Posts Tagged Waterscaping

Seven Great Water Features

The sounds of splashing water is always soothing – and it’s a sound we don’t hear often enough of in Southern California.  There are ways for you to enjoy the sights and sounds of water around your home without spending an arm and a leg to keep the water going.  Here are seven great water feature ideas that will turn your backyard into a soothing paradise:

1. Install a fountain.  A fountain is probably one of the easiest ways to get a water feature which lets you hear the sounds of splashing water – without a ton of hassle.  But, if a traditional fountain doesn’t match with your style, there are plenty of other options.  You can have an art installation which is also a fountain, install orbs that are small fountains, or even have a recycled water set up coming out of a surrounding wall.

2. Go with a pond.  Ponds can be big or small, they can include fish and other creatures, and you can even set it up so it doubles as a bird bath. Central Park

3. Incorporate a water feature into your existing landscape.  You can create a little river that falls down the middle of your stairs, a small waterfall that rolls down the side of your hillside home, or a pond for your flat lot.

4. Want to just try out the whole water feature business?  Try a pond in a pot or a bubbling water container.  These are small and inexpensive, but they will give you an idea of how a more permanent feature might match your landscaping.  iStock_000001549219XSmall

5. Think about using basins.  These are a more artistic expression of a pond.  A basin can feed into another basin in a small waterfall, it can be fed by an external pipe, or it can just bubble from a recycling system below ground.

6. Add a waterfall to your pool or Jacuzzi.  Jazz up your spa with a waterfall that feeds into it. Beautifully landscaped backyard pool with a waterfall.

7.  Go pondless.  There are some really great designs that allow a waterfall to drip onto rocks or some other feature.  This can create a pretty sound – and make it safer for kids to play around.

Here’s to a yard that makes you feel happy and calm every time you enter it!

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Nine Ways to Update Your Front Yard

Is the walkway into your home boring?  Take a look at these nine ways to spice that front yard up:

1. Explore hardscaping options.  Just because everyone on your block has a front lawn they spend tons of money on each year to keep green doesn’t mean you have to.  Consider broadening your walkways, extending your front porch, paving the area over and adding in potted plants, or even creating a front yard firepit.  It’s perfectly possible for you to enclose your front yard and make it an extension of your backyard space.

2. Just add water.  Water features are beautiful, can add life to an area, and might even block out street noise.  Make your front yard into a watery paradise with a pond, fountain, art installation, or stream.Sage attracting a butterfly

3. Consider installing planters.  If your backyard is occupied with a pool, a deck, or a space for the kids, revamp your front yard into a traditional kitchen garden.  There’s no need to try to keep it all in the back.

4. Brighten up your day.  Not quite sure that you want a fully remodeled landscape?  Try planting naturally bright or light colored plants to greet you through the winter.  There are plenty of ornamental grasses, bright cabbages, and several flowers that will brighten up your mood as you approach your home this winter.

5. Start a vineyard.  You don’t have to love wine to love grapes, arbors, and other growing vines.  Install an arbor with climbing roses, wisteria, or grapes.  The plants won’t be ready to great you through the winter this year – but next year you may have a Secret Garden-like entryway.

6. Make your yard a private place.  Install a fence or hedge along the boarder of your front yard to create a feeling of privacy.  Perhaps your front yard will become the place to hang out!

7. Mulch away!  If you have a yard in which grass will not grow, or you just get patchy crab grass, stop fretting.  Plant some California natives in areas you might like to see some plants and cover the rest with bark chips.

Desert Landscaping8. Add a bench.  It may seem a little strange to set a bench into your front yard, but it might end up being the spot where you and your neighbors chat on a sunny winter’s day.

9. Go native.  Try designing your landscape with Southern California natives.  You might be surprised how easy they are to maintain and how beautiful they turn out to be.

Here’s to a bright and welcoming front yard!

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Fire Prevention Landscaping

While it doesn’t seem like there’s any need to think of fire season at the moment, there are actually things you can do starting this Spring to help prevent fires around your home:

– Create a succulent and cactus garden.  Succulents and cacti retain water, so they Succulent Plantdon’t need to be watered much in general, and they aren’t likely to go up in flames very easily.

You can change this theme up by planting a succulent ground cover in empty patches of garden that would normally collect weeds, dried leaves, and other eye sores and possible fire starters.

– Plant a variety.  Having several different types of plants means that you have something in season all year round.  This helps with fire prevention as you are unlikely to have dead wood or dormant plants.

– Invest in hardscaping.  If you don’t really have the time to keep a yard of plants up, try hardscaping areas you’d rather utilize for relaxation, parties, family gatherings, etc.

