The sound of falling or trickling water in a garden can add a mystical and magical touch to any setting. When contemplating a certain type of water feature, consider the following:

Background Noise
Are you masking over objectionable road noise or sounds from adjacent homes?

Placement
Place the water feature between yourself and the background noise. Increase the proximity of the water feature to yourself to mask a louder background sound.


Water Action
Once you know how aggressive a water sound is, it will be much easier to figure whether you will want:

  • A falling sheet of water.
  • A trickling sound of water.
  • A rushing sound of water.


Safety
Are there infants that need consideration to eliminate any pools or standing water. Underground reservoirs can be designed in some type of waterfalls.


Visual Effect
How much drama are you trying to create? Intimate spaces require less to make an impact. A grand scale requires something more compelling.


Fish & Other Living Creatures:
Require a host of constant maintenance requirements.

Maintenance
Who will be maintaining the water feature? Use automated and state of the art equipment to facilitate easy care. Some weekly maintenance is required.


Pre-Cast Fountains
Come in countless shapes, colors, and sizes. The cost is typically less than any other type of fountain or water feature.


Reservoir
Make sure the fountain has the capacity to hold enough water so as not to run low from evaporation and water loss from spittle.


Equipment
Consider a small equipment package of pump, filter, time clock, chlorinator, or other purification system. Remember to add a water fill line.


Waterfalls
When many people think of the sound of falling water, they immediately associate it with nature. Therefore, ponds, waterfalls and streams are an extremely popular choice.


Natural Rocks
Where at all possible the use of natural rock is preferred. The layering and texture of real stone is impossible to simulate with complete realism. Because of the incredible weight of natural stone, it is imperative that there be enough access for heavy equipment. A variety of equipment can be used to set rock:

  • Crane (10’-15’ Access):
  • Most expensive but safest and easiest way to set rock in a more natural fashion. Requires the most access.
  • All Terrain Fork Lift (8’ – 10’ Access) - Can extend and turn in a tight radius with considerable weight being carried.
  • Back Hoe or Skid Steer Loader (6’ – 8’ Access): Use only if two above options cannot gain access.
  • By Hand (3’ – 6’ Access): Limited to rocks of a fairly small size and weight.

A waterfall will be a natural focal point in any garden. Position it for optimal viewing from patios, terraces and through windows from inside the house.

Synthetic Rock
If access for equipment is not adequate, then synthetic rock is the best alternative. Because of the layering and shadow associated with natural rock, it is best to use synthetic as a backdrop, augmented with smaller hand placed natural rock. Synthetic rock in large outcroppings as opposed to individual boulders seems to appear more believable. Synthetic rock color will fade with age and this is another good reason to avoid using it as much as possible.

Architectural Fountains
There is no limit to the imagination when it comes to fountain design. A fountain is a statement in any garden. It is also a keystone that ties all the elements together. Fountains should evoke the theme and style of the architecture of the home and or the garden.


San Diego Water
San Diego has water with a high Ph (Alkaline), especially where water runs wet and dries in endless Sequence. Keeping proper Ph will help, but ultimately the fountain materials used need to be resistant to scrubbing with pumice stone because the reality is they will need it at some point.


Some Helpful Tips in Fountain Design & Construction

Use materials that are impervious to water. Any material in constant contact with water that is not impervious will absorb it instead. Absorbing calcified water will discolor and ruin materials of inferior quality.

If you must use soft stone such as Travertine, etc., it is imperative that a constant coat of penetrating sealant be kept on all areas exposed to water contact. This must be done yearly.

Design for Splash
For every vertical foot of fall of water, design 18” of reservoir width. Water splashes and the reservoir is designed to contain it all.

Waterproofing
The bottom layer of protection on any good fountain is its waterproofing. Where liners are impractical such as concrete / masonry fountains: Three coats of the highest quality flexible membrane must be used.


Vinyl Liners

  • Use them whenever possible.
  • Use a single sheet without a glue joint whenever possible.
  • Always contain above water’s highest access point.
  • Protect underneath liners with sand or filter fabric.
  • Protect atop with filter fabric, wire mesh and a concrete coating of several inches.
  • Set rock atop concrete.


Equipment
Go big and go efficient.


Multi-Speed Pumps
Can turn water over slowly with the ability to add more flow when desired.

Sand or cartridge filtration sized according to the pond or bio filter if the fountain has life in it.

Auto fill or manual fill for easy refills.

Time Clock
For on/off circulation even without life. The water must be turned over daily for purposes of cleaning.

Low Voltage Lighting: There’s a variety of good quality bronze underwater 12 volt lights. Use swivel mount lights for easy underwater adjustment.

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pete@summit-services.com