Waterfeatures and Fountains Archives

The term water feature typically refers to an assembly of natural materials including boulders, stones and gravel to mimic a form of a stream or waterfall you would see in nature. Fountains are usually more formal style structures that create a jet or stream of water from a decorative piece or nozzle.
Natural water features use various types of stone and river rock. Here in Sedona, we have an abundance of what everyone calls “red rock”. It is a type of sedimentary rock formed by layers of ocean bed over millions of years. Sedimentary stone is not unique to Sedona, however the red color is due to the presence of iron oxide.

 

sedona waterfeaturesSince the local red boulders are so readily available as a local resource, they are relatively cheap compared to another kind of natural boulder found outside of the Sedona area and is a type of granite, which is heavier. Boulder types are named from the area where they are mined, such as Hasayampa Gold. Boulders that come from Sedona are simply called Sedona Red. Since everyone in Sedona loves the red rocks, using the red rock boulders of Sedona are the most popular choice for water features.
Another type of natural stone that is used in Sedona water features is called Moss rock which is typically a type of sedimentary stone that has surface growth of moss and lichens and is usually hand harvested since these boulders are located on the surface of the land. They are also weather eroded from water and wind giving them uniqueness quite different than the red rock.
The third type of rock used in Sedona water features is known as river rock and is commonly found in our streams, rivers and washes. It is smooth and rounded and comes is screened to produce sizes ranging from ½” pebbles to large boulders. River rock is typically used to line the underwater portions of the water features, especially along the stream courses and the basins. Since river rock does not stack very well nor does it look natural when stacked, it is always used under the water where it mimics its natural condition.

 

hillside waterfeature in Sedona
How Are Sedona Water Features Built?

Most water features are dug into the ground in which a rubber liner is placed to contain the water. The type of liner most used is called EPDM rubber and typically 45 mil thickness. The liner is placed on top of an underlayment fabric that helps prevent any damage to the liner from rocks, soil and roots, etc.
The plumbing components consist of a skimmer box inside of which the pump is placed. This works just like a swimming pool filter and has a weir that draws in the water at the surface level. Inside the skimmer box is also filtration screening materials that can be accessed for periodic maintenance.
The pump pushes the water up through a “return line” to the highest point of the water feature where either the simple end of the pipe discharges water or it can be plumbed to a “waterfall box” that has various widths of the lip opening for different effect on the face of the waterfall. The waterfall box can also be the location for a biological filter and contain media to help colonize good bacterial that keep the pond aspects in balance. A water feature that does not contain aquatic plants or fish does not need a biological filter.

 

Key Design Tips for Sedona Water Features

1) Natural. The whole point is that the water feature looks like it belongs where you are building it or at least integrating it the best you can in your man made landscape. Not everyone has a perfect slope of red rock formations ready to be used for a water feature.
2) Elevation change. Water flows downhill so naturally the end of the pump’s return line must be higher than the pump at the low point. The more the elevation difference, the more cascading drops and sheer drops you can create with the arrangement of stone.
3) Avoid artificial mounds. On a flat property, it is tempting to bring in a pile of dirt to create a mound so you can artificially create the necessary elevation drop. This is the number one mistake made by amateurs and the reason such water features tend to not look natural.
4) Use different size boulders. Depending on your access to heavy equipment to lift large boulders, varying the size of boulders is important rather than using uniform size stones.
5) Create pockets for plant material. Plant material close to the edge of the water feature in strategic locations using appropriate plants will enhance the natural appearance. Envision the kinds of shrubs you are going to place as you are creating the pockets.

 Maintaining Your Sedona Water feature

For water features that contain no plants or fish, cleaning the filter screen in the skimmer box is required. Also make sure the automatic water leveler fill valve is operating properly and is not stuck which could lead to over flowing the basin. A well designed water feature will have a pipe situated a bit higher than the desired water level in case the basin is over topped due to a stuck valve or inordinate amount of rainwater.
If algae becomes a problem, there are products sold that will control the algae and clarify the water. Do not use chlorine or bleach as this can damage the pump components.