– Keep up any plants you have.  If you have a tree, ensure it gets trimmed at the appropriate time.  Make sure to pull up anything dead, and clean up around your plants to keep them healthy and happy.

– Think about waterscapes.  Waterscaping is not only gorgeous, it is a natural fire-prevention tool.

– Ensure you understand proper fire control procedures.  This has a double meaning: 1. Ensure you have the proper tools and equipment available if you have a firepit or some kind of outdoor fireplace, and 2. Research your local requirements for a fire-free neighborhood.

Here’s to a fire-free year!


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Fun Waterscaping Ideas

Waterscapes aid your landscape in many different ways.  Water features block ambient noise, add beauty, and (in some cases) allows an environment for new, low maintenance pets.

Here are some fun and interesting ways to incorporate waterscaping into your yard:

Create a space for small creatures

If you have plants of varied heights and types, it’s likely you will attract birds, butterflies, bumble bees, and other varied creatures that are fun to watch.  You can add to that attraction with a nice water feature.  There are a couple of approaches to this:

Traditional bird bath.  Just a plain-Jane birdbath.  Simple and effective.

Artsy fountain.  The idea is to provide these creatures with a place where they can access water.  Interesting fountains surrounded by small, damp stones can give various animals many places to rest, bathe, and drink.  The idea is to provide a perch in water deep enough for a small bird to bathe, and shallow enough that they won’t worry about losing their footing and drowning.

Small fountains for small spaces

If all you have is a terrace, deck or balcony, you can add a small fountain to your space in order to block out the ambient noise.

Small fountains can also be a gorgeous focal point for an entryway, for a back patio, or for that uneven portion of lot that you don’t know what to do with.

You can add a small fountain by installing a terracotta pot which appears to overflow into surrounding rocks, and with the watering then recirculating back into the fountain.  Another idea is to install a small sculpture or art piece with the same principle.  Or to install a waterline which runs up an adjacent wall and lets the water out through a spigot or piece of tile work on the wall.

Install a water feature disguised as a raised bed

That just sound weird, right?  But you can hide a pretty little water feature in among your raised beds.  Add some lily pads, maybe a turtle or a couple of fish, and you have a raised pond that accents your existing raised-bed look.

Plan for a shallow streamBackyard waterfal

What is better than the sound of a babbling brook?  Maybe the sound of a breeze rustling the leaves above your head as you lay back in your hammock and enjoy the harmonious sounds of nature.

If you prefer a little bit of drama, you can get a small stream installed which ends in a little waterfall.  This can be especially beautiful on a multi-level yard.

Allow water plants to run wild

If you have an existing water feature that you’d like to spice up, or if you want the sound of running water, but want to keep the motif green, try adding plant life.  There are some really gorgeous water plants that can add texture and dimension to your landscape.

Here’s to a visually and aurally beautiful yard!

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Making a Small Yard Look Larger

No matter the size of your yard, chances are you would likely like to maximize the space, making it feel larger than it actually is.  Here are some ideas on how to do just that:

Plant a variety of small trees through your yard. 

This has two functions:Small Fruit Tree

1. It creates the illusion of more space as there is hidden space behind the trees.

2. It allows you to create little hideaways.

Additionally, there are some great fruit and nut tree varieties that are breed small so they are easy to pick.  This is a great option for small, yet useful trees.

Decorate your gathering space.

It’s easy to give up if you have just a little cement patio or pad for your friends or family to gather.  But, if you decorate the space with a central piece, like a wrought iron table surrounded with hanging plants or vines, or by installing a firepit with comfy chairs all around it, you can fit more people than you may imagine, and relatively comfortably.

Create spaces from which you can enjoy your yard.

You may have a small yard, but by installing a bench surrounded by flowering plants, or a hammock between two small trees, you can enjoy your space from new angles.

Install strategic lighting.

Lighting is useful for many reasons.  The most obvious reason is that you can see where you are going when walking up a pathway at night.  However, you can use lighting to highlight your favorite parts of your yard, or to light up a gathering space.

Add texture to your yard.Bird on a birdbath

Even if all you can fit is a small bird bath among a patch of flowers, try adding different levels and types of features.

For example, in a very small yard, you could have a small tree with a bird bath beneath it.  Or you could cover up unsightly fencing with grape and rose vines, while also cultivating a small vegetable patch.  Or you can install a firepit at one end of the yard, circle it with comfortable chairs, and install a tier of garden behind or beside the gathering space.  Or – if your yard is all hardscape – install a water feature as a central piece and place pots of flowers strategically around the rest of the space.

Another easy way to add texture is to simply pick a signature color or plant that will pop.  For example, if you grow grapes, you may want to plant a bright rose at the far end of your vines.

Make it yours.

Finally, and the most important part of any of this is to make the yard your own space.  If you have your own dreams, make them work for your yard.  No one else has to live with it except for you!

