Building a water feature — and making it appear
as natural as Mother Nature would intend it to
be — can be a huge task. Unfortunately, many
pond builders have a hard time understanding this when
installing a water feature in someone’s landscape.
Many companies offer pond building services with little
or no experience, training or artistic ability. Thus, sometimes
a pond owner who previously had a pond installed in their landscape by an inexperienced company will want
to tear it out and rebuild it to make it look more natural.
Anyone can build a pond, but adding enhancements that
create a well-constructed and natural-looking water feature will set you apart from the by-the-numbers pond builders.
Walking away and being excited about the feature you
just built not only brings you happiness, but it also brings
out the “Wow Factor” in the customer’s mind.
## Case Study ##
Dwayne Chambers (chief marketing officer of Krispy Kreme Donuts) and his wife, Dee, wanted their water feature to sound good and appear as though it had been taken straight from the Colorado Mountains, since that is where they are originally from. After evaluating the hillside behind their house, which had a slope of about 45 degrees, we knew we had the perfect setting to create an amazing waterfall using large boulders. We knew the techniques we’d use, too. Using weathered or mossy logs, echo chambers and shadow effects — and paying attention to the characteristics of the stones — will bring out the best in any water feature construction, and that was definitely true here. When constructing a natural water feature outdoors, you must always think about what Mother Nature would do.
## Boulders Must Have Character ##
Japanese wisdom states, “You can grow moss, but you
cannot grow character.” When visiting the stone yard, look
for boulders that have character to them — ones that have
been exposed to the natural elements and the environment.
Think about what type of boulders will enhance the area
you have chosen. There is a place for each boulder, so before
you start placing stones, study them, flip them over and
look at them from every angle … but try to always make sure the weathered side is up. Broken, triangular and square boulders should be left at the stone yard. They are unattractive when placed in a water feature.
To add to the natural appearance, look for moss and lichen growth and even stones with small plants growing from them. Choose stones that have different layers or grooves in them.
Once you have chosen the perfect boulders, have them loaded onto a flatbed trailer where they can be removed by the use of a Bobcat or forklift instead of having them dumped on the ground with all of the other stones.
Chipped and cracked stones will tend to ruin your masterpiece. If you have to move a stone around several times just to highlight the character portion of that stone,
## Creating Shadow Effects ##
The goal when creating natural water features is to
build them like Mother Nature would have … or at
least try to imitate her handiwork! And a big part of that natural beauty is lighting. Many contractors make the mistake of not creating shadows in their features. They place natural appearance in the stream or in the waterfall and expect the water to perform the magic. Stones that are too geometrical in shape do not create interest and end up appearing man-made.
Shadows, on the other hand, provide a 3-D appearance, which draws the eyes into the feature
and creates depth. If you look at a waterfall in nature, you will see that the water has carved through the stones due to its force over time. The carved appearance leaves the top of the stone in
place, while underneath you will see a shadow where it has been cut away. This provides a real, natural appearance in your feature.
## Echo Chambers ##
When you are trying to increase the sound and direction of the water, adding an echo chamber in the waterfall can be just the trick. Make sure to place boulders in the waterfall where you have a void or cave-like area behind the water.
This will enhance the sound coming from that location in
the feature. Echo Chambers are like small amphitheaters, creating their own sounds during Mother Nature’s concert.
## Mossy Logs ##
Okay, so the water feature is built, the water is running … now what? This is the time
to start visualizing what would happen if there were a storm or a flood or some natural event that Mother Nature decided she wanted in this area.
Step back and observe the entire area around the feature. Are there trees? Are there additional
boulders in the landscape or any other existing natural features? The goal is to make this feature look as though it has been there for years, so you may have to add these elements!
Tree limbs or weathered logs that have moss on them will always add interest to your water feature. In nature, you may see fallen trees laying down along the waterfall or up against the side of the river or stream. Adding some type of weathered, mossy log or branch to the feature will fine-tune it and give you that “wow factor.” You see them in nature … why not on a manmade project? By adding a tree branch or log and visualizing it falling over the feature, you again add that three-dimensional effect.
Once the water feature has been installed, it’s time to get as many plants around it as possible to soften the appearance. Look for plants that grow over the stones and stick out into the stream or waterfalls. This will greatly enhance the natural appearance.
## Waiting for Spring ##
With all the elements of our customers’ water feature in place, we are now eagerly waiting for spring to arrive to see it filled with plants of all types. This final touch will really soften the appearance and give the project its striking natural beauty. Then, we’ll be ready for the final step that all pond builders want to perform: stepping back to say, “WOW!”