Landscaping Water Features Tips

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Do's and Don'ts of Landscaping Water Features

When landscaping water features, there are some do's and don'ts to consider:


  • Think ahead. Create a plan before you start. Failure to plan results in lack of balance and visual appeal.
  • Choose a central theme and stick to it.
  • Use color to enhance and tie garden elements together.
  • Shop wisely. Research pros and cons of water features and fountain accessories, including care and maintenance requirements. Compare quality and price before purchasing water features and fountain accessories.
  • Make sure you have the expertise to install and care for water features and landscaping water accessories.


  • Attempt to install electrical connections if not experienced. If in doubt, hire an expert.
  • Mix formal and informal landscape elements and accessories. A rustic barrel fountain does not complement a formal entry courtyard and an elegant Old World statuary fountain looks out of place in a laid-back country or decided modern setting.
  • Overdo water fountain accessories or use too many different, unrelated colors. Less is often more when it comes to creating a relaxing outdoor retreat. Too much even of good things creates unsettling clutter.
  • Cut corners on quality. Poor quality almost always results in added time, effort and expense in the future.


The Cool Appeal of Fountain Foggers

Fog fountains and misting fountains add an exotic and mystical touch to a water feature. There are foggers/misters for garden ponds and for indoor and outdoor fountains. Foggers use ultra-sonic waves to create a dry-ice like mist or fog. Since they do not use chemicals, they are safe for fish and wildlife and they do not cool or heat pond or fountain waters.

For indoor use or patio use, a water fountain fogger creates a light mesmerizing mist around tabletop fountains and wall fountains. Simply place the round misting unit into a water fountain basin and plug in the power pack. The more shallow the water, the more mist is produced. Mist makers are also available with a multi-colored light ring that alternates between colors creating blue yellow, pink or other misty color effects. Some misters also allow a few drops of essential oil added to fountain waters for aromatherapy. (Check pump manufacturer guidelines to ensure the oil will not have an adverse effect on pump operation.) And, misting and fogging systems are often used inside greenhouses to maintain a healthy humidity level and reduce the need for watering. A misting fountain provides similar benefits for nearby indoor plants.

Outdoor pond and fountain foggers also use sonic technology to create low-lying fog or mist over the surface on the water. Pond foggers include a floating ring and outdoor transformer that must be connected to a GFI outdoor outlet. Outdoor misting systems are also used to cool the immediate environment at outdoor restaurants. Seating around a garden pond fogger or outdoor mist fountain uses the same cooling effect on hot, dry summer days and nights.


Benefits of Landscaping Water Features

A water feature is a natural focal point or centerpiece of outdoor living spaces. Well-designed and well-maintained landscaping enhances water features and enjoyment of a garden or patio setting.

Outdoor water feature landscaping boasts more than a dozen benefits, it:

  • Extends living space.
  • Creates appealing views from inside the house.
  • Brings pleasure to each of the five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and feeling.
  • Adds instant curb appeal to the front yard. According to the American Association of Realtors, curb appeal can actually increase a home's value by as much as 15 percent.
  • Balances outdoor yin and yang and signifies healthy Feng Shui.
  • Subtly disguises unsightly outdoor features like distracting cords and wiring.
  • Increases peace and privacy.
  • Highlights each season.
  • Unifies outdoor living spaces.
  • Makes it simple to use vertical and horizontal design elements for aesthetic appeal.
  • Lights a garden for night enjoyment.
  • Attracts birds and butterflies.
  • Creates special effects with misting fountains.
  • Provides a creative outlet for outdoor enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers.


Planning Landscape Fountains For Plant Life

Although you can plant a variety of flowers and plants in a pond where a fountain is located, it's important to know that you can't plant flowers in landscape fountains. Because it is a self contained unit, the dirt and plant material will quickly clog and burn out the pump. The dirt and plant material will also clog the tubing.

How do I pick out the right fish for a landscape water feature?

Picking Suitable Fish For A Landscape Water Feature

There are a number of suitable fish for a landscape water feature. What you should get is a matter of taste, how much time you have to invest in the fish, and the size and depth of your pool. We've put together some suggestions for fish that are appropriate for a landscape water feature.

