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Water Features

water feature, a hidden spring

What do you get when you mix Obsidian stone, a burial basin & pump, potted horsetail ferns, and a few clay-kilned Koi (fashioned by the most incredible Juanita)..... and add water?

And please, don't cheap-out and forget the accent lighting - awesome shadows, creating a 'diorama' of dancing water & shadow.  Ummm.......


water feature - a hidden spring

The Yin of Water..the Yang of Stone...

So, you too hate cleaning that fountain, and when it is turned-off - what an eyesore and depository for cigarette butts & paper plates, eh?

Last count, I've designed & installed well over a 100 'hidden-springs' water features; no more mosquitoes (the easy access re-circulation tank, w/auto top-off lies beneath).   The exposed portion is a sculptural piece, dancing in the waters.  When off, the sculpture remains congruent; the design - holds.  Add, a buried clay planter or two and - wallah!

Here's the thing about being seasoned 
as a design/build  professional:  
 You dive deep for inspiration, cook it in your dreams, drop it onto paper, stay within budget, and build it.
Composition of elements:
Timber bamboo, stainless steel faux bamboo (sculpture, climbing poles & accent lighting), cantera banco, custom pavers, pebble-bed, re-circulation basin, one ton cantera sphere (drilled & plumbed with 1/4 inch copper tubing).  
See also, Sculptural Elements.
stainless steel bamboo sculpture
Mortar-set river rock stream-bed, surrounded by flowering succulents & fragrant shrubs (embrace ALL of the senses). 
Occasionally, what looks like an archetypal water feature is nothing more than a drainage basin.
The past-long-time, I've been channeling roof & site run-off to permeated, burial cisterns, strategically placed adjacent to deep water loving shade trees.
Why not celebrate that run-off on its way to storage - let the water dance.
The Jaws of the Beast....
One of the most interesting aspects in the design & build of water features, is whether the running water has you scampering for the comprende ? -try turning on the faucet in your bathroom and notice whether you have the urge to suddenly pee...
The sound of flowing, bubbling, cascading, sheeting waters can be orchestrated.
Its all a matter of how the masonry is sculpted, in that it is the structure of the feature through which the waters flow that will determine its sound(s).
Just a rusty old pipe, plumbed into a mortar-set water basin -Be sure to seal those mortar joints!  The totem Pole plants help carry the structure of this side-yard design.  
Each Spring, a field of Mexican primrose makes its perennial debut.
Courtyard Entry Fountain
Sorry again about the fuzzy pic; when you are out there in the world, sometimes all you have time for is an Instamatic photo opportunity, (anyone remember Instamatic cameras)?
Pictured here, is another rusty piece of steel, spilling its recirculating coolness from and into a rammed earth wall and basin.  For more on Rammed Earth elements, in the landscape, go to Walls.
hilltop entry courtyard - stone wall
Cantera vessel water feature:  pitched on side, plumbed as cascade to river rock re-circulation basin.  Basin as extension of seating wall, terminating in wooden bench with 4/5th scale bronze 'at leisure'.  Courtyard enclosed by cantera block wall and canopied by shade tree.  As always: vines as drapery complete this landscape room.
Water worn pebbles, stone (canyon) walls, clinging vegetation, and just a hint of an emerging spring.  
Unless a 'Niagara' experience is to be evoked, handling water features with a soft touch is most effective.  Water presents, dances, and then disappears in this patio water feature.
Weeping angel fountain
'Weeping Madonna.
Well, this was interesting; one of the four water features on this two acre residential garden's development.
A somewhat pious client purchased this winged Madonna and asked me to site her within the design.
Core drilled bottom to top with penetrations at the eyes; plumbed from base.  The waters weep down her cheeks into a
re-circulation basin of river rock; and yes, the here too disappears.
During the high holidays, red food coloring is added to the basin.
It was a miracle!
Oh, blessed humor, and the courage to claim it...
Spanish Colonial entry courtyard.
Ya, on occasion I too will break my own rules and build fountains with standing waters...
But, speaking of Spanish Colonial:
many of the artifacts I have collected and re-purposed to suit my design desires come out of the 'colonies' of not-so-long-ago.
Most folks consider Spanish Colonial furniture and architecture being solely found in a few places, such as Mexico; not so.
Spain dipped into all corners of the globe, establishing both short and long-term homes, and in so doing left behind a treasure trove of ingeniously influenced architectural styles and thus artifacts.
Cascading wall corner falls.  Multiple pools with a few koi skittering about.
My apologies.  A number of these older job photos are a couple of generations of reproductions old.  
Here's an idea:
sponsor me, and I will revisit and shoot all of these many sites  in their maturity!
mountain falls, water feature
Most water features do not require any child-proofing, unless there is a swimming pool in the proximity.  
Here, the pool & perimeter wall, (per code) were existing; the water falls, basins, and terraced steps were added after busting though that existing wall.  
In so doing, the site was 'out of compliance' with safety codes.  To comply, without having to compromise the greater view to the mountains with another wall element, a cacti barrier was planted.  
Soon after, this practice of a cacti barriers, entered the code-books.  
Something to add to your cook-book? 
Perhaps, in your neck of the woods, there is another thorny vegetative material that would pass such scrutiny? 
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