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When many homeowners are interested in adding visual appeal to their property, they think of water features. In this article, we'll give you some basics about each of these water features. We'll also review some simple guidelines for finding a suitable contractor, should you choose to have your water feature professionally installed.
Creating a Lakeside Haven
Lakeside properties are in high demand. Nothing can really come close to the soothing effects of sitting by the water, listening to the waves and letting your worries drift away.
In years past, it was fashionable to landscape a lakeshore property heavily. While it's understandable to desire a pretty yard to complement a lake view, in recent years it has become more widely known that landscaping close to a lake is actually harmful to the environment.
In this era of green living, more homeowners are concerned about being as earth-friendly as possible while still maintaining an attractive home. Thankfully, with a few simple guidelines, you can have a beautiful yard and a healthy lake at the same time.
Simply cutting back on landscaping is the most important step. Your lawn should stop approximately three and a half yards from the lake's shore. This is essential in preventing potentially toxic runoff from fertilizer, weed treatments, and other yard contaminants. The area between your lawn and the lake should be allowed to grow wild. You can help this process along by planting native wild species. It's very important that only native species be used, since they are the most natural choice. Contact your local department of natural resources for more information on native species.
Once you've established some healthy landscaping practices, all you need is a deck or patio with a view, a comfortable seating area, and perhaps a glass of iced tea, and you're all set to enjoy your lake view!
Installing an Artificial Water Feature
A pond can be a wonderful addition to any property, and they're not as difficult to create as many homeowners think. You can find contractors in your area who specialize in water features.
For most properties, there are two main options. One is to dig a hole and line it with a heavy-duty liner specially designed for use in artificial ponds. Due to the recent increase in green living, you can now find these liners in environmentally-friendly materials that will not allow contaminants to seep into the ground.
A pre-designed pond is your other main option. These look a bit like lumpy children’s' swimming pools, and can be found online and in home-improvement stores. You simply dig a hole which is the right size and shape, insert the pond, and fill it with water. Just as with liners, these pre-designed ponds are becoming increasingly available in environmentally friendly materials.
Once your pond is dug and filled, you can (and should) add some native water plants. This will help to keep the water clean and prevent the overgrowth of ugly algae. You may also want to consider treating the water with a natural insecticide, since mosquitoes breed in standing water.
It should be remembered that if your household includes small children, a pond should be considered very carefully.
In addition to plants, you may want to add a fountain, lights or a waterfall to your pond. Depending on the size of the pond, you can easily add all three! These features add visual interest as well as the soothing sound of trickling water.
If you're going for a more natural look, a lighted pond probably isn't your style. However, if you enjoy the dramatically unexpected look of a shining pool of water, you're sure to love all the different options available for pond lighting.
You can stick to the basics and add a few underwater lights. These need to be very carefully installed, and usually required the experience of a professional. They will add a soft glow in any color you desire, illuminating the water from below.
Lighted fountains are very popular because they're so unexpected. After all, you expect to see such a thing in front of a Las Vegas casino, not in somebody's front yard! There are various degrees of intricacy in fountains, lighted or otherwise. You can light up a single fountain with plain white light, you can use a rainbow-hued color wheel to give your fountain a color-changing effect, and you can even create a “dancing” fountain...the only limits are your imagination and budget. Look online and in home-improvement store to see what's available, and plan out how you want your water feature to look before contacting a professional. This ensures that you and your contractor will have the same end result in mind.
Fountains and Waterfalls
Natural-looking fountains and waterfalls are also extremely popular these days. There are many options in materials. Some homeowners enjoy finding or purchasing their own unique rocks and then piping in water, creating a completely unique look. Others prefer the convenience of pre-designed waterfalls made out of plastic or cement. These artificial materials have improved drastically in a short period of time, and are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
You can choose to have these water features flowing into a pond if you like. However, if you don't have and don't want a pond, there's no need to worry...there is a large selection of completely self-contained fountains and waterfalls.
Where you place your water feature can add another dimension of unique appeal. Since they're so natural and soothing, they're a welcome surprise virtually anywhere on your property.
A popular current trend is to create a small backyard oasis. The appeal of this project is rather obvious; it's wonderful to have someplace soothing to come home to at the end of a long day. Another attractive element is that these oases can be created in even the smallest yards! Even if you live in the city, you can create a peaceful haven. All you need is a self-contained fountain or waterfall, perhaps some shady trees, and a comfortable place to sit and relax.
A smaller fountain or waterfall placed near the entry to your home is also unexpected and fun. Tucked into corners (there are many artificial water features made specifically for corners) or greeting guests at the curb, these whimsical additions are sure to please.
Safety and Professionals
If you're considering hiring a professional to install your water feature, or help with the installation, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
A small pond doesn't require the expertise of a swimming pool contractor. However, you'll want to find somebody who has experience with water features. By utilizing one of the many websites which connect workers with homeowners, you can easily find somebody with the knowledge to match your project. Be sure that they are properly licensed and insured.
Any home-improvement project which involves digging requires a call to your local utility companies. Hitting a gas line while digging can be truly disastrous. Call before you begin to plan your project to find out where it's safe to dig. This will ensure that you place your water feature in a safe location.
Keeping your water feature clean and fresh is essential. After all, a pond that's covered with thick, slimy algae is anything but attractive. Even a fountain or waterfall can grow algae or attract mosquitoes if it's not properly designed.
A common mistake which many homeowners make is to install a pond and forget about it. While you certainly don't need to be outside all the time, inspecting it, you should take a look often enough to stop unsanitary and unattractive growths before they get out of control. If you live in a cold area, you'll also want to take protective steps in winter. However, if you use native plants, much of this winter maintenance is unnecessary, because the plants are already suited to your local climate.
Water features are common projects for homeowners to take on all by themselves. While this can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, there's no sense in taking on more than you can do comfortably. This is an ideal project for the services of a handyman, or a worker who specializes in odd jobs. They should still be insured, but licensing is generally not an issue in most areas for odd-jobs workers.
If you like the idea of choosing plants, decorating and setting up a waterfall, you should do it yourself. However, digging is more work...and harder work...than many people realize. If you're not a big fan of getting sweaty and dirty, consider hiring a handyman to come and dig the hole for your pond, or the drainage and piping holes for your waterfall or fountain. That way, you can leave the hard work for the professionals while still retaining the pride of a do-it-yourself addition to your home.
The world of water features is a big one, and there's truly something for every taste and budget. With all the options available, you can design everything from a rustic, natural rock pond to a dazzling fountain light show. It's the perfect opportunity to let your yard reflect your personality!