in most backyard landscapes. However, a properly constructed garden waterfall or correctly placed pre-made garden waterfall provides a path to pleasure and prosperity.
Use these Feng Shui principles to the most auspicious location for a garden waterfall:
When considering building a custom waterfall, consult a landscape specialist or research how to build a waterfall garden.
Adding an outdoor water feature doesn't mean you have to start from scratch. You can purchase a waterfall unit suitable for use in a variety of settings. These outdoor water feature units can have the appearance of natural rock or can take on the form of a built stone waterfall. Some units also have their own self-contained ponds. Add a waterfall unit to set amongst the lush floral environment of your garden. Place it near an outdoor patio or even in an indoor room to create an environment of serenity.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|