Water is always fascinating. Surrounded by rocks and foliage and stocked with brightly "painted" fish, it can become a complex, mysterious and intriguing element to any landscape. For many people, water also nourishes the soul. The soothing sound of a babbling brook, of waves lapping quietly at the shoreline and of water spilling over a cascade of rocks can calm the nerves and soothes the soul. Even a large area of still water that reflects the trees or simply the sky can serve as an unparalleled source of interest and inspiration for people of any age.
At Five Corners Real Estate, our network of Sales Professionals report that this ongoing love affair with water inspires many luxury homeowners to incorporate water features into their own grounds – and that many potential owners of luxury homes often seek out properties enhanced by graceful, tranquil water features. These features range from extravagant garden ponds stocked with colorful koi and floating carpets of water lilies, to lavish and elaborate fountains and waterfalls that soothingly flow over strategically placed rocks and stones.
"Water is one of the hottest elements in garden design today," says Rebecca Cole, NBC Today Show contributor. "Use it to create ponds, waterfalls and fountains, and your backyard will be a more beautiful and relaxing place."
Creating an outstanding water feature can be a challenge, but one well worth the effort. Among current trends, a garden pond has become one of the most desirable water features of any luxury landscape.
According to Aquascape Designs, Inc., a water garden systems company in Illinois, one of the factors fueling interest in water features is the rise of naturally-balanced ecosystem water gardening which uses a blend of high-tech techniques and common sense to create a water garden that works with nature, not against it.
Ecosystem ponds look natural and mature into actual complete ecosystems that combine fish, plants and beneficial bacteria to create a water garden that practically takes care of itself. They are environmentally friendly and shun chemicals, water testing and other heavy maintenance care because they rely on pond plants to oxygenate the water and water snails and other pond creatures to clean it. If the pond is properly balanced, it will stay clear and healthy.
Formal ponds, or pools, can be an equally elaborate and magnificent addition to your luxury home. This style typically features geometric shapes - squares, rectangles and circles - that are outlined with brick or concrete edges instead of rough-cut rocks or flagstones. Like a more "natural" pond, a garden pool can incorporate fish and plant life. Both types of water gardens can be enjoyed from inside or out, and are great for entertaining or private relaxation.
Adding the splashing sound of water from elements such as waterfalls and fountains can add another dimension to a water garden that makes an ornamental pond or pool more alive and vibrant with movement. These additions also help aerate the water which is beneficial for fish and plant life.
Waterfalls can be a mere trickle spilling from a single, flat, raised stone, or a wash of water pouring down a manufactured incline that brings with it enough sound to create an oasis of peace and tranquility. With the use of modern building materials, you can create an attractive, natural-looking waterfall that with its soothing sounds provides interest even after the sun has set. Adding some type of lighting either from lights installed under the water in the pool or pond, or from spotlights shining on your focal point, can add a touch of magic and create breathtaking visual effects at night as well.
Fountains with graceful arching sprays of water are one of the easiest additions you can make to a garden pond or pool. Set the desired mood with anything from gentle bubblers and mushroom - or bell -shaped sprays to gushers, upright sprays and jets. Classical fountain statuaries add a more formal touch to the design, as does the addition of a runnel which is a small channel made from slate or concrete pavers through which water flows. You can use it to join two ponds or leave it as a stand-alone unique water feature. A runnel looks great in areas such as courtyards, on terraces and along entry walks.
A large garden pond or pool practically demands the addition of stepping stones and bridges. They make maintenance easier and increase the viewing pleasure.
No water garden is complete without some type of foliage either floating in the pool or pond or planted nearby in the perimeter. When used in the pool, plants provide shade, help reduce algae growth and provide shelter for fish that you have added to your outdoor sanctuary. Today there are hundreds of aquatic plants from which to choose, including everything from traditional water lilies and lotus to papyrus, cattails, cannas and more.
Water lilies - the crown jewel of the water garden - are now available as day- and night-bloomers in hardy and tropical varieties, with flowers ranging from white, pink, red, yellow, purple, blue and orange in hues from pale to vibrant. Some even offer a treat for the senses with intense, heady fragrance. Lotus, another popular bloomer, is known for its magnificent flowers and circular-shaped leaves. Even their seedpods offer interesting visual appeal.
Adding some variety of fish creates a natural balance for a garden pool or pond and makes a garden more attractive by providing movement and color. Fish are also good neighbors that help keep pests such as mosquitoes in check. There are several varieties that you can use to stock your water garden. The most popular traditional ornamental goldfish and koi range in colors from silver to rich gold and almost black, with some offering a rainbow mix of all of them.
These are just some of the ways water features can be used to captivate and delight the senses, while enhancing the value of your property.