Here’s to a beautiful and enjoyable yard!

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Water Features

With the wonderful weather we are having, it’s a great time to think of hotter times and cooling down with water features.  Here are some great ideas to consider:

– A cozy birdbath to attract our fine feathered friends over summertime.

– A pond of any size.  You can add fish, cattails, a rock display, turtles, and more.

– A burbling stream.  A little stream right through your property will give your home a pleasant ambiance and lets you add neat water plants to your garden.

A modern art display with water as an accent.

A lovely fountain. This is a great option if you have any noise issues.

A swimming pool. Obviously, this one is a much larger undertaking. Another idea to consider is a romantic, personalized jacuzzi for two.

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Water, Water Everywhere

There is no sound more annoying in your yard than that of traffic noise.  A great way to get around this is have a water feature.

Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Install a pondless waterfall.  What is this?  A waterfall with no pond?  Preposterous!

Let me explain. Pondless waterfalls do actually have  a pond, it’s just underground.  The cool thing about that is, because sunlight doesn’t hit the standing water, algae and other plant life generally don’t invade your watery space.

The main kind of pondless waterfall I’ve seen is the stationary water feature, which generally looks more modern.  This is where you have an art piece of sorts that has water running down it.  It’s a clean, low maintenance water feature idea for your yard.

2. Listen to the babble of a brook.  Nothing makes me feel like I’m in a nice, natural environment than the sound of water running over stone.  This water features takes a bit of room, but the trade-off is a nice sound, plus a great place for attracting animals like birds to bathe in slower-moving portions of your little stream.

3. Do you already have a pool?  Install a waterfall which gushes its way into the pool.

As a kid, I loved these water features.  They are fun to climb, jump off of or swim under.  As an adult, I still like these water features – but I tend to enjoy them while floating on a blow-up pool recliner, drinking something icy.

4. Fountains put the “f” in “feature”.  Just kidding.  But seriously, fountains sound really nice, you can turn them off an on easily and, if you set them up with extra shallow spots, birds like them.  So, not only do you get the calming sound of running water, but you get some tweeting friends as well.

5. Set up a bubbling pond.  It’s really easy to install a feature in a pond which just shoots your replacement water a bit in the air, giving you that babbling sound.  This a neat feature because you can include water plants, fish, etc to the equation.

Here’s to a yard filled with relaxing sounds.

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Cooling Down your Landscape with Waterscaping

Waterscaping is a beautiful way to make your landscape fresh and cool.  Traditionally people have installed a pond in their yards, added a filter and some fish or turtles and viola! there was a waterscape.

Ponds aren’t your only option for adding water to your landscape though. There are pondless waterscaping options, like waterfalls or streams, that are becoming more and more popular. These are often a cleaner option as the moving water is less likely to accumulate algae, or become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you have your heart set on fish though, it may not be the best option for you.

Waterscapes are a higher maintenance and sometimes more expensive addition to your landscape, but they have advantages, such as adding beauty, creating a place for you to have fish or turtles, and making your yard feel cooler in the summer months. Also, you often get that wonderful burbling brook or rushing waterfall sound with waterscapes, which can block noises off and make your yard that much more pleasant to be in.

A word to the wise with ponds: I had a pond in my yard and spent quite a bit on gorgeous fish, which I really liked and who would come to the surface to great me whenever I came outside. That is, until raccoons decided my pond was their new fishing spot. It broke my heart to lose those sweet fish, so if you are extremely attached to fish or want to buy expensive or designer fish – make sure you research what might eat them in your area and ways to prevent those animals from accessing your pond.

Need ideas? Check out these pictures of some great Southern California Waterscapes.

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The Elusive Pool

It seems like during the summertime, everyone wants to be the proud owner of a pool.  “Imagine the parties” or “What a great way to beat the heat” they think.  But there are many things to consider in making your pool dreams a reality.

1. Is your lot big enough?

If you have a tiny lot, a pool may not be worth your trouble.  You can install a small deck for your barbeques and social gatherings, then put out a slip ‘n slide or turn on the sprinklers for children and adults alike to cool off.

2. Are you ready to shoulder the responsibility for cleaning the pool?

Pool maintenance and upkeep is a continuing cost which should be considered in your watery plans.

3. Do you have the money set aside to get the pool installed?

This one is key. Beyond pool installation is decking, professional landscaping, etc. Keep this in mind when gathering the funds for your dream pool.

4. Is this pool something the entire family can enjoy?

If you have tiny toddlers or babies, they may not be ready for a pool experience – or you may have to fence the pool area off for safety.  Keep this in mind when planning your pool.

I hope this helps you and your family and friends have a fantastic summer this year!

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