Detroit Free Press
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Making a Splash
Outdoor water features provide peaceful focal points
by Jeanine Matlow
Not everyone has the luxury of living close to the water’s edge. Still, we can create the soothing sights and sounds of water right outside our doors.
Scott Bates, president of Grass Roots Nursery in New Boston, says koi ponds and water gardens are in demand. Why the big draw?
“You can pull up a chair with a cold beverage in your hand and just sit back and watch what happens, “ Bates says. Besides, he quips, “Outdoor pets are not sitting on your lap begging for good at the dinner table. You can look at the fish once a day, and they are still happy with that.”
A smaller budget doesn’t preclude a homeowner from incorporating a water feature into the yard. Bates says a simple barrel garden, made from a barrel and a liner, can become a fountain for as little as $100.
Bates, who offers anything from do-it-yourself classes to design-and-build services for those who prefer a professional installation, says many of his customers are creating knockout water features on their own. Before beginning any project, he recommends doing research, such as touring homes with water features.
Bates says a pond that has been properly set up can be the lowest-maintenance form of gardening, and can attract butterflies and aquatic life, such as frogs. He’s seen his share of homeowners who inherited an existing pong with their property and needed some help learning how to maintain it.
“It takes some patience,” he says, “but it pays off in the long run.”
Daryl Toby, principal of AguaFina Gardens International in Sylcan Lake, says people are naturally attracted to water; which make fountains another popular addition to outdoor spaces.
“They are a great alternative for a smaller space,” he says. When choosing materials, Toby says stone is more durable than concrete or resin.
Another option is to take an antique architectural piece, such as an old stone basin, and turn it into a one of a kind fountain, Toby says. Night lighting will allow you to enjoy your water feature after dark.
Though fountains require less maintenance than ponds, Toby says you can combine the two.
“The fountain becomes another sculptural piece for added movement and architectural interest in the pond,” he says.
As for location, Toby says you should make sure there is an electrical source nearby, but you don’t have to limit your fountain to your backyard.
“A fountain in the front of your house creates a nice feeling as you enter.” he says. “It’s the first thing you see when you come home and the last thing you see when you leave.”