Enhance your outdoor room with a water feature and enjoy the calm and serenity it provides
Words: Natalie Raad
Water can add that special touch to any outdoor space. Whether it’s an elaborate feature or a simple natural pond, water has the power to transform and add mesmerising appeal to your outdoor room.
A water feature can enhance your outdoor room, no matter how big or small the space. Water features add a new dimension to the outdoors and their inclusion in outdoor rooms is sure to create a calm and atmospheric ambience.
Given the design and structure of water features, they will most certainly form a focal point so their positioning is an integral part of the overall design. To get the most out of a water feature, position it so that it can be viewed from inside the house as well — that way, even when you’re not using your outdoor room, you’ll still be able to enjoy it visually.
Water features not only look great, they also provide a pleasing and soothing sound. For this reason, water features should be placed where they can be enjoyed both visually and audibly in your outdoor room.
With new technologies and the enormous variety of materials available today, water feature designers are able to design the perfect piece to complement any environment. Whether you’ve got a small outdoor room on a balcony or courtyard, or an elaborate outdoor setting complete with lawn areas, you’ll be sure to find a water feature to suit your style and budget. To put it simply, water feature design is limited only to the imagination.
When looking to buy or design a water feature, there are several considerations that must be taken into account in order to maximise pleasure and achieve the overall desired effect.
Knowing what you want out of a water feature before you start is important. Will the water feature be for sound or aesthetics, or both? Will it be used as a focal point and design element in your outdoor room, or to create some privacy? The overall desired effect must also be taken into consideration. Is the water feature being designed for a specific purpose, such as water storage for the garden or to drown out traffic noise? Once you’ve determined what you want out of a water feature and what it will be used for, you’ll be able to select the right feature for your outdoor room.
It’s important to understand the environment of your outdoor room and where the water feature will be located. Will the water feature be in direct sunlight or in a windy location? Will there be leaves falling into it? What types of materials are already being used in your outdoor room? Understanding these factors will help you decide which water feature will best suit your outdoor room setting.
The good thing about water features is that they are designed to suit both sunny and shady areas. This means no matter what the environment of your outdoor room, every location can be catered for and every outdoor setting can be accommodated.
For outdoor rooms on balconies and courtyards, it’s best to choose a water feature that is not so loud it consumes the whole area. A wall water feature is perfect for these settings, as it will not intrude on the space yet still provide a subtle focal point. Overflowing urns, pots or bamboo spouts into bowls are also good for small outdoor rooms.
For larger outdoor settings, water features can take the form of ponds, ornamental lakes or waterfalls, as well as any variation of the above smaller water feature designs.
You need to be fully aware of what provisions will be required to install and run the water feature. Things such as allowing for electrical connections and, if required, also allowing for drainage and water feed, will need to be addressed at the beginning rather than after construction and/or installation.
And if you’re feeling guilty because of the drought and ongoing water restrictions, don’t. With an array of water-wise water features, you can still enjoy the beauty of a water feature in your outdoor room, while helping to preserve our most precious resource.
On average, a water feature will use less water than the same area covered in lawn. And the only water used in a water feature, other than the initial fill of the feature, is a small amount of evaporation. If space permits, you can also consider a pond or creek bed as your water feature. Ponds and creek beds will channel and store rain water so that it can be pumped into water tanks or used as irrigation for gardens.
Given we use our outdoor rooms day and night, it make sense for us also to make use of our water features both during the day and throughout the evening. A good way of turning your water feature into a nighttime focal point is by incorporating underwater lighting. Soft, subtle lighting will not only draw attention to your water feature; it will also add to the ambience of your outdoor room.
There are many ways to integrate water into an outdoor room, turning it into a design feature. With many guises and the ability to be used in myriad ways, water can add another dimension to your outdoor space and enhance your overall outdoor experience.
Water Saving Tips
Water jets Although fountain jets look great, a bubbler or spout can be just as effective and will cause little, if any, water loss from your feature.
Fountains Make sure the pond/reservoir is large enough to catch the splash. It’s best to avoid fountains that spray in the air.
Pumps Use a submersible pond pump appropriate for the size and desired effect of your feature. Consult a water garden specialist to size your pump correctly.
Plants If you must site your pond in direct sunlight, use aquatic plants that float on the surface of the water to minimise evaporation by stopping the sun’s heat.
Ecosystems Create a balanced ecosystem in wildlife ponds with the aid of biological filters to keep water clarity and eliminate the need to empty (or partially empty) the pond for cleaning.
Leaks Proper construction should mean you have a leak-proof water feature. Keep an eye on your water level for significant drops that indicate there’s a leak.
Wind breaks Hedging or planting can be placed around your water feature as a wind break. This prevents unnecessary evaporation. Be careful to choose non-toxic, non-invasive plants.
Topping up A catchment container for rainwater can be used to top up your water feature.
Connections Make sure all pipes and connections are securely fixed to eliminate dripping pipes.
Timers These can save water and energy by running the feature only at times when you are present.