Goldfish – Brightly colored and adaptable, goldfish make an excellent choice for most ponds, pools or fountains. They can grow up to 16 inches long if their environment allows it. They can live up to 25 years of age under the proper conditions and are much easier to care for than koi.

Koi – Koi need a pool that is at least three feet deep because of their size. They usually live from 20 to 50 years, but can live to the ripe age of 100. Koi require more care than goldfish – you'll need a biological filter to clean the water and you have to consider that koi will eat water plants. You also need to supplement their diet with koi food. In the winter, koi will hibernate.

Golden orfe – This variety of goldfish grows to two feet in length. They swim in groups and need a larger pool to accommodate their numbers. You need to keep in mind that these fish are sensitive to chemicals and won't survive exposure to such substances in their water.

Minnows and Mosquito Fish – Other types of fish to consider are minnows and mosquito fish. They are much smaller at three to six inches long and tend to be more of an insect control fish.

What’s the best way to introduce fish to my landscape fountain?

How To Introduce Fish To Your Landscape Fountain

Having a group of beautiful fish swimming through your garden can be a wonderful addition to any landscape fountain. By following a few simple guidelines, you can make sure that your landscape fountain is full of shimmering scales and the movement of live fish in no time.

  • When purchasing fish, keep in mind their age. Younger fish might be too weak. Older fish can be very expensive.
  • For every two square feet of water you have in your landscape fountain, you can have one inch of fish. This gives your fish some growing room for the future.
  • If you have plants in your landscape fountain, let the plants have four weeks to establish themselves before introducing fish. Then introduce the fish gradually, so the plant life has time to adjust.
  • If you live in a temperate climate, introduce fish in the wintertime. There's less bacteria growing in the waters during cooler weather. For colder climates, introduce your fish in late spring or early summer when fish aren't in hibernation season and are better able to fight diseases.

What kind of landscape garden do I need to accommodate fish?

Designing A Landscape Water Feature For Fish

If you're designing a landscape water feature that will contain fish, you do have to have certain specifications in mind. Ideally, a landscape water feature should cover three basic things – appropriate depth, safety from predators and clean water.

A depth of two feet will be sufficient for most types of garden fish. If you plan on raising koi, because of their larger size, you should have a depth of at least three feet.

Garden predators that you might need to be concerned about include raccoons, herons, egrets and kingfishers. As long as you create a water feature with at least two feet deep steep sides, your fish should be safe. For areas of a water feature with shallow depths, plant a thick layer of bog or marginals to help protect your fish.

In order to keep your fish alive and healthy, it's essential you provide the optimum water environment for them. One way to do this is by getting a good biological filter to help you maintain their ecosystem. Moving water from a pump or via a waterfall will help oxygenate the fish's environment.

What are some good picks for plant life for a water feature?

Plants For Water Features

Water features alone can make stunning focal points in a backyard. The addition of plants can be the complimentary element to give water features a lush, landscaped feel. If you're looking for some ideas on which ones work best with water features, we have a few picks that'll enhance any fountain or pool.

Plant Marginals – Meant to line the edge of a pool, marginals help frame and create a natural edge for water features. The bulrush is a sturdy perennial that has tall, grass-like growth. It's perfect for creating a vertical edge in a fountain or pool. For a dash of color, plant the iris, which is a perennial you can find in shades of purple, blue, pink and yellow.

Free Floating Plants – Beautiful all their own as plant life gracing on the surface of water features, free floating plants break up the surface area of the interior of a pool. For a still water environment, hardy water lilies make great surface accents in colors of yellow, copper, pink or red. For a subtle effect, try the delicate nature of duckweed, a hardy perennial with small angular leaves.

Oxygenating plants – Oxygenating plants grow entirely beneath the water's surface, providing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide to remove algae. Try introducing the slender, ribbon-like leaves of the eel grass to help maintain your pool. For an oxygenating plant that provides food and shelter for fish, there are up to 100 species of pondweed to choose from.


