The Bay Area is in a severe drought and it’s hard to foresee the benefits of incorporating a water feature into any landscape improvements however there are ways to get what you want while at the same time being water-wise. We are inherently drawn to in their natural (oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers) and man-made (pools, spas, fountains) forms. As the Bay Area heats up and continues to grow into an even more urban environment, water-wise garden features are becoming more prevalent in landscape design.
Source: Terra Ferma Landscapes
Components of a Water Feature
Traditionally, outdoor water features consist of a reservoir, pump system, power source, pipe tubing, and filter. For interest in the landscape, fountains will include a decorative nozzle to create different effects in the water. These main components when designed properly and checked regularly make the water feature not only an enjoyable feature but also respect the current drought conditions we are facing in California.
Landscape Water Features Design
A properly functioning water feature is critical for longevity and minimizing additional water needs. First, the reservoir acts as the housing that detains and recirculates the water. The location of the reservoir is best designed either directly below or adjacent to the water feature element making this a closed circuit system. Second, to move the water throughout the feature a submersible pump is installed. The submersible pump is set the reservoir base and connected to an electrical source allowing it to draw water, forced through pipe tubing to the decorative nozzle such as a weir or spillway. The stream of water lands back into the reservoir recirculating through the process again. Third, depending on the type of water feature desired a filter and UV sterilizer will be used to control the water quality. These components capture the waste killing off bacteria, viruses and algae.
After designing a full functioning water feature and with all subsurface infrastructure installed, the visual appearance at the surface and what we see on a day-to-day basis is important. The water feature element can be anything from an organic piece of stone to a refine sculpture. Regardless of a client’s fountain preference the surrounding area on all sides of the fountain needs to allow for the water to fall back into the reservoir. In order to do this, often the finish material surrounding the garden element is best done with stone or decorative gravel. Where decorative gravel is desired a horizontal grate acts as the tray support, allowing the water to flow freely below. In cases where the reservoir is located adjacent to the water feature screening the access panel with planting focuses attention on the water feature itself and the utility location disappear.
Water features are relatively simplistic. Retaining and reducing water is critical and with the proper design and specified components these features begin to conserve water. In parallel to the overall design and function of these features, being aware of the steps taken for daily use will help to conserve water use. Incorporating a time and/or switch on the pump will allow direct control to run the fountain. Reducing the hours of the pump during the warmest hours of the day will decrease the amount of evaporated water loss. It’s surprising but inches of water can be lost in a matter of days when exposed to the atmosphere. Keeping the water fresh and free of any bacteria, viruses, or algae with the incorporation of the filter will reduce the amount of times more water needs to be added to the reservoir. Overall, reducing run times and proper filtration will help preserve our natural resource but allow clients to still enjoy the benefits of a water feature.
At Terra Ferma Landscapes, we specialize in the design and engineering of water features so whether you are looking to retrofit an existing water feature or design a new water element we can provide the services for an aesthetically pleasing and water-wise feature. It’s important to us we meet your expectations while at the same time we work with the climatic changes are facing in California.