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Splashing water is one of the most sensual ways of bringing movement and sound to a garden. A splashing water feature can be as small or large, simple or complex as you desire. You may decide on an inexpensive wall plaque with spouting water, a formal traditional fountain or perhaps a naturalistic waterfall. Whatever the choice, you should keep the following points in mind:
· In an open area, spray may be blown around, particularly from large water features with a tall drop, such as fountains or waterfalls. The droplets may end up where you don’t want them – splashing people, seating and pathways. Alternatively grow plants that will thrive in these conditions, especially ferns.
· The feature should be in keeping with the scale and style of the surrounding house and garden. A small wall fountain is best suited to a courtyard where it can be viewed up close, while a large fountain generally looks better in a more formal spacious setting, where it can viewed, and its impact most appreciated from a reasonable distance.
· Humidity levels will be increased by placing the feature in an enclosed area, such as a fountain inside a greenhouse, conservatory or courtyard.
A fountain is generally the focal point of the garden and so needs to be sited carefully. There are three main types:
· Wall fountains – these are generally inexpensive and well suited to small courtyards. The most common type of wall fountain is shaped to resemble a spurting fish or lion’s head, and is attached to a plaque on the wall. The water drops from the single outlet into a trough or small pool and is reticulated via a submersible pump placed in the pool.
· Freestanding fountains – Most freestanding fountains are traditional in design and are sited in open formal areas where they can be shown to their best advantage. As a general rule, they need a space around them of at least twice their height but even more space may be needed for very large fountains. The surrounding bowl needs to be large enough to catch most of the spray. Many more modern designs are becoming available, in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours, making it possible to get a fountain to suit just about any size and style of garden.
· Pond fountains – Where single or multiple sprays of water come from fountain attachments on a submersible pump/s placed in the middle of the pond. The height of the spray can be adjusted to your liking. Other configurations are possible – for a more formal modern look, small fountains could be placed at regular intervals in a long rectangular pool. Underwater lighting could also be used to make this a stunning garden feature.
Water Staircases, Waterfalls and Cascades
These are water flows over a series of different levels. The drops between levels can be evenly spaced (as in a series of stairs), in which case each splash is similar in sound, or of varying heights (as in a cascading section of a stream), in which case each splash makes a different sound.
Compared to a waterfall, a water staircase is formal in appearance. They feature geometric straight lines and paved surfaces, for example, polished stone, bricks or tiles. The run (or tread) can be straight or sloping if you wish.
A cascade or waterfall is generally less formal, giving the appearance of a natural stream with a series of drops. Rocks are the preferred construction material. River stones placed at the bottom of each drop will help to create the sound of a babbling stream.
If the site is fairly flat, a wide, shallow waterfall will look more natural. Longer drops are better suited to sloping sites.
Equipment For Splashing Water Features
· Pumps – There are two types of pups that are readily available – submersible and external. Submersible pumps are generally used for gardens – they are cheaper, quieter, easier to install and will readily handle the volume of water used by garden waterfalls and fountains. As the name implies they are placed under the water, hence muffling the sound. External pumps tend to offer more power especially where there are large volumes of water that need moving or lifting. Stockists of both types of pumps have a large range and you need to select one that will do the job required. The important factor is to ensure that the pump can lift and transport the desired volume of water necessary to make the water feature operate at its maximum. Too little pump pressure and the water may only trickle or may not even reach the desired height of the feature. If too strong, then the water feature will spout out excessive water as opposed to a gentle flow. Submersible pumps can be simply placed into the base water pond with the outflow connected to a hose that leads up to the top of the feature (usually internal for most water features). The power cable should be ideally camouflaged so that it cannot be seen. One way to do this is by having the cable enter the pond directly from the side during construction phase - this however needs to be well sealed so that it does not leak.
· Underground cables – Need to be connected to a power source by an electrician. Most submersible pumps used in domestic situations operate of low voltages to minimise the risk of electrocution.
· Tap and hose – A nearby tap is needed for topping up fountains which can lose a lot of water through evaporation and spray loss.
· Prefabricated pools and other water features – these are commonly available as kits, which include the pump and pipes, or the components can be bought individually. Visit your local nursery or water garden supplier to see some of the possibilities.
So, soothe your nerves with the gentle sounds of splashing water. Whether you live in the heart of the city or in a rural area, the sound of water will enhance the atmosphere of your garden.
This article has been produced by staff orf ACS Distance Education. This school operates from both Australia and the UK, offering over 350 courses (Hobby and Vocational). See www.acs.edu.au, www.acsedu.co.uk
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