Using Color in Landscaping Water Features

Color captures attention and affects every part of life. Scientists have proven color affects human emotions. Colors cool; colors warm. Colors visually enlarge space; colors visually reduce space. Avoid using too many warm colors in an outdoor small space. Warm colors automatically advance, making a small space seem smaller while cool colors recede, enlarging space. Color camouflages; color contrasts. Colors have different significance in different cultures. For example, Chinese Feng Shui principles use color to balance yin and yang and attract positive energy.

Color is one of the primary considerations in pleasing interior design and for landscaping water features. Color draws attention to a water fountain focal point or color detracts from the focal point. There are four color schemes that can be used in landscaping garden water features:

  • A monochromatic landscape would primarily use flowers and garden accessories that are shades of a single color. For example, a monochromatic garden setting might be made up of simply of varying shades of green. While calming and serene, most landscape experts recommend seasonal splashes or charges of color strategically added to monochromatic landscapes to add interest.
  • Analogous landscaping schemes use colors that are related to each other like green, blue-green, green-blue, blue and violet blue.
  • Complementary color schemes combine colors that contrast sharply. Picture splashes of red blooms among lush green foliage.
  • Polychromatic landscaping color schemes are a profusion of all colors. Though “colorful,” polychromatic landscaping often creates a lack of balance and focus.

And, remember that compliments of Mother Nature, climates and colors change with each season and landscaping a water feature is never really finished.


Balancing Yin and Yang in Landscaping Water Features

In Feng Shui, yin and yang denote the two life-giving forces of the universe. Balancing yin and yang is essential for creating a pleasing and auspicious home or office environment. Feng Shui beliefs also consider outside living spaces an extension of indoor spaces. Consequently, balancing yin and yang when landscaping a water feature is equally important.

If either yin or yang elements are excessive, an environment is out of balance. An outdoor space with excessive yang is not relaxing. Excessive yin may be boring. When looking at the basic yin and yang of outdoor spaces, day is yang and night is yin. Yang is growth, yin is stillness. Yang is dominant; yin is subtle. Water features may be yin or yang. Cascading waterfall fountains and bubbling stone fountains evoke yang energy, while a still garden pool represents yin serenity. Other ways to add yin when landscaping water features include: cool pastels, white and black colors, low-growing lacy greenery, small smooth stones, and filtered shade. And for more yang, choose warm colors, tall trees, large rocks/boulders and sunlight.

Remember that yin and yang are ever-changing. To create the most pleasing yin and yang environment, as day changes to night, look for ways to add yang energy to night's natural yin. And, as seasons change, it is necessary to re-balance an outdoor landscape. Yang influences help balance winter yin and yin elements offer a cool respite on hot, sunny summer days.


Using Water Fountain Accessories for Landscaping Water Features

When landscaping a garden feature, water fountain accessories add visual interest, enhance a garden theme, balance yin and yang and attract positive Feng Shui energy. Garden ornaments include both natural and manufactured objects. Rocks and stones, driftwood, sculptures, columns, urns, wind chimes, lanterns, sundials, birdhouses, candles and incense burners are all examples of garden ornaments.

Whether using natural objects or man-made ornaments, consider size and style. If a water feature is the focal point of the outdoor setting, accessories should complement, not compete with it. Ideas for using garden ornaments:

  • Statues bring life and personality to an outdoor setting. Choose a statue that complements the garden theme such as a serene seated Buddha for an Asian garden and an elegant heron or crane statue or fish spitter fountain beside a still garden pond for a nature-themed outdoor landscape. Columns and pillars, standing alone or as a base for a small statue, also add important vertical interest to a predominantly horizontal garden setting.

  • Use natural stones in varying sizes and textures to create borders, edge garden ponds or introduce yang energy in a serene yin setting.

  • Planters and garden pots serve a double duty for container gardening and as landscaping ornaments. Most gardeners recommend choosing pots that contrast with their plants. For instance, a neutral terracotta pot showcases bright blooms and a colored or patterned pot complements lush greenery.

  • And, cast stone garden benches, available in a wide array of styles, shapes and colors, provide decorative seating for relaxing beside a water feature.

What are some ideas for a landscape fountain?