Winterizing Your Sedona Water feature

About half of winter nights in Sedona experience freezing temperatures. Two or three of these, on average, drop down into the range of 11 to 20 °F (-12 to -8 °C). Lows in the teens can occur from November to March, but are most likely in December.
Is it necessary to take certain measures to protect the pump for a water feature in Sedona? Most pump warranties I have seen recommend removing the pump during freezing temperatures and storing the pump in a bucket of water indoors. There is also the argument that leaving a pump running actually reduces the likelihood of the water freezing because flowing water does not allow water pressure to rise when flowing through pipes. Typically, the surface of the pond may freeze and ice develops on areas where the water flows, but inside the skimmer where the pump is at is not at risk as much as the surface areas.
It is recommended to shut off the water supply line that controls your auto fill valve during freezing temperatures. Keep an eye of the water level and fill with a hose if there is some loss due to evaporation.

Thought about having a small container water garden for your patio or deck? Water gardening is a great hobby, but a container with aquatic plants and perhaps some fish will also look great greeting visitors by the front door. Here are some container water gardening ideas that will help you decide just how to create one or more.

A container water garden can be created using any type of container provided it is water sealed. A container that is not otherwise considered or designed to function as a fountain, must be fixed up so it can hold water and not deteriorate form being wet. Large ceramic pots work well as long as the insides are watersealed. Probably the most popular idea is to purchase a kit that uses a Whiskey Barrel design with a pre-formed plastic liner that fits inside to hold the water while still maintaining the rustic outer whiskey barrel appearance.

The larger the water surface area of the container, the more aquatic plants you can have. So you may want to get several containers and group them, perhaps even create a tiered grouping to create more visual interest and variety of heights. These container water gardening ideas ares also used when dealing with traditional containers for plants alone. You can work them in with your regular planting containers.

A container water garden should be designed primarily around the kind of aquatic plants you would like. You may want to create a Zen like container water garden with a low profile container with a single Lotus or single Water lily. The design principles of arranging plants in a conventional container apply to a water garden as well. Groupings of plants that provide contrast, a variety of textures and colors will add to its appeal. Select plants of different shapes and size and make sure you read about how large they grow and their tolerance to freezing temperatures. Also consider the balance of water surface to the plants so it doesn’t look crowded or overgrown.

If you add fish to your water garden, the volume of water the container can hold will be important. The more the volume the better as the temperature of the water will not undergo drastic extremes which most fish do not like. Mosquito fish however, can tolerate warm water quite well. If your container holds more than 20 gallons of water you can add any type of goldfish.

With the addition of fish, along with the plants, you are creating a mini ecosystem and as such, a harmonic balance must be achieved between the capacity of the bacteria in the container and the debris and waste contributed by the fish. Adequate oxygen levels must also be provided and so a small recirculating pump that has some kind of way to aerate the water should be included. This could also provide the element of sound and splashing. It will also disturb the water’s surface and prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

If you have ever had a fish aquarium, you are probably familiar with feeding the fish, adding aquatic plants and cleaning out the aquarium’s filter from time to time. The maintenance of a container water garden outdoors is quite easy since the plants do much to keep the water clean. Just don’t add too many fish that exceeds the ability of the bacteria to break down the waste material. The water will evaporate over time so keep an eye on the level or better yet, install a float valve connected to a water source and you won’t have to worry about evaporation.

Don’t limit your ability to have more than just a container water garden. Consider other waterfeatures as well. Waterfeatures is a collective term that includes all types of fountain like designs such as tabletop fountains, container water gardens, stand-alone fountains, bubbling urns, rock waterfalls and ponds.

Thought about having a small container water gardening idea for your patio or deck? Water gardening is a great hobby, but a container with aquatic plants and perhaps some fish will also look great greeting visitors by the front door. Here are some container water gardening ideas for small spaces such as a deck or balcony that will help you decide just how to create one or more.

