By Rick Anderson
Building a stream that looks as though it was actually completed by Mother Nature is no small challenge. To make the illusion work, the watershaper quite literally “shapes” the basic elements of the stream – its path, width, depth, outcroppings, falls, transitions and plantings – all with an eye toward mimicking natural designs.
To a large degree, the process is different from that of designing and building a pond, pool or fountain. In those cases, the watershape generally goes in the ground almost exactly where and how it’s been drawn. With streams, however, the differences between
By Jeff Rugg
It all begins with the water.
The first thing anyone approaching the world of ponds needs to understand is that life-supporting water is quite unlike the sterile water found in swimming pools or spas or many other watershapes. A second and related point is that clear water is not necessarily healthy water when it comes to the needs of the inhabitants of the pond.
For a pond to be healthy, its water must meet the chemical requirements of plants and fish by having an abundance of some things (such as nutrients) and a near-total lack of other things (such as pollutants). Sanitized water may be beautifully clear, but the fact that sterile systems are designed to knock out nutrients and work chemically because they are “polluted” with chlorine and algaecides makes them completely unsuitable as life-supporting ecosystems.
The goal with ponds is to work with nature in balancing the life-sustaining features of the water – and to set things up in such a way that maintaining that balance will be something your clients can do long after you’ve moved along to another project.
To do so, you need to embrace the water-quality basics outlined in the last issue of
By Jeff Rugg
It’s a tale of two professions: Pool and spa people are taught to keep things dead; pond people are taught to keep things alive. Pool people sell chlorine; pond people sell de-chlorinator. Pool people sterilize; pond people fertilize. This contrast in approaches to basic water maintenance is perhaps the most significant difference between two trades that are coming into closer and closer contact with one another every day.
At issue between the two groups is whether to work against nature in a sterile system, or work with it to create an ecosystem. Each discipline has a foundation in the science of water chemistry and both have a place in the world – but beyond that (and as the table below demonstrates), things really couldn’t be much different.
As more and more pool/spa professionals move into water gardening and more and more landscape designers and architects get into pools and spas, there’s an increasing need for all of us to understand these water-treatment distinctions and the basics of each approach. I come from the pond side, so I’ll cover things from that perspective in a pair of articles – a science-oriented overview this time before we
By Eric Triplett
Of all the messages I’ve tried to convey in this video series and its introductory texts, one of the crucial ones is my observation that the people who buy and own ponds will spend lots of time enjoying their watershapes after it gets dark. The only way to make that happen, of course, is to include an effective in-pond lighting system to make the watershape’s best features
By Bruce Zaretsky
LeRoy, N.Y., is an historic village that’s most famous (or most notorious?) for being the birthplace of Jell-O.
Far more significant to me, however, is the fact that the town is filled with beautiful 19th-century homes that run the architectural gamut from Colonial to Italianate to Victorian in style. It’s a beautiful place, and the site of one of my firm’s most unusual projects in recent memory.
The home featured in this article is a Second Empire Italianate estimated to be about 140 years old. It’s a prime example of 19th-century craftsmanship, from the Mansard roof with its scrolled cornices to the drive-through porte-cochere and the wraparound porch with its beefy wood railings.
It’s definitely an architectural treasure, filled with the kinds of details that have been lost as far as today’s custom-built homes are concerned. Mindful of those special touches, we set about designing a similar level of detail into the landscaping in creating gardens and watershapes that brought real tranquility to
By Rosalind Reed
Looking for inspiration in an urban environment can leave a designer with precious few useful references. Take downtown Chicago, for example, where our indigenous waterfeature is Lake Michigan and our public art is too often plopped in the middle of concrete plazas.
Be that as it may, I do my part by trying to introduce both water and art into my projects. So I was thrilled to be retained by Mary O’Shaughnessy, owner of the Wood Street Gallery in Chicago, to design a sculpture garden. I knew it would give me the chance to create a balanced, beautiful space – even though I also knew the job wouldn’t be easy.
What she wanted was a garden environment in which she could display and sell contemporary American sculpture – a place that would help clients visualize the way the art might look in their own gardens.