Three Ideas For A Landscape Fountain

You can place a stone fountain in the backyard of your home, but if you're looking for a lush, natural environment, consider a landscape fountain. A landscape fountain comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. You can create a landscape fountain in a small outdoor area or create a large-scale version to meander around a portion of the home. Here are some ideas:

The Garden Pool – The garden pool can be a petite pond teeming with tiny goldfish. It can be a larger pool with koi. The garden pool can be a beautiful feature when designed with appropriate rocks, plant life and even trees.

The Waterfall Pool – Create a simple waterfall to spill into a delicate pool or have a series of waterfalls creating a bustling water environment. Surround the site with well-placed rocks and bushes to create a windbreak in your landscape fountain.

The Still Pool – Remarkably tranquil in its quiet nature, the still pool can be a great place for meditation and reflection. Have a paved stone area surrounding a pool of water lilies and create a level area to sit and relax.


Landscaping Small Water Features

Many patio homes have limited backyard space and for apartment and condominium dwellers space is limited to a balcony or patio. Even a small balcony, backyard or patio enhanced by creative use of a water fountain, plants and water fountain accessories expands living and entertaining space.

When “balcony-scaping,” a plan is essential for making the most of limited space. Choose a theme and stick to it. Transform your patio or balcony into a Zen retreat or tropical paradise. Use a water fountain, sized for the space, as a focal point and decorate around it with container garden plants, water fountain accessories, comfortable seating and creative fountain lighting. Free floor space and use vertical space with a lighted wall fountain, trellised plants and hanging baskets. Put color to work, using neutrals and cool colors to visually enlarge space. Place a large mirror on one wall to visually enlarge space and reflect a beautiful accessories, plants or lighting.


Plants For Water Features

In addition to plants, you can also add garden statuary to water features to compliment the natural beauty of the environment. Adding some stone elements will help to create focal points of interest around water features. A cast stone pedestal with a carved sculpture that doubles as a planter will allow you to pick specific floral or plant life around the pool's edge. A few floral shells, scattered throughout the grassy area can accent a grassy area along the water's edge.


Three Ideas For A Landscape Fountain

One way to design your landscape fountain is though the use of softscape elements. However, you can also dress your landscape fountain up with some well-placed garden elements. The clean lines of a Saguaro planter set would make a great accent piece to a contemporary landscape fountain. The ornate pattern of a pedestal urn marks a grand entrance to the pathway of any landscape garden. Create a lush, low wall along one end of your fountain by placing a row of rectangular planters. Whichever piece you choose, keep in mind the style, colors and type of environment you're creating with your landscape fountain.

When should I be concerned something is wrong with my fish?

Five Signs Your Fish Need Attending To

Raising fish in a landscape water environment requires a properly balanced ecosystem. If you have some concerns about whether your fish are thriving in your landscape water environment, read on to find out some warning signs.

1. Your fish come to the surface for air. Fish gasping for air at the surface can indicate that your fountain or pool may have an oxygen deficiency.
2. Your fish have slime, body sores, tail rot or other physical growths. This could be a sign of a bacterial infection.
3. You see tiny insects habitating the fish's body. Parasites like fish lice, anchor worms and gill maggots are visible to the naked eye.
4. Your fish do not eat or are scratching against the bottom or sides of the pond. You can't see a protozoan infestation, but when your fish is lethargic and has a loss of appetite, it could be a sign of a protozoan infestation.
5. Your fish looks bloated and its eyes and scales protrude. Your fish could have dropsy, which is an internal problem with its system.

What do I need to take in to consideration when planning for plants in my landscape fountain?

Planning Landscape Fountains For Plant Life

Adding greenery to an outdoor fountain enhances the natural beauty of the water feature. Plant life can provide oxygen, provide visual interest, provide shade and help to create a more natural appearance to landscape fountains. We've gathered some guidelines on planning for plant life in landscape fountains.

  • Think about the total requirements of your pool in terms of depth, filtration needs and surface area. This will help you decide what types of plants can go into the pool.
  • Consider the size of your fountain. For instance, if you're designing a water garden, you want to have at least 10 gallons of water. A 10 gallon pool will only accommodate one or two plants.
  • Having a number of pool depths throughout your landscape fountains will help populate diverse plant life. Some plants will grow in just a few inches of water, while others require several feet of water.

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