A container water garden can be created using any type of container provided it is water sealed. A container that is not otherwise considered or designed to function as a fountain, must be fixed up so it can hold water and not deteriorate form being wet. Large ceramic pots work well as long as the insides are watersealed. Probably the most popular container water gardening idea is to purchase a kit that uses a Whiskey Barrel design with a pre-formed plastic liner that fits inside to hold the water while still maintaining the rustic outer whiskey barrel appearance.

The larger the water surface area of the container, the more aquatic plants you can have. So you may want to get several containers and group them, perhaps even create a tiered grouping to create more visual interest and variety of heights. This container water gardening idea is also used when dealing with traditional containers for plants alone. You can work your water garden containers in with your planting containers.

A container water garden should be designed primarily around the kind of aquatic plants you would like. You may want to create a Zen like container water garden with a low profile container with a single Lotus or single Water lily. The design principles of arranging plants in a conventional container apply to a water garden as well. These are just some of the possible container water gardening ideas that deal with design.

Groupings of plants that provide contrast, a variety of textures and colors will add to its appeal. Select plants of different shapes and size and make sure you read about how large they grow and their tolerance to freezing temperatures. Also consider the balance of water surface to the plants so it doesn’t look crowded or overgrown.

If you add fish to your container water garden, the volume of water the container can hold will be important. The more the volume the better as the temperature of the water will not undergo drastic extremes which most fish do not like. Mosquito fish however, can tolerate warm water quite well. If your container holds more than 20 gallons of water you can add any type of goldfish.

With the addition of fish in your container water garden, along with the plants, you are creating a mini ecosystem and as such, a harmonic balance must be achieved between the capacity of the bacteria in the container and the debris and waste contributed by the fish. Adequate oxygen levels must also be provided and so a small recirculating pump that has some kind of way to aerate the water should be included. This could also provide the element of sound and splashing. It will also disturb the water’s surface and prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

If you have ever had a fish aquarium, you are probably familiar with feeding the fish, adding aquatic plants and cleaning out the aquarium’s filter from time to time. The maintenance of a container water garden outdoors is quite easy since the plants do much to keep the water clean. Just don’t add too many fish that exceeds the ability of the bacteria to break down the waste material. The water will evaporate over time so keep an eye on the level or better yet, install a float valve connected to a water source and you won’t have to worry about evaporation.

Hopefully this will give you plent of container water gardening ideas to fuel your creativity. But don’t limit your ability to have more than just a container water garden. Consider other waterfeatures as well. Waterfeatures is a collective term that includes all types of fountain like designs such as tabletop fountains, container water gardens, stand-alone fountains, bubbling urns, rock waterfalls and ponds.

Decorative Basalt Fountain with underground basin

Decorative garden fountains  are prefabricated fountains that need some degree of installation. Fountains that are available at a garden center fountain display are always prefabricated.

Decorative garden fountains  include styles such as tabletop fountains, container water gardens, stand-alone fountains, bubbling urns, spitters, and wall fountains. They are typically made of resin, lightweight reinforced concrete, fiberglass resin, natural stone or copper.

If you look through a garden fountain catalog, you will see hundreds of styles of fountains, from classical European designs to modern contemporary designs. These are all prefabricated and come ready to assemble. All you need is a water source and electricity.

All of these decorative garden fountains have some kind of reservoir where the pump is located and to allow for the recirculation of the water. Most of of these prefabricated types of fountains will not include a water leveler fill valve or built to accommodate one. You should always install a fountain that can automatically keep the basin full using an automatic fill valve connected to the main water supply under pressure and do not rely on a garden hose.

Decorative garden fountains are much used like an accessory such as a pot or statuary that adds to the décor of the landscape. Certainly they should be chosen for their style or theme as well as the proportion to the space in which they will be placed.

