Contractor’s Corner | Three-Urn Set Completes Hardscape Install

By Christopher Bell

Published on June 1, 2017

beautiful three-urn feature
Full length view of project.

For many, installing a pond or even a pondless water feature is just not practical. Some people fear it’s more of a maintenance headache than they want to take on, while for others it’s simply a matter of space or perhaps budget.

The beautiful three-urn feature (pictured above) was not the original vision of the overall design. Our clients wanted an entire makeover and planned and saved for more than a year before contacting potential installers. They came in with a basic idea in mind and, of course, had specific wants, but they were unsure of how to combine both their wants and needs into a functional and flowing dreamscape.

Triple urn water feature at night
Money shot! Close up view of the beautiful triple urn water feature, complete with lighting,

Along with the clients’ original vision and a few creative adjustments, we worked together to design a new outdoor living space that met their budget and exceeded their desires. Originally, the plans called for a multi-waterfall, pondless water feature, but that was removed from the design early on. Trust me — I always want the fun, big falls, but with the amount of stone needed, as well as the additional labor, it was getting too far outside their original budget.

Three days into the hardscape install, the clients, after spending a few hours thumbing through a catalog, spotted a similar three-urn set and fell in love with it. They surprised us by finding a local dealer themselves, handpicking their own set and having it ready for install within days of their initial decision. (Keep in mind, they were quite the DIY type.) This solution was far less time-consuming and demanded much less stone. It was a no-brainer, and I was a little down on myself for not offering it as an option from the start. The quality was amazing and the setup was child’s play — except for excavating that tough Virginia clay. It’s so bad, I’m still not sure why I even used a basin.

Within hours, we were placing the driftwood and stone, watching the urns flow, and providing that beautiful sound we all love to hear. After key placement of the exterior lights, we were done and had one more very happy customer of an amazing, complete backyard transformation.

Fire pit triple urn water feature
View from the freestanding, 10-ft long seating wall, overlooking fire pit. 

Not everyone has the desire, space or budget for most of our larger install designs, but smaller features like this concept open a whole new world of options to both the client and business owner. These smaller features are more practical for small townhome backyards, rooftop patios and even indoor porches. They are more budget-friendly, making them an easier sell and opening our world to more potential clients.

Like many of us, we consider ourselves artisans. Often we push to get the dream installations: majestic waterfalls, long, twisty, curvy streams and grandiose ponds that we all want to install on a daily basis. But installations like these offer an opportunity for the people in our profession to keep those creative juices flowing while still providing our clients with at least a small glimpse of the world that is “Living the Pond Life.”

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Designer: Christopher Bell

Installation:  Bell Ponds, Plants and Patios, Eastridge Lawns and Landscapes

Location: Yorktown, Virginia

Contact Info:  757/746-6393;

Size: 700 sq- ft.  


  • Patio triple-urn water feature with decorative stone and driftwood 
  • Fire pit
  • Seating wall anchored with columns
  • Bed installation 
  • Mulch

Completion time:  6 days 

Crew size: 3 — Christopher Bell, Brian Eastridge and Isaac Eastridge

Project cost: $15,580



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