the dirt

Refresh your Landscape with Water

Now that the rains of June and early July have stopped, we find ourselves longing for the wet stuff again, not the kind that falls from the sky but the kind that babbles, tumbles and sprays — from ground level. I’m talking about fountains, ponds and waterfalls.

As soon as we get around water, our blood pressure goes down. It’s a source of relaxation and reflection for most of us. (For a small minority of people water can be a stressor, if you are one of them this article is not for you).  Water can serve a function, blocking out the sounds of traffic and other unwanted sounds, bringing the ear ‘inward’ to the  garden. Water invites wildlife, bats, which eat mosquitos, birds, butterflies and frogs, allowing us to witness nature without having to go far from home.

Over the years,   Architectural Gardens has done many landscaping projects incorporating water as a central element— from small urban settings to more suburban expanses.  Here are four.nds of traffic and other unwanted sounds, bringing the ear ‘inward’ to the  garden. Water invites wildlife, bats, which eat mosquitos, birds, butterflies and frogs, allowing us to witness nature without having to go far from home.

Music to the ears

Music to the ear: On this project, we installed a fountain as a focal point in a small garden for a homeowner in Annapolis. The fountain masks the sounds of a busy street corner and separates the space into two rooms: one sunny for tanning, the other shady and green for entertaining. At night, the fountain is bathed in light to add drama.Pond with native water plants and water fall


Garden retreat: This project shows a patio and shallow pond (no fish because the herons find them) filled with water lilies, pickerel, horsetail rush, black pussy willow and parrot-feather. The soothing sound softens the traffic noise from a major road. The property is in full sun and the pond affords a cooling outdoor oasis under a pecan tree for alfresco dining, enjoying the Sunday paper and star gazing.

Pond with fishFond memories: This is a 20 by 15-foot pond we built for an elderly lady on Kent Island. The pond is stocked with four very large koi fish, which reminds the homeowner of her childhood playing by water’s edge. These fish are part of her family now, she is very protective of them and she enjoys feeding them, especially with her grandchildren.

Optical illusion water feature

Optical illusion: Here this turquoise blue fountain in a bed of rocks sends the eye soaring vertically and helps give the impression that the patio and outdoor space is larger than it actually is. What was once an unimpressive backyard that the homeowner would pass through is now a place where people want to linger and mingle.

Can I afford this? Despite conventional wisdom, fountains are relatively inexpensive. I like to order fountains from Aqua Bella Designs where you can find a large and diverse selection of reasonably priced fountains. It’s when you go for custom designs that fountains and other water features become pricey.  It’s when you go for the custom designed water feature incorporating a waterfall is when it becomes pricey.

What about maintenance? For those concerned about upkeep, especially in winter, don’t be. Running water doesn’t freeze in the relatively temperate winters we have in Maryland. However, many homeowners prefer to shut down their fountains and pond-less waterfalls in the wintertime and that’s easy to do: simply unplug the system, drain the pipes and cover or bring inside, if convenient. For ponds with goldfish they should be at least two feet deep so that the fish can find water underneath the ice cover. It’s also recommended that fallen leaves be removed so that they don’t rob the fish of oxygen.

About Missy Jones

Missy Jones, owner of Architectural Gardens, is a Master Watershed Steward in Anne Arundel County. Since growing up on the Severn River watershed, her passion is to help save the bay and educate homeowners about conservation landscaping, thus reducing the negative impact of stormwater runoff. Landscaping is in her blood: Missy’s father owned a landscaping company in the Annapolis area and she’s been gardening ever since she learned to walk. Call Missy for a consult, 800.280.2103, and let’s get started.
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