You may not be thinking about your landscape today, but you should. The depth of winter is the best time to site, plan, and design any aspect of your landscape’s ‘hard’ features. A hardscape is just that: the portion of your landscape that requires pre-planning, is semi-permanent, manmade, and involves natural elements, such as stone, rock, and also in this case, water. Winter is a great time to figure out a new design—and install it—because trees and beds are bare, typography stands out, and you can figure out placement easily. Installing a fountain is perfect during this time of year! It can be one of the best uses of corners, or a space close to the house. Don’t let the word ‘install’ scare you. You won’t need a building permit to a create a beautiful water feature that is understated in its elegance, and that incorporates nothing more than cheerful water flow and rock selected for color and shape.
We used natural rock for the fountain; in this case, ‘Baltic Stone.’ It was drilled so that the water pipe could easily be inserted. We didn’t want anything fussy, we also wanted to eliminate that “splashing” sound, so a group of three (The Magic Number) upended vertical stones would do the trick. The water simply needed to burble over the top and cascade down the sides. Select a basin for the water, thinking about how many rocks you want to surround it. You’ll want a generous amount of rock to frame your pool, so measure your area well. Dig a hole slightly larger than the plastic water basin. The larger the pool, the more water it can contain. Here, we buried a four-foot square basin purchased at a pond supply store, and surrounded it with metal grating that supports and contains the river rock that frames the basin.
Shop for a pump that will give you enough power to push your water up and over, but you aren’t installing a dam, so you won’t need something extraordinary. Water pressure is part of your design, so contemplate flow. You’re incorporating sound into this design, and more water being pushed faster means a louder water feature, so your pump selection really does matter.
In keeping with the vertical style of this water feature, we used flagstones buried on their sides to create a sort of retaining outer wall, and planted just inside. We chose plants for hardiness, as well as compact growth, to complete the design. ‘Lime’ sweet flag grass, Dwarf Mondo, ‘Wintergreen’ boxwood, ‘Blood good’ Japanese maple, and golden euonymus completed our design elements.
You can find many of these components online or at aquatic stores, and shopping for rock can be a fun adventure. Just remember to keep it simple. You aren’t erecting a public fountain, so you want the water to trickle more than gush. The gushing can come from your guests as they round the corner and see your new landscape addition. It stands out in its simple design, yet is striking in its use of rock, water, and basic planting elements. It will require an afternoon of work, but will be a focal point in your landscape for a long time to come, literally calling out to you.
Chris Olsen is a nationally known home and garden guru, designer, author, TV personality and public speaker. In his book, Chris shares his landscape and gardening knowledge along with his unique flair for home decor and design.He is also a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Learn more about Chris and all of his work at chrisholsen.com.