Local experts share how to incorporate beautiful aquatic features into your landscape.
Section by Kate Miller
Sometimes, there is nothing more relaxing than the sound of flowing water. Just because the beach is right outside our backyards does not diminish the usefulness of the well-placed water feature. Here, outdoor experts explain how to incorporate fountains and koi ponds to create a yard brimming with elegance.
For Debi Bradley, manager of Laguna Coast Pottery, there is one rule when it comes to water features: the more you have, the better. She believes wholeheartedly in integrating water features in your outdoor space—it just adds something more. “The noise that fountains make is like making popcorn,” she says. “It’s a good sound. It’s very soothing for stress.”
There are plenty of ways to easily incorporate water features, many of which can simply be placed and left. The easiest? A fountain or water spout. Self-sustaining, these kind of features store their own water source, one that is continually recycled. With no irrigation system and little maintenance, these features add a relaxed, elegant mood to a backyard landscape with little effort.
Debi explains that another perk of fountains is their sustainability and versatility. With the same water cycling through its system, a fountain prevents water waste, as long as the splash overflow is appropriately set.
This overflow is easy to control; your fountain can be set to a high or low speed depending on the mood you want to create, whether it’s a gentle trickling for pleasing background noise or a loud splashing to impress party guests.
Like stand-alone fountains, wall spouts and wall fountains are easy to incorporate for a backyard with little room. Spouts can be installed in a current body of water, like a pool, and wall pieces add dignity without cramming an already busy backyard. For those who want a more natural looking water piece, ponds provide a tranquil addition for hectic days. While ponds and built-in water features require more maintenance at a heftier price tag, they are guaranteed to wow guests.
Ben Plonski, owner of Laguna Koi Ponds, explains that although there are different kinds of ponds to choose from, the desired level of maintenance and commitment should be the deciding factor. If you want a feature with minimal upkeep, a fountain is the way to go. If you are set on incorporating a pond into your landscape, you should be ready for a fair amount of required work: Ponds and their filters need to be kept clean to prevent blockage, water must be kept at a certain pH level (especially those containing live plants and animals) and a pond must be properly prepared for seasonal changes. According to Ben, there are many options for built-in water pieces, including pondless waterfalls, tub gardens and aquatic and koi ponds.
Koi fish need at least a couple of thousand gallons of water to live comfortably, so these ponds are best suited for large spaces. A koi pond requires constant upkeep to maintain the perfect natural balance to keep the fish healthy, but the koi’s colorful faces and friendly nature are sure to bring joy. Koi are environmentally friendly, too; through a process called aquaponics, the waste from the fish can now be used to fertilize plants.
There are many options for water features in landscapes, but consider your space and level of commitment before deciding. Big or small, with a quiet trickle or a resonant gurgle, water features can provide a tranquil, restful beauty that will lead to many long afternoons in the outdoors.
Create a relaxed outdoor environment with simple water fountains.
Bringing bubbles to your backyard is easier than ever with these features, which are designed to bring a sense of peace to any outdoor space.
Stoic and dignified, the WINSLOW FALLS TRIANGULAR COLUMN, by Stowasis, $780, at Laguna Nursery, Laguna Beach, is a perfect addition to an existing body of water and can hold its own as the center of attention. (949-497-2438; lagunanursery.com)
Perfect for a small space, this LION ELEMENT FOUNTAIN, by Campania International, $295, at Madison Square & Garden Cafe, Laguna Beach, can be tucked against a wall or in a corner to create a soothing background splashing. (949-494-0137; madisonsquare.com)
This birdbath, PASSAROS II FOUNTAIN, by Campania International, $489, at Madison Square & Garden Cafe, Laguna Beach, will attract beautiful birds to highlight your outdoor space. (949-494-0137; madisonsquare.com)
The different levels of the RYTON FOUNTAIN, by Stowasis, $1,300, at Laguna Nursery, Laguna Beach, are pleasing to the eyes and provide an energetic splashing for a background ambience. (949-497-2438; lagunanursery.com)