This fountain pictured left, is a self contained fountain wherein the basin is the fountain itself with no need to supply a separate reservoir to recirculate the water.  A variation of this design is to place it over an underground basin so that the water cascades down the sides of the pot.

Another type of decorative garden fountain is based on a design that puts the basin underground in a reservoir that contains the pump and is covered with gravel yet still allows water to reach the basin. The benefit of this kind of fountain is that you don’t see the basin which usually sits right on the ground surface and often is bulky. Above ground basins are simply functional reservoirs in which to hold the water and are secondary to the aesthetics of the decorative part of the fountain that distributes the water either through gurgling spout, a bowl, tiered shallow bowls or cascading.

Bubbling Urns and Spitters are a type of decorative fountain. These are typically set atop the underground reservoir that keeps re-circulating the water.  Once the urn fills with water, the water spills out and over into the underground basin, which pumps the water back up through the urn.

If a spitter or decorative fountain is more to your liking, you can still set it on the reservoir or off to the side and a pipe will transfer the water from the basin up through the center of the spitter or fountain and directed to the underground basin.

JSL Landscape Design
Build has installed several Aquascape decorative garden fountains that incorporate an extra large reservoir called the AquaBasin™.  The large AquaBasin supports heavy loads and holds 75 gallons of water.  Large basalt columns can be set atop the basin for a truly impressive decorative water feature in the landscape.  For a more formal look, try an impressive brass sculpture.

Waterfalls and Fountains Without a Pond is a Safe Alternative

Pondless waterfalls are no different than a regular waterfall and pond except they do not have an exposed surface area of water that you would normally see. Instead, the water pools into a storage basin below ground where you cannot see it. The water still gets recirculated to the waterfall as a normal pond waterfall system.
You can enjoy the sight and sound of running water but without the exposed basin.

The waterfall itself, with its cascading stream and gurgling sound of water over stones and gravel, is the most beautiful and favored part of any garden that features water as the focal point or theme. But some people are concerned about debris floating on the water surface or safety of exposed water. Others may have space limitations.

A pond and waterfall is a natural feature unlike a more formal manmade fountain. Both provide the sound of water, but a waterfall with the sound of water that mimics the real sound in nature, is favored for its realistic, nature-like appearance.

Benefits of Pondless Waterfalls

1) Safety

A pondless waterfall has nothing to fall into and therefore, even small children can be left without worry in a backyard with a pondless waterfall.

2) Cost

Cost can be a important consideration when thinking about the kind of waterfall you may want to have. In most cases, the cost of a pondless waterfall will be lower than a pond, due to there being less labor, less rock, and other materials. Pump size is smaller because of less water to pump, thereby allowing for better efficiency and operating costs.  Because you are not creating an aquatic ecosystem, you do not have to run the pump 24/7.

3) Space Saving Design

The small size of the pondless waterfall means you can create and enjoy a beautiful waterfall anywhere in your garden — even in a courtyard !. As long as there is nearby water and electricity, you’re good to go.

4) Maintenance

Taking care of your pondless waterfall is easier than a waterfall with a pond. Because you don’t have a body of water to capture leaves and debris, the pump’s filter will be clean more often. Because the underground reservoir is not exposed to the sun, it will not evaporate as much and reduce the amount of water needed to offset evaporative loss.

If this concept of having a waterfall but without the drawbacks of a pond appeal to you, give me a call and let’s see where the perfect spot would be for a waterfall in your backyard.

Here left is a completed courtyard remodel where we installed a small natural stone fountain. There is a 4′ x 4′ plastic basin below the fountain that is has openings to allow the water to enter but small enough to keep gravel out of the basin. We clustered a few small boulders at the base to give it more of a natural look with the surrounding area.

There are access ports built into the basin to get to the pump and the water leveler. There are many  many options for the type of feature that sits on top of these basins including ceramic pots or other decorative pieces.

Related post: Courtyard Transformation in Sedona

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »
/* */