As we dug deeper, we uncovered additional goals: It needed to be a space that would accommodate a changing variety and number of pieces; it had to be functional for large parties; and it had to incorporate and acknowledge the garden’s urban neighborhood while still providing a sense of enclosure for gallery visitors (and, of course,
By Brian Van Bower
This past January, I had the pleasure of traveling to Tucson, Ariz., to attend the annual conference of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. The focus of this year’s conference was the use of water in landscape design, and the program appropriately featured an interesting mix of experts on swimming pools, fountains and water gardening.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I signed on. I’d only been to one landscape event before, and much of that trade and the people in it have been mostly unfamiliar to me. As it turned out, however, this conference was
By Ken Alperstein
Of all the sports, there’s none that relies more on the art of landscaping than golf. The contours of the land, the style, size and placement of plantings, the use of elaborate stonework and the installation of substantial bodies of water often define not only the competitive challenge of the game but the ambiance and character of the entire golfing experience.
This is especially true of championship golf courses, where designers seek ways to stretch the envelope in terms of the way the game is played and in the physical beauty of the courses themselves. In their search for true distinction, many have turned to the use of
By Lauchlin Bethune
The Pacific Northwest is full of spectacular scenery. From where I live near the Puget Sound, for example, you can see the Olympic range running along a peninsula to the west and the Cascade range off to the east. Looking southeast, Mt. Rainier is a silent, majestic sentinel silhouetted against an ever-changing sky.
It’s a beautiful place to live and perfect when it comes to design inspiration – especially when your work is creating naturalistic gardens and watershapes.
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the entire northwest is just a short drive up Interstate 90 from me, a place called Snoqualmie Falls. Local hiking trails are dotted by scores of perennial waterfalls that cascade down mountainsides. For me, there is nothing more refreshing than clambering up a steep grade and rounding the corner to find a misty, shady waterfall. It invigorates the soul and encourages one and all to keep climbing in the hope of seeing even more spectacular scenery.
The attractions of nature and its inherent beauty are much enjoyed by people who live around here. In recent years, I’ve seen a trend toward bringing slices of that grandeur down to a residential scale in gardens that use water in motion as a key feature. It’s the water that
By Eric Triplett
As the process of installing this beautiful little pond moves toward its conclusion, we find as always that we have lots of smallish details to consider – including the important task of creating a great look with the waterfall’s spillway.
This step may not take the strength or persistence or grand vision of some of the project phases covered to date in this video series, but I can assure you it takes both care and finesse – especially
By Clayton Varick
Landscaping has to be something special to harmonize with the amazing natural surroundings of places such as we encountered with the Colony at White Pine Canyon: Set on 4,000 acres near the famed ski slopes at Park City, Utah, the resort/homestead project was to have watershapes second to none when it came to their natural beauty.
Indeed, water was central to the entire plan. We at Land Expressions of Mead, Wash., were engaged by the developer, Iron Mountain Associates of Salt Lake City, to execute an 830-foot stream, a 34-foot cascading waterfall and a sprawling quarter-million-gallon pond. All of this came along with an array of natural plantings, pathways, a 500,000-gallon water tank surmounted by a five-acre meadow, and a guard shack made from rocks, sod and a fallen tree.
Projects of this sort don’t come along very often – and when they do, they call for creativity, preparation and planning on a grand scale. In this case it, also meant working at (literally) breathtaking altitudes and in a small window of opportunity between snow seasons – all while infusing the work with intricate detail.
Here’s a look at
By Rick Anderson
The watergardening business has exploded in North America in the past few years – so much so that it’s easily the fastest-growing segment of the watershaping industry.
This wave of interest in naturalistic watershapes means that hundreds of people new to the craft of pond and stream building are now out there, working on all sorts of residential and even a few commercial projects. Some of these are landscape contractors working with water in a significant way for the very first time. Others are pool contractors who’ve
By Bob Dews
Cascades and waterfalls are different from most other types of watershapes. In ponds, for example, the quiet reflective surface of the water serves to accentuate elements within the water, such as the plants, fish and rock materials, while reflecting the features surrounding it. That same reflectivity is a hallmark of pools as well.
Our purpose in setting up cascades and waterfalls is, by contrast, to highlight the water itself, and specifically the beauty of water in motion. As it flows over and around rocks and descends through natural weirs and cascades, the water itself creates interest, excitement and soothing sounds.
There’s also a greater sense of variety when you make the water move. Within relatively small spaces, we set water up to rush and meander, cascade and roll, tumble and trickle – all by way of conjuring impressions of a natural stream moving down a grade.
Using moving water in this way – in mimicry of nature – is a true watershaping specialty, and volumes could be written about what it takes to make these scenes believable. For now, however, let’s focus on setting up headwaters – a feature we at Xstream Ponds in Cashiers, N.C., have come to see as the key to