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How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature

Posted by Alexa Lerner on Apr 10, 2024 10:30:00 AM

Enjoy Nature’s Wonders Year-Round!

Home water features exist to soothe, entertain, and inspire. From the calming sounds of the cascades to the brilliantly colored koi swirling about, waterfalls, fountains, and ponds allow homeowners to experience a slice of paradise right in their own yard. Our friends at Premier Ponds & Lighting are experts at transforming an outdoor living space into a masterpiece. In this article, they show us that water features come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, allowing aquatic enthusiasts to select the pond, fountain, or recirculating waterfall that fits both their vision and budget.

How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature
Photo Courtesy of Premier Ponds & Lighting

1. Koi Ponds

The vast majority of aquascaping-fanatics choose to build natural koi ponds in their backyards. Unlike most traditional outdoor living add-ons, like pools or patios, ponds are constantly growing ecosystems, changing with the seasons, and evolving as time passes. There are a few reasons for the fish pond’s popularity, with the top priority usually being the fish themselves; homeowners desire to keep magnificent varieties of koi and goldfish (& more!) often leads them to building such aquatic ecosystems on their property. Bred over the millennia, these hardy pets thrive across the country, and even often seem to develop a connection with their owners (or perhaps just learn when feeding time is!). And beyond the colorful pets, it’s the ecosystem-nature of ponds that piques many plant-lovers’ interests. Your pond is essentially a whole new planter bed, allowing home gardeners to try their hand at a mind-boggling variety of lush aquatic plants and greenery. From planting lilies and corkscrew grasses to the hydrophobic lotus, koi ponds quickly become “water gardens” for many. As the graceful fish weave in and out of their underwater jungle, many develop a special connection with their personal ‘state park.’ After all, these features are built to look natural, and perhaps moreover, mimic the science of freshwater ecosystems found across the globe. 

The typical koi pond set-up has a few main requirements, with the first being ample space for growing fish and to ensure crystalline water; the most common post-project lamentation of new pond-owners is “I should’ve built it bigger!” Beyond the footprint, the infrastructure required to correctly replicate nature is of utmost importance. Koi ponds have waterfalls (or some sort of moving water) for aeration and proper filtration, as well as skimmers for water intake and of course, skimming your feature for floating debris. The underground plumbing connects the skimmer (intake) to the waterfall (output) to produce a recirculating effect much like a flowing river. Homeowners find themself with a well-functioning, highly customizable aquatic “world” they get to watch thrive and grow over time. 

How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature - Koi Ponds
Photo Courtesy of Premier Ponds & Lighting

2. Pondless Waterfalls

For some homeowners, maintaining a well-functioning koi pond -- more or less an outdoor aquarium, in a sense -- is a bit too maintenance-heavy. With a general desire for the relaxing sights and sounds of moving water, but less passion for fish or aquatic plants, we point this client base to an exceptional alternative to such aquatic ecosystems: the “pondless” waterfall. 

As their name implies, these recirculating waterfalls have no pond below them. Typically built with a Biofalls (Aquascape Inc) at the top, pondless waterfalls crash into a cobble or pebble-filled basin of about 2-5 inches of water. This is where the magic happens. Water seems to disappear into the gravel bed, where it actually passes through an underground filtration system. In fact, this underground system acts as a water-storage vault; by allowing more water to be stored within your feature than is visible above-ground, the system increases overall water volume. More water, logically, ensures your feature remains crystalline. This water is pumped back up to the top of the falls, crashing down once more. The result is a low maintenance, constantly running waterfall or stream that delights homeowners for a fraction of the effort of traditional ponds. 

How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature - Pondless Waterfalls
Photo Courtesy of Premier Ponds & Lighting

3. Fountains

The fountainscape is perhaps the most versatile, budget-friendly way to bring soothing water flows to your property. Often constructed in less than a day, these small-but-mighty aquascapes produce the same calming sounds as a waterfall, but in such a convenient way that attracts many homeowners. They can be placed anywhere, from the outskirts of a grand pond ecosystem to right next to the front door. We often encounter them as garden centerpieces, with the crystalline water becoming the crown jewel of a backyard jungle.

While you’re likely envisioning more “modern-style” fountains such as baby angels or funny frogs that spew a gentle stream of water, in recent years the more “natural-looking” fountain has gained popularity. A highly sought-after example is the Three-Column Basalt Stone Fountainscape from Aquascape, where water bubbles out from the borderline-cylindrical columns, glides down and around the shiny pillars, then smoothly falls to the basin below. 

The Stacked Slate Urn/Spheres from Aquascape is another classic option, with the whitewater crashing in curvy waves down the sides of the magnificent orb. For homeowners who want the tranquil sounds of water, fountains remain a classic option with little-to-no daily upkeep. 

How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature - Fountains
Photo Courtesy of Premier Ponds & Lighting

4. Recreation/Swim Ponds

In recent years, a new type of pond has begun to gain traction, especially among entertainment-focused homeowners: the recreation or “swim” pond. Built like an ecosystem pond, but to function as a swimming pool, these larger-size water features take “outdoor living” to new heights. While they require high-powered pumps and more intense filtration systems, when built correctly, these ponds bring childhood fantasies to life. Swim-pond owners can swim with their fish at eye-level, soak beneath their crashing waterfall, or simply dip their toes in while their dog happily paddles about. In a sense, these grand water features not only transform your backyard, they transform your life, making your home the swimming hole/hangout spot for decades to come!

How To Enhance Your Outdoor Living Space With A High-End Water Feature - Recreation Swim Ponds
Photo Courtesy of Premier Ponds & Lighting

At Meridian Homes, we specialize in luxury remodeling and custom home building in the Washington, DC area. Our mission is to create exceptional residences that exceed expectations. Our highly personalized design process and careful management of every project have earned us a reputation over many years for outstanding client service and solid, beautiful craftsmanship. Contact us today to begin your custom home or remodeling project.

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Topics: Outdoor Living Space

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